Can we live different lives, socially and economically as Christians. Cavanaugh say we can – and really we must.
This is a great, small book. It’s 100 plus pages are meaty – much to chew over. And much to challenge us. Cavanaugh’s call is clear and simple, “From a Christian point of view, the churches should take an active role in fostering economic practices that are consonant with the true ends of creation. This requires promoting economic practices that maintain close connections among capital, labor and communities so that real communal discernment of the good can take place”.
Of course most Christians are aware of the plight of factory worker around the world making designer clothing (Liz Claiborne jackets) which while retailing at $178, cost only 77 cents per jacket (56 cents an hour). And of course most Christians are concerned. It is just that most Christians are too lazy (yes, fingers pointed at me too!!) to change our shopping habits. But is it possible to be a business and give to the community? Cavanaugh details the pain-based Mondragon Co-operative which was founded by a priest in 1956. The company employs 60,000 people and has annual sales of $3 billion. But it’s philosophy is based on the principles of distributism: this idea is that a just social order can only be achieved through the distribution of property and a recognition of the dignity of labor. Mondragon is entirely worker owned and worker governed. It is based on a system of one vote per worker. Their philosophy is that labor hires capital, instead of capital hiring labor. The highest paid worker can make no more than six times the lowest paid. 10% of surpluses are given directly to community development projects.
Not only is the company successful and laborers highly satisfied with their work, but the communities in which Mondragon plays a significant part enjoy lower crime rates, lower rates of domestic violence, higher rates of education, and better physical and emotional health than neighboring communities.
There is much more to this book – but I’ll leave you to find out for yourself.