In a lecture presented by Dr. Samuel Gregg of the Catholic University of America Washington, entitled, “How can Liberty and Solidarity Address the Problem of Crony Capitalism?” he sought to explain the dangers of crony capitalism and the possible solutions entrenched within the Catholic’s teachings on liberty and solidarity. Accordingly, he first defined the concept of crony capitalism. Afterwards, he emphasized the danger of such concept when it thrives in a nation’s economy. The main danger, according to Gregg, is that crony capitalism diminishes that create power of every individual in the society, by limiting the opportunity for free competition in its economy. He emphasized the importance of exercising one’s creative power. He explained that creative powers facilitate the spawn of new ideas and further supports free competition. The ultimate result is that, success relies not on political clout but on earnest and honest hard work. Crony capitalism, on the other hand, results to the reliance of success to how much a business entity influences the government for its cause. At the end of the day, such businesses will dominate the market, so that no new entrant will be able to establish strong foundations in the economy. Gregg further explains that fighting crony capitalism emanates to all levels of the society from the leaders down to the poorest citizen.
In accordance with the nature and t extent of the problem of crony capitalism, Gregg suggests that the Catholic Church intervene in two ways. These ways include: focusing on the purest concept of solidarity among its teachings. This can be done by separating the agenda, policies, and language of corporatism to the Catholic concept of solidarity. This way there is no “middle ground” or compromise between corporatism and the Church’s teachings, which will then pave the way to a clear stand among the Catholics. What Gregg is implying is that the current Catholic teachings and solidarity is somewhat tainted with the principles of corporatism. The second is re-emphasizing the “virtue of consistent love of neighbor as oneself” (Gregg). These two solutions suggest two action items for all Catholics: to renew the teachings and to become more proactive in applying them in the business dimension. In all these efforts the Catholic Church should always shun from directly influencing the legislative, or any branch of the government. Meaning, the Church, distance itself from the government by applying the law that separates the powers of the Church and the State.
As I take note of Dr. Samuel Gregg’s lecture, I could help but agree and disagree at some of his points. I completely agree with him when it comes to the two solutions he proposed. I however, disagree with him when it comes to the Church strict compliance with the law that separates the powers of the Church and the State. To justify my stand on this matter, I would like to draw on the famous “People Power Revolution” which took place sometime in the 1980s in the Philippines – an Asian country. During the said time, the alleged dictator and president of the said republic, Ferdinand E. Marcos, confiscated the numerous businesses from their previous owners (the majority of them are devout Catholics and descendants of the Spaniards who colonized the country for 300 years), and then redistributed them to his cronies (either relatives and close friends). These businesses then had the upper hand advantage as legislations were made to favor their cause, leaving the rest of the businesses obscure from the public’s eyes rendering them uncompetitive in the market. The said obscured businesses had no other choice but to close or be taken over by bigger firms at the time. The result of such redistribution of wealth of businesses had amazing results in its first years as the Philippines rose in economic might in Asia during the early 1970s (Mongabay). Nevertheless, the said crony capitalism was unstable as predicted by Gregg, hence the economy gradually declined, and oppression proliferated on all levels of the society. The Catholic Church was not exempted from such violence as some of the priest became victims of extrajudicial killings (Sick).
It is during this economic turmoil that the highest ranking Cardinal of the Catholic Church left the pulpit and went public criticizing the government; hence, violating the law that separates the powers of the Church and the State. The violation, became instrumental in the awakening of solidarity among the many Catholics (the country is at least 80% Catholic), they thirsted for liberty. Series of protest then ensued and the dictatorship was relinquished. The redistributed businesses were returned to their owners and new administration began (Sick). Nevertheless, the success was turned into a defeat when the Catholic leaders withdrew themselves again from the public, without making sure that stability has been established. As a result the country has plunged into a level of poverty it has never seen before. Once a might in Asia, it has now deteriorated into what it is today, a poor third world country where corruption proliferates (The Manila Times).
What is the lesson from the case of the Philippines? That aside from the suggestions of Gregg on renewal and constant application of Catholic teachings, there are some points in history that the Catholic leaders must violate the law of the separation between church and state powers. But after the purpose of such violation has transpired, the Catholics must make sure that the two proposed solutions of Gregg remain and never stop.
Mongabay. Philippines Crony Capitalism. 1991. Web. 1 October 2014. <http://www.mongabay.com/history/philippines/philippines-crony_capitalism.html>.
Sick, Gary. The Philippines, The Marcos Years. 1991. Web. 1 October 2014. <http://www2.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/nsa/publications/philippines/philippines.html>.
The Manila Time. Crony capitalism thrives under Pnoy. 24 March 2014. Web. 1 October 2014. < http://www.manilatimes.net/crony-capitalism-thrives-under-pnoy/84364/>.