Hacking Off the Poor Half of Society
Some wealthy and uninformed individuals have referred to the lowest-income, 47 percent of Americans, as the “takers,” who enjoy government benefits at the expense of the high-earning one percent. But their claim is meaningless. The total amount paid out in ‘welfare’ (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) is less than the investment income of just three men in a single year.
The monthly TANF income for a family of four is less than what the average member of the Forbes Top 20 made in one second at the office.
The 47 percent don’t own stocks. They don’t own anything. The so-called ‘takers’ have ZERO wealth. The value of any assets owned by nearly half of the country is surpassed by their debt.
Slashing the Security of the Elderly
Recipients of ‘entitlements’ are accused by the uninformed of getting something for nothing. The opposite is true. According to the Urban Institute, the typical two-earner couple making average wages throughout their lifetimes will receive less in Social Security benefits than they paid into; same for single males and almost the same for single females.Getting something for nothing? Yes, the rich are. Tax expenditures, which are deductions and exemptions that primarily benefit the highest-earning individuals, cost about 8 percent of the GDP, the same percentage that goes to Social Security and Medicare.If just one of the tax breaks for the rich, the $113,700 cap on Payroll Tax, were eliminated, Social Security would be almost entirely funded for the next 75 years.
Slicing Up Justice
In the last few months American citizens, some of them children, have been arrested for:
- Looking for Indian arrowheads on federal land.
- Throwing peanuts on the school bus.
- Lying about a home address to get the kids into a better school.
- Sitting on a milk crate.
Meanwhile, not a single banker was arrested for these actions:
- HSBC Bank laundered money for Mexican drug cartels.
- Goldman Sachs designed and sold mortgage packages that were meant to fail.
- Bank of America and Lehman Brothers hid billions of dollars of bonuses and loans from investors.
Severing the Head from the Global Body
If you could gather together the world’s 200 richest individuals, ask each one his or her net worth, get the actual numbers from Forbes, and then add it all up, the total would be more than the total wealth of half the population of the world, 3.5 billion people.
The U.S. is one of the greatest contributors to this shameful disparity. It’s no coincidence that we’re both the third least taxeddeveloped country and the fourth highest in wealth inequality among all nations.
Meanwhile, R.R. Reno writes to remind the people who are still fretting, at this late date, about the immense threat to unrestrained capitalism that they are, in the words of Uncle Screwtape: “running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.”
The danger to our civilization is not that the poor are Takers, but that the rich are. Read both pieces. Capitalism is not sacred tradition. The universal destination of goods is. If you don’t know what that means or feel some Pavloviaqn kneejerk impulse to murmur “communism” or “socialism” when you hear the term, it could be your early warning that you get your economics and social doctrine, not from Holy Mother Church, but from your favorite political tribe’s Approved Media. There is more to Catholic Social Teaching than simply subsidiarity and the right of private property.
2446 St. John Chrysostom vigorously recalls this: “Not to enable the poor to share in our goods is to steal from them and deprive them of life. The goods we possess are not ours, but theirs.”239 “The demands of justice must be satisfied first of all; that which is already due in justice is not to be offered as a gift of charity”:240
When we attend to the needs of those in want, we give them what is theirs, not ours. More than performing works of mercy, we are paying a debt of justice.241