No, Really, We’re Just Seeking the Truth

“There is no longer any excuse for Catholics to defend Von Mises,” says Dale Ahlquist, who goes on to recommend a book by a real estate agent as an appropriate classroom text in economics.  We are indeed to be spared nothing.

Poor Otto von Habsburg, Crown Prince of Austria, Hungary, Croatia, and Bohemia.  He

      called Mises
“one of the truly great men of our century.”  The Habsburgs didn’t have the opportunity to be lectured by the head of the Chesterton Society, so they praised Mises, whose works they (unlike Ahlquist) had actually read first hand, not in secondhand caricature.

Should you encounter Thomas Storck and find him rather on the vicious side, understand that he has never quite recovered from this drubbing.  And here’s my longstanding statement on Mr. Ferrara, which tells you all you need to know about this delightful bunch.

I am reminded of what Richard Tawney said about Martin Luther: “Confronted with the complexities of foreign trade and financial organizations, he is like a savage introduced to a dynamo or a steam engine. He is too frightened and angry even to feel curiosity. Attempts to explain the mechanism merely enrage him; he can only repeat that there is a devil in it, and that good Christians will not meddle with the mystery of iniquity.”

These are truly some of the most vicious and uncharitable — and, let me say it, doltish — people whose dronings have ever come my way.  They are best ignored.  They are hopeless.  They will not learn, not even enough to state your position correctly.  Even the Left sometimes does me at least that courtesy.  But if you can’t avoid them, inoculate yourself against them with The Church and the Market, and with the articles on Catholic social teaching on my Articles page.

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  • Alex

    As a traditional Catholic, I’m not sure on which side I fall in the debate. Strictly economically speaking, I find the free market position to be quite convincing. The “living wage” and minimum wage laws, labor unions and guilds are clearly destructive. Perhaps not immediately, but it will happen.

    However, I’d like to consider myself a Thomist, and while I can accept the argument against his views on usury, I do not find myself agreeing with the overwhelmingly accepted anarchism found in Austrian circles. Limited and local government I can accept. I can agree with some State intrusion (with prudence) into our lives, such as prohibiting homosexuality, abortion, contraception, pornography, and other issues which have no justification within the natural law. I believe that the State has the right to punish and put to death as a retributive function of punishment those who commit capital offenses. When it comes to the market, the less government interferes, the better.

    Regarding Ahlquist and The Chesterton Society, as soon as they fire the foul-mouthed punk Sean P Dailey, ignore the bombastic Mark “The Blob” Shea, and completely fold under the Catholic world will be a better place. With that said, where can I find intelligent Distributist critique of the free market?

    I enjoy what you and the folks at Mises and Lew Rockwell do, even if I don’t always agree. At least it is intelligent, unlike the idiotic drivel from the clowns at Chesterton.

  • J R Anderson


    Keep it up. I am one soon to be Catholic who you convinced of the errors of distributism. I love Chesterton. He is one of the giant Catholic men of the last century. However, he missed the mark on economics and other political ideas. And unfortunately, the American Chesterton Society, help keep those errors alive. I think if I had encountered the ACS before I read the man on my own, they would have turned me off from him.

  • Jim

    Wasn’t Tawney criticizing Luther from a socialist stance?

  • Tom Woods

    Jim: I don’t see how that affects the truth of his observation.

  • Kevin O’Brien

    Mr. Woods, I am not an expert on economics, and I admit that.

    However, I am an expert on Dale Ahlquist. I know Dale personally and have for a long time. I have never known Dale to be uncharitable or doltish – never once. He knows Chesterton and his writings better than anyone I have ever met, including Fr. Ian Kerr and Chesterton bibliographer Geir Hasnes. He not only knows Chesterton’s stuff, but he understands it at a profound level, including Chesterton’s concept of Distributism. Perhaps Dale is not fair to the Austrian School, and perhaps he’s wrong to say Austrian School economics is not Catholic, but he is not a dolt and if you wish to debate him or engage him on this topic, you will find him not only charitable but, as Chesterton was when debating his opponents, kind and funny and delightful. If there’s any uncharity here, it is not from him. Please reconsider your caricturization of him. If he’s wrong about your economic theory, then plese deal with the facts of the matter without an ad hominem attack.

    As to Alex’s nastiness above, I can say that Sean Dailey and Mark Shea are two of the most solid and spiritual Catholics I know. Shea is one of the best writers of the Catholic apologetic movement, one of the most incisive thinkers I have ever met, and both he and Dailey would be happy to debate any opponent out there in a spirit of charity while focusing on the facts that are in dispute and refraining from personal attack or childish name-calling (such as “the blob”).

    Please, gentlemen. Although these are issues that are bound to get our dander up, we dare not take up the tactics so prevalent in the secular politics of our day – personal attack, venom, and irrational posturing. Dale may be right that the Austrian Schoolers are not following Catholic social teaching; he may be wrong. Let’s see the evidence for each side presented in a way that does not threaten to tear apart the Body of Christ.

    Good gracious, we were commanded even to love our enemeies! How much more should we love our fellow Catholics with whom we disagree – who are not even our enemies, but our fellow Christians! This is not Fox News, CNN, Rush Limbaugh, or Keith Olbermann. Let’s gird up our loins and behave like men.

    So Mr. Woods, please refrain from this kind of personal attack and monitor your comboxes to prevent your readers from doing the same. If you can’t defend Austrian School ecnomics without resorting to this nastiness, then it makes those of us who know very little about it wonder why we we’re not hearing about the issues in dispute, but instead reading screeds against the character of its critics – men I can avow are of very solid character.

  • Tom Woods

    Mr. O’Brien, Mr. Ahlquist is doubtless a decent human being in many respects. For him to make a statement like that, however, is absolutely outrageous and indefensible. He and I have since carried on a correspondence. I have asked him three times to explain to me which aspects of Mises, in his role as a technical economist (which is what interests me about Mises), I as a Catholic am not allowed to defend. I have not received an answer.

    I find this stunning. Don’t you? I have asked Mr. Ahlquist if I may share our correspondence with my blog. Should he accept, you will see for yourself: he dogmatically insists we may not defend Mises, with the strong and indeed unavoidable implication that only a bad Catholic would do so. This is much, much worse than being called a dolt (and in any case my reference there was to those who, unlike Ahlquist, have attacked my work directly while refusing to state my position correctly after multiple attempts at clarification on my part). Let me repeat that: this is much worse than being called a dolt. After several sincere attempts, made to Ahlquist personally, to elicit an explanation, I believe I am entitled to one.

    My last attempt put it directly:

    “Is it Mises’ time-preference theory of interest?
    “Is it his praxeological method?
    “Is it his theory of capital?
    “Is it his theory of factor pricing?
    “Is it his formulation of the socialist calculation problem?
    “Is it his derivation of the law of diminishing marginal utility?
    “Is it his theory of business cycles?

    “What exactly is it that I as a Catholic may not defend in all of this? Do you understand my impatience with people who are prepared to write me out of the Catholic Church without doing me the courtesy of answering this simple question? I consider it irresponsible in the extreme for you to make statements such as the one you made at the Ignatius site, and then refuse to elaborate or explain yourself. I am not being even slightly unreasonable here. I have been subjected to attack after attack on precisely these kinds of vague grounds. I understand you have not attacked me by name, but you have cast doubt upon the orthodoxy of all Catholics who, like Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and Otto von Habsburg, believe we have much to learn from Mises. For you to suggest that _as Catholics_ we may not defend Mises is absolutely outrageous. Criticize me all you like for being ungracious or whatever else, but let’s keep things in context, please. This is the heart of the matter, and I think you really have no right to take offense when I respond with indignation at an indefensible statement of this kind.”

    Moreover, should someone seriously wish to elevate the level of discussion of this topic among Catholics, he would strongly rebuke, rather than endorse (as Ahlquist does), the truly reprehensible John Medaille. Not a word, though. Demands for charity are a one-way street with this crowd, it seems.

  • http://n/a John M.

    Mr. Woods,

    I will ask again in a more straightforward fashion:

    Have you or anyone else involved in defending Mises and Austrian economics ever presented a thorough “Argument from Authority” detailing how your views are compatible with the teaching of the Catholic Church – particularly regarding Rerum Novarum, Quadragesimo Anno and the Church’s consistent view of Man & State.

    I have become increasingly suspicious of Austrian economics because no one seems willing or able to provide this argument. I must say that I have no interest in discussing or reading about Mises’ theory of capital, derivation of the law of diminishing marginal utility, or praxeological method until I am sure of the foundational principles. And, any attempt to avert the conversation away from such principles seems suspect.

    Please recommend a book or essay that contains such an argument from authority if it exists. I would be more than happy to read it.

    Thank you,

    John M.

  • Tom Woods

    John M.: You can find such a thing in chapter 1 of my book The Church and the Market, which deals with foundations. Misesian praxeology is as Thomistic as can be. Human beings pursue ends — that’s the key foundational point. How could, or why would, the Church deny such a thing?

    I think, also, you are misunderstanding the nature of the argument: if business cycles work a particular way, then they work that way. If I explained to you how interference with interest rates causes economic discoordination, are you saying you would not believe me until you had papal confirmation of the underlying principles? Leo XIII expressly disavowed such a view.

  • Tom Woods

    John, my apologies: I just found your earlier comment. I am bombarded with spam comments and am trying to get my web guy to help me. It means some legitimate comments are going overlooked.

    Your comment said that you had seen no evidence that Austrian economics was compatible with Catholicism. I do not know what to make of this question. Austrian economics is entirely technical. It makes no value judgments whatever. It is positive, not normative. This would be like asking whether the principles of architecture or deep-sea diving or botany were compatible with Catholicism. The question is nonsensical from the start.

    I am sure, having read the various people you mention, that you have been led to believe that Austrian economics teaches that human beings care only about material wealth; that the richer you get, the better; that economic efficiency is the highest value, etc. None of this is true; none of it is even close to true. Austrian economics merely describes; it does not prescribe. It does not say anything about the best way to live, etc. To the extent that Austrian economists, as human beings, have commented on these questions, they have denied every one of these premises. I have made this clear repeatedly in my articles and in my book. If you are even conceiving of the question in this way you are beginning from a grotesquely erroneous starting point.

    Austrian economics merely elaborates on the implications of human choice, as human beings employ scarce means in pursuit of their ends. Have you been led to believe it is or seeks to be anything other than this?

  • Mark P. Shea

    The blob?

    How did I even get dragged into this? I don’t think I’ve ever said a word about Distributism, Tom Woods, or Von Mises, all subjects about which I have never claimed to know anything and all subjects in which I have even less interest than competence. So why on earth would Alex feel this strange compulsion to volcanically spurt the lava of his hatred at me (all in the name of Traditionalist Catholic Love, of course) when I have zero to do with this controversy. One gets the impression that the quarrel is, for him, really not about the subject at hand, but is rather about some other issue and that this is just a trigger than allows his pent up rage to pop like a pimple.

    Please. Dude. Leave me out of it. I’ve said nothing to justify dragging my name into the quarrel for the very good reason that I am an economics illiterate and claim zero expertise or competence. If you have a quarrel with Dale, you might consider the possibility of addressing his ideas rather than calling a perfect stranger “fatso” and imagining you have really achieved an intellectual triumph in the arena of ideas.

  • Bob Charron

    (1) Nothing is gained by demonizing those who disagree. There are serious issues here that need to be aired. Why not address these issues?
    (2) While those of the Austrian Economic School can make a convincing theoretical case for letting the market rule, reading Eric Schlosser’s “Fast food Nation” is exhibit one for evidence against the unrestrained market.

  • Tom Woods

    Bob, I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for this important point. The demonization and caricaturing have got to stop, which is why, in my recent piece on LRC, I simply provided the links to my work so people could judge for themselves. I’m glad to hear you’re as tired as I am of all the silliness. I have consistently stuck to the facts and the arguments, unlike those who choose to make drive-by attacks like “Catholics no longer have any excuse to defend von Mises,” and then refuse to explain themselves after four sincere inquiries. Glad to have you on board, Bob.

  • Ignoramus


    I’m still confused. I was reading the comments and it doesn’t seem like you answered John M’s question. Could you clarify…is Austrian Economics in line with the so-called “Social Encyclicals?”

  • Tom Woods

    Can you explain what you mean by “in line with the social encyclicals”? I did answer this question. The question misunderstands the issue. You may ask if libertarianism is compatible with the social encyclicals. It makes no sense, on the other hand, to ask whether Austrian economics, which is merely an analytical tool, is in line with the social encyclicals. Maybe I would understand the question better if you could give me an example of how a proposition in economic theory could be at odds with an encyclical. I am not trying to be condescending or flippant; I genuinely do not understand the question. I do think, in fairness, you ought to read a few of my articles on this, since my impression from this question is that you are acquainted only with the critics and not with the Austrian side itself.

  • Tom Woods

    For anyone coming to this post late: I didn’t link to this post on my Facebook fan page or any other place, but it has been linked to at an unsympathetic site, which is why the resulting comments are a bit lopsided. I have read both sides of this debate in great detail. I can’t say the same for so many of the people who are saying nonsensical things about the Austrian School without doing me the courtesy of reading a word I’ve written on this. I wrote a book on this precisely to answer both informed and uninformed objections.

  • Tom Woods

    Also, comment #13: I referred John to chapter 1 of The Church and the Market. Did you miss that?

  • Jack Amadan


    I’ve enjoyed your writing over the years on many topics. “The Church Confronts Modernity” is one of my all time favourite books. That said, the way you take criticism on this topic is not in your usual scholarly manner but in a way reminiscent of the Medjugorje zombies. You take on Ferrara (easy) but ignore critics like Rupert Ederer.


  • Jack Amadan


    When has a lack of competence ever stopped you in the past?

  • Tom Woods

    Jack, I’m sorry you feel that way. Did you read my reply to Thomas Storck? I don’t see anything unscholarly there. As for Ederer, I find him pretty unimpressive, and snide to boot (speaking of unscholarly).

  • Chris


    I think this post hits close to the mark. A lot of radical traditionalists, in their zeal to reject everything “modern”, end up rejecting all relevant economic theory out of hand. Their errors seem to fall into two categories.

    First, they seem to confuse personal religious orthodoxy and the ability to intelligently comment on a system of economics. No, Von Mises was no saint. So what? Aristotle was a pagan, yet Thomas Aquinas incorporated his thinking into the Catholic faith.

    The true Catholic spirit is to seek the truth wherever it is found. If Von Mises discovered certain economic principles to be true, then all Catholics should rejoice in this truth just as they would a scientific discovery. All truth comes from God.

    The issue then becomes merging Von Mises’ economic thought with other Catholic principles. This leads to the second error of the radical Traditionalists. They see all reality through a reactionary prism. They believe that trying to work within the bounds of current economic thought is already departing from the straight path.

    If I were you I’d continue to stay on point and keep elucidating your views in a positive way. All that happens in responding to these types is you getting dirty rolling in the mud with them. Let them take their shots (hardly anyone listens to or takes them seriously anyway) and you take the high ground. They are more interested in annoying you and criticizing those who are trying to better our world than actually posing any realistic solutions themselves. As the old saying goes, “Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. All it does is waste your time and irritates the pig.”

  • Alex

    A couple of points:

    First of all, “The Blob” was the creature in the 1958 movie which made it’s way around consuming and destroying everyone in sight. It is in this sense that Mark Shea is “The Blob” because he gets on his blog and does his very best giving the ancient faith a bad name by doing what he can to destroy the reputation of those who disagree with him. “The Blob” is his ever growing ego and the destructive results which that ego has towards the reputation of anyone who intelligently disagrees with him and doesn’t settle for his abusiveness, slander, and accusatory rhetoric. 

    The realty is that Mark Shea doesn’t engage in argumentation. He has a simplistic understanding of Catholicism which is strictly grounded in post Vatican II theology. However, that is not the issue. The issue, as explained very well by a priest friend of mine, is that Shea clearly in his writings does not demonstrate the understanding of the history and theological principles which set the substance of the material found in documents such as the CCC. This unfortunately leads to Shea quickly labeling those who disagree with him as bad Catholics when he doesn’t fully understand the issues himself. 

    Why did I mention Mark Shea? Well when I think of The Chesterton Society, unfortunately for their reputation, I think of him. The same holds for Sean Dailey. These two often enough do not engage in intelligent argumentation, they engage in hateful misrepresentations of your position and coupled this occasionally with profanity laced tirades. 

    I have been banned from Mark’s blog for more than a year (a true blessing in disguise) for nothing more than making the point that Pope John Paul II’s position on capital punishment is not grounded in solid Thomistic principles regarding the nature of punishment and the primacy of the retributive purpose of punishment as demonstrated in Catholic tradition. I stated that PJII was a personalist and his way of thinking posed some serious illogical and contradictory problems for him.

    As far as Shea is concerned, it is much easier to attack me personally and my fidelity to the Church than to counter my arguments in any meaningful way. The same was true when I questioned health care as a legal right to be supplied by the State. As well as when I questioned the economical soundness of living wage legislation. I was also lumped in with those who give the middle finger to the Church because I dared to question the Magisterium of One, His Holiness Bishop Shea, on the need to be more careful in who he excommunicates as a heretic when it concerns his overly broad conception of torture. Instead of demonstrating maturity and respect in allowing my argument to stand on it’s own, he blatantly ignored what I was saying, falsely aligned me with the likes of the horrendous Bush and Cheney, and failed to demonstrate even one hint of being a rational adult. The sad fact is that we might actually be very near at seeing eye to eye on this issue if you could ever get him to move beyond the mere tantrums.

    Kevin, that you find Mark and Sean to be the most solid and spiritual Catholics you know saddens me greatly. One has only to look at Mark’s blog to know what I’m talking about. Granted it has been a year since I’ve been banned, but I doubt anything has changed. I suggest you get to know some better Catholics. I’m sure that there is a FSSP chapel somewhere nearby. Any one of those priests would be a much better example of a solid and spiritual Catholic.

    Shea might say that he doesn’t know much about economics, but that has never prevented him from describing those who disagree with him as bad Catholics. I do find Shea to be an intelligent person, but much like Paul Krugman his actual knowledge of the issues is suspect and his very ego prevents him from from engaging these topics in any meaningful way. I find him to be one of the most uncharitable “apologist” today. Obviously there is so much more I could say about them, but this is enough.

    Why is any of this relevant? Two points:

    The post mentioned the Chesterton Society and their seemingly deliberate uncharitable misrepresentations of Dr. Woods positions. 

    I have encountered the same thing with them and those affiliated with them.

  • Chris


    I thought you meant this guy…

  • Austin Ruse


    Really enjoying this.



  • Mark P. Shea


    You’ve taken a great many words to say “I’m mad at Shea about something entirely unrelated to the matter at hand and that’s why I chose to drag him into a discussion in which he plays no part whatsoever.” You could have just said that.

  • Geir Hasnes

    Tom, I found this exchange while searching at google – and I am somewhat amazed. To try to put things into perspective, I bought your book The Politically Incorrect Guide to American History from Sean Dailey’s father – while Sean was helping out – at the Chesterton conference which Dale Ahlquist arranged. Kevin was at the conference, too, I met Mark the following year at the conference, and I have nothing but praise for them. And I am not even Catholic and I do think that Mises’ theory of subjective value is so great that I have continued work on it, representing it in mathematics, and then a branch of mathematics not applied on economics at all – and suddenly I was able to deliver a mathematical framework explaining the fluctuation of share prices.

  • Alex

    Why is any of this relevant? Two points:

    The post mentioned the Chesterton Society and their seemingly deliberate uncharitable misrepresentations of Dr. Woods positions. 

    I have encountered the same thing with them and those affiliated with them.

    I don’t know how else to explain it to you Mark.

    Geir, bear in mind that I am soley responsible for bringing up Sean and Mark into the conversation. Any lack of censorship of what I say should not lead to the conclusion that Tom Woods agrees with me. I’m not saying that Mark and Sean are bad people, or worthless, or unintelligent. I’m just of the opinion that they have issues with overly-inflated egos which prevent them from having any meaningful and respectful disagreement with others. They fall too easily into the childish antics of namecalling and substituting arguments with mischaracterizations, ad hominems, and profanity. Granted, I have not read an abundance of what they have written, so the sample size I am working with might be skewed, but it is certainly enough to put a foul taste in my mouth. Seeing Kevin’s interaction with someone named Keith over at the Distributist Review blog gives me the impression that he is somewhat the same, and I’m inclined to agree that there is somewhat of a need for government, albeit in a very limited and local role.

    To make the point as simply as I can, I don’t see where Mark Shea, et al. derive their magisterial authority to make such damning proclamations as to who is a bad Catholic without even giving such a person the decency of, not only representing their position honestly, but respectfully engaging their actual arguments with substance.

    This is my opinion. I am very fallible, just ask my wife.

  • Mark P. Shea

    “I don’t know how else to explain it to you Mark.”

    Of course you don’t. That’s because your remarks were a combination of guilt by association and venting about an irrelevant issue having nothing to do with the argument at hand. You know that, feel a twinge of guilt about it, and are in the process of trying to excuse yourself. So naturally you can’t explain it any other way. You have exhaled a great deal of hot air to say, “I dislike Shea, who is fat and who irritates me and I will take the opportunity of this argument to say that and to impugn Ahlquist for associating with him.” You have not yet said a word about the actual argument. You’ve merely insulted everyone’s intelligence by trying to pretend that namecalling about my weight is really prophetic denunciation of my pride (because “the blob” is such an obvious metaphor for pride and is in such common parlance for that purpose and has nothing whatever to do with shouting “fatso” like a schoolboy).

    Grow up, kid. Take some responsibility for your juvenile behavior.

  • Alex

    I really don’t know what benefit my response will possibly make Mark. It seems that you have already made up your mind as to what was in my mind when I wrote “The Blob.” This is in spite of the fact that when questioned I immediately clarified any misunderstanding. However, in your omniscient mind, presumably the same mind that has been invested with magisterial authority, you seem to be overlooking a few things. 

    You stated: “You’ve merely insulted everyone’s intelligence by trying to pretend that namecalling about my weight is really prophetic denunciation of my pride…”

    Well I apologize if my lack of initial clarity causes anyone to have felt that their intelligence was insulted, but in all fairness I didn’t simply call you “The Blob.” I actually called you the (bombastic) Blob. 

    (of speech, writing, etc.) high-sounding;high-flown; inflated; pretentious.

    puffed up, as with pride.

    And of course “The Blob” is in reference to the creature who consumes and destroys whomever was in its path. Such as your overly inflated pride. I believed that the representation fit pretty well. If you want to fault me for something, why not fault me for lack of initial clarity, or even a lack of creativity. It’s just that your Carnac the Magnificent impression is severely lacking. My description of you was nevertheless unproductive and uncharitable. I still do not find it as offensive as your past description of me as unCatholic, heretical, and the like given for the reasons I said above.

    Speaking of “insulted everyone’s intelligence’l are we actually supposed to believe that you have, “said nothing to justify dragging my name into the quarrel for the very good reason that I am an economics illiterate and claim zero expertise or competence”?  Yet have you not discussed issues regarding economics on your blog in the past and condemned those who disagreed with you.

    You know what, let’s just make it simple. Honestly answer the following questions:

    1. Can a Catholic remain in good standing with the Church while also subscribing to the Austrian description of economic activity?

    2. Can a Catholic remain in good standing with the Church while at the same time scientifically objecting to certain economic policy proposals a given Pontiff promotes as a remedy to a situation of moral concern, when the Austrian in good conscious, and based upon his/her economic profession, believes that the policy will not only fail to remedy the situation, but will cause greater harmful effects? Whether this be an objection to guilds, distributism, living wages, etc.? That is, any proposed remedy based upon economic analysis which even several Popes promote as a solution to any given economic problem?

    Please answer these questions.


  • Mark P. Shea


    I’ve already made clear that I have and had nothing to do with a discussion about Mr. Woods, Distributism, Austrian economics, or Von Mises. So your ex post facto attempt to patch up your absurd attempt to drag me into it by putting these silly questions to me when I have made clear that I am not competent to comment just makes you look more ridiculous still. What is especially funny is that you were earlier complaining about my supposedly donning a mitre to excommunicate people, and you are now pressing that mitre down on my head and demanding I declare who is and is not a Catholic in good standing. Make up your mind.

  • Mark P. Shea

    On the bright side, thanks for this: “My description of you was nevertheless unproductive and uncharitable.”

    Yes. It was. Thank you for acknowledging that at long last. I forgive you. I hope you can forgive whatever it is you think I have said that is so offensive and not use it as an excuse to drag me into quarrels I have nothing to do with, not to mention simultaneously complain and demand that I render Magisterial judgements about other Catholics. You are making less and less sense as you go along.

  • Matthew

    It seems to me that Mark Shea has written on economics before. If I can prove this, where does this leave Shea? Hint. Go to his blog and website and you will see articles he has written on Capitalism, economics and so forth, as well as championing national health care and living wages, etc. This means that Mr. Shea has written on this subject contrary to what he claims.

    Shea wrote, “Please. Dude. Leave me out of it. I’ve said nothing to justify dragging my name into the quarrel for the very good reason that I am an economics illiterate and claim zero expertise or competence.”

    If he is not competent on economics. then why does he write on the subject? Here are some examples. Now please explain.

    I think that is enough. I can find more if needed to prove that Shea does more than his share of commenting on economics.

  • Matthew Bellisario

    Well it seems that Shea has not come back over to respond to my post here. Instead he went on and attacked me as being a “maximum death” proponent! He writes a pitiful article on the death penalty, and then he lumps me in as if am I somehow not a good Catholic because I think that the death penalty should not be completely abolished in all cases. This is a perfect example of what and Shea and his minions do. He was called out and he ran and searched for something to personally attack me on. I think this settles the Shea issue, no?

  • Alex

    It certainly appears that Shea is taking Matt on.


    You claim no competence in the area of economics, but tell us that paying just wages is equivalent to paying living wages, and anything less than that is “shit wages” which is a sin that cries out to heaven.

    Mark Shea 
    Our overlords did  plenty.  They gave them jobs with shit wages and reaped huge profits.  
    As to the children of these immigrants: are you seriously suggesting that they should leave their parents and go back to Mexico?
    December 2, 2010, 4:50:14 PM EST

    Powerful people who exploit the poor and the alien and deny the worker his wages are guilty of three of the sins that cry out to heaven for judgement.

    Low skilled workers who immigrate here from impoverished distant places, and do so under the decision that what appears to you to be crappy wages is still a better condition than where they were, clearly are being taken advantage of by the evil slave master business owner. Obviously the business owner must be a slave master because it is impossible that these workers freely contracted their work out for the wages they are given and simply cannot leave freely. According to you Mark, the owner should be judged for his sins, and run his business like a charity.

    Now you falsely condemn Matt as promoting a “maximalist” position on the death penalty, you exhibit a flawed view of Catholic tradition and moral reasoning, and yet you still write as if you were an authority on these matters. I could care less if you took a strong position on these issues, but my critique of you as written above still holds.

    Kevin had stated above:

    I can say that Sean Dailey and Mark Shea are two of the most solid and spiritual Catholics I know. Shea is one of the best writers of the Catholic apologetic movement, one of the most incisive thinkers I have ever met, and both he and Dailey would be happy to debate any opponent out there in a spirit of charity while focusing on the facts that are in dispute and refraining from personal attack or childish name-calling (such as “the blob”).

    I have yet to see this play out in reality. All I see is that you misrepresent you opposition, libel their character, censor their comments, flee from honestly interacting with their position, and mock them instead.

  • Alex

    Sorry, I didn’t make it clear that these are Mark Shea’s comments:

    Our overlords did  plenty.  They gave them jobs with shit wages and reaped huge profits.  
    As to the children of these immigrants: are you seriously suggesting that they should leave their parents and go back to Mexico?
    December 2, 2010, 4:50:14 PM EST

    Powerful people who exploit the poor and the alien and deny the worker his wages are guilty of three of the sins that cry out to heaven for judgement.

  • Danny

    I hate to see a serious discussion devolve into a discussion about Mark Shea. Call him fatso or blob, but from the perspective of someone reading a combox where he isn’t the censor, he seems so puny.
    Why does any one think this guy has any integrity?

    Now back to economics, please

  • Classical Liberal

    That was hilarious! And a great caricature of the zombie-like mainstream media.

  • Alex

    No, Mark Shea never pretends to make judgments on economics in order to demonize the free market, except that he’s always telling us that distributism is the only way to go, and making ridiculous arguments like this:

  • C.Lauren

    sounds rather like an ad hominem attack to me :)

  • Wesley Whitman

    Sorry, I’m a bit late here. As far as I can tell, the big issue is the “industrialism” and “consumerism” of capitalism. Distributism is an agrarian medievalist ideology. The papal encyclicals and the distributists hold that agriculture should be the heart of the economy. In essence, they hold that production for subsistence should be the most important thing, and production for unnecessary consumption should be less important. We should get away from wage labor and get back to working the land and having small business special trades. The problem with Austrian school thought (from the distributist perspective) is that it does not advocate policies that would help small-scale agriculture and discourage big agro-industry. Austrians have moral arguments against centralized government, but fail to consider the moral justification of big economies. The Austrians want government to be decentralized, but the distributists want the economy to be decentralized too: distributists want local economies to be self-sufficient and more independent.
    However, when it comes to the economics, the distributists miss the mark. John Médaille et al. are really bad economists. Médaille’s alternative to the Austrian Theory of the Business Cycle is totally bogus. Hayek was right on the Business Cycle. I would recommend the book “Beyond Capitalism and Socialism” (various authors) as a more moderate defense of Distributism, one that is easier for someone with a background in Austrian Economics to swallow. I have a hard time putting up with a lot of distributists because I have read Hayek, Mises, and Rothbard and I recognize that Médaille and his cohorts are often dishonest in their characterization of Austrian economics (but then again, Belloc’s entire critique of Proudhon was based on a straw man, so deception seems to be a distributist trend).Perhaps Joe Hargrave wasn’t totally off base when he tried to synthesize distributism and libertarianism. Personally, I’m not a Roman Catholic, so the teachings of the popes don’t matter to me, but I can follow the distributist arguments from papal encyclicals. Btw, I will point out that the encyclicals state that capitalism is immoral, not inefficient; so it seems that the argument that this falls under the “infallible” moral teachings of the pope is valid (if one were to believe in papal authority, which I don’t). I don’t like Belloc’s model, nor do I like Hayek or Rothbard’s model. I think that something like “anarcho-agrarian agorism” would be preferable. In practical terms, I think that the decentralization of government will be impossible without the decentralization of economies. We need local economies with free markets, producing food and essentials locally. The global market is fueling the move towards global governance. Big businesses favor big government because big government tends to prop up big business (bailouts, etc.). We need to get away from big business—we have to reject national/international corporations—and move towards small-scale industries and small local businesses, which will help us get away from big government. And I like Chesterton’s suggestion that you ought to be a distributist when you buy groceries by shopping at small local stores vs. at Walmart-style chains.

  • Matt

    Thanks Tom. Chris Ferrara has some great things to say. But his nonsense is amazing. Mark Shea is fraud as far as his understanding of politics or economics goes. But you, sir are brilliant.

    Thanks for all your great work!