I had a conversation less than two weeks ago with a fellow Catholic about the Rand/Aquinas conflict. The topic of my conservatism arose, and he asked me almost immediately whether I believed in the Randian philosophy, and whether people have a responsibility to the poor. In fact, I am no Randian; I believe that Jesus left pretty clear instructions on his followers’ responsibility to care for the poor. I also believe that societies need to structure themselves to provide the proverbial “safety net” for those truly in need, if for no other reason than self-insurance. Any society with a large class of exploited poor will have no end of social difficulties and instability, the costs of which in a properly ordered system would far exceed the assistance extended. In Aquinas’ terms, these would represent the structures necessary for a just society.
Society does not necessarily mean government, although it doesn’t exclude it either. It certainly didn’t mean “government” in Aquinas’ time. The Christian church pioneered hospitals, outreach to the poor, and education for the masses long before governments decided to enter into those industries, even after they became industries. Ironically, these days government has mostly gotten in the way of Catholic attempts to provide a just society through individual and group action, by threatening their existence with mandates that force the Church and its organizations to choose between faithful adherence to their doctrine and outreach to the poor and homeless.
- Even Aquinas did math (hotair.com)