PROGRAMME Sequestering Profits
SIR,—Captain Curd's valuable and interesting letter raises some difficult problems. The trouble is that Cath,olic social teaching is so very largely concerned with the statement of econtomic ends and that with these ends most men are to-day in agreement. I do not think we should get very far politically by formulating a programme containing such head:ngs as : the living wage, adequate housing, adequate opportunities for employment, and so on, since nobody
denies that these things are in themselves desirable or even that they are matters of right. Nobody would come out with an opposing programme advocating bad wages, inadequate housing and general unemployment and starvation. The question is whether we can find a sufficiently general basis of agreement as to the means by which these ends may be secured, and demand the application of those means as Catholics insisting upon a matter of justice.
There is in this connection one question of principle on which I respectfully submit that clarification is most -desirable. This is the question of the civil ruler's right, indeed of his duty. to control the application of company profits and, if necessary, to sequester them to a far greater extent than that of current fiscal practice. If this right is not conceded I despair of ever finding an adequate solution to the problem of chronic unemployment A very determined effort has been made by President Roosevelt to solve this problem by somewhat different means, namely by a combination of credit expansion and public works. But as the end of President Roosevelt's second term of office approaches even his admirers will be compelled to admit that he has failed to achieve success. The American unemployment problem is unsolved and the pumping of new money Into the economic system has only resulted in the creation of mountainous bank balances. Surely It is obvious that more drastic methods are indispensable If the economy based on private property and free contracts is ever to be made to work. Those who have thought it worth their trouble to read my weekly notes will be aware that I should like to see this function of controlling and, if necessary, sequestering, the profits of companies delegated to the trade organisation or guild. They will also recollect that I admit that there are many complicated problems of economic adjustment involved, problems which I cannot touch upon in the space of a short letter. But I still maintain that this right of the civil ruler to direct the application of company earnings is the cardinal question. If we can agree on the necessity and justice of that function and put it forward as a specifically Catholic demand we should, I think, be making a genuinely constructive contribution to a Christian social order.
I would like to emphasise that I make all these observations under correction and am fully aware that many of my fellow Catholics will hold different opinions.
J. L. BENVENISTI.
Christianity In Politics
Ste, — Your correspondent, Captain Curd, has raised a very important question in consequence of your recent editorial remarks on the failure of Forum Novarum, to give birth to an effective Catholic Social Action in this country. I do not intend to repeat anything that Captain Curd has so ably expressed. But I want to examine briefly one or two points which his letter has suggested.
Captain Curd rightly sums up the present procedure of Parliamentary elections when he says that the election issues are chosen by the party (those who run it) whose term of office has expired: the " pletform " which best promises a return to office. Whilst this Is so, is it likely that any manifesto or list of points drawn up by Catholics will be accepted or carried into effect? The fault lies in the present methods of party politics, as well as in our apathy as Catholics.
I would like to raise once again the question of Catholic Parties. Not that I think for one moment that a party should be formed as a Catholic Party. No. I am too well aware of what that has meant abroad and at home. But I suggest that there is room for discussion about the latent power of Christianity (not Catholicity) in our country, and the possibilities of organising that latent Christianity into an effective political force around a programme of reform on Christian lines.
We must have a programme of social and economic reform. We must also use effective means to get that programme put into practice.
One point I would stress. The connection with the clergy has often brought both party and clergy into disfavour. It is a job for laymen. and laymen acting, not as Catholics, but as Christians.
One could quote many examples from the experience of "Centre" parties abroad, and from Le Sillon to illustrate this reasoning. The last-mentioned is a good example, and those acquainted with its history will see my meaning. Le Sillon is not the only illustration, and its unhappy ending has lessons which will also be of guidance.
The Catholic Social Movement, such as it is, in our country is unwilling to attempt to draw up a programme. Perhaps it is right. Of its very nature it is at present official. It is the Catholic Action aspect of Sccial Reform, not the Social Action aspect. Those who are acquainted with the real difference will grasp my meaning.
VINCENT PAUL, BREEN.
4, The Spur, Warwick Avenue, Liverpool, 23.
A Christian Social Programme
Sue—May I, through your columns, thank the many readers who have written to me in response to my letter last week. If there has been delay in replying to some I would ask their Indulgence, since it has been impossible to reply to so many interesting and practical letters by return. If any other readers wish to support the idea of a Christian Social Programme I would be glad to hear from them.
T. W. C. CURD. 49, Limesdale Gardens,