Who Even Knows *What* the Pope is Talking About?

Pope Francis writes these mysterious and inexplicable words:

53. Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

No to the new idolatry of money

55. One cause of this situation is found in our relationship with money, since we calmly accept its dominion over ourselves and our societies. The current financial crisis can make us overlook the fact that it originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person! We have created new idols. The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose. The worldwide crisis affecting finance and the economy lays bare their imbalances and, above all, their lack of real concern for human beings; man is reduced to one of his needs alone: consumption.

56. While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.

No to a financial system which rules rather than serves

57. Behind this attitude lurks a rejection of ethics and a rejection of God. Ethics has come to be viewed with a certain scornful derision. It is seen as counterproductive, too human, because it makes money and power relative. It is felt to be a threat, since it condemns the manipulation and debasement of the person. In effect, ethics leads to a God who calls for a committed response which is outside the categories of the marketplace. When these latter are absolutized, God can only be seen as uncontrollable, unmanageable, even dangerous, since he calls human beings to their full realization and to freedom from all forms of enslavement. Ethics – a non-ideological ethics – would make it possible to bring about balance and a more humane social order. With this in mind, I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs”.[55]

58. A financial reform open to such ethical considerations would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders. I urge them to face this challenge with determination and an eye to the future, while not ignoring, of course, the specifics of each case. Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.

From Caelum et Terra:

From a January 20 Oxfam paper:

• Almost half of the world’s wealth is now owned by just one percent of the population.

• The wealth of the one percent richest people in the world amounts to $110 trillion.

That’s 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population.

• The bottom half of the world’s population owns the same as the richest 85 people in the world.

• Seven out of ten people live in countries where economic inequality has increased in the last 30 years.

• The richest one percent increased their share of income in 24 out of 26 countries for which we have data between 1980 and 2012.

• In the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer.

income_graf_2a

income_graf_1a

To read the rest:

Everything is just fine.  The pope is an idiot.  If the 3.5 billion just apply themselves, they will certainly break into the ranks of the 85.  Work will make them free.  Any discussion of that state interfering in the immaculate work of the marketplace is communism, not Catholic faith.
I. THE UNIVERSAL DESTINATION AND THE PRIVATE OWNERSHIP OF GOODS

2402 In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them, master them by labor, and enjoy their fruits.187The goods of creation are destined for the whole human race. However, the earth is divided up among men to assure the security of their lives, endangered by poverty and threatened by violence. The appropriation of property is legitimate for guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of persons and for helping each of them to meet his basic needs and the needs of those in his charge. It should allow for a natural solidarity to develop between men.

2403 The right to private property, acquired or received in a just way, does not do away with the original gift of the earth to the whole of mankind. The universal destination of goodsremains primordial, even if the promotion of the common good requires respect for the right to private property and its exercise.

2404 “In his use of things man should regard the external goods he legitimately owns not merely as exclusive to himself but common to others also, in the sense that they can benefit others as well as himself.”188The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others, first of all his family.

2405Goods of production – material or immaterial – such as land, factories, practical or artistic skills, oblige their possessors to employ them in ways that will benefit the greatest number. Those who hold goods for use and consumption should use them with moderation, reserving the better part for guests, for the sick and the poor.

2406Political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good.189

The right to property on the part of 85 people does not trump the right to normal human life and flourishing for 3.5 billion human beings.  The only place this obvious fact is controversial is in the fever swamps of the Thing that Used to be Conservatism.

  • johnwhytenz

    Mark,
    Two quickish points
    1) Being from New Zealand and knowing what the government of the time was in 1980s I’m fairly confident that the wealthiest 1% hid their money so that the government could not find it and tax it. There were some ‘brilliant’ schemes to do so dreamed up by lawyers in that period.

    2) What I think the conversation in the western world misses, is that governmental handouts are soul destroyed and the system that creates them is often hostile to the dignity of the receiver. So the underclass is trapped in a cycle of being poor, and then having their dignity abused.

    3) This isn’t going to stop until Catholics actually start listening to what the pope exhorts and sharing the money. Whilst the current system of welfare is bad, just stopping it would be worse.

    • HornOrSilk

      John,

      I will begin with #3. And this is very much the case, and will become more and more the case as less and less people are needed in the work force but the economic system does not work to engage this fact. So, whatever is bad with the welfare system, it is better than no welfare for those in need.

      #2. I am not sure how the fact it is a “government handout” as with any “handout” that is soul destroying. I don’t think justice is soul destroying, and the government in its handout is an attempt for justice. We often confuse the government trying to right wrongs (lack of proper economics leading to massive number of poor people) with charity, which leads to this “soul destroying” claims. However, I find this is often the claim of the “1%” trying to justify its money-grab and stopping governments to help the people who should have the money. This is not just “sharing the money” in private charity, but the actual flow of money which is needed, and when blocked, government should be involved with. And that is not soul-destroying.

      #1. One of the biggest schemes of those who have money is to get people to hate government working for justice. Once you get people to protest just acts of government for their own good, it is easy to hold on to everything.

      • johnwhytenz

        HornOrSilk,

        The soul destroying, I’m somewhat certain it has to do with the effect of a lack of work on a person’s soul.
        I also think it interlinks with the fact that for a government department a person is a statistic, not a person.

        To put it another, the poor individuals who need the help, almost always need more help than cash on a Thursday. They need love, purpose, meaning, and It’s not provided. The proof in NZ is the huge (and growing) number of personages who are what we call a full benefit, who frequently are now the second or third generation of people on this, each one becoming more lost.

        Whilst I completely disagree that stopping the system tomorrow will only leave almost everybody worse off, I think over time ‘the system’ does a huge amount of damage to those in it. Private charity should come with money & love & help to get a sense of meaning, it it is only then its effective.

        • HornOrSilk

          Private charity won’t help with “work,” when the “work” is gone. This is what is happening, not because of “welfare” but because of greed by the employers, who are trying to find all kinds of ways to cut the employee out of their profits, and if they don’t need a worker, they won’t hire one (machines work better with less money).

          There is also something else I keep seeing: this promotion of “everyone has to work” ignores many kinds of “work” which are not always “jobs.” For example, stay at home parents; this talk about “work” ignores them, and when we talk about “jobless stats” such parents are treated as if without a job. We have turned work into an idol and thus, call it soul-destroying if someone doesn’t have a job (again, look to mothers, and how they were denounced in this fashion if they didn’t go to work). We need to remember, society doesn’t need every man, woman and child working in jobs. And if we could get back to one member of a family working, does it mean the non-worker has had their soul destroyed for “handouts” from the one with a job? No. But that’s where the rhetoric leads.

          Not everyone is a Mary. Not everyone is a Martha.

          • BHG

            You make some good points especially about stay at home parents. But instead of focusing on the limits of the argument presented, how about looking at the merits and moving forward from there? You said, “This (loss of jobs) is what is happening because of greed by the employers who are trying to find all kinds of ways to cut the employee out of their profits…” Precisely! WhIle some of this is needful to actually make money at a business, the modern environment has gone way overboard (my own best-example of this is the computerized answering service). This is where the application of Catholic social justice principles–especially the universal destination of goods–helps undo the knot.

            • HornOrSilk

              BHG — I think we are agreed there. I am just trying to discuss points often ignored in the overall narrative. It is always interesting to me that the same kind of discussion about stay at home parents (moms, in the past), thought to be “feminism” trying to destroy the family (I put feminism in quotes, because there are many forms, some which are fine and orthodox), gets restated by the same people critical of the feminist narrative when it comes to work in general.

              The reason, imo, why not having a job is soul-destroying in the modern world is because many people only see value if it has a monetary value to it. We have turned money as the end and goal of life. So those who don’t earn it are seen as meaningless. This needs to be dealt with, so that, if we can re-establish a more balanced work structure (where families can still have people staying home taking care of the home), those without “work” will still find their real value and not feel so “destroyed.”

              But I agree, we need to remind employers that they need to help continue the flow of money by hiring workers (with fair pay), even if they can do it with other means (computerized answering service, computerized check outs, etc). For me, that is just a basic given.

              • Andy

                I agree with what you have written, but I think we are ignoring the larger issue – the commodification of personhood. Business no longer sees the worker as a partner in the business – whatever it may be – rather the worker is seen as a liability – an “evil” hinderance to monumental profit. When a hinderance is encountered you eliminate – in this case sell it off or reduce the likelihood that it remains viable.
                In the west we have moved to the worship of mammon, the worship of the golden bull if you will – we no longer see people as an act of God, but more as an act of ourselves. It is this rejection of personhood, the commodification of personhood that allows abortion, torture, unjust war, sexual slavery, unjust wages – the list is endless.
                The morality of business is now seen as making money in the extreme, at the expense of all others. The morality of how we measure people is now how much do you make or how much are you worth.

                • HornOrSilk

                  Andy — again, I perfectly agree.

          • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

            Work is not gone. Old jobs disappear and new jobs appear. Government has done its share of destroying the ability of people to work through regulation and outright outlawing some kinds of work. Employers automate when it makes sense and create new work when it makes sense. From that error (that work is disappearing on net), much nonsense flows.

            We are entering a difficult time where jobs, per se, are largely going away and people increasingly selling their own labor as their own boss. I suspect that unpaid work will get more respect in the coming system.

        • PalaceGuard

          “I also think it interlinks with the fact that for a government department a person is a statistic, not a person.” I would think, also, that it is dehumanizing because, for the person receiving the aid, it is coming, not from another person, but from the faceless, nameless monolith of “the government”. There is no sense involved of those fellow beings who are supporting this aid through their labors and taxes. It is like two empty mirrors reflecting a void infinity at each other. (As an aside, increasingly, when I see or hear the phrase, “the government”, I want to cry out, “STOP! Define your terms. Just WHAT is this “government” of which you speak?” Too often, it seems that one could easily substitute “puppy”, or “mitten”, or “sock puppet” for “government” without any loss to the statement being made.)

      • ladycygnus

        “However, I find this is often the claim of the “1%” trying to justify
        its money-grab and stopping governments to help the people who should have the money.”

        I’ve heard the claim made by non-1%ers – most specifically a single mom who was struggling to make a real life for her kids after her husband left her for a newer model. She went to the government for assistance and they told her that because she technically owned the house she was out of luck because it was an “asset” or some such nonsense. Until she lost the house (which would effectively cause CPS to remove her kids) she could not get help. Oh, and she couldn’t work too many jobs or what assistance she did get would be lost.

        The church came through that time and a family bought the house and rented it back to her. She worked up to three jobs at times (a few under the table) and went to school full time to provide a future for her kids. Those kids ended up being latchkey kids for several years, but knew that the alternative was CPS taking them from the one person who loved them enough to try.

        I personally see government “charity” as a bad thing – but sometimes better than the alternatives (kind of like “Democracy is a terrible form of government…except for all the rest.”). The BEST solution is for us as Christians to live up to their civic duty and care for the poor – not to be forced into it by governments. The government should encourage them to do this as much as possible without force and provide a basic level safety net for charities (ie – real people) to distribute.

        • HornOrSilk

          Government is about justice, and when the money flow is not proper (as per CST), then the government helping people who are at the short end of the stick is not about charity, it is about justice. This rhetoric of “charity” from government would make anything government does as “charity”: roads, police, military, jailing criminals, et. al. Seriously, I would recommend reading CST on government to begin to understand the discussion if you have to constantly bring up “charity” when the act is “justice.” This equivocation explains why no true love, no true charity, is often found in the hearts of those promoting such “charity.” They don’t know what charity is! If they are upset that someone who has been hurt by the system is helped by the government to find justice, they don’t know charity: charity is love, and those who love, would not want their beloved hurt from injustice. This also explains why Pope Benedict himself said, if there were perfect justice in society, that would not be the end of charity but its beginning: those who make justice, charity, do not see charity is transcendent and goes beyond justice, for that is what love does.

          • ladycygnus

            Are you actually replying to me? I agree with you that the government is about justice. Roads, police, military, etc are all establishing a just society that enables charity.

            I’m not the one who decided government should be in the “charity” business – only pointed out that it doesn’t work for exactly the reason you stated. Charity is about love and a government cannot love a statistic.

            In the situation I mentioned, justice on the part of the government would have involved enforcing child-support payments and not persecuting a woman for the sins of her husband. Perhaps tax deductions to the church couple who bought the house then rented it back at a reduced rate. I’m sure we could find other “justice” but pretending that it would have actually helped her pay her bills without requiring her dignity is laughable.

            • HornOrSilk

              What you are calling “charity business” is actually justice. That’s the point which you ignore. When the proper destination of goods is halted, that’s injustice. Giving back to those who should get it, is thus, justice not charity.

              • ladycygnus

                I see what you are saying, that because the rich have so much more money and the poor have none it’s the governments job as an exacter of justice to give some of the money the rich people make to the poor.

                I can only reply with “it doesn’t work.” What currently happens:
                - The very rich feel justified in not giving to the poor because the government will do it for them (while hiding their assets so as to pay less in taxes)
                - The middle class don’t have the power to hide their wealth and are taxed into poverty. They also don’t feel the need to care for the poor since the “government” will do it for them.
                - The poor hate the rich for not caring and leaving them to the cruel justice of the government’s “charity” – which doesn’t help them since all the money “caring for the poor” was spend in the bureaucracy and requires a destroying of your dignity to get the meager handout that’s left.

                Thus the divide both in wealth and in solidarity grows larger each year.

                • chezami

                  How about “It’s the government’s job to see that people are paid a living wage and not screwed by their employer?”

                  • ladycygnus

                    When I was in high school and college I wanted to work to gain experience and skills. I often took jobs for less than a “living wage,” because there was some rule about school kids working for less. I appreciated the on-the-job training and extra spending money. Had my employers been forced to give me a “living wage” I’d never have gotten a job at all – because they aren’t going to pay for someone with no skills. The bottom rung jobs should be either entry level positions in which you train for a better job or temporary jobs for kids looking to make a few bucks.

                    The government mandating a “living wage” only makes the price of everything go up in the long run – which then increases the living wage even more. Instead the government should be encouraging people to not only HIRE new staff, but also train and promote them to ACTUAL living wage positions. Instead of insisting companies hand people money – encourage the companies develop their employees – actually care about their human resources.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      But this isn’t what we understand from the social doctrine. For instance, Rerum Novarum addresses both the wage and the government’s role in protecting the worker. None of this is novel, but a restatement and development of old and continuous teaching.

                      45. Let the working man and the employer make free agreements, and in particular let them agree freely as to the wages; nevertheless, there underlies a dictate of natural justice more imperious and ancient than any bargain between man and man, namely, that wages ought not to be insufficient to support a frugal and well-behaved wage-earner. If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accept harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford him no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice.

                      37. Rights must be religiously respected wherever they exist, and it is the duty of the public authority to prevent and to punish injury, and to protect every one in the possession of his own. Still, when there is question of defending the rights of individuals, the poor and badly off have a claim to especial consideration. The richer class have many ways of shielding themselves, and stand less in need of help from the State; whereas the mass of the poor have no resources of their own to fall back upon, and must chiefly depend upon the assistance of the State. And it is for this reason that wage-earners, since they mostly belong in the mass of the needy, should be specially cared for and protected by the government.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      I needed somebody to do some legal research. I went to oDesk and laid out what needed to be done and offered a flat rate contract but said that the worker should tell me how much to do that. I got two bids, $5, and $30 I believe. I hired both of them. I have no idea whether I paid a living wage because I have no idea how long it took to do the job. The higher paid one actually flaked on me and annulled the contract and the lower paid one came through and I paid the requested fee.

                      So, just or not? Living wage or not? This is the real world that we’re moving towards where everything is a contract and I don’t care how you do it and how long it takes you but this much money for that much work.

                      The reality is that the indians are specially cared for by the US government. It has not served them well. Putting the workers in the same boat is unlikely to serve them much better.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      You prove yourself a part of the problem — constantly — in your responses to this thread. Some of your claims (as with others in this thread) is that government isn’t perfectly just, therefore, it’s ok to have a dog eat dog contract world. Say what? You don’t care if you are giving a fair wage to people, if they “accept the contract”? Say what? Seriously, with this “contract” situation, people are forcing themselves to take “less and less” to get any contracts. This is NOT as it should be, and your actions promote the structures of sin which destroy lives. You don’t know (nor care) if you are giving a “living wage,” but justify yourself as basically justifying the slave labor system where people have to fight for the “bottom” just to get “work.” That’s cruel and far worse than anything the government does.

                      Yes, the government works for justice, but there is no utopia. The fact that it can do wrong, and has done wrong, does not disqualify the basic principles. It’s like saying “the Church had pedophile priests, so I am atheist.” That’s your argument — not, let’s help make sure justice is done on all levels, but rather, “they accept the situation therefore it must be good.” No, people working with contacts in the way you promote is ALL about the rich finding the lowest wage slave. Not good at all. The fact that people have to fight and do work in such a situation, and do so, does not make it right.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      The claim isn’t that government is not perfect. The claim is that government is an inferior instrument at promoting CST under certain circumstances and a reflexive turn to government is not just inefficient, it is unchristian.

                      What should be done is serious work trying to figure out what is and what is not an area where government offers a superior method for establishing the goals embodied in Catholic social thought and to privatize where it is not while striving to ensure its efficiency where it is. But that’s not where people seem to be going with this. It’s all blanket condemnations and name calling.

                      You completely missed the point on my personal example. I needed work done. I had no idea the value of the work, the time necessary to do the work, nor whether it was a living wage because I didn’t know where these people lived. I was willing to accept, and did accept their first offer. How are you to even calculate the living wage in a situation where you don’t know their cost of living or how long the job is going to take?

                      But you don’t actually have an answer, do you? Like the marxists, you are not very concerned that your pricing formulas actually work. It’s all about the pose. That’s not actually very Catholic. Actual justice has a pricing system that actually works.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      The way YOU give out the work, making people FIGHT for the work, continues with the system where everyone fights for the work. It requires them to underbid each other. That’s the problem and what CST has already indicated is a part of the sinful structure of society.

                      As for government being an inferior instrument, that’s always been the claim of people trying to stop the government from being an instrument at all. They keep interfering with the government and its proper means and ends, and then act like “see, government can’t do it.” No sale.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      You are badly in need of reading some Seth Godin. The free market doesn’t actually work the way you say it does. Underbidding beyond a certain point will lose you my business because you won’t actually be able to finish the work.

                      I’m not looking to get the low bidder. I’m looking to get the low, competent bidder who is going to be able to create a long-term business relationship with me that maximizes my value over the long haul. That’s actually a very different proposition and one that is perfectly acceptable morally.

                      Your perception of the situation on me hiring a contractor is just wrong. First of all, the existence of the work itself is contingent on them doing it cheaper than me, otherwise I’ll take the hit to the schedule and do it myself. There’s not a system in the world that doesn’t require a competition against doing a certain bit of work yourself. So this “FIGHT” you are so horrified about is inherent to the situation. The work exists as something to be hired out because someone else can do it cheaper than me doing it personally.

                      The government does not do a very good job when you put it in charge of agriculture. With all those who have been starved by government agriculture in the 20th century I would think that I would not have to prove it. The corpse piles proved it a long time ago.

                      You posit a conspiracy of wreckers who interfere with the government causing it to perform more poorly. That line of logic was adopted by every two bit punk totalitarian trying to explain away government economic failures. I will pass on standing with Pol Pot and Mao on this point. Since you seem to be comfortable with the stench, you can stand there without me.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      If the two “contractors” did the same work for you, why did you pay one less than the other? What stopped you from giving both of them 30$ an hour? Maybe you could not afford to? Then you should have negotiated with both of them in order to pay them equally. I have been known to object to someone asking me $10 an hour by saying that it was against my (Christian) principles to pay less than $15, and to actually pay $15 to that individual. If you hire 2 people for the same kind of work, unless one is much more qualified than the other, which is possible, it seems to me to be unjust to pay only $5 to one and to give $30 to the other, even if it was the amount the first one himself did ask. Maybe he asked a lower price because he was desperate and needed the work; then why not pay him more than he asked, in order to meet his needs in a spirit of Christian sharing?

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      One was a lawyer, the other a paralegal. Both were their estimates of the cost of doing the legal search. I had no idea which of them were correct or what a just price was. I had no idea what the actual work time was. If the contractors had access to a good legal search library that I do not, the actual work might have been 5 minutes but I still wouldn’t know what the proper valuation would be. As an aside, my first IT employer was a lawyer who explained exactly how much faster a specialist can be compared to a generalist. He specialized in creating 501(c) incorporations and they took about 20 minutes per for him. General lawyers took days, occasionally weeks to do the same job and usually the quality of the work was inferior.

                      A nurse and a doctor can both stitch a wound but you pay more for the doctor. My reasoning for accepting differential pricing was similar.

                      I also took on the paralegal because, if she actually did the work, I planned to pay her over her rate (which I did) to signal her, without insulting her, that she should probably raise her prices (and she did too, I just saw her new rates when I looked up the contract history). There was a time when some friends tried to do a similar favor for me and it’s something of a weird situation. I wanted to do the lady a good turn.

                      You assume that the employer is able to calculate the time a job takes. Perhaps one day I will be able to do so but I certainly can’t do it now and I don’t have the money to accept an open ended commitment.

                      I half expected the prices to come in grossly above my budget and to have to continue to do the work myself in my ample spare time. So I threw a requirement out there, looking for all the US legal definitions of what is a government, specified what was needed, just to see if it could be done within my means. It could and I ended up paying quadruple the lower rate because, as best I could figure, that was a fair rate for a paralegal.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      “I had no idea the value of the work, the time necessary to do the work, nor whether it was a living wage because I didn’t know where these people lived.”

                      Did you inquire of them as to these matters?

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      I actually looked up some living wage tables, interesting stuff. One of the components seems to be family size. These are actually illegal questions in the US that can get you sued. Perhaps you might address that law before you start dinging people for not asking such questions.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      If you don’t know whether you paid a just wage, then perhaps you failed to give due diligence. From a person given to admonish and exhort others to read the literature and become familiar with the data, I’m singularly unimpressed by the claim of ignorance. You should investigate the moral principles laid out over the centuries by the church in this matter, and deduce from them according to prudence and expedience your course of action. I am inexpert in your affairs and your business arrangements, but I trust that given sufficient effort you can become expert in them.

                      But speaking of your assertion regarding contracts, CotCC 2434: “In determining fair pay both the needs and the contributions of each person must be taken into account. ‘Remuneration for work should guarantee man the opportunity to provide a dignified livelihood for himself and his family on the material, social, cultural and spiritual level, taking into account the role and the productivity of each, the state of the business, and the common good.’ Agreement between the parties is not sufficient to justify morally the amount to be received in wages.” It sounds like you’ve got your investigation cut out for you. Now I’ve already given you several excerpts from Church teaching in the matter to aid you gratis, but I’m not terribly interested in doing any more of your homework for you.

                      You would do well to consider whether a plea of ignorance will avail you on that Last Day.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      Perhaps, though I can’t imagine what practical, acceptable due diligence would look like for a one off job that everybody who bothered to look at it says is barely an hour long, if that. My attempt to figure it, failed utterly to get one response (yes, I tried to write a contract to hire the calculation out). The two responders went directly to trying to do the underlying contract. They weren’t interested so I relented and took their estimates and went forward.

                      When the paperwork for a job overwhelms the utility one gets from the work, you’ve entered into the realm of the grotesque and people just stop hiring. Your policy recommendation is a recipe for misery and poverty that is almost pharisaical in its dedication to form over the essence of doing one’s best to better the material condition of one’s neighbors.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      I’ve given you no “policy recommendation” beyond heeding the Church’s teachings in the matter, even explicitly reminding you that it is for you to determine your course of action deduced from these teachings. It is transparently disingenuous to attack the teachings as my policy. If you’ve got a problem with the teaching, I’d recommend you stop talking to me and start talking to your confessor.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      Yes, it is for me to determine. If you actually believed that you might not be so “singularly unimpressed”, as you put it earlier. Butter wouldn’t melt in your mouth as you swerve your argument to the convenience of the moment.

                      Pharisee is looking a better fit than I originally thought.

                      To falsely say that I attack the teaching of the Church when I am actually attacking your misinterpretation of them is an especially deft touch. Hat’s off.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      Are you actually interested in discussion, or only in libel and insults? I’ve offered neither policy nor interpretation, but relevant quotations and an exhortation to heed them. I could only assume that the policy you referenced as mine is one and the same as the quotations from the encyclicals and the catechism, which actually provide moral prescription, and it is therefore disingenuous to attack them as my policy.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      Applying a policy that is obviously intended for an actual job that has pay periods and significant longevity to the arrangement to a one-off contract of very slight duration is so inapt on its face that I am beyond questioning whether you’re honestly approaching this discussion.

                      My entire point in bringing up this situation is to illustrate the information problem. You have so utterly missed the point and persist in advocating illegal conduct makes me doubt your own sincerity.

                      When I’m on the other side of the desk, looking for work, I do not want people delving into my family life. I give the same courtesy on the other side of the desk. There is good reason why such questions were made illegal. People were often discriminating against those with families in hiring situations. Such people who discriminate in this way also lie about their reasons for asking, making it impossible not to provoke a bad reaction when you start asking such things.

                      The poor manners and impermissibility of such questions was so ingrained in me that, honestly, it’s visceral at this point and it took some time for me to step back and unpack why I had that reaction.

                      In an actual employment contract, doing work that is well established, in a physical location where you can reasonably expect to understand what living a dignified life actually means, yes, the quoted instruction makes sense and is practical advice for building up a community.

                      If you throw up a world-wide contract opportunity for a small bit of work and say “name your price”, the sort of hi-touch, hi-effort, salary discovery process described in the catechism necessarily has to adjust for the very real fact that the employee has all the information necessary to do the price calculation and the employer none of it. All the employer knows is how much money will be available to get the job done. Either someone will propose to do the job within the money available or the job simply won’t get done by being hired out. The schedule will slip or the project will be abandoned, most likely the former.

                      It is offensive to put the onus on the ignorant party in a negotiation and not expect the informed party to at least give a clue as to what is their personal living wage is. Essentially you are unhappy at the idea that an employer does not call his potential contract partner a liar and engage in a time-consuming, intrusive information gathering process to independently determine what is a living wage for that person.

                      At a time when so many are either underemployed or not employed at all, freelancing is a way out to keep your dignity and a roof over your head. The less respectable you make it, the more overhead you put on it, the less that escape route will exist for those who could use it.

                      As we seem to be moving into an era where more and more people are earning their living through such contracts (something that was virtually unheard of even a century ago) I would hope that the Church would elaborate on such situations. They’re not the same as classic employment contracts and it has never worked well when they are treated as such.

                    • ivan_the_mad

                      Inapt, dishonest, and insincere in the first three sentences? I refuse to suffer any further abuse and stopped reading your comment right there. I’m quite finished with you and your ubiquitous nastiness.

                    • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                      And yet you were the one who reached out to me with your concern trolling. Concern for my soul? I think not.

                  • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

                    It’s the government’s job to see that people are not screwed by anybody, for certain values of screwed.

                    When you artificially dampen a price signal, you will pay an economic price, in this case, people will not get out of a field to push wages higher. The government is incompetent at setting prices and that’s including the price for labor.

                    By disallowing market signals in the labor market in these circumstances, we both end up poorer and insult the dignity of those who could have but no longer carry their own weight because of the mis-signalling. What do you do then?

                  • James Scott

                    Every time the minimum wage is raised unemployment goes up. How does that help the poor? It doesn’t it’s a failed policy employed by Democrats(which you are free to disagree with me here solely on your own prudent judgement) not a moral imperative for Catholics.

                    The government need only make sure a fair wage for fair work is done nothing more.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      Here we go with the typical claptrap. Why does “unemployment go up”? Is it because it is necessary? No, it is because of greed, where the ultra-rich continue to try to block the proper distribution of goods. We are not for employment if employment is mere slavery: this idolization of work ignores the human person, and acts like work for work’s sake (even if the person who is working gets nothing from it) is more important than people with proper living conditions. It continues to ignore, again, the fact that the ultra-rich can afford to give these raises without firing anyone, indeed, with hiring more. The more people have, the more money can flow in the system!

                • HornOrSilk

                  No, you really do not seem to understand what I am saying, and you continue to confuse charity and justice and tell us if government works for justice, charity would die out. It shows you have yet to study Catholic Social teaching on the role of government. You continue to confuse “giving to the poor” as what charity is about (it isn’t, though it is a means by which some do charity; but even if there were no poor, charity would still exist).

                  The rich feel justified in not giving to the poor, and taking more and more out of the system, especially when there is no regulation going on. The rich have been getting richer and keeping the funds without hiring. They don’t care about the poor. The government has to step in because the proper distribution of goods has been halted. There can be no legitimate economy in this fashion.

                  • ladycygnus

                    Nope – but let’s try it this way….

                    The poor hate the rich for not caring and leaving them to the cruel justice of the government’s handouts – which doesn’t help them since all the money the government collects in taxes was spend in the bureaucracy and requires a destroying of your dignity to get the meager handout that’s left.

                    The rich feel justified in not giving to or caring about the poor because the government does it for them. The WAY the government should step in is what I disagree with. Taking more money from the middle class (the really wealthy won’t be hurt by this – they have their hidden piggy banks) to hand out to the poor FAILS. I speak as one who’s seen this failure.

                    Thus the divide both in wealth and in solidarity grows larger each year. Calling what you are describing “justice” doesn’t change the fact that it’s been failing for years – doing MORE of the same thing and hoping for a different result is insanity.

                    • HornOrSilk

                      “The poor hate the rich….”

                      Let’s start there. Do some poor hate the rich and have greed? Certainly. However, not all poor do, not all poor “hate the rich” just because the rich are rich. Did St Lazarus hate the rich man? Yet, the rich man, seeing Lazarus, found all kinds of excuses, and probably said, “I bet he hates me, why should I help him?”

                      Second, you keep calling government work for justice, “handouts” (except when you like government work for your justice, such as putting people in jail; yet it is the same “handout” – justice). When the corporate world and those within it create a system in which the poor are incapable of getting jobs and the rich keep getting rich and taking it all so the poor increase and the needs of the many become greater, not for any just reason, but out of avarice, justice demands stepping in and “giving hand outs.” This is about livelihood and the dignity of the human person, which you keep ignoring, with your continued equivocation of justice with charity.

                      The rich feel justified because they just don’t give. When there was no regulation, it was worse, not better, this idea of the “charitable businessman stopped by government” is nonsense and just another form of sin trying to place the blame on someone else for its structure.

                      What’s been failing for years is that people like you keep trying to stop proper reordering of society because “the rich will suffer.” Sorry not buying it.

                    • ladycygnus

                      Have you ever received “justice” in the form of a handout from the government? I have and to speak of “human dignity” in the same breath as that kind of “justice” is evil.

                      You keep failing to see what I’m saying. I’m not saying the “rich will suffer” but human dignity in general suffers – everyone suffers. We’ve been increasing our government “redistributional justice” for years. Since the great depression the government has been in the business of correcting the imbalance of financial justice by taking money from one group and pretending to give it to another. And over that same amount of time the divide between the rich and the poor has grown exponentially.

                      Don’t you think it’s about time to stop pretending that the government gives a shit about the poor and giving them financial justice? Maybe, just maybe, your stupid theory of the government being able to financially balance the scales is just that, a stupid theory that has been proven a failure.

                      You seem to think I’m some rich person, part of the 1%. I’m not. Although I’m currently middle class, it wasn’t always that way. That
                      story was my mother, I remember only having rice for dinner for a month
                      because she decided to use the money for the rent rather than for food.

                      I don’t want the government insisting on my just wage and depriving me of a job again. I don’t want them helping me buy crap I can’t actually afford to make me “equal” with others. I certainly don’t want that soul destroying “justice” and I’ve spent years very carefully reducing my spending so that I wouldn’t be subject to it ever again. And if I ever find myself in financial difficulty I would rather die in the streets than accept that kind of government “justice” again.

                      No, you will never convince me that degrading evil I experienced as a child would be solved with more of the same thing that caused it. Sorry not buying it.

                    • Andy

                      I would love to see research that says the poor hate the rich for not caring. In working with many people in poverty over my life I had come across few who hate the rich for not caring. They hate a system that dehumanizes them, they find a society that pushes their needs to the side painful. I have yet to hear I hate the rich.

                    • falstaff77

                      “I would love to see research that says the poor hate the rich for not caring.”

                      I’ve found that this has been the case more more so outside the United States rather than in, until recently.

                      Ireland has a very different attitude to success than a lot of places, certainly than over here in the United States. In the United States, you look at the guy that lives in the mansion on the hill, and you think, you know, one day, if I work really hard, I could live in that mansion. In Ireland, people look up at the guy in the mansion on the hill and go, one day, I’m going to get that bastard. It’s a different mind-set.” – Bono, CNN interview

                    • Andy

                      I think that this is what I was getting at – thank you for sharing.

          • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

            You seem to assume that government actually supplies the justice you claim that they do. Government does not which is why so many people turn to the market. Government has no right to a double standard in its favor. If it is an inferior provider of justice, of charity, of any good or service, it should be pushed out of that field of endeavor and replaced with something better.

            Government does very little that cannot be done better by private action. Charity with love is not one of those things.

          • falstaff77

            “Government is about justice …”

            Government is about many things including justice and a will to power, the latter especially so as the size and scope of government grow. If we ignore the reality of the latter, then government loses the ability to deliver the former.

            “Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master.”- George Washington

      • http://chicagoboyz.net/ TMLutas

        It is a fallacy that we are running out of work, and one that is a basic assumption that influences opinions on a number of topics. We are conditioned to not miss goods and services which are not yet provided. Nobody was upset at the lack of smartphones in 1920.

        In the US, if you are working poor, you have to manage your hours not to earn too much, otherwise your standard of living goes down. There’s is a gulf between about 29k and 65k where if you work less and earn less, your standard of living goes up if you know how to work the system.

        To purposefully not work in order to earn more via charity can be soul destroying. Private charity tends not to do this sort of thing.

        I do not accept that government works for justice without concrete cases. It may, in some happy circumstance, not have been captured by the rich and powerful to serve their interests but it is not the way to bet. The smaller the government, the more likely that oversight will be sufficient in order to have government actually work for justice. The US long ago left that happy state of affairs behind.

  • Jonna

    Pope Francis continues to challenge us at our center, which unfortunately for most Americans is our wallets. I love it! Never a more profound time to be a Catholic.

  • Alias Clio

    I am not inclined to defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation; however, I am not certain that the solutions to this problem that are hinted at, below, are necessarily going to work. First, even those nations which provide a larger ‘safety net’ than US, nations, in which the marketplace ideology is tamer or absent altogether, are experiencing serious social upheaval at the moment. They have tended to have chronic problems of high unemployment (though this has of course grown worse since the financial scandals of 2008), drug abuse, and various other forms of human misery, although their sufferers are perhaps less likely to end up on the street.

  • Fr. Denis Lemieux

    I used to think that sex–or untrammelled sexual autonomy, anyhow–was the pre-eminent idol of North America. Thanks to Pope Francis and the visceral, violent reaction to him, I’m seeing more clearly that in fact it is money. Or perhaps it is most accurate to say that it is unfettered self-will, either by the absolute right to do whatever we like with the one thing in our pants (i.e., our wallets) or, well, the other.

    • thisismattwade

      Good stuff Father, and I think that Pope Francis is prescient to see that our worship of Mammon is the real cause of the heinous crime of abortion and other attacks on the family.
      Until we Catholics are able to truly grasp the idea of giving to God at least 10% of our income/wealth, then we are just as susceptible to this “throw away culture” as our countrymen around us.

      • peggy

        Yep. I did some stats on abortion some years ago. The dominant profile of the woman who obtained an abortion was white, over 25, and single. My view is that abortion is for upwardly mobile (or already financially profitable) white women. Now, however, abortion is increasingly accepted in non-white and lower income groups. And Barry wants to fund it through O care ton ensure all babies die where required.

        But, yes, abortion is about money, materialism, & careerism. Not just consequence-free sex.

        The true giving you cite is very important.

      • chad

        To reduce abortion to being just about money is ridiculous and shallow thinking. If you want to add it on as a contributing factor… fine. But try shoving that into the face of a post-abortive woman and you will be found merciless.

        • Andy

          Pope Francis points out that the commodification of human beings makes abortion among other evils, is permissible. It is the worship of mammon by many in this country that the pope is condemn.

        • Illinidiva

          As mentioned below, it has to do with Francis’ throwaway culture. We are turning people into trash whether the poor or unborn babies. There are two ways that this contributes to abortion. We are “throwing away” women in desperate situations. We are also creating an environment where things are worshipped and humans are devalued. People have one night stands and treat a child in the same way they treat a relationship or a couple sees a child as a designer accessory and aborts a less than perfect baby.

    • Illinidiva

      Sex and the City is beloved by women as much for the “clothing porn” as for the characters’ sex lives. I’ve pointed this out a few times but it is telling that a show called Sex and the City spends so much time discussing Jimmy Choos, Gucci purses, and designer clothes. Meaningless sex and meaningless consumption go hand and hand.

  • Pavel Chichikov

    I knew of a society which in theory was classless, but in which most workers were the low wage poor, and in which there was a small privileged class, albeit the privileges were meager compared to the privileges of the West.

    I think that’s the form human society assumes when there is surplus wealth. It’s ini the program.

    There are of course local exceptions,like religious orders.

    Too cynical?

    How many people here share a large portion of whatever surplus they have?

  • peggy

    No, everything is not fine. That said, one man gaining wealth does not prohibit another man from doing so. Unless, one is going to document “evil tricks” or something. I would say that, under feudalism, less than 1% of society controlled ALL of the property, wealth and income. In that regime, no one had ANY chance at socio-economic mobility. Today, we all have that opportunity. It makes no sense to complain about differences in income and wealth without understanding why they occur.

    When the economy is bad, as it has been, those who work for income tend to lose their jobs or make less money. Small businesses can’t make it as others whose income has dropped pull back as well. It is a ripple effect. (Economic growth and contractions happen this way.) The QE funding from the Fed has propped up the financial markets. The holding back of employment by regulatory policies (& Ocare) along with the QE funding have exacerbated the income gap in recent years.

    One objectionable thing that businesses are doing, in which the govt is complicit, is hiring legal and illegal immigrant labor, while shedding American citizens as employees. Immigrants, who’ve never experienced anything like American prosperity, are willing to work for less and are younger. A couple million Americans are no longer seeking jobs and those in the labor market, nearly 7% remain unemployed. That is a very bad trend. We should worry about this.

  • thisismattwade

    I’ll admit that I haven’t read the whole exhortation yet, but I’ve not seen this line quoted before:

    “The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged in the name of Christ to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.”

    That seems to be a typically Franciscan way of saying: “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

  • chad

    Using the last 5 years as the lens to judge economics is difficult. The world is digesting the financial crisis, and
    the world-wide creation of money by central banks has increased the wealth of
    those who know how to position their finances to accumulate more wealth. The working folks just keep trying to save in
    essentially zero interest accounts to make up for what they lost, while
    inflation eats away at those savings, inflation that is created by those same
    central banks. These central banks (and
    their partners in government) say it is to help the little guy, but the
    overwhelming primary beneficiaries are those with the resources to position themselves
    accordingly.

    For the last 3-1/2 years we’ve been preoccupied in the U.S. with obamacare. For the business-minded, this exacerbated the
    financial crisis fallout with even more uncertainty. The response has been relentless cost-cutting
    (particularly in labor) to reduce expenses and protect their profits though
    revenue may be stagnant.

    Those with conservative-leanings
    should be discomforted by the bubble cycles of the last 15 years, the lack of
    regulation that allowed the pillaging of the middle class, particularly in the
    home loans, the action of business to extract more from employees, and the
    concentration of wealth at the top.

    Those
    with liberal-leanings should be discomforted by how the actions of government
    and central banks to “fix” the economies have led to even bigger and more severe
    bubbles. While our economy might have
    been “saved” from an even deeper recession by liberal actions, the efforts of
    government and central banks have exacerbated the wealth disparity; and many (including
    me) believe the medicine has only made it all worse for the future.

  • Militaris Artifex

    A few observations In re (bold emphasis added)” theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

    Economic theories which assume that economic growth will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world, can be identified by their insistence on:

    • enforcement of the Rule of Law,

    • the liberty of all participants,

    • the recognition and enforcement of the right of ownership of private property acquired in a just way,

    • freedom of association, and,

    • freedom of exchange.

    They do NOT rely upon “encouragement” by a free market, but rather on the just operation of the aforementioned legal structures to establish fair and equitable rules under which the market is required to operate. If it is not operating under such a fair and equitable structure, it is not in any meaningful sense of the words a “free market.”

    As to the temporally and spatially universal absence of evidence that such a system of free trade has ever been demonstrated, we have only to look at the first 200 years of the colonies which became the states of our own nation to find historical evidence that contradicts such an assertion, not to mention the history of Western Europe in the century or two immediately succeeding the collapse of feudalism, including the period beginning in the early 16th century and examining the works of the late Spanish scholastics of the School of Salamanca (Dominicans Francisco de Vitoria, Domingo de Soto, Martin de Azpilcueta, Tomás de Mercado, theologians and jurists who built on the work of St. Thomas Aquinas (whose feast day this is), to reconcile Thomas teachings with the new political-economic order of their day. They were followed in the late 16th century by Jesuits from Coimbra, including Luis de Molina, Francisco Suárez and Giovanni Botero.
    Pax et bonum,
    Keith Töpfer

    • peggy

      Very good. That is the role of government in a market economy. You enumerated the conditions for the success of a market economy very well. Economists from Latin Am would cite many of these conditions of stability and freedom as lacking, and a major in the lack of “economic justice” in Latin America.

  • Illinidiva

    I don’t think that the middle class gets off because it isn’t part of the 1%. I think that the financial crisis partially occurred because they wanted to live like the “wealthy.” I have acquaintances who have designer handbags and clothes and these people don’t make any more money than I do. I know people who have new BMWs they can barely afford or bought condos at the height of the financial crisis using risky financing (rather than renting.) This spending is odd to me because when I was growing up I was taught to be frugal.

  • Ita Scripta Est

    But but Fr. Sirico says Capitalism is perfectly moral!

    • Dan C

      And the Invisible Hand of the Market is the Holy Spirit. Yes.

      • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

        Ha! In a (classically) liberal society, it is.

  • James Scott

    What the Pope is talking about here is simplicity itself. No political or economic philosophy or system is sufficient in itself. It requires participation of persons formed by Grace & who adhere to the moral law.

    It’s not a condemnation of conservatism, capitalism or even trickle down economics. It not a rah rah for big government liberalism or socialism.

    It’s an appeal for a society of persons ruled in their hearts by Christ.

    It’s as plain as a Bulgarian pin up!

    • Dan C

      I think rightly or wrongly that a pope who writes a call for a juridical body at the international level is not a “small government” conservative.

      An honest treatment of Caritas in Veritate comes up with the same.

      When Rick Garnett indicated in August that this pope and he differed politically and economically in a dramatic fashion, he honestly was treating what the pope said seriously.

      I think the “what Francis is REALLY saying” crowds do everyone a disservice by projecting what they would rather him say.

    • Elmwood

      This is pure Acton Institute bullshit, please spare us from this liberal propaganda. The Holy Father explicitly condemned “trickle down wealth” economics.

      JPII in his encyclical Centesimus Annus rejects this idea that the economy should be free of strong regulations that serve the common good:

      But if by “capitalism” is meant a system in which freedom in the economic sector is not circumscribed within a strong juridical framework which places it at the service of human freedom in its totality, and which sees it as a particular aspect of that freedom, the core of which is ethical and religious, then the reply is certainly negative.

  • Andy

    I would soon expect new screams of anguish from the mammon-set –

    http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/francis-puts-usury-mix-social-justice-concerns

  • AquinasMan

    What makes anyone think that the same government which is knee-deep with guys like Ezekiel Emanuel, Peter Singer, and others who put a price on human life based on economic productivity, is looking to freely help the economically unproductive, impoverished class? Please. The whole system is a shambles. The state’s ideal version of “moving up in the world” would be to encourage them to voluntarily take a needle while the “productive” segments carry on.

    Francis’ comments are prophetic. i.e., the poor will comprise a much greater segment of the developed world than what we even see today, due to the irreversible corruption of governments inter-coursing with the private sector across the globe. We will have to first, as individuals, circumcise our own hearts regarding the throw-away culture and being numb to the cries of the poor, because the state is not anyone’s friend, in its current form. That’s why I think it’s dangerous to just get caught up in the state vs. private aspect — Francis is speaking to you and me FIRST. Worry about how you and I respond to the poor, because the current state of affairs is going to go down in flames in various parts of the world, What replaces it might not be to our liking, so start spreading the seeds of economic justice in a true Catholic sense. That is what will ultimately shape the future.

    • Dan C

      Your absolute rejection of the State is not close to anything in Catholic Social Theory. I think this needs acknowledgement as a rejection of the foundation of much Catholic thought. I do not say I disagree with you. But you need to acknowledge how dramatically you deviate from the magisterium on this.

      I call this out because casual libertarianism like this, explicitly rejected encyclical after encyclical by the magisterium is without critique the usual position now of the Catholic conservative. It is a radical position that Scalia, Longenecket, Sirico, Gregg, Lopez et al have promoted. This position requires much more rationale reasoning than “of course this is the way it is.” Because back to the early Church, the Christian was exhorted to have a different relationship to the government than you propose. And this position of Catholic conservatives has changed since 2006. When conservatives lost political power.

      This is a novel radical approach and with no tradition in the Tradition.

      • http://www.likelierthings.com/ Jon W

        I reply only to point out that this particular position of Catholic conservatives hasn’t really changed in the last 10 years. American Conservatives have been like this since LBJ proved that the government could pave a road to hell on earth with good intentions and Ronald Reagan and Tom Clancy proved that military might was freaking awesome. Thus, military intervention was determined a legitimate function of government and alleviating poverty an illegitimate one.

  • Mike

    http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/369710/prediction-gop-about-make-big-mistake-responding-sotu-maggie-gallagher
    At least someone gets it!

    Getting rich is fine but it’s not even like the 190th reason on the list of reasons the RCC is the body of Christ.

  • W. Louis

    Thank you for defending the Pope, Mark!


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