Austrian Economics is a Value Free Science
The Austrian School of economics has been lumped in with libertarian politics in the minds of the average person. This is for good reason. Austrianism gives convincing arguments against central banking, wars, socialism, and essentially all government intervention. Austrian economics convincingly and correctly shows that the market will undisputedly most efficiently provide the subjective wants of the people. However, what the Austrian school of economics absolutely does not show is that we should pursue the subjective wants of the people. Sure, many proponents of Austrian economics - in fact the best and smartest proponents of Austrian economics - will argue that we should, but not one of them would argue that these arguments are strictly qua economics. Rather, the best Austrians will proudly proclaim that economics itself is a value-free science. As one of the greatest Austrains, Ludwig von Mises, has said
An economist investigates whether a measure a can bring about the result p for the attainment of which it is recommended, and finds that a does not result in p but in g, an effect which even the supporters of the measure a consider undesirable. If this economist states the outcome of his investigation by saying that a is a bad measure, he does not pronounce a judgment of value. He merely says that from the point of view of those aiming at the goal p, the measure a is inappropriate. In this sense the free-trade economists attacked protection. They demonstrated that protection does not, as its champions believe, increase but, on the contrary, decreases the total amount of products, and is therefore bad from the point of view of those who prefer an ampler supply of products to a smaller. It is in this sense that economists criticize policies from the point of view of the ends aimed at. If an economist calls minimum wage rates a bad policy, what he means is that its effects are contrary to the purpose of those who recommend their application.
Thus, economics alone cannot state that libertarianism or anarchism is indeed the proper path. Rather it can demonstrate that such paths of removing government intervention will in fact lead to the people better receiving their subjective wants. Mises, Henry Hazlitt, and Murray Rothbard all put forward their own ethical judgments; however, none of them were derived strictly from economics.
This is what squares the circle of how we can advocate Austro-Thomism despite the Catechism of the Catholic Church expressly stating that
The Church has rejected the totalitarian and atheistic ideologies associated in modem times with "communism" or "socialism." She has likewise refused to accept, in the practice of "capitalism," individualism and the absolute primacy of the law of the marketplace over human labor. Regulating the economy solely by centralized planning perverts the basis of social bonds; regulating it solely by the law of the marketplace fails social justice, for "there are many human needs which cannot be satisfied by the market." Reasonable regulation of the marketplace and economic initiatives, in keeping with a just hierarchy of values and a view to the common good, is to be commended.
This would seem to push Catholics away from a school of economics whose proponents so loudly advocate for the very pure capitalism and individualism that the Catholic Church has spoken against. However, Austro-Thomists do not disagree that capitalism will in fact most efficiently fill the wants of the people. Quite the opposite. Austro-Thomists will argue for interventions specifically because it will most efficiently fill the wants of the people and many of the wants of the people are not “in keeping with a just hierarchy of values.”
The people subjectively want pornography. The people subjectively want contraceptives. The people subjectively want all sorts of profoundly anti-Catholic desires. A free marketplace in these things will most efficiently provide such things. From a strictly economics standpoint there is neither anything right nor wrong about that but rather it simply is true. However, we as Catholics take a moral stand against these things and as a result it is now on us to understand economics and see the problems with interventions and with that understanding find the best ways to hinder the mass production of sin.