Whose Job is It?

There seems to be an attitude today among some people that the government should fix all the problems.  Does the government serve a key role in solutions to many problems?  Yes, but that doesn’t mean it is the government’s job to fix everything.

I am reminded of a quote from President John F. Kennedy inaugural address, “ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.” (http://www.ushistory.org/documents/ask-not.htm).

Is there something you can do?

One area of concern for the Catholic Church is the growing wage separation between the rich and the poor.  The government could raise the minimum wage.  It is always a concern that everyone be paid a “just wage” defined as what is necessary for a person to earn enough to provide for the basic needs of their family.

However, if the government were to drastically raise the minimum wage all at once, it could be detrimental to the economy.  I am not saying not to raise the minimum wage at all.  We just need to be prudent in how fast it is raised.

Of course, there is the other end of the wage scale.  There are high level company executives making millions of dollars each year.  There are sports stars also making millions of dollars.  I think these salaries are nothing short of ridiculous.  Those executives may play a crucial role for the their companies but so does the average worker.  Should the government set a maximum wage for the company executives and sports stars?  I am not sure that would work.

What we need to do is change the attitude of such people  so that people are not demanding such high salaries.

Should the government administer programs to help the poor and the vulnerable?  Yes.  Catholic Social Teaching follows a principle known as subsidiarity.  Subsidiarity means that issues are addressed at the lowest level possible.  This starts with a local community and works its way up.  Poverty, homelessness, and health care are national problems that require the involvement of the national government but with the involvement of the local communities.  The local communities are the ones who know the problems of their specific communities but do not have the resources that our national government has.

Government needs to be involved but so do individual people.  What can you do using your time, talents, and treasures to help those in need?  It isn’t just a job for the government or the Church.  It requires each of us to be involved to bring about the necessary and lasting changes.


Fr. Jeff

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