What is the Catholic answer to the unemployment crisis?

Highway construction workers are seen in Dallas in this 2011 file photo. Labor Day, honoring U.S. workers, is observed Sept. 4 this year. (CNS photo/Larry W. Smith, EPA)

This week's guest is Rachel Lu, a philosophy professor and freelance writer for The Federalist and Crisis Magazine among other publications. She recently wrote an article for America called “Can Catholic social teaching help solve the labor crisis?”

In her article, Ms. Lu describes the startling demographics: “As of December of last year, a record-breaking 95 million American adults (a startling number of prime-age men) were neither employed nor in a period of career transition, since they were not looking for new jobs. The United States in this century has seen the most severe falloff in employment rates since before World War II.”


Ms. Lu discusses the theme of labor as a right, resulting from our human dignity, through the lens of St. John Paul II's and Pope Francis' writings on the subject: “It is natural for people in need to want to work. It is wrong to meet this need through a glut of empty busywork. Wouldn’t it be better in the long run if machines did the most mundane tasks related to creating our material goods, leaving humans more free for personal service and cultural pursuits?

“As we move through this period of labor anxiety, we should make every effort to stand in solidarity with the unemployed and the marginalized. At the same time, we must keep our eyes fixed on the horizon, where we can spy a worthy goal: a truly humane economy that enables people to offer their real talents and abilities in service of the common good.”

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