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Posted April 23, 2006

Book: Rediscovering Abundance: Interdisciplinary Essays on Wealth, Income, and Their Distribution in the Catholic Social Tradition
Edited by: Helen Alford, O.P., Charles M. A. Clark, S.A. Cortright, Michael J. Naughton
University of Notre Dame Press, Notre Dame, IN, 2006, pp. 386

An Excerpt from the Jacket:

The essays in Rediscovering Abundance provide a complex and interdisciplinary analysis of the question of wealth creation and distribution in light of the moral and spiritual insights of the Catholic social tradition. In this volume, theologians, economists, philosophers, management theorists, and CEOs engage in conversation. Contributors cover the dimensions of today’s global system of wealth creation and outline challenges to make it more just and humane.

This book questions both neoliberal and neoconservative views of the creation, distribution, and use of wealth. The volume seeks a middle ground, avoiding both conservative bias toward market mechanisms and liberal bias against business. It also provides practical suggestions for distributing wealth more justly, as understood within Catholic social tradition. Rediscovering Abundance is an important new work that will be useful in business ethics courses, as well as to ethicists, pastors, practitioners in the business community, and anyone interested in the question of how a capitalist economy can create and distribute wealth in a way that benefits the common good.

An Excerpt from the Book:

Wealth is a term overflowing with contradictions. On the one hand, it holds out the promise of aboundance, while on the other hand its actualization (for individuals) is tied to a reality of scarcity. Furthermore, while it is linked to happiness and well-being on the one side, after a minimum level is acquired it bears very little correlation to either happiness or well-being. Last, it can provide the individual with security against the uncertainties of the future and simultaneously be “the economic face of that political stratification, lodged in the hands of a class whose ability to grant or deny access to resources becomes the ‘economic’ basis for both prestige and power,” and thus the cause of individual insecurity for those without prestige and power. Such contradictions seem to call out for Harry Truman’s proverbial one-handed economist. The contradictions stem “The Nature of Wealth,” from the competing notions of what wealth is, specifically concerning the differences between social and individual wealth.

This dual notion of wealth, as something that can either promote or retard the common good, is evident throughout the history of economic thought. It is also expressed within the Judeo-Christian social tradition, particularly within the Old and New Testaments and in the subsequent 2,000-year Catholic moral/social tradition. An examination of these two intellectual traditions’ reflections on th nature of wealth shows that many of their positive and negative pronouncements are related, stemming from whether wealth is seen from a social or an individualistic perspective, whether wealth is understood as essentially the result of abundance or the result of scarcity, whether wealth is perceived as a means to an end or as a legitimate end in and of itself, and whether wealth is seen as a gift from God or due solely to human ingenuity.

Table of Contents:

Part One: Wealth Creation
1. Wealth as abundance and scarcity: perspectives from Catholic social thought and economic theory – Charles Clark
2. Wealth, creation within the Catholic social tradition – Robert Kennedy
3. A Pauline catechesis of abundance – John Haughey, S.J.
4. Entrepreneurship in papal though: creation of wealth and the distribution of justice
5. Wealth creation in the global economy: human labor and development

Part Two: Wealth Distribution
6. Wealth and poverty: the preferential option
7. Inequality in income and wealth: when does it become immoral and why?
8. Wealth distribution in economic discourse: Catholic social thought and the individualistic paradigm
9. Equitable global wealth distribution: a global public good and a building block for the global common good
10. The role of “indirect employers” in wage distribution: economic data and Laborem exercens

Part Three: Two Business Applications
11. Implementing just wages and ownership: a dialogue
12. The problem of wealth distribution in the global apparel industry: locating responsibilities in the supply chain