“I think dignified work is something that allows you to get up in the morning or the evening and go do something rewarding and productive,” Rubio told CNA. “You should be able to feel useful and productive, and that those hours matter.”
But, Rubio said, “there’s no doubt” that there is a shortage of dignified work in the American economy.
“This is driven almost entirely by the idea that our economics is about the right of businesses to make a profit – which is true, but with that right comes a responsibility to act in the common good, it is a balance and mutually beneficial arrangement at its best.”
“Today our focus is on ‘How fast is GDP growing?’ irrespective of how that growth is distributed and whether short term profit takes precedence over what is in the long-term interest of the country or the interest of the whole nation today.”
“Industries that provided dignified work for decades have vanished. The people who once had those jobs have not been the ones who have been able to achieve the new jobs created by the ‘new economy.’”
“People are being told, at 45 years of age, to go back to school, learn to code, leave behind your family, your church, your community, the place you’ve always lived – your entire support network – and move half-way across the country for a job you’re probably not going to get anyway because they think you’re too old for it.”
In answer to this situation, Rubio said that both the political left and right are offering a “false choice” between a “purist” pursuit of profit divorced from community investment, and promises of a socialist mandate to enforce better outcomes.
Public policy, he said, can and should be part of realigning the economy towards the public good, but it cannot deliver it by government fiat.
“A government that provides you with healthcare will decide who your doctor is and what healthcare you get, a government that provides all your education will ultimately decide not just what you’re taught, but what you can study and where.”
“Common good economics trusts that if our public policies reflect the rights of a worker to benefit from their work as well as their obligation to work, and the rights of a business to make a profit as well as their obligation to do so in a way that’s beneficial to the country, then private individuals and business in balance can do a better job of providing those necessities and the kind of life we all want than government ever could.”
But what is the role of government in a common good economy?
(Story continues below)
Subscribe to our daily newsletter
At Catholic News Agency, our team is committed to reporting the truth with courage, integrity, and fidelity to our faith. We provide news about the Church and the world, as seen through the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you subscribe to the CNA UPDATE, we'll send you a daily email with links to the news you need and, occasionally, breaking news.
As part of this free service you may receive occasional offers from us at EWTN News and EWTN. We won't rent or sell your information, and you can unsubscribe at any time.
“If we are going to have preferences in our public policy, the preference needs to go to things which contribute towards our common good,” Rubio said, highlighting policies that incentivize immediate reinvestment of returns to grow jobs and sustain local communities.
“The second thing that government needs to do, especially in the 21st century, is to recognize that there are certain industries that are critical to our long-term interests. From a pure market analysis, it may be more efficient moving this or that manufacturing or other function to another country, but from a national interest standpoint, there are certain things we have to be able to do even if it’s not purely justified by market conditions – we have to be able to make things, to feed ourselves.”
“I think there are great benefits to a globalized economy… but I do think we have to recognize that policies that worked very well in an economy that wasn’t globalized need to be readjusted to that new reality.”
“Before, you could expect GDP growth to match investment back into our economy, that’s not the case anymore.”
But, he said, the real dignity of work was to be found as much in the home as in the office or on the shop floor, and it is not about simply amassing wealth.
“Most people aren’t interested in becoming rich, but in being rewarded in a way which allows you to provide for your family, and allows you the time you need to be the husband, wife, father, mother, and member of the community that you want to be.”