Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Bailey, Janies P.: Rethinking Poverty: Income, Assets, and the Catholic Social Justice Tradition

Academic journal article The Review of Metaphysics

Bailey, Janies P.: Rethinking Poverty: Income, Assets, and the Catholic Social Justice Tradition

Article excerpt

BAILEY, Janies P. Rethinking Poverty: Income, Assets, and the Catholic Social Justice Tradition. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2010. 176 pp. Paper, $30.00--This book seeks to redress the lack of emphasis on the idea of asset building as a means of poverty relief in current debates. Professor Bailey's main thesis is that there is too much attention paid to income inequality at the expense of the lost tradition of "asset development for the poor."

Since the Catholic Church teaches that economics a not a value-neutral science, Bailey's approach is first to ask why we need asset building for the poor and then to introduce the major concepts of Catholic social thought in relation to property, ownership, asset-building policy, and the common good. Chapter two traces a line of thought that extends from Pope Leo XIII's stress on the virtues of ownership through Pius IX's affirmation that "private property is consistent with the natural law and that ownership implies both individual and social rights and responsibilities." He goes on to discuss, perhaps too briefly, John XXIII's and Paul VI's development of a global vision and rounds out the chapter with John Paul II's seminal social encyclicals (Labomm Exercens, Sollicitudo Rei Socialis, and Centesimus Annus) as well as that pontiffs concern for the partial redefinition of ownership in an information age.

Chapter three is entitled "Assets and Human Capabilities" and begins with a quote from Martha Nussbaum's Frontiers of Justice. At this point, the author sets forth a "complementary conception" of social justice by using Nussbaum's "capabilities approach" and her "thick, vague" theory of the good. A helpful table defines the "Capabilities for a Good Human Life" by using quotations from Nussbaum's work. The chapter then draws on the work of Michael Sherridan, whose inductive approach to measuring economic health seeks to place public policy at the center of an asset-building approach to poverty relief. …

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