Sunday, March 29, 2009

Economics and Catholic Thought

With the potential collapse of capitalism happening in our life times I've been giving some thought to how high school economics classes are taught. I'm specifically interested in those being taught in Catholic high schools. Financial literacy is becoming an extremely important topic. This years events have provided much fodder for discussing economics. The time seems very ripe for open minds to perhaps consider some alternative economic theories that both understand human freedom and the right ordering of goods.

We have a great history to stand upon from numerous papal encyclicals to the work of Dortothy Day and others. G.K. Chesterton and others have dabbled in the theory of distributism as an alternative to communism, socialism, or capitalism. Graduating students who have a depth of understanding regarding the right ordering of society and economic rights and responsibilities is perhaps a key step to rebuilding our countries financial institutions. Our students are tomorrows leaders. I have to believe students steeped in a thorough understanding of "fiat" currency, monetary theory, and the historical debates regarding the concept of an economic system built on "interest" will go a long way towards forming a more just economic world.

Most states require an economics course for high school students. The secular books we use rarely if ever mention alternative economic theories. As Catholic schools we count on our staff to add the deeper context and meaning required to look at economic issues through the Catholic world view.

Here are a few helpful resources to begin the conversation:
Papal Document Pacem In Terris
Papal Document Quadragesimo Anno
Small is Beautiful by Schumacher

Below is a video to help understand the current financial crisis that your teachers may find helpful.

The Credit Crisis - Animatic from Jonathan Jarvis on Vimeo.

This vide is long in length but if you find yourself with 47 minutes and not much to do I think you'll find it fascinating. I don't personally agree with everything in the film but it is intriguing.