Pope Goes all “Cultural Marxist” on Us

Here he is, totally buying into all that Lefty garbage that the Takers in the 47% spout:

“Today many social, political and economic systems have chosen to exploit the human person” in the workplace, by “not paying a just (wage), not offering work, focusing solely on the balance sheets, the company’s balance sheets, only looking at how much I can profit. This goes against God!”

“People are less important than the things that give profit to those who have political, social, economic power. What point have we come to?”

If you are wondering how a Pope can be so seemingly orthodox conservative Catholic one second (what with all the prolife teaching, prayers to Mary and warnings about Hell) and then so bafflingly unRepublican the next, the key is to recall that, at the center of Catholic social teaching you will find not the State, the Corporation, or the individual, but the Family.  This concept, as foreign to the Randian Right as to the Statist Left and the Corporate Crony, is what makes sense of Catholic social teaching.  If it’s good for the family, it’s good, because the family is the icon of the Trinity.  If it’s bad for the family, it’s bad and the ideological follies of individualists, statists, and corporatists fall before the needs of the family.

"Your website looks interesting, thanks. What is the genesis of the conflict between ASP and ..."

I had Lillian Vogl, the Chairwoman ..."
"I'm a member of the ASP. I joined in large part, to it being compatible ..."

I had Lillian Vogl, the Chairwoman ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • HermitTalker

    headline is unworthy of the article. Liberation Theology got a bad rap from some extremists. JP 11 borrowed Marx’ idea and baptised it by insisting the individual’s sacred dignity created the wealth and deserves to share it. Subtle but real distinctions. The individual is icon of God, matures to model Trinity’ self-giving. family if she or he decides to enter a flesh and blood one models Trinity but nuns and brothers and priests do also in a different form of mothering and fathering.

    • PNP, OP

      Truth is always pure. Heresy is Truth + One Tiny Lie. And that doesn’t sound too bad until you think of a tall, cold glass of milk. . .with one roach leg floating on top.

      Do you spoon out the leg and enjoy the milk? Or, do you dump the whole glass in the sink and pour another?

      It is always easier to pollute purity than it is to purify pollution.

      Fr. Philip Neri, OP

      • HermitTalker

        what us your point relative to my actual post? As a Dominican surely you have Contemplata Aliis Tradere. Like Aquinas you take a scalpel to analyse a proposition. Not a meat-cleaver to destroy what the other actually says. Have you actually studied genuine Liberation Theology and understood it in its South American context? I have and understand precisely how the Bishop of Rome and the CDF put it together,Unless your fly in the milk was on another topic that was not obvious IF your comment was to and about mine. VERITAS I think the goal is.

        • PNP, OP

          Hermit, my comment wasn’t meant as a reply to yours. I just hit the wrong button.

          Fr. Philip Neri, OP

          P.S. As a former Marxist, I have studied libtheo deeply.

          • HermitTalker

            Accepted thanks. What then did your comment say and about whom and what, please. I follow several blogs of a theological, biblical, liturgical philosophical bent as a retired Thomist teacher

            • HermitTalker

              I wish to repeat a few well known Catholic Truths

              .1 Revelation goes beyond Reason but never contradicts it. 2. Catholic Social Teaching arises from Revelation, and guided by Reason. 3 The application of those teachings is a matter of prudential judgment. 4 Economic and Political Theories are not always consistent with Reason and Revelation- thus they swing from total government control or hands off no regulation government5.. Both and some in between systems destroy humans and breed greed and allow people to starve and corporations grow obscene profits. ###6The Church as Voice of Christ does not toss us between Communism and Capitalism but points to principles and warns of excesses, immoral stands. No Political Party can never hijack the Church as Institution and vice versa. Sadly, the abortion topic politicised the Eucharist that fed our Enemy and caused harm from some imprudent uninformed Hierarchs about canon law and Holy Communion.

              • Marthe Lépine

                Sorry, but I do not want to criticize, however I find your last sentence a bit unclear. Are you sure you did not skip a word or make a change that rendered the sentence difficult to understand (mistakes that are easy to miss when using a computer)? I agree with almost all of what you said, but I just do not understand your last point.

                • HermitTalker

                  If you are Catholic you will know that several bishops were quite vocal about denying communion to politicians who voted for or favoured abortion The canon-church-law is not quite so simple so that and very conservative laity get quite aggressive about it. Politicised a deeply personal belief we have in this sacred event. The Enemy here is the World that hates Jesus, Church and any doctrine that bothers their understanding of morals. Help?

      • Dan C

        Librration theology had warnings. Conservatives were not so lucky, and have not adequately policed themselves.

        Listen and you will be taught, father, thatbthe pope is telling you that Capitlaism is a materialist heresy. Communism is dead. Focus on the false god currently worshipped by everyone. See how many comments on this blog, starting with Manny’s, use materialist outcomes to justify this system.

        And then read what the Holy Father is saying, over and over, not just the minor riffs on the devil, which is what he needs to say to get attention by First Things, but the pages and pages of other extemporaneous comments on capitalism.

        Read the Apprecida document, of which one sentence was quoted over and over on right wing blogs, but not the bulk of the rest, of which dozens of pages bash capitlaism. This is a document that sounds sometimes harsher and more statist than, say Gutierrez in the 1970’s or Sobrino.

      • Dan C

        Pithy comments on heresy and equating liberation theology with these is not an argument.

    • Marthe Lépine

      I am under the impression, actually, that some of Marx’ ideas were not that bad. He seemed to have made a reasonably good evaluation of the situation, but a.As Mark once remarked, most revolutionaries have a good idea of what needs to be opposed, as Marx seemed to do, but do not think through most of the solutions they propose, and most of the time fall into extreme positions that may be different.d from what they oppose, but just as bad.

      • HermitTalker

        Thanks.JP11 took Marx’ concern for the then alienated Worker classes, and started with the sacred human dignity of the person. That is the basis for the Right to decent wages/salaries, decent living conditions, freedom to travel, marry and have a family if so chosen. People who twitted on about Liberation Theology totally missed his teaching, parroting on about the Vatican condemning it and such. The Gospel opposes violence, murder of police and soldiers and destruction of property as Lenin Marx would recommend to challenged the Thesis, with an Anti-Thesis and try to come to a Synthesis from the wreckage. Dumb violence that helps no one except military equipment sales people and body bag sellers.

  • Andy

    I do not know if he has gone “cultural marxist” as I am not bright enough to understand the phrase. What I hear his saying is that we need to return to what is found in Catholic Social Teaching – all of Catholic Social Teaching, not just those phrases, segments, paragraphs that give support to what one believes.
    Catholic Social Teaching does put a premium on family, it does put a premium on dignity of the individual and the current worship of mammon does neither. I for one am glad that he is being more blunt than Pope Benedict, who also in his professorial manner stated the same ideas.

    • chezami

      “Cultural Marxist” generally means “I am right wing and I want to dismiss you.”

      • Andy

        Thank you for explaining – I try not to categorize people – maybe my background as a special educator gets in the way of labeling folks – not that I don’, but I really try not to.

  • “by not paying a just wage.” How much is a just wage? Living standards have never been higher.
    “Not offering work?” Most corporations actually over staff, especially in times of profit. It’s when there’s no profit that they under staff.
    “focusing soley on the balance sheets?” That’s a characterization. In the places I’ve work, consideration to people’s needs are certainly attended to. I was given time off to adopt; I was given the flexibility to deal with my dying father, whose health issues went on for over a year.
    “only looking at how much one can profit?” No profit, no work, people unemployed, economy sinks, no tax revenue to help the underprivildged. It’s a cycle of degeneration.
    Frankly the Pope needs a few economic lessons and real world experience in the work force.

    • Irksome1

      Perhaps the first economic lesson granted to the pope can be to explain why it is that, over the past two decades, corporate profits have ballooned while middle income wages have stagnated. The aim would be to demonstrate how this cannot possibly be the result of avarice.

      • Maybe it’s because of the international workforce. Yes, western countries have seen small reductions in blue collar income. They are competing with the blue collar wokers of other countries. But the blue collar work force worldwide has seen huge jumps. Now is that a good thing or a bad thing? We can give developing countries all the charity we want, but they will never reach having a solid middle class. Even if free trade doesn’t help the developed countries (which most economists would disagree with) it certainly helps the poor in countries like China and India and other countries trying to develop.

        • Tell that to the 1000 Bangladeshi who died because Americans want cheap clothes and American clothing corporations want to maximize profits.

          • Imp the Vladaler

            This is a tough problem. Obviously everyone who works is entitled to be paid a fair wage, and to work under safe conditions. If we’re going to hire Bangladeshis to make our clothes, we have to treat them like humans, not like machines.

            That may mean, however, that we don’t hire any Bangladeshis to make our clothes, If we can’t profitably operate a safe factory in Bangldesh, we won’t. And they’ll be stuck even deeper in poverty.

            This is an easy choice: we can’t participate in harming or exploiting people. But the consequences of that choice aren’t all happy ones.

            • Marthe Lépine

              On the other hand, I have a very hard time understanding how working for hardly $40 a month is really helping people out of poverty. Do you have any believable figures? Without, of course, ignoring the fact, for example, that people who have no money but can eat the food they grow, on land they own, do have an income, although it is not measured in dollars and cents. To be believable, statistics about how people are brought out of poverty must measure in one way or the other all the non-monetary aspects of the income of the poor.

          • That was one building. You smear with a broad brush. Criminal acts of a particular person do not constitute capitalism.

            • chezami


              Corporations outsource to Third World crapholes and pay shit wages to people working in shoddy buildings that collapse and kill them, not because they care only about profit, but because they care deeply about the drones they exploit. Just ask the people of Bhopal. Clap your hands and believe in the sinless goodness of unfallen capitalist man!

            • No, that was just one particularly dramatic example that captured the world’s attention. It’s not like up until that day the garment workers in Bangladesh were all receiving fair pay and working in clean, well-maintained, well-ventilated environments. Activists have been complaining *for years* about the working conditions of overseas garment factories, something I’ve also been concerned about for quite some time.

              This article here from the Bangladeshi Daily Star took me 30 seconds to find, and it lists multiple factory disasters just in the last few years: http://www.thedailystar.net/beta2/news/tragedy-shows-urgency-of-worker-protections-hrw/ Tell me again about how it was just the “criminal acts of a particular person”?

              • You did a survey or have seen a survey on how many criminally constructed buildings are around in Bangladesh? Are laws on the books against such things? If people broke laws then they should be prosecuted. But don’t blame criminal actions on capitalism. If there are no laws on the books then let’s bring it to public light. If so then perhaps we need to stop buying products in Bangaldesh until they put such laws on the books. But what is legal and what is not (legislation) is a societal value determined by the people of that country, if of course there is democracy.

                • Do you really think that those American corporations which are focused on their bottom line, and looking for the cheapest source of labor they can find, have had no effect whatsoever on the state of the garment industry in countries like Bangladesh?

                  Absolutely much of the fault lies with governments that don’t regulate businesses enough, or don’t enforce those regulations, and with factory owners that ignore the regulations or simply exploit their workers as much as they can get away with. But I think it is incredibly naive to think that American corporations looking for cheap labor (and Americans looking for cheap products) are not part of the reason why these factory owners do what they do, and get away with it. To get the American business they want they have to offer the lowest price, which means cutting corners where ever they can.

                  Heck, even some American clothing companies *themselves* are acknowledging the role their business practices played. See http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/11/business/global/clothing-retailers-pressed-on-bangladesh-factory-safety.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0, see also http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/15/business/six-retailers-join-bangladesh-factory-pact.html?pagewanted=all and http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/02/business/some-retailers-rethink-their-role-in-bangladesh.html and http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324766604578458802423873488.html

                  • I’ll repeat. If laws were broken prosecute those that broke them.

                    Companies do a cost analysis and a cheapest bid is a factor (maybe the largest factor but not always) in where they select. If by asking for a competitive bids the Bangadesh do not follow laws, well what can I say. Even those buildings that collapsed, I doubt those that built them intentionally built them to collapse. No one in their right mind would do that. They most likely under estimated the strength.

                    How quick you are to blame American companies. There are clothing companies all over the developed world. European companies look for the same lowest bidder.

                    • I blame the European companies too, I just did not mention them because this discussion started as a discussion about capitalism as practiced in the U.S., not Europe.

                      Moreover, I reject the notion that corporations are absolved if they simply pick the Bangladeshi factory with the lowest price, regardless of how that price is obtained. I, and many labor and human rights activists, and some of the corporations themselves as mentioned in the articles I cited, and the Pope himself apparently, think that corporations should look beyond the price to see how employees are treated.

                    • OK, if it were possible for companies to know the legality of those they do business with, they have an obligation to report it, or at least stop the cooperation. In fact that is probably the case, legally as well as morally. I think if proven to have colluded, they can be held accountable. I agree, they are not absolved.

                    • The only reason that factories locate in poorly constructed buildings is that better constructed ones are not available to them and the poorly constructed ones are not condemned during final inspection. It isn’t capitalism that permits these buildings going up. It’s a failure of government regulation on building standards when a political bigwig is the owner.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Really? Because no “capitalist” is making money building unsafe buildings? And no “capitalist” makes money bribing building inspectors?

                    • Capitalists will make money on anything, including inspecting buildings, but the govt excludes them in this case and the inspectors are bought off by the connected.

                      The point is not that capitalists are angels. The point is that corruption and cronyism are not liberal economics. They are nasty defects to be found in all systems and attaching them to liberal economics as if they were a design feature is simply showing a disregard for the truth.

                      Liberal economics has real flaws. The Pope should go after them, hammer and tongs. When he attacks straw men, the Pope does not do the Church any favors nor is he going to have much good effect on economic matters.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  For a Catholic, is not there a difference between what is legal or not and is right or wrong?

          • The building owner was “Awami League youth front Juba League’s Senior Joint Convenor, Md Sohel Rana”, in other words, a big shot in the ruling party who could dismiss engineering reports of cracks and thus not be liable for damages from his tenants. It’s pretty probable that the building inspectors went pretty easy on him too.

            You don’t have to dig deep to find govt. power being used to protect unsafe conditions in most of these tragedies in the 3rd world. Had he been without connections, it is unlikely that the situation would have played out the same way.

            • Marthe Lépine

              Well, of course! He would not have had the resources to get the building built and the clothing companies renting it!

              • There is no “of course” about it. This is crony capitalism, not liberal economics, that is in play here. That is a different problem.

        • tedseeber

          If the type of charity we give them is ownership rather than exploitation, a middle class will result.

          • Ok, I guess that makes sense to someone.

            • tedseeber

              It makes sense to anybody who actually believes in the *absolute and universal* right of Private Property, as put forth by Pope Leo XIII in Rerum Novarum, and several other Catholic Social Teaching thinkers since.

          • The problem is that ownership in the sense that is spiritually useful is not mere possession of a good but the mental habits that are associated with it when it is acquired through work. We just went through a period where we gave people houses who didn’t have the mental habits, putting the cart before the horse. It did not end well.

            • Marthe Lépine

              However, through my work with Development and Peace, I have been led to “believe” that many people who had ownership of their lands and who obtained their food by the work of their own hands instead of paying for it with money, are often being displaced in order to allow mining and agribusiness corporations (among others) to use those lands in more “conventional” and environmentally destructive ways. This is what you call “freeing” people to join the workforce? And, it would seem to me that working with their own hands in order to produce the food they eat would be a good “mental habit associated with (ownership) when it is acquired through work”.

              • And how are they being displaced? Are they being offered large sums that are more than fair for that land? Or is the reality somewhat different? Liberal economics does not privilege the large or the politically connected over the small. In the rare case where public goods such as a road are needed, liberal economics talks about just compensation. Mines are not public goods and there should be no takings in such a case. Conventionality is not a liberal economic value.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  Actually, in a documentary I saw from Development and Peace about one particular African country, people were first told that they had to leave because they did not have a paper title to lands they had been using for generations, and when they failed to leave, goons were sent to set fire to their village… No compensation was deemed necessary.

                  • You illustrate my point perfectly. This is not liberal economics. It is thug economics that liberals are also against. By naming it liberal economics two bad things are done. First it is bearing false witness, a sin. Second, a number of potential allies in fighting a real injustice are turned into enemies which is just impractical. At the worst interpretation for liberal economics, we have someone claiming liberal positions but acting inconsistent to them at which point, those who believe in the actual principles have some internal cleanup to do. But that is being speculative as no actual proof is provided. The Chinese goons who are pushing out peasants so development can occur are remarked on by those who are economic liberals for just such actions and are condemned by them for it as a perversion of property rights. It seems likely that such condemnations would extend to the same actions in Africa or Latin America.

                    • tedseeber

                      The only difference between libertarian economics and thug economics is the money to buy guns and pay mercenaries.

                    • That is what normal people call a bald faced lie and a libel.

                      Thug economics does not requiremoney, just a propensity to violence.

                • tedseeber

                  “And how are they being displaced? Are they being offered large sums that are more than fair for that land?”

                  Most often their land is condemned by governmental rights, and they’re paid a fraction of what it is truly worth.

                  Why would the oligarchy of big business and big government pay more than the land is truly worth?

                  Liberal economics *ALWAYS* privileges the large and politically connected over the small, there is never in any liberal form of economics anything to prevent bribery. The only difference between a libertarian and a crony capitalist is the bank account to buy a politician.

                  • Liberal condemnations of takings power abuse are not hard to find. Go google “Kelo” for a wide variety of recent denunciations in the US.

                    Again, not liberal economics and therefore not subject to just condemnation. The oligarchy of big business and big government are generally not fans of liberal economics. What made you think they were?

            • tedseeber

              Actually, we just went through a period where the banks used a bunch of poor people to buy up houses, pretending to do them good, while really charging them outrageous fees and interest and lying to them about the terms of the contract.

              There have even been several court cases about it- I know because I’ve received checks from the class action lawsuits that the poor people won.

              • Lying about the terms of a contract is generally condemned in liberal economics as fraud. Labeling something that liberal economics condemns and recommends prison terms for and calling that liberal economics is not just.

                • tedseeber

                  Near as I can tell, liberal (libertarian) (austrian) economics only pays lip service to opposing fraud, and is absolutely opposed to the governmental interference it would take to prevent fraud.

                  It takes money to run prisons and hire investigators to investigate fraud and judges to pass sentences- a level of taxation that Austrians are universally against paying.

                  • Since fraud undermines the markets that are the heart of austrian economics, it would not make sense for austrians to be pro-fraud.

                    It actually doesn’t cost that much to run police forces and investigators. Out of a 4+ trillion dollar budget, the DoJ spends under $30B, less than 1% of the total.

                    A good chunk of the libertarian critique of big government is that as government expands to peripheral affairs like running amusement parks, it does its core jobs, like crime fighting, less and less well.

                    Face it, you’re fighting against a caricature of liberal economics, austrian economics, and libertarianism. You’ve shown little evidence that you understand the actual positions of what you oppose and you bear false witness, repeatedly, in this very thread.

                    Liberalism, in the sense we’ve been using it, is not perfect. It lacks much of a conscience and needs to be infused with the spirit of solidarity and Jesus’ love. This improvement becomes less likely the more it is pilloried with false accusations. Cut it out.

      • The mass liberation of slaves brings with it a happy set of problems, always. The newly freed slaves must be employed as their former arrangements to be housed, fed, and clothed are no longer available for them.

        A side effect of mass liberations of slaves is that local wages are depressed. Given free trade and large enough numbers, the effect is global. I bring to your attention the economic liberation of literally billions of economic slaves that have been pouring into the labor market starting with Nixon opening China, a torrent from just that country that is only now starting to lessen as wages rise in that country. But India has been added to the mix with its economic liberalization and the Soviet bloc. Even Africa is coming on line to the global economy.

        All that economic injustice (amongst such a long list of other injustices but that would be off topic) unwinding gives us the world’s biggest supply led labor price crash, ever. We are only now starting to recover from this happy set of problems, a state which will be more evident in about two years and completely undeniable by about 2017.

        While I absolutely have sympathy for those caught up in the economic tidal waves, I have no sympathy for those who would stuff the newly free back into a set of chains because their freedom is inconvenient to our paychecks.

        • Marthe Lépine

          That is strange… I thought Francis has been referring to workers in poor countries, such as Bangladesh, as slaves. Many, many people who are spending their lives working on small self-sustaining farms in some developing countries have a much better life than those slaves to capitalism: they have a roof over their heads and enough food to feed their families, straight from the work of their hands instead of having to pay for these with money. They may seem poor, by our standards and if we only look at the amount of money they earn. But are they really? And you dare to call those people who happen to be living as free people on their own lands “slaves”?

          • I am referring to a process that started decades ago, depending on your age perhaps before you were born. The unwinding of the economic evils of communism allows the Pope to pivot on economic matters. We do not talk much about Baal worship either. People do not usually believe that silence on that front indicates a change in the classic Catholic position, the same is true here.

            What constitutes the slavery of the Bangladeshi? Because I agree that he is enslaved in a real way. The Pope sees the profit seeking of the business owner. With all that greed and avarice, why are these greed heads so much more successful there and less successful in the first world? It cannot be that our businessmen are more altruistic. I submit that the Bangladeshi businessmen are more deeply entangled in politics and use politics to keep out upstarts who would hire away their work force and lead to higher wages. It is this that constitutes the slavery of the workers and it is something that we must fight.

            • tedseeber

              I contend the only reason is depressed wages. And that instead of China going up, we’re going down. The international elites who have no allegiance and no morals will soon move the factories elsewhere, and only when the average wage in the United States is back down to $1/day, will the work come back.

              • The data on PRC wage rates is readily available. You haven’t a factual leg to stand on. Making stuff up just to get at a philosophy you don’t like is not very Catholic.

                In case you haven’t noticed, the work *is* coming back, right now. The problem is that automation is eating away at the jobs needed to create that production so everybody is losing employment ground to that trend. That separate effect is a different discussion.

                • tedseeber

                  It isn’t the data on PRC wage rates I am concerned with, it is the data on USA wage rates, especially when either adjusted for inflation or as a percentage of gross national product.

                  • One round ago, you were claiming that the work wouldn’t come back until we’re at $1/day. Now you’re switching since I didn’t swallow this fairy tale. Sorry but it’s not that easy. You bring up false claim after false claim. You should be embarrassed.

                    The more we enable company formation, the greater demand for labor and the sooner we get to a state where we have an updraft on wage rates. Making up stories and false accusations against capitalists do not help.

    • Andy

      Perhaps his real world experience was riding the buses with the people most oppressed by the current savage capitalism; and perhaps his economic lessons started with trying to find ways to help the poor when the primary goal of corporations is to make more money regardless of impact. Or perhaps his view of economics is that it is not a science, but a way to systematically perpetuate the worship of mammon.
      I am glad you have had good experiences where you have worked – precious few can say that.

      • Imp the Vladaler

        I’m not going to defend “savage capitalism,” but if you think that the primary problem with Argentina’s economy is an excess of free-market capitalism, I have to ask you what color the sky is in your world.

        • Absolute right. Perhaps the Pope should go over to Chile and see how capitalism works.

          • tedseeber

            Chile is your example of “functioning capitalism”? Well, at least only 15% are denied the right to own productive private property there, as opposed to 40% in the United States.

      • He should go to Chile then and see how functioning capitalism works.

        • Marthe Lépine

          Do you mean those (unfortunately, Canadian) companies who get caught violating whatever minimum environmental standards Chile has and taking the “risk” of destroying the entire water supply, limited as it is, of a desertic area, thus displacing local populations?

    • Marcus

      Sounds like you’re a white collar worker, as am I, and I can say I too have experienced fair treatment. That being said, I don’t think our experiences are the same as what blue collar workers face. Also, every company I work for sets performance targets each year and those targets aren’t “just make a profit”, but are always some arbitrary goal of beating last year’s performance to satisfy arbitrary expectations from investors. Come the end of the 3rd quarter, if the arbitrary goals aren’t being met (that is not to say the company is unprofitable, just not meeting an arbitrary goal) then the companies I have worked for will lay off workers. IMO, that is what the Pope meant by focusing solely on balance sheets.

      • Dan C

        Workers are laid off because they are liabilities on the balance sheet. And the right wing knows this. They pretend people are unemployed because they are lazy or high (see Gov. Corbett) but routine unemployment cycles will be the future of the largest group of American workers, because they are treated as mere means and lack dignity.

        Even RREno and Ross Douthat, have noticed why the uber-vaunted “middle America” seems a little different these days. Hint: its not that “Susie has two mommies” its that “dad was laid off…again”

        • Marcus

          That is an interesting observation in light of the recent Pew survey showing women are slowly becoming the primary bread winners in households with kids. Of course a lot of that is due to the continued increase of single mother households, but also a very real increase in women earning more than their husbands. So eventually we’ll have mom’s working and dad’s staying home to raise the kids (or play Xbox all day). As Mark would say, “what could it hurt”.

          • Dan C

            Women are primary breadwinners due to a cultural demand that men be “men” and as such have enthusiastically pursued the Trinity of beer, ball (sports), and boobs.

            Women as wage earners is due to male inadequacy and irresponsibility, due to the pursuit of masculine ideals that are primitive.

            • Imp the Vladaler

              So men are dropping out of the workforce because they’d rather drink beer, watch football, and stare at naked women than work. Okay, got it.

              But up above you’re telling me that the poor aren’t lazy. They want to work, but the mean old fatcats won’t give them work.

              Make. Up. Your. Mind.

              • Marthe Lépine

                That is not what I understand Dan C. means. What I understood from him is that many men are encouraged by our culture to spend the money they do earn through their work on beer, watching commercial/entertainment sport events (but of course never being caught practicing sports) and uncommitted sexual relationships.

        • Until this recent recession we’ve had a near fully employed work force (with some minor ups and downs) for something like 20 years. Workers are not liabilities. That’s patently ridiculous. Workers are what do the work. No work, no product.

          • Marthe Lépine

            And.. Yes, no work, no product. And no product, no sales. And no sales, no profit. Then what? I am afraid that a time is coming when few if any workers in the world will afford what is being produced, and the 1% will not buy the crap being produced, and the whole system will implode.

        • Dad needs to make better choices in terms of the industry he works for. I sympathize because I’m going through the same thing personally, right now.

          It sucks. It’s hard. It is often humiliating. It is also very necessary for me, and everybody else who is caught in the same cycle.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Good luck for a good new job; I will pray for you. But at the same time I hope circumstances will teach you a few things about the real world outside of the Chicago school of economics.

            • I am actually not a follower of the Chicago school.
              Edit: Thanks for your prayers. I always appreciate those who pray for me, especially those who disagree with me. Occasionally I forget to mention it.

      • And not every white-collar worker has received such fair treatment, especially recently. I’ve seen first-hand any number of companies, big and small, public and private, put profits over the well-being of their employees.

      • Rebecca Fuentes

        The poorer and less educated a worker is, the more likely he is to be exploited by his employer. My husband worked at a meat-packing plant for 13 years. They liked to hire illegals because they could pay them significantly less. They liked to hire people who were not fluent in English, particularly those who were no literate in English, because they couldn’t read the notices about worker rights. People who didn’t know they were required by law to have a break can be told, “Work 12 hours straight or go home. There’s a dozen more who’d like your job.” They can be told, “If your kid’s school calls and we have to pull you off the line, you lose your job.” The supervisors didn’t like my husband because he would translate the workers’ rights notices for new hires. When he had to stay home with his daughter because she was sick, he was fired.
        Well-educated, white-collar workers have avenues to protest and complain when they are treated illegally or unfairly. Many blue-collar workers have a union to protect them (even if the union leadership is foolish and corrupt). People picking crops, cutting industrial meat, and cleaning houses don’t have those.

    • ivan_the_mad

      “Frankly the Pope needs a few economic lessons and real world experience in the work force.”

      Oh goody, more cafeteria foolishness. I suppose the Pope needs to take some biology lessons and spend some time in the real world to get up to date on abortion, contraception, and homosexuality too?

      • Imp the Vladaler

        I don’t think the Pope’s understanding of economic issues is the problem. I think the problem is that leftist American Catholics listen to the Pope talking about economic issues affecting the entire world – with particular focus on the desperately poor – and hear him saying that the tax and welfare policies of the Democrats are superior to those of the Republicans.

        • ivan_the_mad

          Yeah, Manny, the author of the comment to which I responded, totally comes off as a leftist.

          • Imp the Vladaler

            No, son. I was talking about you.

            • ivan_the_mad

              Hahaha! I’m a leftist? That’s rich.

              • Imp the Vladaler

                In the past I’ve perceived a whiff of economic leftism from you. And the defense of Francis of being as knowledgeable about economics as he is about, say, the morality of abortion, contraception, and homosexuality seems to betray that. If I’m wrong about that, you have my apologies.

                • chezami

                  Translation: Let the Pope only talk about what we keep in the front of our pants, not the back pocket.

                  • Imp the Vladaler

                    No. Let us all not assume that the Pope is endorsing the minute details of our extremely parochial American economic choices when he’s speaking truths to a global audience about global economic issues. Let us further not assume that Pope’s competence to say that we must outlaw capital punishment is equal to his competence to say that the top marginal tax rate must be 39.6% instead of 35%.

                    • Andy

                      What he is saying is that the worship of mammon which drives our economic system is an abomination – he is not looking at tax rates – his competence is to speak to the ills of our spirits – whether it deals with our voracious appetites for worldly goods, our the appetites for sexuality.

                • ivan_the_mad

                  You have perceived very wrongly. You have badly misread what I wrote regarding Francis. My thought is clearly alien to you. Do not waste my time with that conditional apology. You are either wrong and apologetic, or you aren’t. Do your own damn homework.

                  This is why lurking has long been considered a part of netiquette for users new to a forum. It helps avoid making a fool of yourself.

                  • Imp the Vladaler

                    The butthurt is strong with this one. Sounds like I hit a bit close to home. Your fondness for Pat Buchannan suggests a comfort with big-government conservatism that differs only from big-government leftism in its ends. I withdraw the “conditional apology.” You deserve nothing.

        • Marthe Lépine

          So you mean that old American “exceptionalism” thing? I thought this had been considered a heresy by Leo XIII and most of those who followed him.

    • tedseeber

      A just wage: what most owners call their profit margin instead.

      • Excuse me? I have no idea what that means.

        • tedseeber

          It means that for most international corporations using third world labor, they are underpaying wages and taking the difference between a just wage and the actual wage to add to the bottom line directly.

          If they were paying a just wage based on a fair price, there would be little to no profit margin for the corporation.

          • Allan B

            “If they were paying a just wage based on a fair price, there would be little to no profit margin for the corporation.”
            And you believe that would be a good thing?

            • tedseeber

              Seems to have been an excellent thing for Mondragon Corporation in Spain. Was an excellent thing for all the Grange co-ops in the United States that used to be the basis of our agriculture before the corporations took over. It’s an excellent thing at Bob’s Red Mill in Milwaukie, Oregon, which used an Employee-owned Stock Plan to turn over full ownership when Bob retired.

              Yes, I believe reducing profit for corporations is a good thing in general. Now if we could only do something about the attack on the middle class by the economy of scale concept that has pushed labor into surplus…..

              –Edit–I must have GM foods on the brain, first version had Monsanto instead of Mondragon.

          • No. Either of these situations would exist:
            (1) the price of the product would be so high that no one would buy it. Profit is a given or there is no comapny and no product.
            (2) The business would take its work elsewhere and the workers in that country would have no work.
            If you want an affordable product, don’t blame the business, blame the consumer. The business is there to provide what consumers are willing to buy.

            • tedseeber

              Bob’s Red Mill here in Oregon has exactly that situation- and loads of people buy their product. Of course, the way Bob increased wages was upon retirement, to give 95% of the shares of the company to the workers and full control to the labor.

              Mondragon Corporation in Spain is equally profitable.

              The Grange based co-ops in pre-subsidized agriculture America were also quite profitable to the workers.

              There are many other examples of co-ops being profitable for their labor, without making a profit for the corporation. So no, sorry. Your model does not fit the data.

              • Yeah, ok. First off I don’t see what that proves. Second, You hand pick a few odd examples and you think that’s “the data”? If someone gives their business away, good for him. Who cares.

                • tedseeber

                  “First off I don’t see what that proves.”

                  That if you pay your workers by making them into your stockholders, it can be extremely profitable. This is the root of the concept of the Just Wage and has been since the 700s.

                  “If someone gives their business away, good for him. Who cares.”

                  You apparently care, because you oppose the idea of paying people a living wage, and consider it unprofitable. This is a way that it can be profitable. LOTS of companies do it; we don’t need unregulated laisez faire immoral predatory capitalism to pay people what they are actually worth.

          • How does one underpay wages without violence? Why is hiring a few people at a higher wage and leaving more destitute better than hiring more at a lower wage and leaving fewer absolutely destitute? No, really, I’m trying to see how it is socially just when you have money to pay 3 well, 5 with mediocre wages, or 7 poorly but better than they are right now, that it’s better to pick 3 or 5 when the unemployed number is 50. Spread the jobs around, build skills, and try as hard as you can to soak up all those unemployed with profitable work seems like a socially just solution to an unusual set of economic circumstances.

            We are at the tail end of the biggest economic entry of labor into the free market in centuries, if not in the history of the world. Predictably, this crashed labor prices and made everybody uncomfortable until we build enough new jobs to soak up all that new labor. The process is still ongoing but we’re actually past the worst of it.

            • tedseeber

              One doesn’t.

              Limiting the supply of jobs is a form of violence.

              How can we be past the worst of it when the majority of human beings are paid so low that they can’t even afford food, clothing, and shelter, let alone safe workplaces?

              The labor surplus is a permanent situation that will only be matched with increasing economy of scale and automation- while 40% of the first world and 90% of the third are denied the right to own productive property.

              Better slavery than that.

              You can’t spread the jobs around, until you are willing to cut the market into smaller shares.

              • If I hit my targets and nobody else out hustles me on my own attempt at creating a business, I’m projecting I’ll be making work for about 10-15k people nationwide in a decade, possibly more internationally. These will not be jobs, but it will be work and the income should be a living wage if all goes well. It’s also work which will not be outsourceable because the nature of the work demands locals. I’m just one person with one idea. There are plenty of other people who have ideas. What happened in the past few decades has been extraordinary. The whole world poured their new ideas and a lot of their old into that country to soak up the excess labor there. Wage rates did not budge for a very long time.

                Now wage rates are rising, finally. China is running out of nimble fingered young women for the factories and wage pressure is real and challenging a lot of business plans. It is those rising wage rates that are the sign that the worst of the surplus is over. If it were not, the newcomers would continue to flood China’s coastal cities and bid wages down as they did for literally decades. Now they don’t.

                Your assertion that limiting the supply of jobs is a form of violence is something I agree with. You can find agreement on that with any believer of liberal economics. Your assertion that the labor surplus is permanent is debunked by those rising wage rates in the PRC.

                • tedseeber

                  Once they’re done with China, there is always India, the Islamic nations, and Africa to use to continue the downward pressure on wages.

      • Marthe Lépine

        I have read once of some multi-billionnaire who claimed that his fair share was “all of it”, leaving nothing for anybody else…

        • tedseeber

          And there is also the joke about the billionaire, the politician, and the labor union activist sharing a plate of cookies. The billionaire takes all but one, and says to the politician “the labor activist is trying to take your cookie” and to the labor activist “the politician is trying to take your cookie”.

    • Tamsin

      Shorter Pope: Build a better mousetrap? Never! That would put the mousehunters out of work and destroy mousehunting families.

      • chezami

        Here’s your Stupid Award for dumbest comment of the week.

        • Tamsin

          Thanks! I’ll take it! And keep the “profit” I made from using my own mind to think of a better mousetrap design, build it with my own two hands, and sell it to people who want to do something else with their time than hunt mice!

    • Christian Schmemann

      You need to decide if your a good Catholic or a Randian right-winger! And everything you say about corporate America is completely outdated.

      • Oh wow, how brilliant. First of all I’m not a Randian. I advocate what will be best for all people, what will ease poverty the best, a propsering economy.

        • Christian Schmemann

          If you are not a Randian, then you should believe that business have responsibilities, and that it is a legitimate exercise of state power to ensure that businesses honor their responsibilities.

          The Pope is talking about issues of morality, and it is immoral to support an economic system that puts profits before people- and it is illogical to say that our current practice of capitalism does not put profits before people.

          You have no right as a Catholic to say that the Pope is wrong in issues of Faith and Morality. You are simply a right-wing cafeteria Catholic; you may agree with the Church on abortion, euthanasia and gay marriage, but you obviously do not agree with the Church on economic justice.

          I get sick of “Catholic” bishops who relentlessly pound the drum about Church teaching when it favors the Republicans, but are dead silent when Church teaching favors the Democrats. It was a completely hypocrisy for the “Catholic” bishops to support Bush’s imperial wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, even after the widespread torture of the Abu Ghuraib prison was revealed. If war and torture are not intrinsic evils that cannot be supported under and reason, then neither are abortion and euthanasia.

          Pope Benedict spoke out several times against our current practice of capitalism (capitalism is in itself good- don’t read me wrong, but it must be regulated), and Benedict said that extreme economic inequality breeds terrorism. Yet when the Randian VP candidate Paul Ryan proposed his budget that would essentially create a perpetual class system in America, the bishops were essentially silent about Paul Ryan. Randist objectivism is morally equivalent to Marxist communism- they both would breed the same types of evil, and persecution against Christianity! The USCCB is a highly partisan organization, and they all too frequently takes sides against the Pope.

          There are numerous papal encyclicals that condemn unfettered capitalism: Rerum Novarum of Leo XIII, Quadragesimo Anno of Puis XI, Mater et Magistra of John XXIII, Populorum Progressio of Paul VI, and Laborem Exercens and Centesimus Anno of John Paul II. Yet, the USCCB supports unfettered capitalism, despite more than a century of papal teaching!

          I have concluded that there no longer any point to be a Catholic in the United States; “Catholics” in America exalt the infallibility of the right-wing and left-wing political ideologies over and above the infallibility of the Papacy, because both groups of “Catholics” who make up essentially the entire membership of American Catholicism listen to the Pope only when it is convenient for them. There is no Church structure in America is really in in Communion with the Archbishop of Rome, and it is for this reason that I am now Eastern Orthodox.

          • No, that’s not the discriminating factor as to what makes a Randian. I am not a Randian. My support of correct economic principles have nothing to do with politics. It has to do with the field of economics. My politics are multi faceted.

  • Pappy

    Of course to a Marxist, the family means nothing, “the state is all”.
    Bishop Sheen often commented that in communist Russia, they attempted to usurp the family, men were encouraged to forget about marriage “Drink the water, forget the glass”.

    Mark, I suppose you were trying to sensationalize with your headline, in an attempt to “afflict the comfortable”.

    • chezami

      It’s a joking reference to the fact “cultural Marxist” is the current all purpose curse word in vogue on the right for anybody who says things a rightist doesn’t like.

    • Dan C

      To conservatives, the community means nothing and the family is worshipped as an idol.

      As far as ” drnking the water and forgetting the glass,” I recommend exploring the sociology of America’s army of financiers on Wall Street, that officer class of high-earners in their 30’s (all men) who have likely three or four dozen lifetime sexual partners.

      This criticism of Marxism is infantile and primitive, and holds little substance. Family and fidelity in the Soviet Union was as challenging as anywhere.

      Pay attention to tjis pope, he is saying clearly so one can understand, “materialistic atheism has won, and its not communism, its capitlaism.”

      As such, the right will call him a cultural Marxist. Whatever that means.

      • ivan_the_mad

        “To conservatives, the community means nothing and the family is worshipped as an idol.”

        Whatever are you talking about? Or perhaps more importantly, whomever are you talking about?

        • Dan C

          It is a gratuitous attack on conservatives bashing Marxism with claims of anti-family propaganda. Conservatives, as an ideology, lack “community” in their discussions and language and focus on threats to family.

          • ivan_the_mad

            Well, if you will distinguish between conservatism as an ideology (a contradiction embodied in the contemporary GOP / American right) and conservatism as a philosophy (cf. Kirk), then have at.

          • Imp the Vladaler

            Right. Because all that flag-waving patriotism we see on the right has nothing to do with community and everything to do with family.

    • Dan C

      To comment on other matters now discussed in terms of sexuality on Patheos, of course, sexual sins become the worst of the sins to note of the Soviets

      Not oppression, torture, or unjust war. Or the threat of nuclear war, a shared sin ofthe superpowers.

  • Imp the Vladaler

    Mark references Romney’s 47% remark in the context of presenting the Holy Father’s homily on the exploitation of the poor. I know it can be difficult to integrate two superficially contradictory ideas, but it’s possible to say both: (1) workers must be offered dignified work (2) there are a lot of privileged lard-butt Americans who don’t want to do the dignified work that is offered to them but instead would prefer to vote themselves free stuff from my pocket. But perhaps Mark thinks the Americans who want free contraceptives – and who are better off financially than 99% of people who have ever lived in the history of the world – are on the side of the angels.

    If you survey the economic conditions in America and abroad and conclude that what ails the world’s poor is an excess of American-style capitalism, the most charitable thing I can say to you is that you’re grossly underinformed.

    • Dan C

      The whine about lazy free-loaders does not bear scrutiny in the larger population. I know of few who are the mythical “welfare mommas” that has become the right wings image of the anti-Madonna, held more sacred-if in infamy, than the real Madonna.

      Many many work full time, work several jobs and are single parents. Stop with the mythology. People work, want to work, and would love a job with benefits. There is no evidence to support “lazy” as a policy foundation, depite its dogmatic assertion by the right that “lots,” “most,” or “the majority” (of who?) are lazy.

      • Imp the Vladaler

        What passes for “poor” in America is fabulously wealthy by global standards and the living standards of the history of humanity.

        America has Latin American immigration (both legal and illegal) significantly because there are “jobs Americans won’t do.” We are a lazy, entitled, greedy people who think that many forms of honest work are beneath us.

        And you know what? That includes me. I don’t want to pick fruit. I’m a white collar professional and I was laid off for six months a few years back. I could have found perfectly honest work, the kind of work that Francis said “gives us dignity.” But it was easier, more lucrative, and less embarrassing to collect unemployment.

        America isn’t a particularly virtuous place, and Americans aren’t a particularly virtuous people. Look around. I’m sure you’ll recognize the sins of avarice, lust, gluttony, pride, anger, and envy . Why you think that sloth isn’t a problem, or that the lower half of income earners are immune to it, is beyond me.

        • Dan C

          This is the “American poor aren’t really poor” argument. Mother Theresa sent her nuns to our ghettoes. That is your lesson.

          As far as sloth, yes, some have sloth, but not the “most” and insulting the poor as particularly lazy folks and that this accounts for their state in life is unjust, maligning, and fails to represènt magisterial teaching that injustice has been he source of disequity since the Fall of Adam.

          You assert particular laziness to the bottom. Evdence and my experience says the contrary.

          • Imp the Vladaler

            “Mother Theresa sent her nuns to our ghettoes.” Therefore, everyone below the 48th percentile for income is wretchedly poor and lives in a ghetto. Okay guy.

            • Dan C

              The 47% number is a bit of manufactured data indicating who receives some assistance. For some, that is social security, or medical assistance or disability. This jacks that number up.

              Now, I am understanding that the social security recipients, part of this 47% are lazy?

              • Dan C

                Who is lazy?

              • Imp the Vladaler

                “47%” refers to those Americans who have no federal income tax liability, not to those “who receive some assistance.” (See here: http://money.cnn.com/2012/09/18/pf/taxes/romney-income-tax/index.html ). Many of these people are not “poor” by any stretch of the imagination.

                What Mark has done here is to equate conservatives who see a problem with having nearly half the country (many of whom are able-bodied and living comfortably) not contributing one thin dime to the functioning of the federal government, with those who oppose the Church’s teaching on work and economic justice. That’s unfair.

                I strive to follow the Church’s teaching on economic issues. There’s a lot about American-style capitalism and economic globalization that I will not defend. But if we’re concerned about offering people dignified work, we should exercise caution before doing more to make our economy like that of Spain, France, or the UK, all of which have more generous welfare programs and which have higher unemployment rates.

                People don’t risk their lives to here from Mexico because they’re sadists and they like being exploited. But maybe you want a more Mexican-like economy, with more restraints on business.

                • MarylandBill

                  Paying no income tax does not mean they do not contribute one thin dome to the functioning of the federal government. Many will end up paying payroll taxes, capital gains, etc.

                  • Imp the Vladaler

                    Every dollar you pay in payroll tax (Social Security & Medicare) creates a liability to you. If the government was honest about its accounting, it wouldn’t count FICA taxes as income.

                    As for capital gains taxes, the number of people who pay only capital gains and no income tax is vanishingly small, and that’s generally considered to be a problem, as they pay taxes at a lower rate than wage earners.

          • Marthe Lépine

            I think that there are a lot of gainfully employed people who are slothful as well, in different ways.

        • JM

          @impthevladaler:disqus What does it say about the wages and working conditions of the “dignified work available” that you found it easier and more lucrative to collect unemployment? Perhaps if adequate working conditions and just wages were available this wouldn’t be a problem, but that would cut into the profits of “the Makers” now wouldn’t it. The only problem is the ones doing the work aren’t sharing in the rewards of the work and therein lies our problem.

          • Imp the Vladaler

            JM, I don’t contend that the wages that I could have earned would have been unjust. I don’t think you understand how lucrative unemployment can be. My unemployment benefits were quite good. They worked out to a little over $12 an hour. Not great for someone who earned much more before getting laid off, but for someone with a working spouse and little debt, it was more than enough to get by on. Even if I were single I would have been fine. $24,000 annually is more than twice the poverty threshhold for an individual, and it exceeds the poverty threshhold for a family of four.

            I ran into some bad luck, but was I poor? Do I think that Francis was talking about me as a victim of rapacious capitalists? No way.

            So I didn’t even investigate what salary I was capable of making. For six months I slept late, took walks in the woods, went fishing, and emailed resumes. It was a good life.

        • MarylandBill

          If you think that collecting unemployment was less embarrassing than picking fruit, and if your attitude is typical of Americans today, then we are truly screwed up. The most embarrassing thing (to me) that I have ever done was sign up for unemployment.

          The big issue though is the fact that unemployment is more lucrative than manual labor.

          • Imp the Vladaler

            It was incredibly easy. Sign up on the internet. It took all of ten minutes, and the next week I started getting money deposited in my bank account. No trips to the unemployment office. No one outside my immediately family knew. But it would be embarrassing to have my neighbors drive by the field where I was picking fruit and know that I had lost my job.

            I’m not denying that “we are truly screwed up” as a people. That’s the whole point. That’s why I know that saying that more than 53% of Americans should have federal income tax liability does not mean that I hate the poor or that I’m a rapacious capitalist.

            I don’t know that my unemployment check was more than I could have made doing manual labor if I really busted my hump. But I enjoyed the tradeoff of getting money and not having to do anything all day.

            • tedseeber

              I do know- I did the calculation. I normally make $45/hr. I would need to make $12/hr to beat the weekly unemployment check.

              Guess what? I was still applying for $9.50/hr jobs- and being told I was overqualified. I spent 2 years looking for a job between 2001-2003.

        • tedseeber

          When I was last laid off for that long, I quickly found that those jobs were NOT AVAILABLE to me for a lack of ability to speak spanish.

    • And may i add, if you want to see families really degenerate in their living standards, then have companies or business not focus on profits. No profit, no buisness, no work, no jobs, no income for families. I get tired of some of this nonsense.

      • MarylandBill

        The question isn’t whether or not companies should focus on profits, its the focus on profits to the exclusion of all other factors. In this I don’t always blame the business as the system the business is in.

        The recent building collapse in Bangladesh is a case in point. The disordered focus on profits and cheap prices has essentially made it impossible for most companies making clothes for Americans to make them in America, thus costing thousands of Americans good paying jobs that they will never replace (and yes, it might be good for America as a whole, but that doesn’t excuse the wrong done those workers). Now I don’t have a problem with jobs being sent over seas, people are people regardless of where they live and have a right to work. But the system developed essentially puts workers in horrible conditions, even life threatening conditions to make at best a subsistence wage. Yes, that wage might be better than they have ever made before, but they are still far too low to meet the basic requirements of a just wage imho.

        Forty years ago, in this country, it was possible for a man to buy a home in a good neighborhood, get married and raise a family all on the income that he could make from manual labor. He didn’t even need a H.S. education to do it — all while the mother stayed home for the kids. I know this because it is exactly what my Dad did. And now?

        • Some of that has to do with the changing nature of work in the information age. It has been shown that people with only a H.S. diploma have not kept up with the standard of living for the same education level in the past century. Par of it is international competition and part of it is the emphasis on knowledge skills rather than muscle.

          • MarylandBill

            I understand the reasons. My point was that the system that is responsible for those reasons is unjust. Modern businesses feel no sense of responsibility for their workers.

            A hundred years ago, Henry Ford felt that the workers in his plants should be able to afford the products that they made. He achieved that both through the relatively low pricing of the Model T but also by paying them $5 a day (more than double the average wage at the time). Now it seems that the only way a company can make a profit is by trimming wages. Something is very wrong with this.

            • Whose wages are being trimmed? Most companies address increased labor cost by reducing workers, not by trimming salaries. Also you have to consider the increased cost of benefits, especially the cost of health benfits, which amount to income. Yes I know most people are having to pay more for their health benefits but compaines also have to put in more as their part of the contribution.

              • MarylandBill

                Sorry, I should have said payroll. And sure you can pick nits if you want. The point is that our system that maximizes profit for the shareholders above all other responsibilities is responsible.

              • tedseeber

                reducing workers often means “cutting hours”, which for an hourly worker is a *reduction in wages*.

                • That is true for part time workers.

                  • tedseeber

                    It can also be true for 40 hour a week workers that get cut down to 20 to save money on health care costs.

            • Funny you should mention Ford. Dodge v. Ford Motor Company (1919) held that Ford could not take the money that was going to special dividends for his shareholders and use it to invest in his company to increase production, increase wages, and hire more people. The court held a corporation’s primary duty was to maximize the profits of its shareholders, not to improve the business or benefit employees or the community as a whole.

              This case is still the law today — we have enshrined in our laws that profit to shareholders is the most important thing.

              • Imp the Vladaler

                Corporations should be able to put other values ahead of profits.

                It’s also true that Henry Ford wasn’t trying to be altruistic; he was trying to screw his shareholders (the Dodge brothers) so they couldn’t take their profits and form a competing car company.

                • That probably was a motivation, but it certainly wasn’t his only one.

              • tedseeber

                The answer to this, found by many companies- is to make the labor the primary shareholders.

              • Henry Ford was a fascist. He received the highest honor that Hitler could give to a foreigner. I shudder to think what obscenities Ford would have done in the name of improving the community. His widespread distribution of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion to US libraries was more than enough of his brand of community improvement.

            • Tamsin
            • The system that is responsible is unjust. I would suggest that this system is not capitalism.

        • Imp the Vladaler

          The loss of employment opportunities in the manufacturing/labor (or other non-information) sector is troubling, as are the limited opportunities for those who don’t go to high school.

          But assuming that you grew up in the 50’s and 60’s, I’m wondering how much more difficult it is harder to live the life that people lived back then on one salary. Multiple-car households were the exception. Obviously no one had a cell phone or computer. You might have had a 14″ black and white television (no cable TV, of course). Flying on airplanes was the domain of the jet set. No expensive designer clothes. Restaurant meals were a special treat. Gasoline was cheaper, but still over $2, inflation-adjusted, and cars were less fuel efficient, so per-mile driving costs may be less now.

          I suspect that we can live the 50’s life on a single salary. But we don’t want to.

          • Rebecca Fuentes

            Imp, have you ever spent much time with poor people? I’m not talking about the owns-a-big-screen-TV-and-all-the-kids-have-smart-phones-look-at-my-new-truck-I-gotta-get-my-food-stamps-renewed poor (yes, I know people who were told they did not qualify for food stamps because they did not have enough debt. They were told to go out and buy furniture or a car and have debt so they would qualify. Apparently, making only $7 an hour while supporting children does not make one poor enough.). I mean families where both parents working, or the only parent working two jobs, can’t get enough money together in one month to put a deposit down on utilities. I’ve been told that it’s the people’s own fault, they didn’t get the training or education to earn more, but that doesn’t change the fact that their kids have to shower at school or the laundromat if they want to be clean.

      • tedseeber

        It isn’t a matter of “not focusing on profits” , it is a matter of “who should collect the profits”.

        Justly, those profits should go to the labor.

        • Hahahaha, ok. I guess they risked their life savings to create the business. I’ve had enough of this conversation. Peace be with you..

          • tedseeber

            It is the labor who creates the wealth, not the investor.

            • Labor is free to buy or create whatever business they want. Feel free to do so. What you are saying is that the business should be handed over to the workers, (a) without the workers providing any investment, (b) taking on none of the risks, and (c) providing none of the intellectual know how. Yeah right. I feel like I’m talking to a third grader.

              • tedseeber

                “Labor is free to buy or create whatever business they want. ”

                Not when they aren’t being paid enough to stay off of welfare they aren’t.

                “What you are saying is that the business should be handed over to the workers, (a) without the workers providing any investment, (b) taking on none of the risks, and (c) providing none of the intellectual know how.”

                Incorrect. I’m saying that the workers are providing all the real investment in the form of their labor, are taking on all the real risks by putting in their time that they could be using on other opportunities, and are providing the real intellectual know how that the investor class have utterly forgotten even exists.

                If it wasn’t for the monopoly on ownership, every broker in the stock exchanges would have been arrested for fraud a long time ago.

                • There is no monopoly on ownership. You’re just making that up.

                  • tedseeber

                    There is a very large monopoly on ownership.


                    • Monopolies have a definition, “the exclusive possession, control, or exercise of something” which your discourse simply does not fit. Anyone can create a company. There is no monopoly to it. Anyone can seek capital and if they are convincing, get it.

                    • tedseeber

                      “If they are convincing”, which of course means if they’re not too brown, not too poor, and have a credit history that will assure a good return on investment to the loanshark.

                    • Scoundrel!!!

            • The investor takes the risk and is paid last. If labor wants to take the risk of not getting paid at all, then they deserve the rewards.

              • tedseeber

                In America today, and not since Dodge vs Ford, is the Investor paid last.

                In fact, paying the investor last is outright illegal.

                • This is actually not true. Please stop making things up. Document the point or withdraw it.

                  • tedseeber

                    Dodge vs Ford Motor Company, 1919.

  • ivan_the_mad

    This is HuffPo and “atheists can do good too” – it’s only startling if you didn’t already know about it or want to ignore it. The Pope’s homily is only startling if you don’t know about or ignore the social doctrine.

  • catholicchristian

    It’s really too bad. When Mark keeps himself on the actions of individuals vis-a-vis Catholic doctrine, he does very well. But when he starts making political speeches, he starts engaging in what I will hereafter call The Thing That Used To Be Apologetics, which unfortunately he does often enough to conceal his really good pieces under a (rather thick) layer of fertilizer.

    • chezami

      Translation: Shea keeps insisting that Catholics should listen to the Church even when it says things threatening to beloved conservative shibboleths and tropes. Apologetics is *supposed* to affirm Faithful Conservative Catholics[TM] in their sense of superiority to liberal cafeteria Catholics, not point out that Faithful Conservative Catholics[TM] are indulging in their own cafeteria approach to the Faith.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Wise man once say: “We do not really want a religion that is right where we are right. We want a religion that is right where we are wrong.”

      • catholicchristian

        Nope. It’s just that Mark simply paints all conservatives with the same broad brush without regard for what they believe, or whether they’re faithful Catholics or not. He’s welcome to his (often ridiculous) opinion, but, last I looked, his name wasn’t Francis, nor did he often wear all white.

        • Loretta

          Your generalization is disproved by a single exception. I am a (fairly) conservative person, of Mark’s personal acquaintance, and neither my ideas nor I have ever been painted by him with a broad brush. We have had several meaningful dialogues over the years about political and social opinions, and Catholic fidelity has never been an issue in any of those discussions. Suggest you re-read CCC 2425 and try applying it.

  • Marthe Lépine

    About the idea of taking any job instead of collecting unemployment insurance… First, in order to look for an appropriate job, one has to spend a lot of time writing resumes, making phone calls, going to appointment. A low-paying full-time job is not likely to leave time available for job searches; and I think it is a very appropriate use of the money from unemployment insurance, to use it to have the time and energy to look for another job.

    And… I have a little true story taken from my personal experience. I had a friend who had a Master’s degree in linguistics and several years of experience teaching English as a second language in foreign countries. At a certain point, for various reasons, she found herself unemployed for a rather long period, and actually did what many commenters here are suggesting: took a lower-paying and lower-skilled job as a clerk/gardener in a garden centre. The work was hard, and, most importantly, the hours were long.

    At about the same time, through my translation work, I learned about a certain industry in a certain area that was having serious problems with their workers because most of them came from Asian countries, had low educations and could not speak any English. How do you train such workers? How can they understand the very important issues having to do with job safety in a dangerous kind of work? Finding out about this need, I took the initiative of contacting my client once the translation work was done, and explaining that I knew someone with a lot of the necessary experience and who liked to work with people from Asia, and would they be interested to hear from her. Yes, they were very, very interested, so I wrote to my friend. She could have asked practically anything she wanted to that prospective employer, who might even have been prepared to give her their full support in starting her own ESL school.

    But I later found out that she never followed up. Why? Because her working hours were very long and she was very afraid to get fired if she even took the time to make one phone call during working hours. At the time she was having financial problems and she could not afford to lose that job… In addition, if she got fired for such a reason she would no longer be eligible for unemployment insurance. And of course she could not have made that call when all the offices were closed.

    If she had simply collected unemployment insurance while she was looking into her possibilities and finding information about what was available in her field, she would have been much better off. Besides, the job she was so afraid to lose paid less than what she would have received in unemployment support. Would you claim that she was just “lazy” if she had chosen to remain on unemployment insurance for a few months, or even a year? As it was, she was under-employed and remained under-employed for a very long time. That means that her skills, her very real talents, and the cost of her education were being wasted. What would have been better for the economy?

    You might argue that she was poorly organized… But she was living alone in a city far from home, with no family support whatever. It seems to me that it was understandable that she was afraid to take time off to look for a better job…
    And once again, this is a true story, and I am convinced that it is not unique.

  • Right now, today, somebody is dying because there isn’t enough capital floating around for some small expenditure that would have saved their life. In fact, this is happening more like hourly. The capital, in general, has been frightened away by politicians who tend to steal what they can reach. More exactly, the holders of the capital have been frightened away from investing within the radius that these politicians hold sway. The truly sad thing is that an hourly occurrence is actually an improvement on the past where it was happening even more frequently.

    If you engage in capital destruction, by spending capital and recouping less than you spent, you worsen the problem. More people die. If you engage in capital creation, you make the problem better. There’s so much money chasing yield that a few more projects are funded despite the bribes that have to be paid to bring them to completion.

    So as a free market, radically small government type I don’t have a problem with the Pope calling for solidarity so long as he’s speaking about real solidarity in the world we actually live in, not some fantasy economy that doesn’t actually exist. If his conception of economics is wrong, his interpretation of Jesus’ message will be flawed. So there needs to be clarity in areas that are not necessarily theological. That clarity is not entirely here in the links.

    People do seek to profit selfishly beyond the parameters of social justice. In general these are grasping politicians who are squeezing projects, violating property rights, and expropriating goods that magically somehow attach to the politician or a relative/ally. If you try to seek profit beyond what is reasonable, you can always be shouldered out of your profit by somebody else who is willing to take a few % less in profit unless you have the regulator, the army, or the police to keep that competitor out. It is part of our christian duty to engage in that arbitrage and shoulder those economic idiots out of their businesses, taking a reasonable profit along the way (because, remember, fewer people die if we engage in capital creation).

    Without the ability to enforce their unjust economic arrangements via the state or private army, economic actors are incredibly vulnerable, which is why it is almost universally the case that any durable economic injustice is based on unjust violence keeping away better economic arrangements for the poor. Does the Pope realize this? I can’t tell from this message and I went to the Vatican for it because I believe that if the Vatican puts out the transcript, it’s better to read it straight from the source and then look at the interpretations. For those who are interested the general audience is available:

    On the most controversial part of the Catholic Register article, I would point out that the Radio Vatican article of the same event quotes the line that makes the Pope appear to be disclaiming St. Paul differently and that makes me suspicious whether the Pope’s words were transmitted entirely correctly. It is a small change, but any change is suspect when a Pope is relayed as disclaiming a part of the Bible.

    The Catholic Register version:

    Today, “we can no longer say what St. Paul said, ‘Who will not work, should not eat,’ but we have to say, ‘He who does not work has lost his dignity’ because he cannot find any opportunities for work.”

    The Radio Vatican version:

    the Pope said – we can no longer say what St. Paul said: “He who will not work, will not eat,” but we have to say: “He who does not work, has lost his dignity”, because “he cannot find any opportunities for work”. On the contrary: “Society has stripped that person of dignity.”

    The Radio Vatican version is available here:

    I think it would be a reasonable observation that it is much more common today for people to lack opportunities to work than it was in St. Paul’s day. My gut says both that sloth hasn’t gone away entirely (when has sin ever done that?), nor is it likely that the Pope is really disclaiming St. Paul.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Re-reading this, I do not think that the Pope had been disclaiming St. Paul, but rather explaining St.Paul’ words in a contemporary context, as the teaching of the Church usually does. The principles do not change, but their understanding and interpretation can be adapted to various contexts.

      • Then we agree on what the Pope was trying to say but it is not what the articles actually say. In this sort of situation I pray for calm and patience and look to clarify from as close to original sources as I can manage.

  • Mango

    Catholic social teaching is based on three principles: the dignity of the human person, solidarity with those who may be marginalised or disadvantaged, and the common good. Universal health coverage and opposition to abortion (to pick two examples) are therefore not left or right, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican issues. They all point to a ‘consistent ethic of life’.

    • Promising health coverage on paper but not delivering is not universal health coverage in the sense I believe the Catholic Church means it. It is, however, the sense which Canada’s provincial governments meant it as their local Supreme Courts ruled that the delays in treatment essentially were so bad that they constituted a denial of the right to health care.

      Canada is not alone in this problem. Socialized systems always seem to run out of other people’s money and services suffer and eventually collapse of it. Fidelity to Catholic social teaching may cause you to buy into these schemes before a statistically significant result set is out demonstrating that the idea just doesn’t work but at this stage of the game, we’re long past that point.

      If the Pope were to start claiming that we had two moons, his error would be no less shocking than the idea that economic liberalism causes the poor to be “despoiled of their own natural resources” as the Aparecida document claims. Despoilation is by definition anti-liberal.

      • Marthe Lépine

        To your comment about waiting times for medical treatment in my country: Which is worse? Having to wait a while because you are not the only person in the world, or having to sell your house in order to pay for the same medical service? The indeniable fact that our system is not perfect (as well as that no human system can be perfect) is a very poor excuse for having neglected the right to medical care of millions of people in the US for decades (our system started in the 60’s) until a perfect system can be found.

        • The seriousness of the wait depends on whether you are crippled or die of it. There was an online video called dead meat that went into details. It included a nice case study of a woman whose treatment delays destroyed her bladder so she had to have a permanent colostomy bag attached. Publicly funded transsexual surgery had a lower wait time.

          But Canada has already figured out that its system needs a major overhaul and to its credit the current government seems to be improving things. The idiots here that want to imitate Canada are trying to imitate your old system and replicate what you are backing away from. Because of our larger population and lack of a nearby first world medical system with excess capacity, our mistakes are likely to cost far more lives and unnecessary suffering.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Unfortunately, the idiots who want to reform our system want to imitate your current system…

            • I pray that they do not. The US’ current medical system is in desperate need of reform. It’s just that the current batch will not make, on balance the situation any better.

  • Austin Ruse

    Fir two years my organization paid for a lawyer who was seconded to the Vatican. How much was his Vatican salary? 25,000 euros, no benefits, living in Rome. Living wage from the Church? You decide.

    • Richard A

      The Pope, as quoted above, said “just wage”, not “living wage”.

  • Richard Hertz

    What the Pope speaks of is real enough, but the fact that 47% of Americans pay no income tax and get government handouts is real too. So when the Pope addresses particular issues we should look at those particular issues.

    • Brandy Miller

      They may pay no income tax, but don’t assume that means they pay no taxes. They often pay a heftier percentage of taxes than you do because they pay sales taxes on every purchase, and believe me when I tell you that when you’re making minimum wage you don’t have any money to tuck away into savings or put aside for a rainy day. Everything you have gets spent just to make ends meet, so every penny you make gets taxed.