Nearly 100 students debated and ultimately failed the motion “This house believes that Catholics should not invest in the stock market” at the first Dumb Ox Debate of the semester Sunday at 7 p.m. in the Gentile Gallery, with 37 affirming and 60 opposing.
William Bednarz, a research assistant at New Polity, and graduate student Alex Denley affirmed the motion, while Michael Welker, who holds a doctorate in economics, and junior Kurtis Struemke opposed.
Affirming the motion, Denley said, “Ownership requires responsibility, real ownership. Not this fake ownership. The stock market is a manipulable fiction.
“If people don’t desire to be greedy, the whole stock market will collapse tomorrow. The whole thing will just evaporate. It will eviscerate. If no one thinks Apple is worth anything, it won’t be worth anything because you need someone to buy that share from you at a later date,” Denley said. “Why are we as Catholics thinking, ‘That is Catholic ownership. That is building up the kingdom of heaven.’ I’m not saying it’s morally reprehensible, I’m saying it’s utterly morally irresponsible.”
Denley said the solution was to look at real Catholic investing in subsidiarity and the needs of the people around them, and “the responsibilities of capital.”
Opposing the motion, Welker said that investment in stocks can be useful for future financial security, such as in retirement.
“In our own lives, investing is a good idea, because in the long run, perhaps things will not be so fat always,” Welker said. “(As) Saint Augustine said, ‘Get rid of pride; wealth will do no harm.’”
During the lightning round, junior Bridget Whoriskey said to support small businesses over large corporations.
“Because man is an economy of good and evil, there is good that needs to be supported, so we should not idly invest in Amazon stock,” Whoriskey said.
After the debate, sophomore Michelle Cordier said, “It was a really interesting debate. In all honesty, I didn’t know much about the stock market before this … but it brought up a lot. … It was a lot more nuanced than (I expected).”
The Dumb Ox Debate was hosted by the Veritas Society.