Jerry Brown uses ‘subsidiarity’

First felons, now schools


The following comes from a January 15 story in the Sacramento Bee.

Former Catholic seminarian Jerry Brown is prone to including obscure theological references in his political pronouncements, often embellishing them with Latin phrases.

So last week, when presenting a new state budget proposal, he used the word “subsidiarity” to describe his intention to continue shifting responsibilities for policymaking from Sacramento to locally elected officials.

One had to be steeped in Catholic doctrinal history to grasp that it evolves from the work of an influential 20th-century German theologian, Oswald von Nell-Breuning.

He postulated that the fundamental autonomy of the individual meant that governments should leave as much decision-making as possible in private hands. It was one of the underpinnings of the Catholic Church’s opposition to fascism, communism, and other statist forms.

Applying it, as Brown did, to the relationship between California’s state and local governments is, therefore, a bit of a stretch, albeit another opportunity for Brown to flash his theological erudition to the unwashed media.

Such nitpicking aside, there’s much to be said for diminishing the power that Sacramento assumed, somewhat unintentionally, after voters passed Proposition 13, the landmark property tax limit, 35 years ago, during Brown’s first stint as governor.

As it shouldered the burden for schools, community colleges, the courts and other functions that had been locally financed and managed, the state also dictated how the money would be spent, even though operations remained, in large measure, in local hands.

Financing formulas became increasingly complex and irrational as local governments and program stakeholders jousted in the Capitol.

Centralization gave Sacramento politicians more clout over local affairs and local politicians a built-in excuse for failure – while neither bore any accountability to voters for outcomes.

Brown’s initial foray into subsidiarity was what he and others called “realignment” – shifting responsibility for incarcerating and supervising low-level felons and some social service programs to counties, along with a $5 billion-plus revenue stream to pay for them.

His latest proposal deals with K-12 education, eliminating many of the “categorical aids” that dictate how state money is to be spent, and recasting that money, as well as new funds, into block grants, albeit with a proviso giving more funds to schools with large numbers of poor and/or non- English-speaking students….

To read entire story, click here.


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  1. Brown remembered the word “subsidiarity” from his education in the seminary. That gives us hope that sometime in the future he may remember more of his theological training.

    • Oswald von Nell-Breuning was a Jesuit priest – that’s probably the only reason Brown remembered the word. As for anything else Brown might have wondered about being Catholic…

    • Sarah, what makes you believe that his theological training was sound?

    • As long as Bishops (and Priests) allow Brown and other heretical and schismatic Catholics politicians to receive the Eucharist sacraligously, they will never change.
      They are not being taught nor corrected by their Diocese Bishops.

      All Catholics must adhere to the “Catechism of the Catholic Church, Second Edition” in entirety.

  2. More local control is a good idea, if the state government will also stop the social engineering via curriculum mandates. They’ve made curriculum that amounts to indoctrination rather than education. The local school boards, more responsible to parents’ wishes, should have the responsibility for the content of the curriculum. The legislature has done great damage over the years, and Brown’s plan could be used to roll some of it back.

  3. Robert Lockwood says:

    Inasmuch as Mr. Brown is an ex Catholic anything he says relating to the Catholic Church is to be ignored as well as his political actions.

    • Who says Governor Brown is a “former” Catholic?

      As for religion, in September of 2012 he stood up for people of faith, as we read below:

      “SACRAMENTO (KGO) — California employers must now accommodate religious attire and not place people who wear it out of public view. It’s the result of a bill signed this weekend by Governor Jerry Brown.”

      This is much better than what we’re reading now about Merry Old England, where Christians can get fired for wearing a cross, or Muslims can get into trouble for wearing a head scarf.

      • Robert Lockwood says:

        Max – As a public figure taking anti Catholic positions and supporting anti Catholic causes he has by church law self excommunicated himself. Read the book — it is all there.

        • A number of years ago on this site, one of the bloggers made it appear that he was in fact Jerry Brown, and another blogger in tandem with his blogs, made it appear he was a political assistant of Brown. The thread was an argument over whether Brown was Catholic or not. He lost after considerable debate, and never came back to the site.

  4. CCC: ” 1894 In accordance with the principle of subsidiarity, neither the state nor any larger society should substitute itself for the initiative and responsibility of individuals and intermediary bodies.”

    CCC: ” 1883 Socialization also presents dangers.
    Excessive intervention by the state can threaten personal freedom and initiative.
    The teaching of the Church has elaborated the principle of subsidiarity, according to which “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.”

    CCC: ” 2209 The family must be helped and defended by appropriate social measures. Where families cannot fulfill their responsibilities, other social bodies have the duty of helping them and of supporting the institution of the family. Following the principle of subsidiarity, larger communities should take care not to usurp the family’s prerogatives or interfere in its life.”

    All elected officials should support subsidiarity.
    And should also support “commutative justice” – which means governments all must pay their bills, etc.

    CCC: 2411 Contracts are subject to commutative justice which regulates exchanges between persons and between institutions in accordance with a strict respect for their rights.
    Commutative justice obliges strictly;
    it requires safeguarding property rights, paying debts, and fulfilling obligations freely contracted. Without commutative justice, no other form of justice is possible.
    One distinguishes commutative justice from legal justice which concerns what the citizen owes in fairness to the community, and from distributive justice which regulates what the community owes its citizens in proportion to their contributions and needs.”

  5. Why would anyone pay attention to what a FORMER seminarian has to say? Especially a wayward Catholic who promotes abortion. Why would we not pay attention to our Pope and Bishops? Jerry Brown has surrounded himself with pro abortion people. What does that tell you?

    • Kenneth M. Fisher says:


      Moonbeam Brownie has also surrounded himself with pro-sodomites!

      God have mercy on Taxifornia and the USA.

      God bless, yours in Their Hearts,
      Kenneth M. Fisher

  6. Are there any Catholic politicians who never went to Catholic schools? I’m beginning to wonder if Catholic schools train students to become Europeans at heart, instead of Americans.

    • Western Schnieder says:

      Most Catholic Schools are lost. There is a new round of faithful catholic schools being founded. All the pre Vatican II schools have gone to the other side. The newer Novus Ordo Parochial schools teach a white washed version of Jesus loves you catholicity which is all about feeling good about feeling

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