A Catholic Governor Embraces Subsidiarity

Deal W. Hudson
July 11, 2010

The new governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie, is distinguishing himself in two ways as a Catholic politician. Not only he is pro-life, but he is also aggressively pursuing a set of policies grounded in the principle of subsidiarity.

At a time when most prominent Catholic politicians – Nancy Pelosi, Joe Biden, and John Kerry – have advocated federal government solutions to problems like health care, Gov. Christie is pushing in the opposite direction by releasing a New Jersey Privatization Task Force Report.

In the 57-page report, the Task Force proposes privatizing the state’s motor vehicle inspections, housing construction inspections, turnpike toll booths, state parks, psychiatric hospitals, as well as contracting for highway maintenance work, and outsourcing worker’s compensation claims and all pension, payroll, and benefit payments systems.

These recommendations, according to Christie, will save New Jersey taxpayers over $200 million a year.

If the humanity of unborn life is the tenet most ignored by Catholic politicians, the principle of subsidiarity comes in a close second. Of course, unlike the 6th commandment – “thou shall not kill” – subsidiarity must be applied prudentially. The principle itself is simple:

A community of a higher order should not interfere in the internal life of a community of a lower order, depriving the latter of its functions, but rather should support it in case of need and help to co-ordinate its activity with the activities of the rest of society, always with a view to the common good. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #1883)

The Catechism is unambiguous in its claim that Catholics should uphold subsidiarity to offset one of the dangers of socialization, i.e., an “excessive intervention by the state” threatening “personal freedom and initiative” (#1882-1883).

Christie also seeks to keep the burden of funding government from growing any further – he has proposed a constitutional amendment capping property tax increases at 2.5 percent above the prior year’s receipts. Christie explains, “That’s 2.5 percent growth in total for everything – municipal tax, county tax, and school tax. There is only one exception to this cap – to pay required debt service.”

The New Jersey governor’s further reliance on subsidiarity is seen in his recent speech supporting “parental choice” in education at American Federation of Children’s National Policy Summit Dinner in Washington, D.C. Legislation has already been introduced that would provide vouchers to students at “chronically failing schools,” like the ones in Newark that Christie described as “absolutely disgraceful.”

There were doubts raised during the campaign about Christie’s pro-life commitment, but those credentials were solidified by his eliminating funding for Planned Parenthood from the 2011 New Jersey budget. State Democrats are already pushing to restore the more than $7 million in funding despite an $11 billion dollar deficit next year (the state has been on the verge of bankruptcy).

It’s often said that some Catholic commentators focus too much on life and marriage issues, relegating prudential matters too far into the background. Thus far, Gov. Christie’s performance provides an opportunity to reflect on the longer view of a Catholic in politics.

Gov. Christie represents a pro-life, pro-family Catholic politician drawing upon the principle of subsidiarity to make budgetary and policy choices that look to the private sector, not the federal government, for solutions to pressing problems.

 

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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