terça-feira, 21 de novembro de 2006

The Scholastics

* On the issue of the “just wage,” which has been the source of so
much contention in Catholic circles over the past century, the Late
Scholastics contended that a wage rate mutually agreed upon had to
be just. According to Luis de Molina (1535–1600), an employer was
only obliged to pay [the laborer] the just wage for his services considering
all the attendant circumstances, not what is sufficient for his
sustenance and much less for the maintenance of his children and
.” Domingo de Soto (1494–1570) argued that “
if they freely
accepted this salary for their job, it must be just,” and held that “no
injury is done to those who gave their consent
.” His advice to
unhappy employees was simple: “
[I]f you do not want to serve for
that salary, leave!”

* On the subject of free trade, for example, Chafuen quotes Leonardo Lessio (1554–1623) as saying,

If, without cause, the magistrates exclude foreign sellers,
and for that reason the price of the good in question is increased,
they have to compensate the citizens for the damage caused by that

* On inflation of the money supply, we have (for example)
Juan de Mariana (1536–1624):

The king has no domain over the goods of the people, and he can
not take them in whole or in part. We can see then: Would it be licit
for the king to go into a private barn taking for himself half of the
wheat and trying to satisfy the owner by saying that he can sell the
rest at twice the price? I do not think we can find a person with such
depraved judgment as to approve this, yet the same is done with
copper coins. (p. 66)

* Chafuen also shows that, contrary to those who would have the
Scholastics setting prices of goods according to their “objective
value,” the subjects of his study believed in subjective value theory.
This has been a difficult point for some Catholics, particularly those
with an antipathy toward the market, to grasp, since they insist on
interpreting the term “subjective value” as implying relativism or
nihilism. The view of Luis Saravía de la Calle, who is reasonably representative
of the Late Scholastics on this point, clarifies the matter:
Those who measure the just price by the labor, costs, and risk
incurred by the person who deals in the merchandise or produces
it, or by the cost of transport or the expense of traveling . . . or by
what he has to pay the factors for their industry, risk, and labor, are
greatly in error, and still more so are those who allow a certain
profit of a fifth or a tenth. For the just price arises from the abundance
or scarcity of goods, merchants, and money . . . and not from
costs, labor, and risk.
If we had to consider labor and risk in order
to assess the just price, no merchant would ever suffer loss, nor
would abundance or scarcity of goods and money enter into the
question. Prices are not commonly fixed on the basis of costs
. Why
should a bale of linen brought overland from Brittany at great
expense be worth more than one which is transported cheaply by
sea? . . . Why should a book written out by hand be worth more
than one which is printed, when the latter is better though it costs
less to produce? . . . The just price is found not by counting the cost
but by the common estimation. (p. 114)

* The Scholastics contended that incases of extreme need, as when a person (or his family) is on theverge of starvation, his appropriation of the property of the richwould not be considered theft. Addressing his largely classical-liberalaudience, Chafuen does a creditable job explaining this traditionof thought, all the while assuring skeptical readers that modern disparagementof property rights is not traceable to the “extreme need”allowance of the Scholastics. Moreover, some of the Scholastics(including St. Thomas Aquinas) insisted that someone who hadrecourse to the goods of another during a moment of extreme need would ultimately have to make restitution to the owner. Martin deAzpilcueta (1492–1586) wrote that he “who takes something inextreme need, is obliged to make restitution when he has a chance;independently if he has goods in another place or not, and even if hehad or had not consumed the goods.”Another point Chafuen might have made is that when theScholastics spoke of “extreme need,” they meant extreme. They meanta kind of poverty that is essentially nonexistent in a modern marketsociety. It would therefore be the height of dishonesty to try toemploy the Scholastic argument here in defense of modern welfarestates or any other form of wealth redistribution." JOURNAL OF LIBERTARIAN STUDIES, Thomas E. Woods, Jr.

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