Sunday, May 17, 2009

The Principle of the Common Good

What is the Common Good? According to the Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Church it is:
the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfilment more fully and more easily.
According to the CSDC it is the duty of government to:
The State, in fact, must guarantee the coherency, unity and organization of the civil society of which it is an expression ...(it must) make available to persons the necessary material, cultural, moral and spiritual goods.
But it must be remembered that this is not merely a goal based on materialism.
A purely historical and materialistic vision would end up transforming the common good into a simple socio-economic well-being, without any transcendental goal, that is, without its most intimate reason for existing.
That reason is Jesus. Any effort by the State which fails to take into account that transcendent dimension fails in its attempt to promote the Common Good.

While the CSDC requires that the State support
a sound juridical system, the protection of the environment, and the provision of essential services to all, some of which are at the same time human rights: food, housing, work, education and access to culture, transportation, basic health care, the freedom of communication and expression, and the protection of religious freedom.
It is a prudential judgment whether a specific government policy will actually promote the demands listed here. Does greater access to health care require that the government directly manage and support health services? How much should a State invest in the prevention of an environmental problem which may not exist at all? Is it better to foster an economic climate by which individuals can afford their own housing or subsidize housing, thereby perpetuating dependence on government assistance?
I think it is easy to see how framing assumption can allow different individuals to draw different conclusions on specific policies.

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