Letter to the Editor: The preferential option for the poor is very Catholic

Walter Block, [email protected]


Regarding the letter of the Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., in the Feb. 26 issue of the Maroon, Kammer, notifies people “who might be tempted to identify free market libertarianism with Catholic Social Teaching” that this would be a mistake. Although he does not mention the debate I had with the Rev. Edward Vacek, S.J., in the Feb. 19 issue of The Maroon on this issue, reading in between the lines I interpret Fr. Kammer’s letter as a denial of my side of this debate. If so, Fr. Kammer is in error on this matter. For I did not identify free market libertarianism with Catholic Social Teaching. Rather, something very different. I claimed that if those who support Catholic Social Teaching and wish to promote a very important aspect of this philosophy, namely, the preferential option for the poor, then they should embrace laissez faire free enterprise. As Adam Smith demonstrated in his book “The Wealth of Nations,” the best, indeed, the only, way to create wealth, e.g., cure poverty, is via the system of free market (not crony) capitalism.

Walter Block
Economics professor