THE SHOEMAKER SHOULD STICK TO HIS LAST
Firmly establishing beforehand my deep respect for priests, I have to admit that sometimes, when attending a religious ceremony and I begin to hear the Economy being spoken about from the lectern of the temple, I begin to look around restlessly, I grind my teeth and symptoms of cold sweats appear. The embarrassing situation gets complicated if the monothematic allocution lengthens with sentimental and sanctimonious passion. I suppose that to any sensible priest the same thing would occur if he were to hear me speak as an economist about the Transubstantiation, the Virginity of the Mother of God or the nature of Angels, Power or Cherubs. The echoes of some of the laughter and the rumpus that could be kicked up, would be heard as far as Sebastopol.
I believe that it is much better that each one of us goes about his business competently and that we do not fall into the temptation of wanting to undertake everything. Some clergymen can fall into the same pernicious error as the gentleman State: it does not mind its own business, and what should concern it such as daily domestic and external security, Justice, and legislating the best possible for general and not partisan interest, is left abandoned and terribly poor.
They should stop speaking about rightist and leftist priests, Bishops of the North and Bishops of the South. Personally I accept that ethical mystic morals directed towards economic activity tire me. Adam Smith already demonstrated the importance of specialization and division of work in all economic tasks. For that reason I believe that what the Economy needs from everyone, also from yourselves, is that each one dedicates himself to what he knows because otherwise, human resources that should be devoted to the rigorous and serious study of their Science and, in your case, of your priestly ministry.
One only has to take a quick glance at economic history to highlight at least three economic blunders committed by certain well-intentioned but ignorant clergy. In the first place is the condemnation over centuries of all interest rates without more ado and without knowledge of its negative implications. It is a good job that Tomás de Aquino and the Salamanca School put some order to those drastic condemnations. But it had to be an economist, Böhm Barek who clarified such confusion in his book Capital and Interest.
Secondly it is also necessary to mention the spectacular slide of the Presbyterian Malthus, this time non-Catholic, with the secular and current sequels of his Theory of Population and with his good puritan intention. It had to be another economist like Hayek who, from an agnostic personal posture, but with his undoubted solvency in economic knowledge, clarified the pessimistic foolish fear of the population’s civilized growth due to a hypothetical and false exhaustion of nutritious resources.
Without enlarging more, I lastly quote the ridicule of the “Atheism of Liberation”, with its Marxist aftertastes that made Latin America feel like the lowest of the low in economic underdevelopment. It took the fall of the Berlin wall, exposing the heartstrings of real socialism, for widespread dispersion to occur and these Hispanic countries began to be liberated in this way from “liberation” and recover lost ground in their economic activity. They are already taking shape as an important region for future world development.
You should pay attention to the saying: ”The cobbler should stick to his last.” You do not want to know everything. For you, speaking about the Economy can be uneconomical behaviour. My advice is that you do not get into those messes. Let it be us economists that have a blazing row. I have dedicated more than 20 years in one way or another to this and I can assure you that I still do not know very well what it is all about. Do not waste your time. With what is falling upon us, just trying to clean up all that everyone calls corruption and that you priests have always called sin, you have more than enough to earn your living (and Heaven) without whiling away the time on trifles of the situation. I admit that when I hear you speak trying to solve economic problems from the pulpit I think on occasions that you want to monopolize God as if he were only yours. It occurs to me then the idea according to which some of you would believe that that God, everyone’s, is foolish because he does not know how to solve economic problems. It is a serious mistake.
JJ Franch Meneu