March 16, 2011

An Inconvenient Jesuit

TCATL is dedicated “to all the great Jesuits at Fordham in the Seventies,” where Mr. Ferrara matriculated, specifically the late Francis Canavan, S.J.
Another great Jesuit of that time and place was, and is, James A. Sadowsky, S.J., S.T.L. (b. 1923), professor emeritus of philosophy, who began teaching there in 1960. 
A convert to Roman Catholicism from Anglicanism (1939) and ordained as a priest of the Society of Jesus (1957), Father Sadowsky apparently did not have the opportunity to mold our author’s young mind.
Best Buds: Murray N. Rothbard and James A. Sadowsky, S.J., ages 41 and 43 respectively, friends to each other long before each became my friend, relaxing at the Scottish Games, Stamford, Connecticut, July 4, 1967.  Scanned from a snapshot given me by the late JoAnn Rothbard in 1998. -- A.F.
A friend of Murray Rothbard’s since the early ‘60s, Sadowsky frequently celebrated Mass in the Tridentine Rite at St. Ann’s Shrine in New York during the decade before that church’s 2005 tragic demise.
Although many of Sadowsky’s writings are germane to Mr. Ferrara’s topic, either his research didn’t lead him to them, or it didn’t serve his propagandistic purpose to bring them to his readers’ attentioneven though Tom Woods cited those writings several times, and even though Rothbard endorsed Sadowsky’s definition of rights (as formulated in the latter's 1966 article, “Private Property and Collective Ownership,” which Rothbard cites in his The Ethics of Liberty (1982), which Mr. Ferrara certainly knows).
My review of Woods’ The Church and the Market praises Woods for his use of Sadowsky, a review that (a) Mr. Ferrara almost certainly knows and (b) provides links to the text of Sadowsky’s papers. The failure to confront this Catholic moral philosopher’s Austro-libertarianism is inexplicable except in terms not favorable to Mr. Ferrara's reputation as a researcher.
Take, for example, this passage from Woods’ 2004 Lou Church Memorial Lecture:
When dealing with wage rates, a moral question that is hardly ever asked, but should be by those who advocate “living wage” legislation is why the obligation of charity should fall entirely upon the shoulders of the employer. Fr. James Sadowsky explains that the very fact that an employee has accepted employment is an indication that he expects to be made better off than he would have been had he attempted to go into business for himself. Thus in the case of a worker in dire need, while “certainly from a Christian point of view we ought to help him meet his needs,” the question that ought to arise is this: “Why, however, should it be precisely he employer on whom this obligation falls, if in fact the employer is not worsening but bettering the condition of his employee?” “Morality and Economic Law: Toward a Reconciliation”    
Except for the word “moral” (a significant omission, according to Mr. Ferrara), this passage reappears in Woods' 2005 The Church and the Market, p. 73.  But this is how Mr. Ferrara presents it in TCATL:
When dealing with wage rates, a moral question that is hardly ever asked, but should be by those who advocate “living wage” legislation is why the obligation of charity should fall entirely upon the shoulders of the employer. . . .  [I]n the case of a worker in dire need, while “certainly from a Christian point of view we ought to help him meet his needs,” the question that ought to arise is this: “Why, however, should it be precisely he employer on whom this obligation falls, if in fact the employer is not worsening but bettering the condition of his employee?” (193)    
Mr. Ferrara preserves the internal quotation marks that bracket Sadowsky’s words, but replaces with elliptical dots the sentence that (a) attributes those words to Sadowsky and (b) implicitly invites the reader to compare and contrast the costs and benefits of being an employee and going into business for oneself.  (Mr. Ferrara added the italics in the first sentence without remark; the other two italicizations are Woods'.)
The Sadowsky article Woods quoted from is “Capitalism, Ethics, and Classical Catholic Social Doctrine,” [This World, Fall 1983, 115-125], which Woods cited in his book’s third chapter, note 85.
Since Mr. Ferrara paid special attention to that chapter, he must have noticed Sadowsky’s name in its first paragraph and the citation of this article in the first and last reference notes as well as in the 85th (not to mention elsewhere, including the bibliography).
Did that article’s title not provoke his curiosity? Did it advertise its relevance to his task too subtly?
Had he done due diligence, Mr. Ferrara would not have referred to Woods’ source as “a Jesuit economist.” (Does Sadowsky's question strike you as one an economist would ask?) Had he performed an Internet search for “James Sadowsky,” he would have discovered (a fact already disclosed in my review of Woods) that he could access from my site the text of every Sadowsky article cited by Woods.  That is, a few clicks would have taken him to “Capitalism, Ethics, and Classical Catholic Social Doctrine,” “Private Property and Collective Ownership,” and “Christian Response to Poverty.”
When our examination of TCATL arrives at the discussion of the just wage, we will ask Sadowsky’s question again and evaluate Mr. Ferrara’s answer.