July 23, 2012

Ethics and Capitalism: An Interview with James A. Sadowsky, S.J.—Part 8 of 9


The Minimum Wage
Do you believe that under certain circumstances the setting of a minimum wage can help the poor?
The minimum wage works to exclude all those whose services are valued at less than that minimum and, therefore, prevents them from obtaining employment and, further, from acquiring the habits conducive to attaining better positions.
Do you believe that the rich have an obligation to help the poor?
Yes.
How ought they show it?
By being charitable, by helping the poor in effective ways, not only by giving money, but also giving alms, building orphanages, etc.  These are things that Christians have always done, and it is hoped that the rich will do likewise. It is more effective to appeal to generosity than to guilt.
Don’t you believe that the state ought to favor certain segments of society that cannot compete freely in the market?
Absent regulations, most people can compete. In a genuinely free market, those who can’t are few in number, and it is easier for private charity to take care of them than for state interventionists to grant them rights, for that only increases the number of the needy.
What effects on individual and collective morality do you attribute to state intervention?
In Russia, the transformation of a way of life was the fault, not of individuals, but of the system. In the United States and Great Britain, the welfare state increased debt and marginalized the familySome blame the decline of the family on a permissive society, but I blame it on the government's assuming the family’s traditional role. People can see that they are obliged to play that role, not by coercion but by market forces. It is the welfare state that has obscured individual responsibility and undermined what we call family values.  Families are the result of natural necessity; they were not invented when a group decided “Let’s have families.” 
To Be Continued