Wealth & Responsibility
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Issue Date:  March 10, 2006

Wealth where it counts

American conservatives are a diverse lot. There are the economic conservatives -- the small government, low-tax crowd. The social conservatives -- pro-life and anti-gay marriage. The neocons, whose Wilsonian vision of U.S. power dominate our foreign policy. And now, as Dallas Morning News editor and writer Rod Dreher demonstrates ( see story), there are the “crunchy cons.”

Dreher is on to something, though exactly what is not quite clear. The “crunchy con” phenomenon he describes is not “conservative” in the conventional political sense. Crunchy conservatism, he writes, “doesn’t aim to make folks wealthier, except where it counts: in their relationships to each other and to the natural world.” Now that might be a platform worthy of embracing.

The purpose of international trade, of course, is to make people wealthier ( see story). But often, too often it seems, the effect is just the opposite. A relative handful of American cotton producers, bolstered by government subsidies and protective practices, prosper while millions in West Africa see their livelihoods threatened, their families ruined. Cheap U.S. grain forces Mexican farmers to abandon their farms and move north. Is the World Trade Organization part of the solution or a cause of the problem?

Can The Chronicles of Narnia contribute to more ethical business practices? L. Keith Whitney, chair of the Business Administration Division at Pepperdine University, thinks so ( see story). “Not only does reading literary greats provide context to ethical dilemmas but, perhaps most important, it helps students find heroic vision for their own lives,” writes Whitney.

“The church’s deepest nature is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God (kerygma-martyria), celebrating the sacraments (leitourgia), and exercising the ministry of charity (diakonia),” Pope Benedict writes in his recent encyclical, Deus Caritas Est. The “ministry of charity” to which the pope refers is increasingly scrutinized by the press, the public, and, not least, by Congress. Is the $250 billion Americans donate to nonprofit groups money well-spent? How can donors be assured that their dollars are efficiently deployed and wisely managed? Some answers, or at least jump-off points ( see story).

-- Joe Feuerherd

More stories
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IRS updates church guidelines on politicking

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Survey: Catholics who give most want more accountability

By Nancy Frazier O'Brien

National Catholic Reporter, March 10, 2006

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