Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Economic Exclusion

I personally use Mark Shea as a way to make sure I don't slip into a cognitive bubble. I'm sure he'd be delighted to know that he's often an intellectually uncomfortable read. Even stuff I already know about, like the continuity between Benedict and Francis on economics can lead to new sources and new challenges that keep me from going intellectually stale. Today's burr under my saddle is Ethika Politika where I find ‘Where is Unfettered Capitalism?’ and Other Questions on Evangelii Gaudium

The problem is paragraph 53 of Evangelii Gaudium which talks about the excluded as different from the marginalized or disenfranchised. It's a paragraph that I scanned while hurrying to read the whole thing and figure out what the fuss is all about and, frankly, didn't give sufficient attention to at the time. It's not a concept that makes much sense from a free market perspective. 

The category of excluded would imply excluders (who must be distinguishable from marginalizers). Who are they? Who is taking time to entirely exclude people from society? Who is devoting resources to the task? What are they doing? Is what they are doing properly characterized as market action or something else? 

I've tried to chase this rabbit to the back of the warren before. I've never come up with an actual instance where excluders were not either:
1. inchoate, not really existing boogeymen
2. people taking non-market actions that were wrongly defined as market actions. 

Ultimately, without real world exclusion actually happening, what the pope is talking about is theoretical nonsense. finding those real world examples would be very helpful in getting a pretty big segment of American conservatism on side with the Pope. I don't see much activity along those lines. 

Marginalization is a failure of imagination, mostly of figuring out how to include a person with unconventional and perhaps limited possibilities but also of empathy that some accident or disease may put us in the place of those who cannot earn their daily bread. Exclusion is the positive expense of effort and resources to place a barrier keeping others out. Who actually does that as a market action? The market may tolerate it as one more irrational non-market impulse but it does tend to punish such things.