In Was the Good Samaritan a Bad Economist? Charles K. Wilber argues that the American economy has not only failed to overcome poverty, it has generated extreme inequality that in turn restricts social mobility and further marginalizes the poor. Wilber argues that economic theory is permeated with ethical values and any economics must be so; that human behavior is more complex than the economists’ simple self-interest model; that people are also driven by deeply embedded moral values; that markets require intervention to create equity; and that Catholic social thought provides the perspective and values to develop a more relevant social economics. The author takes that modified economics and uses it to analyze specific social problems: labor markets, poverty, inequality, financial crisis, and development. Wilber next focuses on the important role of families, labor unions, parishes, and small Christian communities, such as the Catholic Worker movement, as mediating institutions in the economy. He concludes with a final look at the questions, "Was the Good Samaritan a Bad Economist?".
Charles K. Wilber is emeritus professor of economics and fellow, Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame.
Part One: Foundations
1 The Good Samaritan and Catholic Social Thought
2 Economic Theory Requires Moral Values
3 Individual Actors Have Moral Values
4 Markets Require Intervention
5 Moral Theories and Justice
6 Catholic Social Thought and the Common Good
Part Two: Applications
7 Economics of Labor Markets and Theory of the Gift
8 The Causes of Poverty
9 Pope Francis and Inequality
10 The Economy as a Casino: Ethics and the Global Financial Crisis
11 Integral Human Development
Part Three: Whither the Future
12 The Economy, the Family and Mediating Institutions
13 Distributism and the Catholic Worker Movement
14 Wisdom and the Christian Economist
For over 50 years, Charles Wilber has been the gold standard for integrating the insights of Catholic social thought with economic theory and policy. He has a thorough understanding of the limitations of neoclassical economics and “free-market economic” policies as well as a deep understanding of Catholic social thought. Was the Good Samaritan a Bad Economist? is the culmination of all his past writing, the perfect summation of his career. By combining his own personal narrative with the theoretical and applied economic analysis, he makes the ideas more accessible and brings out the great humanism that underlies both his life and his work.