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Neoliberalism and Catholic Social Teaching

Jim Pawels remarks:

Unagidon I dont believe youve pegged Rick Santorum exactly right......I find Santorums embrace of Catholic social teaching, and his serious application of it to real world problems, to be intriguing and exciting. It seems hes a very long shot to win the nomination. But Id think we can all be glad to see Catholic teaching being injected into a presidential race.

He includes several links including one to an op-ed by Michael Gerson titled Rick Santorum and the return of compassionate conservatism. In it, Gerson says:

The Catholic (and increasingly Protestant) approach to social ethics asserts that liberty is made possible by strong social institutions families, communities, congregations that prepare human beings for the exercise of liberty by teaching self-restraint, compassion and concern for the public good. Oppressive, overreaching government undermines these value-shaping institutions. Responsible government can empower them say, with a child tax credit or a deduction for charitable giving as well as defend them against the aggressions of extreme poverty or against free markets in drugs or obscenity.

I believe that this can be inserted easily into Neoliberalism as defined (here) by David Harvey in A Brief History of Neoliberalism:

Neoliberalism is in the first instance a theory of political economic practices that proposed that human well being can best be advanced by liberating individual entrepreneurial freedoms and skill within an institutional framework characterized by strong private property rights, free markets, and free trade. The role of the state is to create and preserve an institutional framework appropriate for such practices. The state has to guarantee, for example, the quality and integrity of money. It must also set up those military, defense, police, and legal structures and functions required to secure private property rights and to guarantee, by force if need be, the proper functioning of markets. Furthermore, if markets do not exist (in areas such as land, water, education, health care, social security, or environmental pollution) then they must be created, by state action if necessary. But beyond these tasks the state should not venture. State interventions in markets (once created) must be kept to a bare minimum because, according to the theory, the state cannot possibly possess enough information to second-guess market signals (prices) and because powerful interest groups will inevitably distort and bias state interventions (particularly in democracies) for their own benefit.

It seems to me that Gerson's account of Catholic social teaching is substituting the "family" for the individual in a neoliberal economic framework. This is not a simple substitution; the family is a moral order and it does need to be defended as such. But neoliberal economic policies are not and cannot be designed to support communities and congregations (not to mention families). The commoditization of all things, which is the thrust of neoliberalism is the thing that is radically individualizing people and Gerson (and I believe Santorum) wants to somehow offset this proletarianization of the world by focusing on families that, through force of moral will, can somehow not be ground down by this and can still leave the neoliberal utopia standing.I will counter with this. Neoliberalism is a moral order and it contradicts Catholic social teaching. It cannot be reconciled with it, no matter how much people talk about the plight of the poor and disadvantaged. Inserting "strong families" into this seems to me to be more about using the family to maintain some sort of social order in an economy geared to breaking down social orders. Catholic social teaching is about thriving, not obedience to laws in the pursuit of profits first. Families and other kinds of social institutions cannot thrive in a neoliberal order.

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For all intents and purposes President Obama is also a "neo-liberal" in economic policy (as evidenced by his long line of wall st. supporters). He is laissez faire on moral AND economic fronts. At least Santorum get it right on one case.

"It seems to me that Gersons account of Catholic social teaching is substituting the family for the individual in a neoliberal economic framework. This is not a simple substitution; the family is a moral order and it does need to be defended as such. But neoliberal economic policies are not and cannot be designed to support communities and congregations (not to mention families). The commoditization of all things, which is the thrust of neoliberalism is the thing that is radically individualizing people and Gerson (and I believe Santorum) wants to somehow offset this proletarianization of the world by focusing on families that, through force of moral will, can somehow not be ground down by this and can still leave the neoliberal utopia standing.I simply don't see how you accord your characterization of Gerson's (and by proxy Santorum's) view with their actual words. Cf: "The Catholic (and increasingly Protestant) approach to social ethics asserts that liberty is made possible by strong social institutions families, communities, congregations that prepare human beings for the exercise of liberty by teaching self-restraint, compassion and concern for the public good."Thus Gerson lists "family" as one (perhaps the parament, but nonethless, only one) among many other "social institutions." In this regard, I think all communitarians are alike - from rather "liberal" communitarians like Michael Sandel to social conservatives like Santorum (and Gerson). Family is one, perhaps axiomatical, of many interlocking institutions that nurture and shape human character. So I don't see any textual evidence for the conclusion that in your Neoliberal definition, Gerson is inserting "family" for "individual" and that's that. You say it isn't a "simple substitution." I see no substitution at all in your formulation.And I think something Jim Pauwels said deserves echoing: nice to see a breakout of discussion among various strains of Catholic social thought!

I watched Santorum's after-caucus speech in Iowa and didn't find any recognition of Catholic social teaching. He said:And we have two parties who are out talking about how theyre going to solve those problems. One wants to talk about raising taxes on people who have been successful and redistributing money, increasing dependency in this country, promoting more Medicare and food stamps and all sorts of social welfare programs, and passing Obamacare to provide even more government subsidies, more and more dependency, more and more government, exactly what my grandfather left in 1925.And then theres another vision, with another vision, the Republican vision, which is, lets just cut taxes, lets just reduce spending and everyone will be fine.I believe in cutting taxes. I believe in balancing budgets. I propose cutting $5 trillion from this budget over the next five years. I support a balanced budget amendment that puts a cap at 18 percent of GDP as a guarantee of freedom for this country. But (APPLAUSE)But I also believe we as Republicans have to look at those who are not doing well in our society by just cutting taxes and balancing budgets, and thats why I put forth a plan that Iowans responded to. Its a plan that says, yes, lets flatten the tax code, get rid of it, replace it with five deductions. Lets create two rates, 10 percent and 28 percent. Why 28 percent? If its good enough for Ronald Reagan, its good enough for me..http://usdailynews.biz/?p=202Beyond that point he talked only about cutting taxes. He never got back to the point about doing anything for "those who are not doing well in our society."

Except for the fact that Santorum is (probably) a deeper thinker, I think in many ways he's the male version of Sarah Palin.

Is it fair to say that Santorum thinks that things like Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, Food Stamps etc. encourage dependency? And if they do, that this dependency may be immoral, or may contribute to immorality, or at least may not cause the individual to thrive? And that eliminating these things therefore supports independence and that this is at least part of what he means when he talks about liberty?And if these things could be elimated, would not Santorum agree that strong private property rights and free trade are also a cornerstone of liberty?And would either Gerson or Santorum include labor unions, workers' organizations, or political parties centered around labor as existing among the social institutions and communities that should be strengthened?And among concerns for the public good, could the regulation of capitalism and the promotion of labor rights, consumer rights, and environmental protections count to them?The effects of all of these, I think, are interchangeable for individuals and families. Or to put it another way, does it support either individuals or families to eliminate safety nets and labor organization, and make families stronger to support stronger capitalist economic power?If I have characterized Santorum (and Gerson) correctly, these are people who think that in general, individuals (and never the economic system) are responsible for lack of insurance, lack of a private pension, lack of food, lack of a job, lack of a decent wage and lack of a decent share (that is, a consistent rather than declining share) of the proceeds of improved economic productivity. If this is true, then their view of the family must be that the family supports the individual in this personal and entirely independent struggle.But if they are wrong; if people can fall on hard times, be forced to leave communities, to become alienated individuals, or even to embrace a consumer culture for systemic reasons, then what is the real difference between throwing an individual or a family in the deep end of the pool? A family might provide a stronger base of support. Or (as can also be the case) it can provide a greater pool of personal risk.

I suggest that unagidon close his David Harvey book for a few days and take up the works of a true giant of political thought, Tocqueville, say, or Edmund Burke. He might gain a tiny bit of sympathy for positions he is now so quick to declare heretical.If the Amazon description is at all accurate David Harvey's tract argues that Neoliberalism is the "doctrine that market exchange is an ethic in itself, capable of acting as a guide for all human action." That's such a ludicrous caricature that 99.44% of any population (right, left, or center) would have to reject it instantly. Maybe unagidon can identify a few eccentric individuals with that belief but until he can do so I humbly suggest that he needs to be a little more discriminating in his choice of authorities to guide him when he contemplates the real world. I'm afraid that If u really believes Harvey's description to be accurate his education may need to be prolonged.http://www.amazon.com/Brief-History-Neoliberalism-David-Harvey/dp/019928... the meantime, and for extra credit, he might want to read Schumpeter's Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy. The argument there is that capitalism is likely to come to an end, not due to the immiseration of the proletariat, as Marx thought, or because of any inherent contradictions, but because of the economy's unprecedented success in creating enough prosperity to allow aclass of intellectuals to use their leisure to criticize endlessly the very system that subsidizes them (however insufficiently, in their view). Thus the system is eventually rendered illegitimate because of it's own success. Maybe it was Schumpeter's Catholic background that attuned him to the workings of envy and resentment.Of course it may be that u has already declared Schumpeter to be among those neoliberals he has deemed to be heretical. He should list some of those he counts as saved. Names please, just a few will do.

One of the wonderful things about neoliberalism, which has only come to prominence in the last 30 years, is that is has taken onto itself the very identity of market exchange. An untrammeled free market is the very essence of liberty. And that is an ethical statement whether you will accept it or not.Regarding Schumpeter, maybe you could look at the actual economic performance of neoliberalist economies in sum over the last 30 years and tell me which ones have seen unprecedented success in creating any kind of prosperity (for everyone and not just the few at the top). Names please, just a few will do.

Jim Pauwels said this: I find Santorums embrace of Catholic social teaching, and his serious application of it to real world problems, to be intriguing and exciting.Jim is this what you call Santorums support of Catholic social teaching that you find so intriguing and exciting ? Favoring outlawing contraception Comparing gay marriage to pedophilia, incest and bestiality Against civil unions Wants to reinstate DADT Supporting racial profiling of Muslims Making abortions illegal in any and all cases There is no constitutional right of privacy with respect to sexual behavior between consenting adults Wanting to repeal the Affordable Care Acthttp://www.sentinelsource.com/politics/n_h_elects_2012/rick_santorum/san... this is a correct interpretation (and I seriously doubt that!) of Catholic Social Teaching then said CST needs to be resisted at any and all instances of attempt of imposition on general society.

My dear u,You don't seem to understand - - I deny the existence of the neoliberalist animal that you and David Harvey claim to have identified so I can't name any such societies, either successful or unsuccessful ones. To repeat, the notion that market exchange is capable of acting as a guide for all human action is a notion that almost no one holds.Idon't doubt that there is a place for love and friendship in your life. Why can't you allow that those passions can override economic gain for millions of others aside from you and in all kinds of society. You and Harvey seem to think that "homo economicus" rules the world. I insist there are more things in heaven and earth, u, than are dreamt of in Harvey's philosophy.Now if I may speak about economies like the ones Schumpeter was talking about I would mention China and India as relatively successful over the last thirty years. Germany, Denmark, Indonesia might also be mentioned. I concede that not everyone in those societies has enjoyed prosperity but if that is your Rawls-like condition which must be met in every thirty year period if a society is not to be condemned, then I would argue that such a condition is a utopian one that no society has ever met, or ever can meet. Which nicely illustrates Schumpeter's point. Any existing market based society, when compared to Nirvana or to an ideal socialism, always comes up short. But then so did feudalism, slavery, actually existing (not ideal) socialism and any other ism that you and Harvey might want to put forward. The difference now is that we have lots of u's ready to point out the failings.I notice that you continue in your coyness about mentioning any non-heretical non-neorealist thinkers other than David Harvey. I can't believe he's the only one in your Pantheon. I plea one more time for a few names that you might suggest, other than guru Harvey, who can usefully guide those of us curious about the positive aspects, if any, of your social theories. Wouldn't it ease your burden somewhat if you could name some of your comrades in thought? Or, heaven forfend, maybe there aren't any others that you admire and we will be left with the peculiar, eccentric insights that are the product of an isolated, individualistic, narcissistic self, a sad victim of the neorealist juggernaut.

"Thus Gerson lists family as one (perhaps the parament, but nonethless, only one) among many other social institutions. In this regard, I think all communitarians are alike from rather liberal communitarians like Michael Sandel to social conservatives like Santorum (and Gerson). Family is one, perhaps axiomatical, of many interlocking institutions that nurture and shape human character. So I dont see any textual evidence for the conclusion that in your Neoliberal definition, Gerson is inserting family for individual and thats that. You say it isnt a simple substitution. I see no substitution at all in your formulation."I share Jeff's line of thought here. In my view, strengthening intermediating institutions to ensure human flourishing is one of the keys to understanding Santorum's political philosophy (at least on his best days). And I suggest that this is a decisive difference between Catholic social thought and the laissez-faire economics and fixation on property rights that seems to undergird a Neoliberal world order (as defined here).In this regard, I'd like to call attention to this short passage of JPII's social encyclical Centessimus Annus (which has a lot of germane thing to contribute to our discussion, btw):"from the Christian vision of the human person there necessarily follows a correct picture of society. According to Rerum novarum and the whole social doctrine of the Church, the social nature of man is not completely fulfilled in the State, but is realized in various intermediary groups, beginning with the family and including economic, social, political and cultural groups which stem from human nature itself and have their own autonomy, always with a view to the common good. This is what I have called the "subjectivity" of society which, together with the subjectivity of the individual, was cancelled out by "Real Socialism"." (Centessimus Annus 13)

U, ideologies, like neoliberalism, exist only in the imagination. Politicians and social planners live in the real world.

David, politicians need a politics and planners need a plan. You don't know what you are talking about.

My Dear Patrick,I hesitate to give names of economists to someone who makes such intensive usage of blurbs on Amazon.But here you go.Economists include Milton Friedman and the "Chicago School" as well as the management of the IMF, WTO, and the US Treasury since Reagan.Include among politicians Reagan, Bush I, Clinton, Bush II and Obama in the US and Thatcher and everyone after her in England.Harvey, by the way, isn't a neoliberal. He is writing a critique of you. You might try actually reading the book before you decide that you know what it's about.Regarding your remarks about Schumpeter, you apparently don't think that the actual performance of economies is significant. I know, no economy is perfect. So it must follow that no imperfection is relevant.Regarding your examples of countries, Indonesia has crashed at least once in the period. Germany and Denmark have stricter (non-neoliberal) capitals controls so guess what? They outperformed us.China is really a basket case as is India. You don't seem to have any idea how close to the edge they are.

It sounds like a US version of the Big Society's Red Toryism/distributism - Phillip Blond and David Cameron and Radical Orthodoxy mixed with conservative Catholicism .... ick.http://theotherjournal.com/2010/01/12/meet-the-new-boss-same-as-the-old-... (Eugene McCarraher on the neo-cons)http://www.americamagazine.org/blog/entry.cfm?blog_id=2&entry_id=3222 (America blog post on the Catholic third way and radical orthodoxy)http://www.lrb.co.uk/v32/n08/jonathan-raban/camerons-crank (a review of Blond's book)

"I share Jeffs line of thought here. In my view, strengthening intermediating institutions to ensure human flourishing is one of the keys to understanding Santorums political philosophy (at least on his best days). And I suggest that this is a decisive difference between Catholic social thought and the laissez-faire economics and fixation on property rights that seems to undergird a Neoliberal world order (as defined here)."I agree that the family and intermediate institutions need to be strengthened. I just have a broader view of what these institutions are (they include unions); how "intermediate" intermediate is (I don't see the state legislating morality from the top down and I don't see it working for the Church either); and I especially don't see the crisis of society coming from the crisis of the family. I see the crisis of society as advancing capitalism (in the service of a small class) and advancing commoditization of everything breaking down the family. If Santorum was talking about supporting the family in opposition to the state (and not just "moral" opposition but economic opposition) I would be on board. But (and one can look at Jimmie Mac's laundry list above) he seems to talk like it's all attitude, education, and the right laws (no doubt with the right police to enforce the laws). If we could just make homosexuality illegal again and teach in school that it's a very bad thing, then somehow a more moral society will arise from this secular alienated proletarian world we live in now without us having to do anything with the economy other than eliminate entitlements.I have to think that Santorum, at least to himself, is consistent. So how could it be consistent for him to hold his economic, social, moral, and neo-con foreign affairs opinions at the same time. It looks like the world view of someone who thinks that individuals/families are utterly isolated social units (that might come together in "congregations) and that some of these social units are decent, moral, and civilized (his words) and some simply are not. And it is up to the former to convert the latter, if necessary by the force of the state.

My dear u,I ask for the names of some of your comrades in thought and you name Milton Friedman!!!Of course I know who Harvey is - - he is a well compensated distinguished professor at the Graduate Center of the City of New York and like all his socialist colleagues there supported by the taxpayers of the city. See Schumpeter for further analysis of the phenomenon.I should have mentioned Brazil also as another relatively successful country making market-friendly moves. I'm glad to see that Germany is OK, or somehow meets your standards but fail to see any dramatic superiority of that country over the US. But at least you seem to think Germany deviates from, the putative neorealist dogma. If you're not ready to look at Tocqueville yet you might at least put on some spectacles and look at the deviatios from a libertarian ideal in your own country.

With all of this "my dearing" I thought that I had accidently opened a gay dating website.(Tee hee already!)

Patrick, I didn't write this blog to discuss Harvey's book, which is almost impossible anyway since you have not read it and are working entirely from a blurb you read. There are other, similar definitions of neoliberalism available that are similar to the one I posted. We could have used one of those (hint: to find sources, type "neoliberalism" in the search bar of Amazon of, for that matter, Google).I put up a quote for discussion. It is either coherant or not. It either represents the views of people I mentioned or it doesn't. And it either contradicts Catholic Social Teaching, or it doesn't. But you won't address that and instead start throwing names around and you come up with some quote from Schumpeter that is supposed to say that Harvey must be some kind of hypocrite (and so what if he is?) because he is criticizing capitalism while employed in a capitalist society. You present this quote as proving something about economics?Not very interesting even by right wing standards.Why don't you take a crack at a substantive argument.

unagidon - nice post; your Santorum/neoliberalism comments would be applauded by EWTN's Arroyo and his sidekick, Sirico, at the Acton Institute.They have never met a social justice topic that they can't reinterpret in light of neo-liberalism and reinforcing that folks really don't have to pay attention to all of this stuff and it isn't really what the Pope said - we will tell you what the Pope said.You might want to add the side issue of neo-liberals in terms of "true" right to life issue are only if they are "intrinsic" evils (well, you have to stretch or deny the intrinsic evils of torture, etc.)

unagidon 01/06/2012 - 5:09 pm contributorDavid, politicians need a politics and planners need a plan. You dont know what you are talking about.

In the real world, U, ideologies aren't the touchstone. Academics are far too hung up on the idea of ideological purity. It exists in the ivory tower, but not in the field. You build good programs based on what works, not on what should work.

The "field"? Only academics say "the field".Anyway, I don't happen to be one. I'm a businessman. And you don't know what you are talking about.

And you dont know what you are talking about.

Nor do any of us, alas. But we don't let that stop us. It shouldn't stop you, either. You write, we read.

Hmm. A Democratic newspaper endorsing a candidate for the Republican nomination? Now, who among Republican voters would take that as a good reason to vote for him? Curious game, politics.

It appears that Santorum's Catholic Social Values include the idea that "suffering is good for you.". See video:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ekd2HzI6Bfw&feature=youtube_gdata_playerIf youre lower income, you can qualify for Medicaid, you can qualify for food stamps, you can qualify for housing assistanceThe result is that your children grow up feeling entitled"suffering, if you're a Christian, is part of life and its not a bad thing, it is an essential thing in life.

"If youre lower income, you can qualify for Medicaid, you can qualify for food stamps, you can qualify for housing assistanceThe result is that your children grow up feeling entitledsuffering, if youre a Christian, is part of life and its not a bad thing, it is an essential thing in life."Let's look at this.Back when I ran the volunteer service in the hospital (when Clinton was winding the whole welfare system down) I got to know several hundred people who had been on welfare all their lives. They were volunteering with me to learn the general job skills that most people know (how to dress, how to come to work on time, etc.) One might say that they were an unrepresentative sample of people on welfare, because they were trying to find work. On the other hand, many of them did not want to be there. Did they not want to be there because they felt entitled? In my experience it was more complicated than that. I never met anyone who was happy to be on Public Aid as though they were living on some kind of fat pension. It's a rough life living in a slum, for everyone. I did meet people who lacked skills or had bad habits that made it hard for them to discipline themselves to enter the work force. They wanted to stay on Public Aid because they were afraid of the working environment. I am not saying here that they were lazy. I am saying that they belonged to a sort of Welfare culture that did not value the kind of labor discipline that workers had and they were (at the time, until they got used to it) very intimidate by the workplace. This WAS a sort of dependence on welfare, but not in the sense that the right speaks about it, as though there is a class of lazy people that want to live off of everyone else. And it was good that THAT cycle of welfare was eventually broken.It's another thing entirely to say that public support itself corrupts people and makes them dependent. People don't kick back and say that they are on unemployment insurance so they have it made. Medicaid is insurance, but it is substandard minimal insurance. Food stamps are food relief, but it is substandard food relief designed to do little more than keep body and soul together. Housing assistance will buy you a nice substandard apartment in the worst part of town. In other words, people on Welfare are suffering any way, just like you and I would.Santorum's attitude on suffering is also upside down. Suffering is part of life, and dealing with and rising above suffering is part of what we do to develop character. But the way he talks it's as though creating suffering in others becomes an act of charity. And this is simply cruelty.

Good thoughts, U. But the slant you have on them and the slant others might have are quite different. You'd be starting from the same facts, on which you'd agree, but you'd soon diverge in how you'd deal with the problem so defined. I suppose that's why we have a poorly designed welfare system - people don't know how to compromise in a way that will provide optimum solutions. What they usually end up with in government is back-room deals, with all parties getting something, likely in proportion to their leverage. No good planning can survive that. You please the planners, rather than solve the problem.

"I am saying that they belonged to a sort of Welfare culture that did not value the kind of labor discipline that workers had and they were (at the time, until they got used to it) very intimidate by the workplace. This WAS a sort of dependence on welfare, but not in the sense that the right speaks about it, as though there is a class of lazy people that want to live off of everyone else. And it was good that THAT cycle of welfare was eventually broken."I would say that you're acknowledging, in a perceptive and truthful way, that the grab bag of entitlements that collectively are known as welfare, for all their necessity and virtue, do also present a type of moral hazard. Morally, they are not wholly pure.My view is that those programs are necessary, because we're obligated to help our brothers and sisters in need; but they do also constitute, to some extent, a moral hazard; and as a society we are obligated to provide the safety net while simultaneously doing everything we can do minimize the moral hazard.

I agree, Jim. But the definition of work discipline (that is, what these welfare people didn't initially have) also presents a type of moral hazard. The first is when labor is considered just another commodity and the worker just another kind of tool to be used and discarded at will. The second is when it becomes reasonable in society to think that one's life is to be subordinated to the needs of either one's employer or to the employer class. This second hazard has a social content; does one's employer have the right to destroy a community by moving operations to another (especially foreign) community? Is it (a) good to set down roots or should that be ignored in the pursuit of ever more pay? The third is when labor is manipulated as a class. This happens when social things are done to increase the demand for labor in order to depress wages and benefits. One often hears arguments on the right against, say, unemployment insurance itself keeping people out of work. But eliminating it and other parts of the safety net would increase demand for all jobs and create a seller's market that could erode the social gains that labor has made in the past (like medical benefits, pensions, etc.)Normal understanding of labor discipline would require the worker to tolerate all of these. The location of work and the level of compensation just becomes a matter of a market (dominated by capital) and the good worker just sucks this up. Things like community and family life are not only secondary to this, they don't really exist relative to this in a meaningful (that is, sustainable) way. I am not saying that it is always this way, or that it is this way for everyone when it is this way for most people, or that it has to be this way. All I am saying is that there are also moral hazards to labor discipline as we know it.

"If I have characterized Santorum (and Gerson) correctly, these are people who think that in general, individuals (and never the economic system) are responsible for lack of insurance, lack of a private pension, lack of food, lack of a job, lack of a decent wage and lack of a decent share (that is, a consistent rather than declining share) of the proceeds of improved economic productivity. If this is true, then their view of the family must be that the family supports the individual in this personal and entirely independent struggle."I would submit that you have not characterized them correctly at all. Or at least failed to adequately support your characterization of them based on their actual statements. To be fair, I have not read Santorum's every statement, but I'm fairly confident I've read damn near every word of Gerson's, and he in no way believes that "individuals (and never the economic system) are responsible for lack of insurance, lack of a private pension, lack of food, lack of a job, lack of a decent wage and lack of a decent share (that is, a consistent rather than declining share) of the proceeds of improved economic productivity." It's simply not a fair characterization of his view, nor of any communitarian (including the "Big Government conservative" variety) that I've read.

As for Santorum, I think it fair to say he has a more robust view of the power of government to shape behavior than most mainstream Republicans. But I do think he has the same healthy suspicion of government that most of the Scotch-Irish hard scrabble workers of the Rust Belt have. And that is his narrative.

Jim P. --We are NOT doing all we can to minimize the moral hazards of being very poor. Most often the reason that the very poor do not get jobs is because they do not have a good enough education to qualify to get a job. Until the problem of crummy schools in the slums is solved the underclass of unqualified workers will persist. Those kids do not stay in school because the schools are so rotten the kids see that they don't help them to get out of the hood. So they quit and take to selling dope. At least that's a source of income for a while. (The leading cause of death in the under 25's in slums is murder.)There is hope. The schools of New Orleans including many in the slums -- with a tremendous amount of effort by both locals and outside help -- have improved mightily.

Ann, the schools are often awful because the kids are awful. If a school is overwhelmed with discipline problems, teaching is practically impossible.

I agree with U -David doesn't know what he's talking about (again).As to the schools ,see 'Savage Inequalities." for an excellent description of school differences.

Yes, David, the violence-bad schooling pattern is real -- and it's a vicious circle. The kids have to be first given hope that they *can* do the work so they can "make it". This requires that somebody who has made it (the teacher??) *believes* in their ability to succeed. I saw this over and over in the black college I taught in -- there was always somebody in the background who was confident that the kid from the awful slum could do it and who convinced the kid him/herself that success, with hard work, was indeed possible.

"I would submit that you have not characterized them correctly at all. Or at least failed to adequately support your characterization of them based on their actual statements. To be fair, I have not read Santorums every statement, but Im fairly confident Ive read damn near every word of Gersons, and he in no way believes that individuals (and never the economic system) are responsible for lack of insurance, lack of a private pension, lack of food, lack of a job, lack of a decent wage and lack of a decent share (that is, a consistent rather than declining share) of the proceeds of improved economic productivity. Its simply not a fair characterization of his view, nor of any communitarian (including the Big Government conservative variety) that Ive read."

I have read two of Michael Gerson's books: City of Man, which he wrote with Peter Wehner and which is a discussion of religion and politics and Stoic Conservatism, which seems to be a defense of the aggressive "idealistic" policies of GW Bush (as a model of what modern conservatism should be). Gerson is a conservative, but he fashions himself a moderate putting himself between a dogmatic government hating religious right and a secular liberal left. The article in the link could have been taken almost word for word from the former book. In a chapter on The Role and Purpose of the State, he says:There are, we believe, four categories---order, justice, virtue, and prosperity---that can help Christians think through the proper role of government in our lives. (He says that these are not complete, but it is hard to tell if he thinks that there are additional categories or if he thinks that his discussion of these four could be more detailed.) We can talk about what these four are in detail at another time, but it is significant that 1) he sees them as relatively independent; 2) he seems to put them in order of importance and 3) prosperity, where he discusses capitalism, is last. Order is not totalitarian order, but is heavily concerned with crime, punishment, and respect for the law. Justice is defined as "the belief that everyone, no matter at what station or in what season of life, has inherant dignity and rights." He continues his discussion about the strong exploiting the weak and moves directly into a long section on abortion. It is in his discussion of virtue that he talks about the family (which has "(t)he main responsibility of inculcating virtue..." and families are supported in the character formation of individuals by intermediate institutions like the "schools, church and other houses of worship, neighborhoods, voluntary associations, and community organizations." He explicitly says "Important are not the institutions per se but the individuals who comprise them." He then goes on to contradict himself by saying that the State, on the other hand, is an institution that is important for forming the national character and gives a number of examples where he thinks the state, through making bad laws (abortion, Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), no fault divorce, and same-sex marriage) corrupted society. Finally, when he talks about prosperity, he talks about capitalism in a generic sense as opposed to non-capitalist societies and the ability of capitalism as opposed to other kinds of economic systems to create prosperity. He recognizes "excesses" in capitalism, but these are things which are illegal like insider trading, rather than anything to do with capitalist labor relations as such.So does he think "that individuals (and never the economic system) are responsible for lack of insurance, lack of a private pension, lack of food, lack of a job, lack of a decent wage and lack of a decent share (that is, a consistent rather than declining share) of the proceeds of improved economic productivity"? He attributes this sort of thing to governments (basically backward foreign governments) and doesn't address the economy about these things as far as I could find. But these are attributes of a neoliberal. Is he one?What I did find is that he concentrates on individual morality as the cornerstone of everything (fair enough) and the economy as neutral, unless immoral people are doing immoral things in it.On the other hand, in his book on conservatism he explicitly supports the GW Bush administration (he was Bush's speech writer for five years). If Bush was a neoliberal, Gerson supported this. One quote that I found interesting from Conservatism was this:

President Bush's domestic-policy instincts generally fit a pattern: He is open to increased spending, if that spending was accompanied by reform. He raised federal education spending nearly 34 percent --but tied to increases to testing and accountability. He increased Medicare spending to cover prescription drugs--but insisted that coverage be provided through private companies chosen by the individual. He increased spending on overseas development through the Millennium Challenge Account-- but made grants contingent on political and economic reform. In none of these cases did President Bush roll back government, but he did restructure and modernize it. At its best, this approach has been more than a cut-rate liberalism; it has been active, reforming conservatism, aimed at empowering individuals and encouraging performance with public funds.

Putting aside No Child Left Behind, his Medicare drug program was criticized at the time for explicitly precluding any negotiation with the drug companies on the retail prices of the drugs even with the massive leverage the increased spending provided. The Millenium Challenge Corporation, reformed by Bush, has been criticized explicitly as a mechanism for pushing neoliberal economic and political policies. These are both characteristic of Bush's neoliberal approach to the economy.

Tremendous discussion. I have nothing to add, except to say thanks. Especially to unagidon, who puts thoughts together from the basis of knowledge and experience.

Ray Flynn endorses romney.I find myself being more and more distanced from my Church which so easil ycountaenaces Santorum and his angry Catholicism.As he gets (gently I hope) booed by youth in his travelsm he symbolizes how the me first Catholic world alienates many young

Both Dowd and Douthat wrote about Santorum in today's NYT:http://www.nytimes.com/pages/opinion/index.html

Over at America's "In All Things", Vince Miller has a thread on 'Santorum and the Lobotimization of Subsidiarity" that has the usual suspects in a frenzy - how copuld they, such real Catholics as they atre, have the message wrong?Oh well......

"He attributes this sort of thing to governments (basically backward foreign governments) and doesnt address the economy about these things as far as I could find. But these are attributes of a neoliberal. Is he one?"No, because the arguments he makes are standard communitarian critiques. Michael Sandel, for example (and no Santorum conservative for sure) has been just as trenchant on, for example, no fault divorce as an example of bad government policies inculcating bad outcomes (and I'm not sure I see the contradiction between saying the family has the primary role in inculcating virtue, but government has an important role as well). You are (as I've previously said) correct in your critique of the atomization of the individual by late 2oth century capitalism, but the communitarian critique of liberal neoliberalism is that a too-powerful-state can have much the same effect as the all-powerful market. ANd while Gerson doesn't make the explicit critique of capitalism, he has written in his columns about the dangers of the libertarian instinct that would replace the market for the state.

"Or at least failed to adequately support your characterization of them based on their actual statements."I agree. Just speaking for myself, I'm willing to entertain the hypothesis that Rick Santorum is a Neoliberal, a Communist, a Big-Endian or a collector of rare books, if any facts can be marshaled to support it. Of course, Santorum is running a distant third in New Hampshire (having pulled even with, of all people, Jon Huntsman), and isn't within five points of Romney in any upcoming primary, so far as I can see. It appears that, as Newt Gingrich's support melts away, it's breaking in roughly equal measure to Romney, Santorum and Paul (who is turning out to be quite useful for Romney). It appears that the chapter on Catholic Social Teaching in the 2012 GOP primary season is destined to be a brief one.

Jeff --A semantic problem (not with your own writing but in some conservatives you sometimes compliment) --As super-conservatives use the term "the State" or "the state", I keep getting the most negative overtones, as if the word itself implies that *all* states deserve to die and must be dispatched as soon as possible. These radicals include, as I see them, the libertarians, and now some of the neoliberals. The people who use the term with only a perjorative sense remind me for all the world of Karl Marx and his hatred of all states except the last one, which, he maintained would inevitably wither away. Odd that those who are most against what they call "socialism" fairly often sound a lot like Marx. It's as if "the State" is some giant organized impersonal force that is out to cheat and enslave them. Lous XIV ("L'Etat, c'est moi") on steroids. It's a primitive sort of personification which rolls all evil human powers into one.I say, avoid that clanging call to arms "the State" as much as possible, and keep it as neutral as possible. There are have been, after all, all sorts of states except the perfect one.Better to talk about "the government", I think. It is generally a much less ideologically loaded word, though the Tea Partiers use it as perjoratively as "the State".

[...] Superb exchange going on over at dotCommonweal over a post about how certain political conservatives, like Rick Santorum or Michael Gerson, try to reconcile their Catholicism with the neoliberal paradigm. For once, even the comment thread is worth reading! [...]