“Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.”- Granny Weatherwax, I Shall Wear Midnight, By Terry Pratchet
All of this can be summed up by repeating once more that economic freedom is only one element of human freedom. When it becomes autonomous, when man is seen more as a producer or consumer of goods than as a subject who produces and consumes in order to live, then economic freedom loses its necessary relationship to the human person and ends up by alienating and oppressing him.-- Centesimus Annus 39, Pope John Paul II (is it too soon to call him St. Pope John Paul The Great?)
In Chapter two, Fr Zieba begins to redeem himself somewhat in my eyes, by identifying, along with Pope John Paul II, the central problem of economics as a science- that it treats human beings as THINGS rather than PEOPLE. As old Granny Weatherwax said in Terry Pratchet's novel, that's the beginning of evil, right there. Price signals aren't enough to tell you if the grapes you buy at the supermarket were raised by drug lords in Chile enslaving local populations as a cover crop encircling an interior of cocaine production- and such things have been known to happen.
Catholics have begun to fight back with "Eat Local" campaigns and "Fair Trade" for that stuff that can't be grown locally; but the majority of the world's consumers are kept in the dark as to the moral implications of the decisions they make in the marketplace every day. They have been reduced to mere consumers- trying to get the most value for the cheapest price- no matter what moral evil may lurk behind their purchases. Even environmental pollution has been exported, leading to massive pollution problems in China and Mexico, and even more so in the rest of the developing world.
So I begin this Lent with the urge that we don't need a free market- what we really need is a THINKING market.