Niko's Nature

“Whatsoever thy soul shall say to me, I will do for thee.”

Posts tagged social justice

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Hunger Games Math

Get ready, get scared, a philosophy major is about to try to do math. 

Questions to be answered:

How many tesserae must be taken out to feed all of district 12?  How would you distribute the tesserae to minimize the additional risk of being selected of any one individual?  How much would the odds of any one individual rise under this system? 

Assumptions taken:

1.  We will pretend for sake of argument that the Capital either wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t care that District 12 was gaming the system. 

2. We’ll also pretend that the poor of District 12 are able and willing to organize what might be a fairly complex system of signing up for and distributing tesserae, and they are able to trust each other. 

3. Also, tesserae don’t provide all necessities of life.  They only provide grain and oil.  And given the tight controls on the district, it seems unlikely that you could trade grain and oil with other districts for necessary resources.  Thus, there is a maximum utility to tesserae and having surpassed it, it’s unclear why anyone would do additional tesserae.  But for the sake of doing this, we’ll pretend that there is no maximum utility and that an additional tesserae will make you happier than before.  (If you want, you can pretend Katniss and Peeta run a blackmarket by smuggling stuff from other districts in through the victor’s village.)

4.  We will assume that every non-merchant of district 12 will get in on this.  Furthermore, we will assume 1 tessera is enough to feed one person and every person needs a tessera to feed themselves.

Having assumed all that, here’s what we know.

A.  There are approximately 8,000 people in district 12. 

B. According to 10-15% (800-1200 make up the “merchant class” who we assumed will not take out tesserae.  I’ll use the dif. between 10-15% later.)

C. According to the same site approx. 40% of the population are children.  Now, that includes children 0-12 who cannot take tesserae.  I don’t know what the ave. distribution of children in any country are, so let’s assume they’re distributed fairly evenly.  That means that only 1/3 of those children are between 12-18 and can be reaped and take out tesserae. (~13.3% of total pop.)

D. Thus, approx. 1067 children are in the population can be reaped and take out tesserae.  Again, assuming they are evenly distributed we can assume there are approx 153 per “reaping” year.  Since one’s name goes in an additional year, not accounting for tesseraes yet, we can say that there are approx. 4284 names in the reaping pool. (A 12 year old has their name in once.  A 13 year old has their name in twice…) So, we can construct our first “reaping bracket.”

Before Tesserae are accounted for:

Chart 1:

Chance that the selection from district 12 will be…

…any 12 years old: 3.571%/ A particular 12 year old: .023%

…any 13 years old: 7.203%/ A particular 13 year old .047%

…any 14 years old: 10.714% A particular 14 year old .07%

…any 15 years old: 14.286% A particular 15 year old .093%

…any 16 years old: 17.857% A particular 16 year old .117%

…any 17 years old: 21.429% A particular 17 year old .140%

…any 18 years old: 25% A particular 18 year old .163%

E.  Now, we need to figure out the relative divisions between young kids and adults vs. 12-18 y.o. among the poor and the rich to see how many tesseraes we need to account for.  An easy way to do this would be to simply be to say one in 8 would be rich and and 7 in 8 would be poor since that’s the number we came up with in A.  But this fails to account for the fact that poor people, for a variety of reasons tend to have more children.  Thus, we would imagine the kids would be disproportionately poorer compared to the general pop.  Not knowing how to get around this problem statistically, I’m going to cheat a little and use the 10-15% in A as a somewhat reliable guide, and say that 15% of the gen. pop would belong to the merchant class, but only 10% of kids.  Thus, there would be 1200 people in the merchant class, but only ~107 of them are of reaping age, and ~15 would be in per reaping year.

F. Thus, there would be 107 people in the merchant pop. of “reapable age” and 1193 of non reapable age.  There would be 960 people of reapable age in the “poor” pop. and 5,840 people of non reapable age.

So let’s get a new reaping bracket up to figure out what are the chances of a non-merchant v. merchant being selected:

Chart 2:

Chance that the selection from District 12 will be a non-merch./merch…

…12 year old: 3.221%/.35%

…13 year old: 6.442%/.7%

…14 year old: 9.663%/1.05%

…15 year old: 12.884%/1.4%

…16 year old: 16.105%/1.75%

…17 year old: 19.326%/2.1%

…18 year old: 22.547%/2.45%

G. Now, given all that, the number of tesserae we need are 6,800 divided among 960 people who can take out tesserae.  The obvious thing to do seems to divide the 6,800 tesserae evenly among the 960, so that each kid takes out ~7 tesserae.  But, this is not correct because this would lower the chances of the older kids being selected while raising the chances of a younger kid being selected.  Our goal was to try to keep the chances of being reaped as even as possible.  This may not seem clear so think of it this way.  If you have 2 red marbles in a jar and 1 blue one, what are the odds of selecting a red marble, 66.7% right?  And a blue one? 33.3%  Now, add one more red and blue marbles to the jar.  Now what are the odds?  60% and 40% If you want to keep the odds the same, then you’re going to have to add 2 reds for every blue.  By the same principle, for every tessera a 12 year old takes out, a 13 year old takes out 2, a 14 year old takes out 3… an 18 year old takes out 7.  This means in order to keep odds as equal as possible, we need to divide 6,800 by 28 (~243) which tells us how many tesserae non-merchant 12 year olds as a group need to take out. Which means 13 year olds as a group take out 486 and 18 year olds as a group take out 1,701 tesserae.  This means that instead of there being 4,284 names, 3,563 of which belong to non-merch. there will be 11,088 names in there 10,367 of which belong to non-merch.

H. Now, let’s see how that affects the odds.  We’ll only look at the 12 and 18  year old groups for reasons I’ll explain shortly:

Chart 3

Chances that the selection from District 12 will be a nonmerch./merch…

12 year old: 3.436%/.135% (original: 3.221%/.35%)

18 year old: 24.052%/.945% (original: 22.547%/2.45%) 

So, since the increase in odds is minimized for each individual if its even across the board, lets see if the increase was proportional:

3.221/3.436 = .937

22.547/24.052 = .937

I. So, it looks like we met our goal of getting enough tesserae with the minimum possible increase in risk of being selected for the reaping.  But there’s a problem.  We said this would require nonmerch. 12 year olds to take out 243 tesserae, but there are 138 of them, (rounding error.)  243 does not go into 136-8 evenly, and its impossible to take out a percentage of a tessera.  Therefore, we need to come up with fractions that divide evenly (or relatively close, I’ll accept a small rounding error.) 

K. Now, we could spend time hunting for LCDs and whatnot, but if my theory is correct, it doesn’t matter how many tesserae we apply for, so long as they’re distributed evenly.  They should still match (roughly) the numbers in Chart 3  Therefore, instead of worrying about doing math the right way, let’s just have the 12 year olds apply for the next largest number after 243 divisible by 138 which is clearly 276.  Following the same rules as before, this means that we will have 7,728 tesserae, and we only needed 6800.  So this should be enough and it should be divisible by what we need.  So, essentially, each nonmerch. between the ages of 12-18 will take out 2(Their age - 11) tesserae. 

L. This means that there’s a total of 12,012 names in the reaping pool.  The people with the most, 18 year olds, have their name in 21 times.  The people with the least, 12 year olds have their name in 3 times. 

So let’s see how that works.

Chart 4

Chance of a particular nonmerch…

…12 year old being selected = .025%

…13 year old being selected = .05%

…14 year old being selected = .075%

…15 year old being selected = .1%

…16 year old being selected = .125%

…17 year old being selected =.15%

…18 year old being selected =.175%

M. How close were we to the original odds?  Well, the original odds of a particular 12 year old being selected was originally .023% and the original odds of a particular 18 year old were .163%  So, we only increased the 12 year olds chance of being selected from 23 in 100,000 to 25 in 100,000. (or from .92 to 1 in 4,000)  And we only increased the 18 year old’s from 163 in 100,000 to 175 in 100,000 (or from 6.52 to 7 in 4,000) Which I think is pretty damn close.  This means that we can make sure everyone in District 12 is able to eat without raising their odds of being reaped substantially. 

N. Now, are there any drawbacks to this system?  Unfortunately yes and its a structural problem inherent in the system.  The only people who would take out tesserae are the poor, so as we said before, its unlikely that any of the merchants would get in on this system.  What does that mean? That the reason the poor kids odds of being reaped remain relatively low is that they are essentially betting against each other that one of the others are going to be reaped.  What this ends up doing then is disproportionately benefiting the merchants as far as reaping goes.  For example, the likelihood of being reaped if you were a 12 year old merchant before was .023%.  Under this system, it would be .008%.  In other words, while it does not increase any individual nonmerch. kids odds of being chosen significantly, it does significantly increase the odds that the one chosen will be a nonmerch.  That seems a bit unjust.

O. So, what did we learn? That it would require 7,728 tesserae to feed district 12 without significantly increasing the likelihood of any particular individual to be chosen.  You would distribute them in such a way that each person signs up for 2(Their age - 11) tesserae.  The increase in odds for any individual is between .002% and .012%.  But we also learned something else.  It’s possible to survive in an oppressive system by gaming it, but if you want justice, and not mere survival, we need to change it.


Tried to est. the ave. fertility rates for District 12, this is what I got:

Total: 1.33, Approx. the same as Poland

Merchant class: .727, slightly less than Singapore.

Nonmerchant class: 1.469, almost as high as Belarus.

(So, on average, between any random 3 women in District 12, there will be 4 children.  Between any random 3 women in the merchant class, there will be 2.181 children.  Between any random 3 women in the nonmerchant class, there will be 4.407 children.)

Filed under Hunger Games The Hunger Games Social Justice Math

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Anonymous asked: I'm a bit confused with your "people are people" post. Do you mean that females should be feminine and males be masculine? Or are you saying that because we can choose, that the post shouldn't exist? Sorry, I'm so confused on what you were saying. If you could explain it not in the poem form haha, that would be great. :)

For those who didn’t see the post referenced, it is this one.

And you’re right, I was a bit vague, partly because its hard to express all my thoughts on such a complicated issue in a short poem. 

To directly answer your question, yes, I believe females should be feminine and males be masculine.  But, to be clear, I don’t mean our constructed norms of femininity and masculinity.  (i.e. woman are dainty and sweet and men are rough and competitive.)  Rather, what I’m saying is that woman and man are two distinct categories and that as a male, I cannot claim to be a woman because I “identify” as one.  Further, I argue that if the feminist orthodoxy does claim that there are no essential distinctions between women and men then it contradicts more fundamental parts of the feminist project.

I give several reasons for this in the poem which I’ll explain more in depth here.  The first one I give is in regards sexual orientation, as in, same-sex attracted, opposite-sex attracted.  My point does not get into whether same-sex or opposite-sex orientations are good or bad etc., only that people with them do exist, which should be uncontroversial.  People may agree or disagree on whether homosexuality is right or wrong, but I think we all agree homosexuals exist.  I argue that if anyone can be “a woman” including males, then what the hell does it mean to be attracted only to women?  Or vice-versa, if anyone can be a man, including females, then what does it mean to be only attracted to men?  In fact, we recognize that if we claim there are no discrete categories between men and women, it’s impossible to claim that there can be individuals who are attracted exclusively (or predominately) to one or both categories.  But in fact, there are individuals who are attracted to one or both categories.  For example, I met (a very attractive) someone of one sex who “presented” as the opposite gender, and so I assumed that they were the sex corresponding to the gender they presented as.  When I realized they were not that sex, and were the opposite, I did not feel the same sexual attraction to them.  One could try to explain this away by compartmentalizing sexual attraction to an attraction to their genitals, but I think this is a very limited view of sexuality.  Therefore, recognizing that single sex oriented orientations exist, we must say that there are discrete differences between the genders. 

The other problem is that without affirming a direct relationship between sex and gender, (i.e. male=man and female=woman) transgenderism becomes nonsensical.  This might sound strange, so let me explain. (Again, I am not in this post seeking to ascertain whether transgenderism is right or wrong or good or bad, but merely noting that it is a phenomenon that exists, even if we don’t understand how it exists, there simply are some people who for some reason or another feel like they belong to the opposite gender than the one they were born with.)  If a male feels like he is a “woman” and not a “man” (or if a woman feels like she is a “man” and not a “woman”) it means they recognize that the categories “man” and “woman” are different, because if they were the same, then it would be impossible to say I am this one and not the other.  But, if you say anyone can be a “man” or “woman” then there are no distinctions between the two.  And if there are no distinctions between the two, then the categories “man” and “woman” are either synonymous or do not actually exist.  Both of which do not line up with human understanding.

Therefore, while I agree with the sentiment of the original post, that we should respect all people, and more to the point, love them, even if we disagree with their thoughts or actions, I think the original post has a self-contradicting (though unfortunately common) gender theory.  Thank you for your question, and I hope this answer helps you. 

In Christ,


Filed under Social Justice Gender Theory People are People Sexuality Gender

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Hardin v. Singer (v. Natural Law Based Liberalism)

Hardin v. Singer (v. Natural Law Based Liberalism)

Hardin and Singer’s arguments use many premises that are essentially the same.  Singer argues that we must do that which we are able to alleviate suffering without sacrificing something of comparable moral wealth and Hardin says, “We must ask if such a program would actually do more good than harm, not only momentarily but also in the long run.”  They have thus both adopted a fundamentally consequentialist ethic.  Singer argues that poverty causes suffering and death; we can prevent poverty without sacrificing anything of comparable moral worth; and thus we ought to through charity (which he would not call charity but justice.)  Hardin argues that poverty is bad, charity to poor nations causes more poverty, (by creating more impoverished people) and thus we should not do it.  Hardin would accuse Singer of sentimentalism, and being ignorant willfully or not of the economic principles of how to actually help the poor, and Singer would accuse Hardin of callousness, but philosophically they really cannot critique each other since they are two sides of the same consequentialist coin.

Of the two, Hardin’s is weaker because he bases his idea on Malthusianism, an idea that can be used to promote a variety of programs, but who’s central tenet is essentially that the problem of poverty is not that there is too much poverty, but that there are too many poor people, and thus decreasing the number of poor people solves the problem.  This is like thinking you’ve solved the problem of having socks with holes in them by throwing out the socks.  You still have lost a pair of socks.  Furthermore, philosophy, unlike the sciences, math, history, and a few other subjects, rarely has the opportunity to empirically study its theories, but Malthusianism is one of the rare opportunities that we do have the opportunity, and Malthusianism has never once been proven right.  It claims population growth outstrips food production, and so population growth among the poor will necessarily lead to hunger, and yet, food production has always increased faster than population growth.  This is due to mainly two factors: first, as there are more people, there will be more people involved in producing food.  Yes, not everyone will choose to be involved in food production, but a single person involved in food production, produces food not just for himself and his family, but enough to be put on the market, thus leading to net gain in crop production.  Second, as there are more people, more will become involved in the sciences, engineering, etc. creating more efficient methods of food production.  (Currently, hydroponics has produced very successful results in higher crop yields from far fewer natural resources.  The only thing stopping it from mass adoption as standard farming practice is that it can be unstable since it lacks the buffer of soil, thus, if a failure in the hydroponic system occurs, it leads to massive crop death.  But this is an issue of practicality that can and will be solved.)  Essentially, Hardin is wrong because he assumes we are on a lifeboat with no resources.  Really, we are on a giant ship, that has on it construction material necessary for any repairs and expansions of the ship, fishing equipment to catch more fish, and oars to help propel the boat forward.  Of course, all these things have to be manned.  Thus, when we add more men to this ship we call the earth, we are increasing our common share, not decreasing it. 

Hardin’s argument also fails because of his reliance on the principle of the “Tragedy of the Commons,” an idea that individuals, acting rationally in their own interest will act against the group’s best interest, usually by overuse of a necessary resource.  Essentially, Hardin argues that if something is shared in common.  It goes to the advantage of each individual to use that resource as much as they can replenishing it as little as they can.  Such a system may tolerate a few “free riders” if the rest of the commons pick up their slack, but Hardin’s argues, that upon seeing that other people are benefitting, they will not have the motivation to work harder for no gain, and so will become “free riders” too.  Thus, the commons collapses. Again, we have an idea that has been tested in history, and found false, the actual commons under the English feudal system.  The commons contrary to what Hardin argues, was actually a highly successful system and as long as law protected the commons, the commoners had access to a sustainable income.  Once the commons were enclosed, the commoners were dispossessed of that land, and had no source of income except working for wages as a newly created proletariat from the newly created land-owning class.  This meant that the poor previously governed by nobles and defended by the crown, were now to be governed by the laws of supply and demand and exploited by capitalists.  John C. Medaille, in his “The Vocation of Business” notes, “A century before the seizures, the peasant could provision his family by fifteen weeks of work and the artisan by ten; by 1543, it took the peasant forty weeks of work and the artisan thirty-two.”  Further, recent articles about pastoralism and land held in common in Africa, and the problems when the common is destroyed prove bunk the “tragedy of the commons.”[1] 

Finally, Hardin’s argument fails because he recognizes the existence of what he calls “pure justice” (I suppose by this he means deontological concepts of justice) which he argues we should not follow because it produces an “infinite regression” to absurdity.  Whether or not this is true, or whether his example of immigration rights as an example of “pure justice” is valid, is beside the point.  The comment alone shows that Hardin recognizes the existence of “pure justice” and anyone who recognizes pure justice is morally obligated to align oneself to those principles of pure justice no matter how absurd they may be, even to the point of death.  It is only bizarre for a man to die a martyr for justice if he defines justice based on self-interest, but this would hardly be justice.  Under any system of justice conceived under a premise of human equality (a necessary principle for justice), death for one’s principles is an honor.  Is it difficult, even to the point of absurdity?  Sure, but just because something is difficult does not mean we should not do it.  The fact that Hardin has a concept of “pure justice” but does not follow it because he does not like the consequences shows his argument is based more on emotion than on reason.

Which brings us to the arguments of Peter Singer.  Peter Singer, like Hardin bases his argument in consequentalist ethics.  This brings us to some interesting consequences following Singer’s ethical principles outlined in his theory.  For example, Singer notes that suffering and death are both bad and should be minimized.  But a true utilitarian would need to ask, “Are they equally bad?  If not, how much of one is worse than another?”  It seems to me that we can much more easily minimize suffering across the world if we just kill everyone who’s suffering, (of course, doing it humanely while they are sleeping, so they don’t suffer,) and killing someone is always cheaper than helping them.  Essentially, why give a man a fish, or even take the time to teach him to fish, when a bullet through his head will ensure he’ll never go hungry again?  This might seem radical, and of course I find it abhorrent, but in the context of Singer’s entire philosophy, which includes euthanizing fetuses, newborns, people with disabilities, and anyone else Singer doesn’t see as capable of living a life without suffering, it’s not clear how one can escape this conclusion.  In fact, Singer’s claim that death is in itself bad and most people agree with this principle seems strange when in hundreds of other places he denies it and has no problem with it as a solution to suffering.  Thus, it does not seem Peter Singer is being consistent in his body of work. 

That being said, a principle in any philosophical discourse is to disprove the argument, not the person.  So, while it seems clear that Peter Singer has contradicted himself in his body of work, I still have yet to attack the argument directly, as if it were advanced by someone who has never made the eugenicist claims he has, and will endeavor to do so.  Firstly, the argument is too simplistic because it assumes that helping someone halfway around the globe is just as easy as helping the person next door.  But, by trying to give a dollar to the person in Burundi, it must first pay the salaries of the aid organizations that help get it there.  Even if those organizations are incredibly efficient there is still going to be some loss in value.  This doesn’t really attack the core of the argument though, but does require it to be reformulated so that our calculation would go from (Aid for starving at home = Aid for starving in Burundi) to (Aid for starving poor at home – loss of value from “middle-men” in long-distance aid =  Aid for starving in Burundi)  We can add more variables to the equation for “relative worth of aid in various countries, loss of time/interest-value of dollar as it travels, tax benefit difference etc. all making the equation more complicated than the argument claims.

Secondly, the contention regarding death v. suffering is still relevant even if we allow the generous concession that killing is still categorically wrong in a utilitarian system (A generous concession.*)  Consider John Taurek’s example: “The situation is that I have a supply of some life-saving drug. Six people will all certainly die if they are not treated with the drug. But one of the six requires all of the drug if he is to survive. Each of the other five requires only one-fifth of the drug. What ought I to do?”[2] Now, add to that the further “wrinkle” that if you give the first person the drug, he will live a pain-free life, but the other five suffer from an untreatable disease that will cause them pain the rest of their lives.  Now what should you do?   What’s “worth” more in this situation?  How does one even begin the moral calculus involved here?  Another similar example but attacking a different side of the “moral calculus” would be an updated version of Buridan’s ass.  Suppose there were two dying people alike in every possible way equal distance away from me.  I have a drug that can save one.  Since I can save them, I ought to, but since I can’t pick either of them because that would be showing preferential treatment to them I must let them both die, rather than try to save one or the other.  Or suppose a situation where I am stranded on an island with a starving cannibal who will not last the night if he does not eat, but we know that we will be rescued in the morning.  Do I have an obligation to prevent the death of the cannibal by letting him nibble on my foot in order to get him through the night, or does my suffering from having my toes chewed off somehow outweigh the moral weight of the cannibal’s death.  Examples like this show that utilitarianism fails as a guide for right moral action.

Thirdly, the author takes the easy way out by refusing to provide an argument for why death and suffering in itself is bad.  Obviously, we agree it is bad, but depending on why one believes it’s bad, different moral principles come into play.  For example, suppose someone refuses to work for an income out of sheer laziness and announces that unless people feed him, he will starve and die.  Do we still have the same obligation to feed him as we would someone who wants to work, but can’t, or someone who works but due to external factors can’t earn enough to eat?  If one says yes, the obligation is still there, we are trapped in a situation where we are rewarding people for being lazy and thus not contributing to charity, and thus violating their moral obligation.  If one says no, the obligation is not there, then we have already weakened the idea that we should always act to prevent suffering and death.  Or what about the idea that we must treat every body absolutely equally?  I would think any reasonable person would say that a parent has a duty to their own child that supersedes their duty towards another child.  People might arrive at that conclusion through different ways, natural law, implied contractual obligation, “selfish gene” evolutionary ethics etc. but a reasonable person would get there.  Now, perhaps Peter Singer is right that this obligation to one’s own child does not justify a fancy college education when that money could improve the life of a child (or several children) immensely more than a college degree could improve a rich dad’s child’s life, (especially given the worth of an undergraduate degree nowadays) but suppose instead it was an option between preventing one’s own child from prolonged suffering from constant hunger, or preventing a child in Burundi from dying from hunger?  I think that might be a bit different.  Thus, it seems that there are more moral principles at play than just, “if you can prevent death and suffering without sacrificing something of equivalent moral worth, you ought to.”

Thus, I find Singer and Hardin’s arguments to both be deficient.  I agree with Singer that there is a moral obligation to help the poor, but it does not derive from consequentialist ethics, but deontological principles that are derived from an understanding of property as having ends directed towards the common good.  Because no one created the natural resources of the world, which are originally held in common, property created from these resources have a final cause in benefitting humanity, and thus the property must be used in such a way so as to benefit humanity.  However, in order for natural resources’ final cause of benefitting humanity to be realized, the natural resources must be taken out of communal ownership and thus, the person “privatizing” these resources becomes the efficient cause of the property created from the natural resources.  Thus, they have the freedom and responsibility to best decide how the final cause of the property is to be achieved.  Thus, a man who takes an apple from an apple tree has a responsibility to make sure that apple helps humanity, but whether that is done by giving the apple to the poor, or eating the apple himself, and using the energy gained from the apple to teach a poor boy how to fish, is a decision only he can make.

[1] See: “What Tragedy? Whose Commons? Conservation Magazine”; and “The Tragedy of the Enclosure, The Social Contract Press”

* Distinction between rule v. act utilitarianism can be overcome simply by noting that any objection to act utilitarianism can be an objection against rule utilitarianism simply by adding the words “…in cases where the utility of breaking the rule produces more utility than keeping it.” to it.  Thus, as David Lyons has argued, rule utilitarianism necessarily collapses into act utilitarianism.

[2] John M. Taurek, “Should the Numbers Count?”, Philosophy and Public Affairs, 6:4 (Summer 1977), pp. 293-316.

Filed under Catholic Philosophy Social Justice Peter Singer Utilitarianism

3 notes &

It will, perhaps, be objected to this, that if gathering the acorns or other fruits of the earth, etc., makes a right to them, then any one may engross as much as he will. To which I answer, Not so. The same law of Nature that does by this means give us property, does also bound that property too. “God has given us all things richly.” Is the voice of reason confirmed by inspiration? But how far has He given it us- “to enjoy”? As much as any one can make use of to any advantage of life before it spoils, so much he may by his labour fix a property in. Whatever is beyond this is more than his share, and belongs to others. Nothing was made by God for man to spoil or destroy. And thus considering the plenty of natural provisions there was a long time in the world, and the few spenders, and to how small a part of that provision the industry of one man could extend itself and engross it to the prejudice of others, especially keeping within the bounds set by reason of what might serve for his use, there could be then little room for quarrels or contentions about property so established.
John Locke

Filed under John Locke Philosophy Catholic Social Teaching Catholic Social Justice

15 notes &

Anonymous asked: Does Catholic Church support health care for all? I'm not talking just about here in the U. S. with Obama care, but in general.

The Catholic Church believes every person is entitled to the opportunity to have adequate medical care. This may be achieved in a variety of ways, and the Church does not particularly care which method is used, (so long as the method chosen does not violate any other moral principle,) leaving the task of discovering what is the most efficient method of delivering the best quality care to those who need it to professionals and experts in those fields. It should be noted that while a government run healthcare system is not necessary, since the government is tasked with the protection of their people’s rights, if those people are not receiving adequate care, then the government does have an obligation to step in and remedy the problem, in a manner that is harmonious with the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity. Does this answer your question?

In Christ,


Filed under Catholic healthcare Catholicism social justice catholic social teaching

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Meditation for Tonight: Pontius Pilate

Sometimes, I think the most relatable character in the Gospels is Pontius Pilate.  He was a busy man, who had a lot of things to do, and was just trying to keep peace and order in his province.  And this mob thrusts this guy whom Pontius Pilate had never met before, and says, “Hey, we want you to kill him.”  Pontius Pilate doesn’t immediately give into their commands, heck, in every other possible scenario, he did just about everything he could to prevent Jesus from dying.  In the end though, when he felt pressured, he cracked, and washed his hands of the matter. 

How often are we Pontius Pilate in our daily lives?  When we see a homeless person on the street, do we actually sit and have a conversation with them, or do we throw a few bucks at them, not even learning their name?  Do we get to know the people we interact with, and try to love them in a truly Christian manner, or do we minimize contact in our social lives, worrying about the next thing we have to do?  Why do we do this?  Is it because we feel we are so busy that giving other people the time of day might inconvenience us somehow?  Isn’t that what Pontius Pilate did?  He was willing to try to save Christ, until doing so became inconvenient.  What did Christ tell us in Mark 12:41-44?  Giving from our surplus certainly help those who receive our aid, but we make no sacrifice in doing that.  We make no connection to the person we are serving.  Christ calls us to radical charity, to give, to sacrifice in His name, even when it becomes inconvenient, even when it takes our whole lives. How often do we let our worries about our responsibilities get in the way of making human connections with the people in our lives, especially the poor, who often go forgotten?

Filed under Catholic Christian Christianity Catholicism Social Justice

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The Poor and Free Markets

There was a discussion on facebook about the Pope’s comments about free markets and whether or not they are (necessarily) beneficial to the poor or not.  I added this to the discussion, but thought some other people might like it, or at least might like to register their (dis)agreement with it.  Do with it what you please.


The poor today are better than the poor of yesteryear because of developments in technology that allow labor to become more efficient increasing general wealth. It has little to do with free markets. The poor under the Roman Empire were better off than the poor before the Roman Empire, but its not because the Roman empire was a capitalistic society. Similarly, the poor under Russian communism were better off than the serfs under the Tsar, but this was obviously not because communism brought capitalism. Now, I’m not saying that capitalism or free markets cannot help the poor, indeed they can, by increasing their economic options. But, free markets not some magic pill that can make poverty go away, nor can we make the jump from “free markets can help the poor by increasing their economic options” to “the ‘freest market’ (whatever the hell that means) will be the most beneficial economic option to the poor” or even the claim that there is necessary positive relationship between the freedom of the market and the economic situation of the poor.

The poor can and will be abused by the free market when abuses of the poor by corporations are not prevented under the justification that preventing them would limit the freedom of the market.

TL;DR: The free market was made for man, not man for the free market, thus, when widespread abuse of individuals, especially the poor, take place under the free market, justice can require us to restrict the market.

Filed under Social Justice Capitalism Free Market Catholic Social Teaching Nikosnature

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