Acton Institute Powerblog

More Debate on “A Catholic Alternative to Europe’s Social Model”

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Amy Welborn’s blog has a post on the January 21 conference Acton held in Rome and links to Jennifer Roback Morse’s recent Acton Commentary article.

Welborn’s post and comments can be read here. Roback Morse also wrote about the conference here.

Much of the debate is about whether there is one “European Social Model”. After all, European nations are still distinct enough to be affected by varying religious, cultural, and socio-economic factors. Yes, there may indeed be “Anglo-Saxon”, “Nordic”, “Continental” and “Latin” versions of the social model, but what they tend to have in common is this: high taxes, high regulations especially concerning labor markets, and radically secular populations.

This is certainly the model pushed by the European Union and its most influential member states upon new member states, many of which are post-Communist and therefore quite suspicious of state power and control. And no matter what you call the model, it tends to result in lower economic growth and shrinking populations – which will eventually spell the end of the welfare state because such as system depends on increasing tax receipts from a growing work force.

Of course there are and will always be exceptions. The British Ambassador to the Holy See attended the Acton conference and noted the UK and Ireland as such; Cardinal Alfonso Lopez Trujillo, President of the Ponitifical Council for the Family, agreed but added that the trend still exists and needs to be addressed directly.

The problem is a lack of economic and religious freedom. High taxes and regulations are signs of increasing state control over the economcy, and less economic freedom means less economic opportunity. (See Richard Rahn’s recent Washington Times column for the evidence.) On the religious front, Christians are marginalized in European public life, church attendance is declining, and the commandment to “be fruitful and multiply” is ignored. In the end, radical secularization and statism go hand-in-hand, as Mark Steyn argued in the Italian daily Il Foglio.

So how much more debate is needed? Isn’t reform the next necessary step? What Europe needs most right now are courageous leaders who are willing to risk unpopularity and even political defeat in order to promote a free and virtuous continent. They will have to remember the old saying that no good deed goes unpunished, but it’s a punishment that will eventually prove to be beneficial for Europe.

Kishore Jayabalan Kishore Jayabalan is director of Istituto Acton, the Acton Institute's Rome office. Formerly, he worked for the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as the lead policy analyst on sustainable development and arms control. Kishore Jayabalan earned a B.A. in political science and economics from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. In college, he was executive editor of The Michigan Review and an economic policy intern for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He worked as an international economist for the Bureau of Labor Statistics in Washington, D.C. and then graduated with an M.A. in political science from the University of Toronto. While in Toronto, Kishore interned in the university's Newman Centre, which led to his appointment to the Permanent Observer Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations in New York. Two years later, he returned to Rome to work for the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace as the Holy See's lead policy analyst on sustainable development and arms control. As director of Istituto Acton, Kishore organizes the institute's educational and outreach efforts in Rome and throughout Europe.


  • Clare Krishan

    Further to my “Open Book” posting, may I quote Rep. Chris Smith in “UNFPA Rebuked for Complicity in China’s Forced Abortion Program” that
    “At a minimum, we should not lavish millions of dollars on the friends of the oppressor like …”
    and substitute ‘any private employer in China’ (many of whom are part-owned US corporations) who also complies with these reprehensible repressive measures?

    ([url=]Here[/url] and
    [url=]here[/url] and [url=]here[/url])

    God Bless

  • Clare Krishan

    After my [url=]post last evening[/url] I was disturbed to read that Ms Mao HengFeng (gave personal witness testimony to the International Relations Committee Hearings “CHINA: HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AND COERCION IN ONE-CHILD POLICY ENFORCEMENT Dec ’04) has disappeared, here,,1701281,00.html

    Blind citizen Chen Guangcheng’s revelation of ‘mafia-hit’ execution-style enforcement is not new ([url=]TIME etc[/url])

    Will we exert moral authority in our trade wars with the same muscular conviction fuelling the war on terror? Who sits atop the Ferris Wheel of the Olympic Games as Orson Welles/China goads
    “Tell me, would you really feel any pity if one of those dots stopped moving forever?”
    Reforming GDP expenditures with laudable efforts at QDR aside, a truely Catholic perspective must account for all the moving dots, those conceived in America and those conceived elsewhere, when confronting the terrors of a perceived axis of evil otherwise

    “Beware for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee”