Firstly, it’s crucial not to go off on a straw man argument. Laissez-faire does not mean anarchy. There is a distinct school of economics known as anarcho capitalism but it does not represent the mainstream Laissez-faire view. The mainstream Laissez-faire view holds that some regulation is necessary to prevent the violation of property rights, at a minimum and many would go futher.
Secondly, let’s not be confused about goals. Those, like myself, who advocate Laissez-faire economics agree with the Church that the abuse of the poor by the rich is unjust. I have yet to meet anyone who believes that it’s a good idea, or even that it’s ok, for the rich to abuse the poor.
Third, let’s be honest about comparing alternatives. It is totally unrealistic to compare Laissez-faire economics to heaven. We live in a fallen world and we make choices among real alternatives. Thus in evaluating Laissez-faire economics we must compare it to realistic alternatives, not fantasies.
The question is, thus, a very narrow one: does a Laissez-faire encourage or allow the rich to abuse the poor as compared to the alternatives? Does heavy regulation of the economy reduce the abuse of the poor by the rich without compromising other moral priorities?
And, thus framed, we must confront this: Is the Church expert in answering the above questions? Or does that expertise lie elsewhere? I will return to the first questions later and address this first. The answer is that the Church does not posess that expertise. It is not a domain of revealed knowledge or of inspired reasoning. It is, in fact, a prudential subject for the laity to answer through economic and political study.
I will return to rebut CrossofChrist’s points and to address the first questions above but I want to give others a chance to reflect and respond on the framing of the questions.