James of Jerusalem, Class Warrior

Come now, you rich, weep and howl for the miseries that are coming upon you. 2 Your riches have rotted and your garments are moth-eaten. 3 Your gold and silver have rusted, and their rust will be evidence against you and will eat your flesh like fire. You have laid up treasure * for the last days. 4 Behold, the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out; and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts. 5 You have lived on the earth in luxury and in pleasure; you have fattened your hearts in a day of slaughter. (James 5:1-5)

The standard ways of ignoring James are as follows:

1. That link is to a ritually impure source, so we needn’t bother with the fact that the data it relates is accurate.

2. Who even knows *what* James means by this anyway? “Rich” is such a *vague* word.

3. Something something agrarian economy of James’ day vs. super-complicated handwaving about modern economics today. Voila. Nobody got cheated out of their wages.

4. Something something development of doctrine (and ignore that simpleton Francis because the real Magisterial teaching comes from my favorite libertarian theorist).

5. Abortion and homosexuality! So shut up!

6. Any criticism of even the grossest economic equality is Nazism and no I am *not* a self-absorbed creep cocooned from all reality by my obscene wealth. Perhaps it’s time we revisited Luther’s proposal to take James out of the Bible. I think I’ll contact one of my publishing assets and see about that.

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  • Elaine S.

    Here’s someone else who insists he is not a self-absorbed creep cocooned from reality by his obscene wealth:


    “Zell also said venture capital pioneer Tom Perkins was right in claims made last month that wealthy Americans are being unfairly targeted by critics. Perkins, who drew controversy for comparing treatment of the very rich to the persecution of Jews in Nazi Germany, has apologized for that analogy, though he stood by his message about income inequality.

    “While Zell said “persecution” isn’t the right way to describe treatment of the top 1 percent of earners, he sees envy of the rich and class warfare as growing problems in America, blaming government regulations for a widening income gap.

    “The 1 percent are getting pummeled because it’s politically convenient to do so,” Zell said. People “should not talk about envy of the 1 percent, they should
    talk about emulating the 1 percent. The 1 percent work harder, the 1 percent are much bigger factors in all forms of our society.”

    For those of you just joining us, Sam Zell is a Chicago billionaire whose economic accomplishments include buying the Chicago Tribune for $8.3 million in 2007 and leaving it bankrupt and $13 million in debt 15 months later, with numerous employees losing their jobs and wiping out an Employee Stock Ownership Plan that was supposed to help finance their retirements. That obviously took some really hard work….

    • The 1 percent work harder,

      Well, some of them are extremely hard-working entrepreneurs, some of them are successful entertainers, some of them are dissolute heir(esse)s and some of them are unobjectionable heir(esse)s who don’t work especially hard, but are pretty conscientious about being significantly involved with philanthropy. In short, like most groups (including, e.g., the very poor), it’s not one to which easy generalizations apply in any very enlightening way.

      • ivan_the_mad

        Speaking of heirs, Prince Charles is a pretty decent fellow. You really only hear mention of him in the USA when ridiculed or praised for his convictions and counsel regarding anthropogenic climate change, but he’s also one of a few heads of state who legitimately gives a damn about the plight of Christians in the Middle East.

        • Yeah. I feel awfully un-Irish saying this, but Prince Charles is, in many ways, a very admirable person, not least in his religious practice and his cultural traditionalism. As for his famous sins against chastity–well, we’re all sinners, and as I said in my comment above, I’ve my own sins to attend to.

          • Stu
            • Not being an Anglican or an establishmentarian myself, I’m not especially troubled by it. It’s a bit cheesy and platitudinous (really? faith in any old thing? Scientology?), but if taken to mean something like “Defender of Freedom of Religion” (to put it in a more American vocabulary), it’s actually a pretty vital role in Charles’ increasingly Dawkins-addled, anti-theist kingdom.

              • Stu

                Oh, he means any and all faiths. Given the origin and history of the actual title, it’s silly in my opinion. Though perhaps more accurate given the COE doesn’t really stand for much anyway.
                As an aside, his brother did some flights with my squadron many years ago. Consensus was that he was a bit aloof.

            • Marthe Lépine

              I think it is still true that the monarch of England is the head of the Church of England. Viewed in this light this “Defender of Faith” makes more sense, although I find it strange when applied to Prince Charles – but my opinion on this is reflecting on his personal life and, as Irenist correctly says, his famous sins against chastity should not be the only way he can be looked at, since certainly we’re all sinners.

        • Marthe Lépine

          And I have (surprised) to read several weeks ago that one of his grandsons seems to be working very hard to support education in some African country by supporting part-time schools for kids who have to work during the days in the fields or shepherding animals. If I find that magazine again in my disastrously cluttered apartment, I might be able to give the source, but it is not on line.

          • Sigroli

            Charles has only one grandchild, Prince George, an infant of seven months.

            • Marthe Lépine

              Sorry, you are correct. Williams and his brother are really his sons, my mistake. So many things have happened in that family since Diana that I got confused.

  • Elaine S.

    Also, not to hog this comment thread, but Illinois residents might find this story interesting. It concerns huge amounts of money being donated to GOP candidate for governor Bruce Rauner, another Chicago gazillionaire, who has made getting rid of state employee pensions one of his signature issues:


    You have to drill pretty far down into the story to find this priceless quote from one of Rauner’s big donors:

    “I think of public employees as the ‘haves’ of current Illinois society
    and the ‘have-nots’ as the private-sector taxpayers. And Bruce
    represents the have-nots.”

  • Dave G.

    Call me silly, but James was always – and still is – my favorite NT text apart from the Gospels. I used to have a canned sermon built around James (in case I received a last minute call to speak somewhere and didn’t have time to work up something). It focused on discipleship with this as the background, and I used a story about inner city missions I borrowed from Tony Campolo. I used it because it never ceased to make an impact. I used to say there was such a thing as sin above the waistline, and James did a splendid job making that point.

  • Marcus

    Remember, we don’t need a minimum wage because the labor market is a free market, therefore supply & demand for good employees will naturally raise wages to their appropriate levels (eye roll). The thing about this story that has me the most pissed off is that the DOJ has a ton of evidence showing a clear conspiracy, yet instead of bringing the hammer down on these companies they settled & of course the settlement included no admission of wrongdoing by the companies.

    • thisismattwade

      Don’t forget, Marcus, that a higher minimum wage also WILL lead to higher prices for all of us, massive inflation, which will only erode the increased spending power of those who received the minimum wage increase. The science of economics says so.

      • Andy

        Economics is not a science – it is an attempt to organize data around the vagaries of human behavior – just like psychology is an attempt.

        • ivan_the_mad

          I would argue that it is a science, but more accurately a social science. It is a systematic approach to collecting and categorizing knowledge in an effort to deduce generalizations and heuristics. It certainly not a science in the sense of physics, because it is unable to produce formulaic laws of general power and purpose. This is due to the fact that economic activities are in the end moral choices and personal relationships.

          • Andy

            You said much more clearly than I did what I was trying to get at – thank you.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Of course you are correct, but we hear so much about the “law of the market”, as if it was a law of nature, that it seems to me that a large number of people have been brainwashed to believe that there is really such a law. Countless objections to any attempts to get to a more just society are based on that “law”.

            • IRVCath

              The economist can only say that such and such an action will most likely yield a particular result, and that one must find what balance one want to have, and balance priorities. The policymakers and moneymen are those who decide what to prioritise, not the economist per se. I mean, there is a strong case that the legalization of abortion may have had some positive effect short to medium term on crime rates. But of course, so would locking up every man of draft age, or sending them to fight a war overseas. But those are not exactly moral options.

              The economist tells us what will happen or what we can use to make something happen. Morality tells us whether that goal or the means to that end are worth it. And that’s what the libertarians and the social liberals have largely forgotten.

              • Andy

                Yet we read and hear many times the Pope and/or church should not talk about economics as it is beyond their competence – and the only morals they should discuss are the pelvic ones – not how we use/make money or otherwise throw people away.

            • One of my favorite Chesterton quotes is the point about economic laws and the absolute “inevitability” of certain economic outcomes: “A law of nature [including economic laws] can be recognized by resisting it, or out-manoeuvring it, or even using it against itself, as in the case of the arch.” – Chesterton, The Outline of Sanity

      • jroberts548

        Was there massive inflation under the Bush minimum wage increase?

      • thisismattwade

        So I was making a sarcastic response. I guess it fell flat…

        • Andy

          For me I apologize for gavin missed your sarcasm – I have encountered on this blog and others and in face-to-face conversations those who see economics as the absolute science – the ultimate in man’s ability to see into the future, and to plan – regardless of moral implications.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Sarcasm aside, a higher minimum wage will lead to higher purchasing power for many consumers and increased demand, thus possibly leading to new jobs. This seems to be often forgotten, so I thought it a good idea to insert it here.

    • Stu

      I have some trouble with the minimum wage issue though not in concept but in execution. There certainly is a market aspect to it that if properly harnessed will help to promote a living wage. But indeed, on the other hand man has a fallen nature and will look to exploit his workers. But a Federally mandated raise in the minimum wage will indeed cause some workers to lose their jobs. This is undeniable. If anything, the biggest proponents of a minimum wage being higher and higher is probably Big Business as they can easily absorb the cost increase while “Mom and Pop” simply have to do more with less workers.

      Bottom line is that I don’t think we have totally thought out the proper execution of this. Perhaps a starting point is that it should be a local decision by local governments.

      • Minimum wage disemployment effects are surprisingly small. Still, a boost in the EITC would increase the earning power of minimum wage workers while spreading the cost out to taxpayers generally, rather than particularly penalizing businesses that (laudably) hire the unskilled, as would a minimum wage.

        • Stu

          But I have problems with the EITC as well. Not with the concept of the desire but the fact that it is Federal answer to what should be a local issue. I really believe that many of our challenges need to be reconceptualized to get away from our “Federal First” approach to everything. In fact, I think many of our challenges would disappear if we actually applied subsidiarity.

          • I respect your view, Stu, but don’t share it in this instance. Cheers.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Yes and there is nothing more local than a union…

      • Marthe Lépine

        A strong union presence would be a good starting point, but of course unions “have been taken over by communists” (lol) Workers getting together to negotiate their own wages and given the proper tools ammunition to hold their own against the more powerful corporations, such as strikes, would seem to be the kind of decision-making organization that is the closer to the workers… (think subsidiarity) It seems nowadays that we most often hear unionized workers being criticized as maintaining “privileges” for their members that other workers no longer can aspire to, so unions are “bad” and must be eliminated. Not very logical, IMHO. The reaction should rather be: If unions are so good at maintaining “privileges”, let’s have everybody unionized. But people are being brainwashed into finding so-called “right-to-work” legislation a good thing!
        By the way, one very important contribution to the fall of the Communist regimes has been made by a union, appropriately called “Solidarity”. Just saying…

        • I come from a hard-working, lower-middle class, somewhat educated, conservative Protestant family, fairly poor by US standards, and my family has a really, really negative image of unions. My father has refused his whole life to work for a union shop (he’s a truck driver) because of some experiences when he was a young man in which (I gather) he was forced to strike for what he considered frivolous reasons. (There may be more to it than that, though.)

          Now, I don’t know whether some of my negative image was created by clever marketing by the capitalists in the US, but it seemed like the unions, while claiming to be protecting the workers, were undermining their moral authority by either,

          (1) pursuing their own power, per se, without reference to the common good, or
          (2) pursuing the privileges of their workers without reference to the common good.

          I do not in any way wish to defend an ownership class made up primarily of disengaged stockholders who pursue profit without reference to the common good, but is it true, as my family tends to think, that we’re trying to fight fire with fire?

          The dominant images I had of union guys growing up was either bullet-headed thugs, or else guys who didn’t care about what was right doing a half-assed job with impunity, or else the type of people who went through the school building at 3pm, shutting off lights so that people would be forced to go home and no teacher would be able (“forced”) to stay after school helping his or her students (a supposedly true story: heard 2nd-hand).

          Honestly, my whole life I never envied or even really noticed the existence of a rich, capitalist class. Hypothetically, they existed, of course, but only in movies, books, and the Wall Street Journal. The “haves” in my town were the guys with union jobs, who got all kinds of perqs and acted (so we tended to think) like assholes. The “have-nots” were all the guys (like my father) who worked twice as hard for half the pay. It was always clear to us where the real virtue lay.

          How off-base is this? Is this purely a matter of being manipulated by the powers-that-be in the US, or does my family’s viewpoint have any validity?

          • Marthe Lépine

            I think that you have a good image there: Non-unionized people like your father worked twice as hard for half the pay. The idea of a union is that, working together, workers would be able to stand up to the more powerful businesses for which they worked,while if each one of them had to talk to their bosses individually, of course the power was held by the bosses. The so-called “perks” that unionized workers were in fact the result of hard work at negotiating salaries and working conditions. Already when Leo XIII wrote his encyclical Rerum Novarum at the end of the 19th century, the Church recognized that the workers had a right to get together to work for a better work situation. Of course,in the US, it happened that business people did not like the idea of their workers getting together to negotiate better wages and working conditions.

            • I totally get that. And that’s the very good side of unions. Nevertheless, I’m still wondering where my family’s negative image came from and how legitimate it is. My family has absolutely no personal loyalty or connection to any high-level business people, capitalists, owners, etc.

              • Marthe Lépine

                My background is very different from yours, since I grew up in the (then) very Catholic province of Quebec where, at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, following the publication of Leo XIII’s Rerum Novarum, Catholic bishops in the province took an active part in promoting and supporting unions. And let me make a few guesses at where your family’s negative image came from. Obviously, there were a number of people with a vested interest in preventing workers from getting together to negotiate better wages and working conditions, such as your father’s employer. Depending on those businessmen’s contacts, it would not have been very difficult to create a climate in your town where the “haves” were deemed to be the unionized workers, instead of the owners of the non-unionized businesses who had everything to gain from their workers remaining content with their lot. Who owned the local newspapers, for example? Who were the biggest financial supporters of the church? What were the Protestant denominations in your town and what were their philosophies? I remember many years ago reading a novel set in the times when slavery was legal in Southern US, and every time there was a special celebration to which the slaves were invited to participate, the favorite reading at the time of prayer, chosen of course by the slave owners and/or their pastors, was the part in one of Paul’s epistles where he enjoins slaves to respect and obey their owners. If you spend even a little time thinking about the questions I am asking (I don’t need you to send me the answers, by the way) and asking some of your own, you will probably be able to deduct the proper answers. And please don’t forget, in fact never forget, that the right of workers to get together to obtain better wages and working conditions is an important aspect of Catholic social teaching, that was already part of the very first encyclical dealing specifically with that subject, written by LeoXIII in 1891 or 1893 (I am not absolutely sure, but it is definitely one of these 2 years). And if you are interested, I would be delighted to share more information about unions, since my family, particularly my father, as well as one of his uncles (who unfortunately had died the year I was born) who had been the first blue-collar member elected (in 1886) to the Canadian House of Commons.

                • Elaine S.

                  “it would not have been very difficult to create a climate in your town where the ‘haves’ were deemed to be the unionized workers, instead of the owners of the non-unionized businesses”

                  As a matter of fact, Bruce Rauner, the IL governor candidate I mentioned elsewhere in this thread, is making this very theme a cornerstone of his campaign — painting state workers (95% of whom are unionized) and their unions as the source of all corruption in state government, while convieniently omitting any mention of the role played by wealthy businessmen and big political donors like himself, who earn many times more than even the highest-paid state employees could ever hope to.

                  Unions, like any human institution, can become corrupt, arrogant and too big for their britches once they become established. I have some pretty serious issues with the unquestioned embrace of liberal Democratic politics (which include abortion on demand and now, gay civil marriage as part of the “package”) that Big Labor has made in the United States. And, there have been times when they have made shortsighted and unrealistic demands of management. The solution, however, is not to go off the deep end in the other direction and insist that unions are all intrinsically evil and that Big Business can do no wrong. That is just as much a mistake as insisting that labor is always right and management is always wrong.

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    You are correct in stating that some unions can become, over time, corrupt or arrogant. The saying “power corrupts” applies to all human institutions. In order to reduce the risk of bad apples taking control, all the members need to keep “on their toes” and know what is going on. For example attending union meetings and voting is very important, but maybe too many people are content with benefiting from the advantages and to let others lead. On another note, though, it seems to me that the issue of abortion, which is almost always raised when discussing various aspects of economics and politics, seems to me to be increasingly used to prevent action, even when it is very badly needed. In fact, as an outside observer, it seems to me that your country is getting almost paralyzed in its economy and its politics by this emphasis on abortion (and ssm). Unfortunately, with that attitude, the risk is that no Christian will want to get significantly involved in any social action, instead of being present and bringing “salt and light” (see today’s Gospel – Feb. 9).

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    The phone rang and I had to finish my comment earlier than I wanted. I would like to add a question: Why would it be so difficult for various groups of Catholics to work together on what they have in common and agree to disagree on other things, even if they are non-negotiable. That in fact could be a better way to get the Christian message across about abortion. “Let your light shine” and all that. It is of course extremely regrettable that abortion is so widely accepted nowadays, but it is a fact in our society. To just claim that we cannot work with this or that group on what they do correctly because they accept the killing of babies seems to me to often be self-defeatting. IMHO one can remain firm about essential issues without totally rejecting the people who hold different opinions. As well, I would think that regular contacts through working side by side on some positive issues could help bring people to an understanding of our positions. But of course I live in a different country… It is only my opinion.

        • The Deuce


          Thus it is refuted.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Is that the only argument you have to refute what I have said? I come from a solid union background and a solid Catholic family that also had a solid union background, so I might know a little more than you about this matter.

            • The Deuce

              Anybody who isn’t deliberately blind can easily see what 90% of unions stand for nowadays, what kind of causes they support, and where they send their money. “lol” hardly changes that observable reality. You presented no argument, and hence need no refutation. You simply tried to laugh off reality, so all I have to do is point out that it’s still there.

              • Marthe Lépine

                Ii guess reality in my country is different from what it is in yours. “Anybody who isn’t deliberately blind” – In reality I think that you are blinded by your prejudices. Maybe large union confederations leave to be desired, but local unions are still a very desirable thing to have, as is being taught by the Church since the end of the 19th Century. And on an individual business level, and, yes, the public sector (of which my father before me, and myself, have considerable experience here in Canada), they are a necessary tool for justice. Of course there seems to be a governance problem at the highest echelons of large confederations of unions but that does not mean that none of their work has any value. In fact, it is obvious to anyone who is not deliberately blind that workers are being taken advantage of and mistreated in your country, among others. Fighting unions has the effect of taking away any power that workers could have in standing together to work towards better wages and working conditions. At the extreme, you can see what can happen in countries such as Bangladesh, where workers are desperate for a livelihood. Do you think that the same thing is not going to happen in the US, if workers continue to be left unprotected and, even more serious, unable to work together to protect themselves? Then you are part of the problem.

    • jroberts548

      You can actually have a robust safety net and no minimum wage. Germany, for instance, has no minimum wage, yet otherwise has strong worker protections and a robust safety net.

      In principle, a government defined minimum wage should be unnecessary.

    • The Deuce

      Remember, we don’t need a minimum wage because the labor market is a
      free market, therefore supply & demand for good employees will
      naturally raise wages to their appropriate levels (eye roll).

      You think these Silicon Valley engineers were only making minimum wage? The only way a higher minimum wage would’ve possibly “helped” them is if you’re advocating a minimum wage of $100,000/yr or so.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Is that a justification for artificially limiting wage increases? Only the poor deserve justice? And once they are no longer poor, they can be defrauded of their just wages just because others do not earn as much as them? The problem is that if you allow unjust practices at one level, they will tend to spread (a little like allowing “some” abortions in critical cases opens the door to finding reasons to justify all abortions). I would suggest that a comment I made to Irenist above would equally apply here: Because a lot of people are poor (for example in Sub-Saharan Africa) is not a reason to neglect injustices done to people who earn good wages. Unless the ultimate goal is to make everybody as poor as the Africans…

  • jroberts548

    Clearly, St. James was a Cultural Marxist.

    • Balin

      Clearly, St James was unaware of the Church’s preferential option for the poor capitalist.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    Listening to the GOP and Libertarians, I’m convinced the “the Market” (you can always hear the capital M in their speech) is simply the modern appellation of “Mammon.”

  • This passage is a valuable corrective to the worship of Mammon (and Mammon’s successful votaries) in our society.

    However, considering how obscenely wealthy I am personally compared to the average person in, say, sub-Saharan Africa, I should probably focus on how this condemnation applies to me.

    • Marthe Lépine

      You know, as I read your comment, the thought occurred to me: Yes, you are correct, most of us (writing comments here) are very rich compared to people in sub-Saharan Africa. However, I have seen such comments as yours so often during the last few years I became interested in the Catholic blogosphere, that I am beginning to wonder if they are not just a way to deflect the criticism against the injustices in our own society. “Charity begins at home”, etc. and solidarity. Should solidarity with the people in sub-Saharan Africa really prevent us from showing solidarity to workers in our Western countries? Maybe some of us who are truly convinced that we have it so good compared to the poorest people in the world could in fact have been manipulated, while our “elites” are continuing to act as they want. Should the aim be to get everybody in the world as poor as sub-Saharan people, or to work for a more just society everywhere? I may be wrong, but I get the impression that some improvements in the way business is done in our comparatively richer countries might even have some effect on the living conditions in some developing countries, since it might well curb some of the abuses done by corporations in developing countries.

      • Balin

        Maybe Catholics can take some time away from whitewashing Capitalism or trying to fix Capitalism and promote Distributivism. A fixed Capitalism would no longer be Capitalism. It is designed to exploit workers. Distributivism is an alternative to an economic system designed to exploit everything and everybody except the Capitalist. And it’s Catholic.

        And as a practical example maybe Catholics could spare a moment or two to promote Mondragon Cooperative Corporation. Anarchists and Anarcho-Syndicalists the world over can’t say enough good things about them and Catholics seemed determined to ignore it. It was founded by a Catholic priest and yet it’s been the poster child for Anarchism and not Catholicism.

        Maybe people who accept Capitalism should feel guilty. Tolerate it as long as necessary but never accept it and never feel guilty. Distributivists of the world unite. You have nothing lose but your guilt.

      • Those are really great points, Marthe!

    • Mike

      Exactly. Maybe we should take the log out of our own eyes before pointing them out in other’s.

  • KM

    Your link to the Mother Jones article reinforces my view that our new Silicon Valley libertarian tech elitist overlords seem to be a pretty unprincipled bunch, right up there with the Wall Street crowd. This is what happens when society abandons Christian principles. Society becomes more cruel and unjust. Recently one or two tech startup guys publicly twittered their contempt for the homeless who live on San Francisco’s streets (which earned them public outrage). Some have suggested libertarian floating islands for the tech sector, and splitting up California into six states so that they can live in Freedom ™ from government regulations, taxes, and the disgusting smell of us hoi polloi losers/moochers/takers. While screeching about Freedom (which really means freedom to chase Mammon without any societal or moral obligations), they work with the NSA to undermine our civil liberties while pretending that they are forced into this cozy arrangement.

    What’s really sad are the people who are defending or ignoring this, as Mark points out in his post. I wonder if part of the problem is that many Christians have subconsciously adopted Prosperity Theology.

    • Dan C

      Christians most likely to be into things like Catholic Identity matters, piety, etc have been more likely to be apologists for wealth and greed and unregulated capitalism. (And it is only because of labor and trust regulations that this sort of behavior vilified in Mother Jones is brought to court.). Mother Jones is more likely to cover this matter than say…First Things or NRO, reputed to be Christian friendly.

      Trouble is, Christian conservatives have been opposing the sort of laws and regulations that would prevent this type of fraud.

      Your comment about a more Christianizwd culture sits poorly with me, since libertarians are uncritically embraced by those folks who are considered the great Christian thinkers of the age: Robert George, Rick Garnett, George Weigel, Michael Novak.

      • KM

        Good point in your last sentence. I struggled with how to say a more moral, just society, so I just chose “Christian.” I realize that the term Christian has been so polluted now that it means the status quo.

  • KM

    There’s more about this topic (free market fraud) at The Guardian. So much for the myth of the 1% working harder than the rest of us.

    “Silicon Valley billionaires believe in the free market, as long as they benefit.
    Google, Apple and other tech firms likely colluded to keep their workers’ wages down. So much for that libertarian worldview

    “…It shouldn’t be surprising that the Silicon Valley billionaires really aren’t libertarians. After all, much of their fortunes rest on patents and copyrights, both of which are government-granted monopolies:the opposite of a free market.

    “But for some reason, seeing the tech whiz-kids forming a cartel to keep down their workers’ wages seems an even more direct violation of any belief in libertarian principles. This is the same sort of cartel behavior that we associate with the cigar-chomping robber barons of the late 19th century. It turns out that the biggest difference between the tech billionaires of the Internet Age and the high rollers of the railroad age is the cigars.”


    • Dan C

      Libertarianism is stymied here: the regulation-hater libertarian- like the ones who weepily decry the burden of laws guarding against things like this, fights against laws that would allow prosecution of this case. (Or they pretend they do not hear this.). The free market libertarians are appalled but somewhat unsure why the Feds have to get involved- why don’t these engineers just go out to a different company or make their own.

      Libertarianism never sees such a court battle for an individual or group as something positive.

    • Alma Peregrina

      I’m completely against libertarianism… but I don’t think that patents and copyrights are the opposite of a free market. Patents and copyrights are intelectual property and property is a sacred value to libertarians.

      On the other criticisms, I fully agree.

  • Dan C

    Some of these grand capitalist successes (like yesterday’s topic: Kevin O’Leary) are no better than con artists, making money off garbage.

    Yet, they feel “hurt” by all this mean talk.

  • Elmwood

    just got back from an exhibit on the giant plastic gyres in our oceans and on the amount of plastic waste modern society produces which in no small part ends up in our oceans.

    as if we have no other alternatives to styrofoam and plastic bottles and bags. walking out i noticed ConocoPhillips, a major producer of petrochemicals, had their name on some other exhibit. a company who makes billions while also creating products responsible for trashing our climate and our seas. these same companies receive trillions in subsidies to extract and process fossil fuels, which only make these problem worse.

    the “culture of waste” our Holy Father has spoken about couldn’t be more apparent than seeing dead birds on Midway Island from plastic consumption or steller sea lions choked to death from our trash. then i read about the massive amount of natural gas flaring in North Dakota, wasting millions worth of non renewable resources while the poor in the same state living on reservations can’t afford propane for heat and are literally freezing to death.

    it’s enough to make you depressed and really despise the mindset of this gospel of prosperity and libertine capitalism so often promoted by so called conservatives and liberals alike.

  • HornOrSilk

    I found this interesting… and guess it is good here as elsewhere (not sure if the longer video it is promoting is good, but still, this is a good representation of what is going on): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Npj2U1PdIhI

    • Marthe Lépine

      If this person’s predictions get confirmed, there will be a huge problem, at least in your country. Yes, some totally discouraged people will “curl up” and give up, taking whatever will be doled out to them. Some certainly will, but others might eventually get angry. In such a state they would be vulnerable to be manipulated by people with less than good intentions (one reason unions have such a bad reputation in some circles), and in your gun-worshipping country, things could begin to happen that will certainly not improve matters…

      • HornOrSilk

        Yes things are not going to end well, if things continue as they go. I fully agree. However, we must remember, even with weaponry, the rich have unique things which will make the guns the normal people tote look very, very primitive. They won’t be able to use them, but they will feel the effects of trying to use them.

        Of course, there is time to change this now. I pray for the future.

  • The Deuce

    So why, exactly, are people under the impression that the limousine liberal CEOs who populate the mansions of Silicon Valley are “libertarians”?

    • KM

      You’re right that not all are libertarian, but most younger tech entrepreneurs are libertarian and describe themselves that way. Some of the most well-known wealthiest tech CEO’s (noted below) are libertarian. Here’s more background on The Political Leanings of Silicon Valley:


      “…Hardcore libertarianism has been making inroads among a younger set of
      tech entrepreneurs, who see its goals of limited government as being
      compatible with their general hatred of innovation-stifling regulation.
      And as more and more tech founders become phenomenally wealthy, many are
      naturally drawn to the right-wing political ideologies that help them
      preserve more of that wealth.”

      Peter Thiel: Thiel, who works with Parker at the Founders Fund, is the libertarian godfather of Silicon Valley.

      Jeff Bezos: Amazon’s founder has never talked publicly about his political beliefs, but his friends described him as a libertarian in a March 2012 profile.

      • The Deuce

        I mean, do you have anything substantial, other than a couple anecdotes? We know that the CEOs of Microsoft, Google, and Facebook are all very liberal. We can look at how Silicon Valley votes, and what politicians they send their money too, and “libertarian” ain’t exactly it.

        Bezos’ “libertarianism” is pretty questionable. Thiel is the only one who really appears to subscribe to the philosophy of the two you named: http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2013/08/05/jeff_bezos_inscrutable_libertarian_democrat.html

        And the question isn’t whether there exist libertarians in Silicon Valley. Of course there are some, just like there are some anywhere. The question is whether the CEOs engaged in the price-fixing of wages are libertarians. That can’t be assumed just cause they’re rich like so many here are doing, especially in an ultra-liberal area like Silicon Valley.

        I see commentator after commentator in this thread going “so much for libertarianism” and so forth, when in fact this is probably an example of rich liberal hypocrisy.

        • KM

          Just do the research and you’ll find out for yourself. The libertarian ethos is part of tech. But aside from that, many of the tech CEO’s give to both parties — Republican and Democratic (as noted in the articles) — so they’re trying to maximize their influence. And Peter Thiel isn’t small potatoes — he’s a major influence on the tech industry with his connections and money.

          No one is trying to say that the price-fixing CEO’s are libertarians, just that the philosophy of libertarianism in tech contributes to the acceptance of gross economic/political inequality. It’s not just a problem brought on by everyone’s favorite bogeyman, the “damn libruls.”

    • KM

      Adding to my comment below, the new set of tech entrepreneurs are what are called Randroids (Ayn Rand worshippers). The Ayn Rand philosophy that says “greed is good; altruism is evil; the rich are being exploited by the poor; and there should be no social services” has become more obvious recently in Silcon Valley. The article below discusses this trend. (Warning: bad language.)


    • Dan C

      My concern is with the large number of Catholics claiming such. It is pretty clear that Rerum Novarum and CST shout down liberatrianism.

  • Marthe Lépine

    I do not know if all the readings are the same at masses in Canada and the US, but here the 1st reading today (Feb. 9) seems to relate to this thread.