Pope Francis says world economic system inevitably leads to war

We are in a world economic system that is not good,” Pope Francis said. “A system that in order to survive must make war, as great empires have always done. But since you cannot have a Third World War, you have regional wars. And what does this mean? That arms are made and sold..”

Will no one rid us of this troublesome economic ignoramus?  Ordination is not an economics degree! This old fool has no idea what talking abou….

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  • Marthe Lépine

    However, in my opinion, holding to this idea of economic growth is itself a mirage: The earth itself is not going to get bigger… It does have enough resources to feed its population, but maybe not enough to feed the greed of some rich nations… I wonder if the authors of all those books about the supposed economic benefits of war do feel free to write in this way because the US themselves have never been dealt the consequences of a World War. It is easy to claim economic benefits, if wars are taking place on other continents – I wonder how things would look if a similar bomb as that in Hiroshima had hit New York? There is a limit to making money from the death and suffering of other populations… It’s time to divert those enormous resources devoted to weapons towards food for everyone, as a bare minimum.

    • MarylandBill

      Actually, I think I would argue that America did face consequences similar to a World War with the Civil War, the problem though is that the devastation was largely limited to the South.

    • S. Murphy

      None of the books referenced in the article are by Americans. Or, even if Ian Morris decided to become a citizen, he grew up in the UK; the second author is a Brit MP, and the third one mentioned, that the columnist says they’re both in debt to, is an Israeli. So it’s not quite a group of young, clueless, American smart alecks chortling into their beer at the frat house, ‘war is cool, heheh.’

    • We have hit peak whale oil a long time ago. It does not inconvenience us as peak oil will not inconvenience us because there were, and are, alternate energy sources that provide a practical price ceiling where goods substitution takes place and technical improvements in the newly popular substitute good have often made it ultimately better than the original resource that was exhausted or hunted down to economic irrelevance.

      We are currently in an age where we are breaking the economic bonds of earth, where there is a big hunt for cheap lift and the extension of our economy beyond the resources of earth is a practical discussion, one for investors who want a profit, not just dreamers spinning a story of what might be someday. In such a world, it is no longer prudent for planning purposes to limit economic discussion to the earth.

      The production of food is not a problem. The distribution network filled with borders, transit approvals, and corrupt officials who seek money to let the food pass is a problem. The other corrupt officials who impoverish people so that they cannot afford to buy food is a problem.

      The arab spring was significantly driven by higher food prices as the surplus agricultural production of the US and Europe was significantly redirected by political fiat towards conversion to fuel. This would not be a problem if African agriculture was not so badly managed by African political institutions. They could simply grow their own. But that is not the world we live in.

      • MarylandBill

        There is no strong suggestion that we have hit peak oil. Granted we are expected to hit peak production between now and 2030,,, but then again in the 1970s they were suggesting that peak oil would happen by 2000.

        As for leaving the economic bonds of the earth, the bonds of gravity are far stronger. Yes, companies like SpaceX might reduce the price of obtaining orbit, but we are decades away (at the minimum) of being able to seriously tap the natural resources of the solar system (with the possible exception of Solar Power satellites, but even they are probably at least a decade away from any sort of large scale deployment.

        • I was being charitable on peak oil. I think you’re correct on the facts on timing. My statement’s value on the subject does not depend on timing.

          There are two mining companies being formed now, Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries that would directly be on point. Arguably beyond earth economics started with the satellite age in the 1950s. It all depends on how many zeros in the dollar figure constitute “large scale deployment”. A single sat launch and the profits thereof would possibly qualify in some of the readership’s eyes. I think it’s fair to say nobody has a universal lock on the definition of large.

    • falstaff77

      ” the US themselves have never been dealt the consequences of a World War.”

      Common refrain which forgets the US civil war. Deaths were 640,000 at least, the equivalent of 6.2 million in today’s US. A fifth of all Southern men 20-24 in 1860 killed. Many small towns removed from the map, permanently; Atlanta, Richmond, others burned to the ground.

      • Marthe Lépine

        The a-bomb did not exist at the time of the US civil war. And since I am not living in the US, and my country has been actually providing shelter to many of the people who were then slaves, I had forgotten about your civil war. What I actually meant to say in my previous comment was that the US had not been hit by 20th-century type bombings, such as Hiroshima. Maybe it is easier to talk about air strikes on other countries when few civilians in North-America have had an opportunity to experience such bombings from the perspective of the bombed…

  • kirthigdon

    There is some room for hope here. War is a lot less profitable over-all than it used to be. Unhappily the US has a huge military-industrial complex which profits from war, which goes a long way toward explaining why “do something about it” in the US pretty much means “start bombing and killing people”. But war is not the default option for the rest of the world and the US economy is gradually losing ground relative to the rest of the world even as its military-industrial complex prospers. A lot of the wiser members of the oligarchy realize this, which at least partially explains Obama’s reluctance to go to all out war. In the post-WWII era, armed violence has been drastically lower than in the first half of the 20th Century. Let’s continue to pray and work for peace; we’re already seeing results. Soviet Communism was overthrown without a major war.

    Kirt Higdon

    • Eve Fisher

      Just a note: war is a lot less profitable for COUNTRIES than it used to be. But it is still hugely profitable for CORPRATIONS – otherwise Blackwater wouldn’t still be paying its employees mega-bucks to do whatever they’re doing in Iraq. I agree, pray for peace – but recognize who’s really drumming for war.

      • Ye Olde Statistician

        That’s like saying crime is profitable for police, and so cops agitate for more crime to fight.

        • Eve Fisher

          ??? I never thought of corporations as the police…

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Universities, cities, unions, there are all sorts of incorporated bodies. But an analogy is not a claim that two things are equivalent, but that a relationship is instructively similar. No one seems to grasp analogies today. The armchair theorist speculates that a body organized to address X somehow has a vested interest in fomenting X. It sounds like it could be true, but lacks empirical evidence that it actually is true.

            Do you really feel that Blackwater is paying its employees megabucks? They provide “security guard services, security services, body guard services, protection services, private investigations, security monitoring systems on-site or remote, and cctv.” In short, they are rent-a-cops and “private eyes.”

            • Eve Fisher

              Yes, they are rent-a-cops and private eyes, but at extremely high rates. Megabucks are in the eye of the beholder. In the Midwest, where the average wage is around $31,000, the average $300,000 per year Blackwater salary is megabucks. (And yes, I know someone who has decided that the wage is worth the danger.) It makes the North Dakota oil-boom wages look chintzy.

              And I still say that war bankrupts countries, but adds to corporate profits. WW2 was a unique exception, where the United States, which managed not to be firebombed into the stone age during hostilities, was the only country in which corporations were able to instantly start selling all the equipment, material, etc., required for rebuilding world wide. Instant overemployment. The booming 50s. The coasting 60s. We shall not see their like again.

              • Dan F.

                just some numbers fixed: Average Midwest wage: $52,600


                Average blackwater (then Xe, now Academi) salary: $87k, according to Ask.com http://www.ask.com/question/blackwater-salary.

                • Elmwood

                  Average is generally a poor way to understand the central tendency of data because of skew, median salaries are probably better.

                  • Dave G.

                    You mean Eve since she brought average into the discussion.

                  • Eve Fisher

                    If that allows you to believe that wages are better than reported in South Dakota, more power to you. But they aren’t. Our state gov’t brags about how “business friendly” we are, with our low wages and low taxes.

                • Eve Fisher

                  Depends on your sources. According to the Washington Post, it’s $600/day for the rentacops: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/30/AR2007093001352.html

                  Average South Dakota wage: About $600 a week.

                  I compared to Midwest, specifically SD, because I live here, and I know the wages here and some people who have taken the bet with Blackwater.

                  Also, I never said that US corporations pushed for WW2 – I said it was the great anomaly. But it was the one time that the US made a profit out of war: every other time, it’s left us heavily in debt, the last two especially so.

              • Ye Olde Statistician

                $300,000/yr for a rent-a-cop seems excessive. Let them keep it up. Then they’ll go bankrupt and not bother you any more. DanF reports below that their average wage is $87,000, which seems more plausible. If it’s a mean value, it may be skewed by executive salaries, while household incomes are generally reported as medians. Besides, why compare such workers to Midwest farmers and gas pump jockeys? Why not California or Northeast? It’s like when the Kansas City Star compared AIDs deaths among priests to the general population: apples and oranges.

                But to point to US corporations as making profits in the aftermath of WW2 is like pointing to farmers outside the affected region for making profits during a famine. The contention was that idolatry of profits leads to war, not that war results in profits to survivors. It was not US corporations that pushed for WW2. (In fact, US sentiment, private and corporate was for not getting involved.)

        • silicasandra

          …and this actually happens.

        • jroberts548

          Police unions, prison guards’ unions, and private prison companies do in fact agitate for more activities to be recognized as criminal.

        • Dave G.

          Apparently you’ve not been at the Catholic blogosphere long enough to learn of the evils of law enforcement.

          • Ye Olde Statistician

            Perhaps not, but I have encountered enough rightwing nuttery about jackbooted thugs and its twin leftwing nuttery about oppressive class power relationships to have seen enough such claims of the evils of law enforcement. Most of it seems to be armchair theorizing rather than empirical.

  • Procopius

    And this economist (And Frederic Bastiat) says Tyler Cowen is wrong

    • Gary North misunderstands Cowen’s argument and Cowen’s argument is circuitous to the point of uselessness.

      Cowen’s argument is that politicians’ minds are focused by war and they start paying attention to the national interest, making sure that the big decisions are done right. Therefore war fear and war preparation are a useful spur to getting the politicians to do their jobs less poorly.

      Gary North calls this the broken windows fallacy. He misidentifies what Cown is talking about and is thus wrong.

      Cowen’s point, that in peacetime we stop paying attention and move towards stasis and only get serious about growth when war threatens is really solved by improving the peacetime standards of performance and accountability. His idea of ginning up war fears and war prep has major bad side effects and a case of “when all you have is a hammer” thinking. This too is wrong, though less wrong than North because at least he’s identifying a real problem. He’s just picking the wrong solution.

  • Peggy

    The pre-WW1 empires were not capitalist/market economies or free societies. Perhaps kings and landed aristocrats benefitted from war by gaining control over land and its resources. In the post-empire world, global peace is more amenable to economic growth than is war. War means restricted trade, national (public and private) resources dedicated to defense, not consumer goods. (And restrictive trade policies can lead to war.) It means less employment toward non-defense and non-government ends. War enriches defense industries and impoverishes the general public as the government eats up its income in taxes to fund the war. (US GDP may have grown during WW2, but the public did not enjoy many consumer goods, did they?) Yet it is true that some defense innovations are inspired in times of war and later make it to the consumer products industries.

  • ivan_the_mad
  • Taking Pope Francis at his word, he seems to be making an anti-imperial statement here. Is anybody around here actually pro-empire?

    • Tom

      I like Empire: Total War and “Empire” by Queensryche, if that’s what you’re asking.

      • No, that is not what I’m asking.

        There are economic ignoramus’ who believe that the US runs an empire. The fear is that Francis is one of them because he speaks in language that is lefty friendly and the left has had so many stealth figures that it’s something of a tick among right wingers.

        This particular statement is vague enough that it could go either way but analyzing it has a lot of assumptions embedded in there so I was just trying to tease one out.

        • Tom

          I know, I was just kidding. It’s too difficult to be serious all the time.

  • AquinasMan

    So this post want to have it both ways:

    1. Pope Francis says we wage war to support the economy
    2. NY Times says there’s so little war, the economy is hurting

    What’s not touched on, is the possibility that it’s the economic system which has made nations incredibly inter-dependent in this day and age, and thus, averse to worldwide conflict. Forget about Mutually Assured Destruction by WMD. The world is worried about Mutually Assured Destruction by cashflow. Any system will be populated with elements that seek self enrichment at the expense of others. Communism is the antithesis of the free market. Does anyone think they didn’t wage war in the name of enriching the ruling class there, too?

    If we really want to look at “war” and “economy” look no further than the slaughter of millions upon millions of children for the sake of personal economy.

    • Peggy

      Ding! Ding! Ding! The global economy is averse to war and instability. Now, if a war has an economic motive, such a motive would be to attain control or stability for one’s own economy–or the stability of the gobal economy. The desire for stability is the only western interest in the middle east. The old imperial desire to rule and control is no more. Let’s produce our own energy and to heck with the middle east.

      Notice how Africa is perpetually war-torn and in economic distress? You think war is profitable there? Maybe for some individual’s motive of greed or control, but not for the benefit of any nation as a whole.

    • jroberts548

      I’m sure that clicking the link would have been hard, but if you go through you see that your objection is already made and responded to by Pope Francis: “”We are in a world economic system that is not good,” Pope Francis said. “A system that in order to survive must make war, as great empires have always done. But since you cannot have a Third World War, you have regional wars. And what does this mean? That arms are made and sold, and in this way the idolatrous economies, the great world economies that sacrifice man at the feet of the idol of money, obviously keep their balance sheets in the black.”

      And this is true. Our economic system prevents world wars, because those are bad for business. It does not prevent, for instance, America doing insane things in the near east that make no one, except Raytheon and Northrop Grumman, better off.

      • AquinasMan

        Um yeah, I read it. I don’t see any evidence that the economic system needs to survive through war. Or have you been in a cave during the five-year parade of central banks across the globe printing money and buying up fixed income securities (read: not selling guns) to keep economies afloat? The idea that arms sales are keeping economies “in the black” would be hilarious if not so misinformed.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Even more children are killed by starvation and preventable illness – about 18,000 a DAY according to some recent statistics. Of course you would like the Pope to only talk about sexual morality and about abortion – it does not affect your own wallet. I have come to believe that bringing abortion into all those discussions is the devil’s way of blocking any action on social justice. Pope Francis was right in claiming that we cannot only talk about the “pelvic issues” all the time…

  • KM

    Pope Francis briefly talks in the interview about the weapons dealers and how the love of profits is what feeds war-making. The fruits of “profits over people” are fear, hatred, division, misery, violence and death. This isn’t the first time Pope Francis has linked the arms trade to profits (economics). Just google “pope francis weapons” and you’ll see that he has talked about this subject before. The best one I’ve found is his homily from Feb. 2014 in which he says that the root of violence is in our own hearts:


    “We see war in the newspapers every day and we’re used to reading about it: the number of its victims is just part of our daily accounts. We hold events to commemorate the centenary of the Great War and everyone is scandalised by the many millions of dead.

    “But today it’s the same, Pope Francis exclaimed: instead of one great war, there are small wars everywhere. When we were children in Sunday School and we were told the story of Cain and Abel, we couldn’t accept that someone would kill their own brother. And yet today millions kill their own brothers and we’re used to it: there are entire peoples divided, killing each other over a piece of land, a racial hatred, an ambition.

    “Think of the children starving in refugee camps: these are the fruits of war. And then think of the great dining rooms, of the parties held by those who control the arms industry, who produce weapons. Compare a sick, starving child in a refugee camp with the big parties, the good life led by the masters of the arms trade.

    “And remember, the Pope added, that the wars, the hatred, the hostility aren’t products we buy at the market: they’re right here, in our hearts. The Apostle James gives us a simple piece of advice: “Draw near to God and He will draw near to you.” But the spirit of war, which draws us away from God, doesn’t just reside in distant parts of the world: the spirit of war comes from our own hearts.

    “Let us pray for peace for that peace which seems to have been reduced to a word and nothing more. Let us follow James’ advice: “Recognise your misery”.

    “Let us recognise, the Pope prayed, that misery which breeds wars within families, within neighbourhoods, everywhere. How many of us weep when we read the newspapers, when we see the dead on television? This is what Christians should do today, in the face of war: we should weep, we should mourn.”

  • Ye Olde Statistician

    So Pope Francis is a supply sider! Who knew. But he evidently believes that the supply of weapons is what causes wars, rather than say, the desire to unite the Italian States into one country, to claim the Mantuan Succession, to re-annex the Alsace, or to seize the silver mines of Sicily to finance the war with Sparta. Did Ch’in and Chu go to war because they had too many weapons lying around, and their economic systems pushed them into war?

    • KM

      If you read Pope Francis’ homilies and interviews on the subject, he’s not saying that the supply of weapons is the cause of war. The proliferation of weapons is a mere symptom. He states that the “spirit of war” and the “idolatry of profit” over people lead to violence, misery, hatreds, etc. Arms escalation is a mere symptom of this global mentality.

      He has said that we need to root out the seed of violence from our own individual hearts, then from our families, our communities, and so on. It starts small with ourselves, then works outward to the larger communities.

      • Dave G.

        Perhaps that should have been the part of the quote pasted and referenced on the post.

        • Marthe Lépine

          So you only want the “feel good” parts…

          • Dave G.

            You think the problem being a problem that starts with me is feel good? Personally I appreciate the existence of vast complexes I can focus on rather than myself. But I was actually suggesting that if the article’s focus is something else then perhaps a different selection that better reflected the focus of the article.

      • KM

        To elaborate:

        “It is a contradiction to think of Christians who hate. It is a contradiction!” Francis continued. “And the devil always tries to make us hate because he is always sowing the discord of hate; he does not know love, God is love!”

        “‘Love is the concrete sign that manifests faith in God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Love is distinctive of the Christian, as Jesus told us: ‘From this everyone will know that you are my disciples.’”

        “‘…a parish is a “reflection of the Trinity” when its parishioners “want what is best for each other and spiritual and material goods are shared.””


      • Ye Olde Statistician

        How does the desire of Hertz or Sears to make a profit lead to violence and misery? Generally, it leads to convenience and availability of desired products and services. I’ll go along with the “spirit of war” thingie as leading to war, however. Think of Europe before the Great War: way too many people strutting about in uniforms on the street. Interestingly, it was the aftermath of the Great War that saw the rise of the first great modern conspiracy theory: “the Merchants of Death.” The war was the consequence of the munitions manufacturers. This was quite evidently a way of selectively forgetting how cheering crowds of civilians — they, themselves — lined the streets as their boys marched off to the trenches.

        Nowadays, everyone has a department of defense; but we used to have war departments.

        • Pete the Greek

          It does strike me as odd, if trying to say that it’s a universal principle.

          Glock making the G-19 isn’t why we have concealed carry available more widely available now as opposed to 20 years ago.

          • Marthe Lépine

            I am not that sure – maybe it is Glock’s quest for profit that is giving rise to the marketing tricks, the attractive advertising and the public (dis)information efforts aimed at manipulating consumers into believing that they really do need a G-19 (or any other kind of firearm) for any reason, because nowadays any corporation is expected (by its shareholders…) to increase sales and profits each and every year (and even each and ever quarter of every year) in order to increase the shareholders’ wealth…

            • Pete the Greek

              Glock pretty much owns the police market with full sized service pistols. Compacts didn’t come around until the US began to open up Concealed Carry laws, not the other way.

              When was the last time you saw a commercial for Glock on TV? Or on the radio?

              Yes, God in heaven forbid people who work for a living try to make a profit. You must be a subsistence farmer, I presume?

              • Marthe Lépine

                I never watch TV – there are too many commercials wasting my time. Radio? I only listen to jazz and classical music on specialized bands. I get my news from the Internet. And of course, living in the Ottawa area in Canada, I have never heard or seen ads for guns. However, these are not the only marketing tools a corporation has, particularly since the arrival of the Internet. How else can you have the population of only one country in the world so hung up on “gun rights”? Things like word-of-mouth, life models, peer pressure, and many more are very effective and can be manipulated in order to stimulate the sales, of anything, and I am pretty sure, of firearms.

                • Pete the Greek

                  “living in the Ottawa area in Canada, I have never heard or seen ads for guns.”
                  – You don’t usually see them in the United States either, unless you are watching a specific pay cable channel. Social media outlets such as Facebook also censers anything gun related heavily in their new feed algorithm. It’s not advertising.

                  You are way over thinking it and ignoring simple facts. Americans purchase, carry and use firearms not because of ads or ‘peer pressure’, but for the same reason Canada wastes time caring about what the Prince of Wales did yesterday or what the latest royal scandal is, or why so many Koreans have such a burning hatred for the Japanese: it’s not advertising, it’s your cultural history.

                  “How else can you have the population of only one country in the world so hung up on “gun rights”?”
                  – You being Canadian explains your confusion a lot. A lot of us are also hung up on ‘freedom of speech’, religious freedom, and a bunch of other things our country happens to be founded on.

                  BTW, it’s not just one country. Switzerland is ‘hung up’ on it as well, but for slightly different cultural reasons.

        • Nordog6561

          Does “idolatry of profit” apply to people trying to make a living?

          Do individuals suffer from the “spirit of war” when they seek to add to their bank balance each payday?

          And just who is qualified to judge who does and does not have the “spirit of war” or the “idolatry of profit”? I mean, who are we to judge?

          • KM

            Interestingly Strong’s Hebrew Concordance notes that the word betsa meant “gain made by violence, unjust gain, profit.” It is also similar to covetousness. Warnings about unjust gain come up in the Old Testament frequently such as in Habukkak 2:9 among others.


            • Nordog6561


          • Marthe Lépine

            People trying to make a living – that’s fine, but members of the Mafia, for example, might make the same argument. There are good ways and bad ways of “making a living” “Idolatry of profit” arrives on the stage when the profit is being made from illegal or immoral means, such as, for example, not paying just wages, bribery, corruption, or simply putting such profit ahead of people.

            • Nordog6561

              Yes, but who is the pope to judge?

              I mean, if a sodomite’s romantic adventures are between him and God, then why aren’t people’s bank accounts similarly objects immune from moral judgment.

              Or more importantly, why are the hearts of those with substantial material holdings condemned?

              Why is the “idolatry of profit” called out but not the “idolatry of lust”?

              • Marthe Lépine

                Well, there is actually a difference between sexual acts and the unjust accumulation of money for its own sake. However, pointing out the sin is one of the Pope’s jobs. And greed happens to be a sin, so does witholding a worker’s pay (a sin that cries out to God) or accumulating substantial material holdings through not paying sufficient wages to the worker, among other things. As well, it seems to me that there are, in this day and age, already many Catholic voices calling out the “idolatry of lust” and the things that follow, such as contraception and abortion, but not enough calling out the “idolatry of profit”, As Pope Francis said, we cannot talk about the time about “lust” and neglect all other sins. For me, the “idolatry of profit” seems to mostly target the idea of making the profit first and foremost, by any means, whether moral or immoral, and that nothing else counts other than making that profit, even if it means depriving workers of a just wage, cheating consumers, depleting the resources of the earth, etc.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  Mistake: In my sentence beginning with “As Pope Francis said”, I should have written “we cannot talk ALL the time about “lust” and neglect all other sins.”

                  • Nordog6561

                    >>I should have written “we cannot talk ALL the time about “lust” and neglect all other sins.”<<

                    Another false dichotomy.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Really? Please explain…

                    • Nordog6561

                      Which part did you not understand?

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      I cannot understand why you qualify as “dichotomy” my mentioning two areas of teaching among others. Pope Francis himself said (maybe not in those exact words) that we cannot talk about abortion, contraception and euthanasia all the time. So I started from that idea. And there are definitely other categories of sins. I cannot see any opposition when I am writing about talking all the time about only one aspect of human’s ability to sin to the exclusion of most others, including economic sins.

                    • Nordog6561

                      >>”we cannot talk ALL the time about “lust” and neglect all other sins.”<<

                      That is a false dichotomy.

                      We can talk about sins of lust AND other sins.

                      I know of many problems in the Church, but people talking all the time about lust and neglecting other sins is NOT one of them.

                      Your straw man just caught a red herring.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Of course we can talk about sins of lust AND other sins. But Pope Francis apparently wanted to point out that there was too much talk about the sins of lust and maybe not enough about what Mark calls “the other sacred thing in our pants – the wallet”, and that the idea I wanted to pursue. It does not exclude talking about more than one thing at various times. But in my opinion if we talk about one thing ALL the time it does not leave much time for other things…

                    • Nordog6561

                      >>Of course we can talk about sins of lust AND other sins. <<

                      You're the one presenting the false dichotomy, the straw man, the red herring, all rolled into one.

                • Nordog6561

                  Yes, but who are you to judge?

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    When it comes to matters of profit and economics – I am an economist too.
                    And all of us are called to judge the “actions” as being sins or not, and allowed to discuss the “idolatry of profit” just as much as the “idolatry of lust”. We are not to judge the actual people that we see committing the sins, because only God knows what is in people’s heart, such as the various reasons that have brought the sinner to his or her sin, the degree of culpability, etc. But we are certainly called to point out the immorality of profit for its own sake as the one and only thing being pursued by corporations to the exclusion of everything else, for example.

                    • Nordog6561

                      >>But we are certainly called to point out the immorality of profit for its own sake as the one and only thing being pursued by corporations to the exclusion of everything else, for example.<<

                      This is where you stumble. Corporations are merely groups of individual people. To say the corporation is sinful is to say the corporate board is sinful, which is to say that the individual board members are sinful.

                      Then there's the problem that this system under attack with charges of "idolatry of profit" is the system that has raised more people out of poverty than any other. It IS the very thing that helps the poor more than any other.

                      The fact is that we all require profit, with is simply the right to own the fruits of our labor. To attack the only system that allows for that right with phrases such as "idolatry", and to lay at its feet the very seed of wars, is pernicious and a falsehood.

                      In the weeks leading up to the Feast of Corpus Christi the pope decided to lecture that the Mafia is sinful, and talk about how the world's economic system is based on war. What a missed opportunity to teach on the Eucharist.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Well, I supposed that the Holy Spirit inspired the Pope to talk about some very serious sins instead of about the Eucharist. Most parish priests can teach about the Eucharist… Of course, the Pope teaching about the Eucharist would not make so many waves and worry so many people…
                      And your argument about corporations being groups of people, therefore cannot sin on their own… It is a good way to hide the truth that corporations are run by human beings with various levels of power, either on their subordinates, or on other people. Someone is making decisions, and all economic decisions have a moral dimensions, in the same way as all other human decisions do. And as far as the necessity of a profit, of course a profit is necessary. However, always placing profit before people, and maximizing profits at all costs in order to make the shareholders richer, looking at the shareholders as the only people with a legitimate right to such profits, is what I understand as the “idolatry of profits”. It is obvious that in a large number of cases, nowadays, it should be possible to sacrifice a certain level of profit in order to run a business in a moral way. And just claiming that corporations are not people, therefore they cannot sin, therefore the Pope has nothing to say about it, is clearly a… cop-out”

        • KM

          It’s the idolatry of money not money itself that leads to problems, because idolatry is a sin. Profits aren’t wrong as long as they are just and are not due to paying someone else an unjust wage, for example.

      • Nordog6561

        >>He states that the “spirit of war” and the “idolatry of profit” over people lead to violence, misery, hatreds, etc. <<

        Then how to account for Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Pol Pot, et alia

        Presumably they did not lead systems of "idolatry of profit" yet they all demonstrated a propensity for violence, misery, hatreds, etc.

        My take on fallen human nature is that no tweaking of any economic system is going to get rid of war.

        • KM

          Hatred is the core problem in the human heart, which Pope Francis reminds us of. Hatred removes God from the heart, and so does idolatry. “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love
          the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You
          cannot serve God and wealth.” Matthew 6:24

          The remedy for Christians is to root out hate from the heart by drawing closer to God. “By this the children of God and the children of the devil are obvious: anyone who does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor the one who does not love his brother.” 1 John 3:10

          • Nordog6561

            I’m not so sure hatred is “the core problem of the human heart”.

            It is certainly a great problem, but the Original Sin did not spring from hatred so much as it did from pride. And I think any discussion of the “core problem in the human heart” needs to account for that.

            • chezami

              Catholics are a both/and people. Pride, as C.S. Lewis points, out *is* enmity: enmity toward God and neighbor and all that is not the Self. Indeed, it is even enmity toward the self insofar as the self is recognized to be the gift of a good God and therefore resented and hated as such.

              • Nordog6561

                Sounds about right, though I don’t know that I would reduce pride/enmity to synonyms, or a tautology.

                POST SCRIPT:
                I’m a big Lewis fan. Can you point me to where he writes about pride and enmity? Thanks.

                • KM

                  I hope Mark doesn’t mind if I send you the link and quote below:

                  The Great Sin, C.S. Lewis, from “Mere Christianity”
                  (See page one, paragraph five.)

                  “But Pride always means enmity – it is enmity. And not only enmity between man and man, but enmity to God.”


                  • KM

                    That link comes from a mormon site — I chose it because the text is in a easy-to-read pdf format.

  • Elmwood

    Americanism preaches that the USA is “exceptional” and has been deigned by God to lead the world to a trickle-down, supply side economic utopia through military might.

    We spend as much as the top 9 defense spending nations combined on national defense! Besides being stupid, the church asks all nations to reduce excessive military spending.

    Hence justice, right reason, and the recognition of man’s dignity cry out insistently for a cessation to the arms race. The stock-piles of armaments which have been built up in various countries must be reduced all round and simultaneously by the parties concerned


    Spending enormous sums to produce ever new types of weapons impedes efforts to aid needy populations; it thwarts the development of peoples. Over-armament multiplies reasons for conflict and increases the danger of escalation.

    Catechism of the Catholic Church

    • Peggy

      I have to say I’ve never understood the idea of “exceptionalism” to mean what you say–however cynical you are. I have understood that idea to refer to the unique foundational principles of our nation and that our nation was founded on principles, not race, ethnicity, or religious identity. The unique principles were about the freedom of man to make his own way, own property, pursue happiness, free speech, etc, and not be a subject of a monarch. Further, that the government is not granted power by God, but by the people, whose inalienable rights come from God and should not be taken by the government. The idea of a people governing themselves democratically was unique and indeed exceptional. Freedom is the exception in the world, especially at the time of our nation’s founding.

      • Elmwood

        i have always understood “exceptionalism” to be the retarded sibling of the equally retarded american notion of manifest destiny–which was used to justify the unjust wars with Mexico
        and maybe even Spain.

        what’s interesting is that the wikipedia article on it mentions the role of Manifest Destiny in inspiring the Nazi idea of Lebensraum.

        i guess it means different things to different people.

        • Benjamin2.0

          Oooh! Oooh! Godwin’s law by way of equivocation!

          How did nobody call this out yesterday? Am I the only person who enjoys shallow pedantry anymore? To what is the world coming? See how that last sentence has been obnoxiously structured to avoid finishing on a preposition? That’s how I roll. Obviously I’m the chosen one.

          I’ve always equivocated these two otherwise unrelated ideas, and the Nazis held an idea by the same name, so ‘exceptionalism’ [spoken with a ghastly and inhuman hiss] is bad because ADOLF HITLER!!!!111″

          • Dave G.

            Maybe because some who didn’t call it out actually agree with the comparison.

            • Benjamin2.0


              Who can save the denizens of the commenting box from their ghastly and unnatural tendency to accept or reject positions not for the sake of their arguments’ validity but the sheer, unadulterated desire to subject even their own perspective of reality to acts of the will divorced from the intellect?

              [Cue pro-wrestling-esque rock ballad entrance music and pyrotechnics]

              I am he!

              Welcome to the juuungle! We’ve got fun and gaaames!…

              • Elmwood

                instead of showing off your exceptional sarcastic wit, why not instead contribute something to this discussion.

                maybe you’re way above that.

              • Patrick J Loveless

                Oh, get over yourself, Captain Com-box.

                There is a real and serious similarity between the two. Lemme spell it out for you.

                The United States, over the course of the past 200 or so years, made and broke deals with the Natives of this part of the world, often involving the deaths of the the movement of the Natives out of their native lands and into ever-shrinking areas of territory designated for them, until eventually you have the present reservation system. The Trail of Tears is one example. But a look at the ever-shrinking Indian territories, as they were called, calls this to attention as well. And why did this happen? America is growing, and God forbid the Indians get in the way. Little Bighorn was precipitated by this sort of thing.

                The Germans? You don’t see any similarities in appeasement, the movement on Europe, the bloodshed and oppression they made against the *ahem* civilised peoples in France, Czechoslovakia, Poland, etc? And why was it done? For the Reich’s continued growth and power.

                The only differences are that the Natives were too weak to stop us; we weren’t. And Europe is considered “civilised”, whether consciously or subconsciously; the Natives, much less so, not that I agree with that.

      • Dave G.

        That’s one definition of it, but not the one common on the Catholic blogosphere. Alas.

        • Peggy

          Yes, apparently, the cynical approach of the communists is promoted here.

          • Elmwood

            Although the American exceptionalism does not necessarily imply superiority, many neoconservative and other American conservative writers have promoted its use in that sense.To them, the U.S. is like the biblical “City upon a Hill” — a phrase evoked by British colonists to North America as early as 1630 — and exempt from historical forces that have affected other countries.

            wikipedia says it can mean superiority, so it must be true. calling America exceptional is one thing, turning it into an “ism” or ideology is another.

            • Peggy

              It is obviously a term that many factions are using to prove their point. That said, is it not superior of the US to be founded on the ideals of self-governance and inalienable rights from God? I don’t see how that should translate into justified use of force on the global scale. It should not mean that everything the US does is right and just. I don’t see exceptionalism as having to do with international relations, but with the rights of man vis a vis the government. And that is morally superior to most other forms of government–in my opinion. I actually have not heard any (neo) con say that US exceptionalism justified Iraq or anything else. I suppose some have.

              • Elmwood

                i don’t think we need to have a slogan for how superior our nation’s virtues are–actions speak louder than words. it reminds me of that war on “low self esteem” when i was growing up. if we really are superior in any way as a nation it probably wouldn’t be bragged about.

                • Peggy

                  My, my! It is just a word, not a slogan, although I suppose some people may use it that way. It doesn’t mean that our nation has not made errors, however. We may or may not have something important to say on the world stage. We have a unique view on freedom and rights. We’ve squandered much of that respect, however, by policies from both parties. Not to mention a rather arrogant government functionary class.

                  It is the ideal we’re talking about here.

    • Ben Hammer

      Why don’t you go live in Cuba for a while Elmwood, then maybe, you will get a small idea of the exceptional ideals that are America. Or try North Korea. China, perhaps. You probably wouldn’t even be able to accesses this blog in any of those countries. I would further suggest that you get some history lessons from some other source than, “A Peoples History of the United States.”
      By the way, America spends money on national defense, because our so called allies in Europe won’t. And it is still a small fraction of of overall GDP. Socialism – payouts to “entitlement” programs make up the bulk of the budget.

      • Elmwood

        why Cuba? Didn’t we have a role in that whole mess with kicking out Spain? I’ll go to France instead and enjoy their culture, which is probably superior to ours in many ways, why don’t you go to Texas where in some places they trade drinking water for oil.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Re: Your last paragraph: Do you mean to complain that your so-called “allies” are guilty of not following orders from the US about how much they should purchase from US weapon makers? Or that the US think that it should really be the ruler of the world and that other countries should just shut up and do as they are told? And, of course, since many countries, including my own, have refused to get into that unjust and illegal war that the US has inflicted on Iraq, they are guilty of not wasting enough money on national defense, a term that, as you are saying it here, does sound more like defending the US interests abroad instead of looking after their own…

  • KM

    This part of the Catechism of the Catholic Church seems appropriate to this topic of the global economic system and the resulting conflicts:

    2424 A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of
    economic activity is morally unacceptable. The disordered desire for
    money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of
    the many conflicts which disturb the social order.


    • Griffonn

      The problem with that is that saying, “in theory”, that communism is generous does not make it generous.

      The key word here is “Economic activity” – and how that word is used.

      Economic activity and political activity are in reality a checks & balance to each other. Economic activity governs efficiency; political activity governs issues such as human need and redistribution.

      A healthy system needs both to be operating properly.

      To say that because the political “side” of society redistributes economic gains, that therefore it is in the realm of the economic side, is akin to saying that there should not be any checks & balances.

  • Mike the Geek

    If the absence of major wars is hurting the economy, then the fact that we aren’t having them – and haven’t in almost 70 years – would seem to ipso facto disprove the (rather bizarre) notion that our system requires them.
    Having grown up and spent the vast majority of my life in a part of the country that was quashed for a century after the USA’s most major war of all, I would call the comment clueless. Were it not from the Patriarch of the West, I would be tempted to use harsher language.

    • Griffonn

      Actually what we need is a new frontier.

      Wars help the economy only when they spur frontier effects.

      Let’s go to outer space! We could open a coffee bar there.

  • Pope Francis commits the Broken Window Fallacy.

    • The Deuce

      He seems to be committing the Broken Window Fallacy *and* compounding it with The Theory That Broken Windows Are Caused By The Existence Of All Those People Who Make Money Repairing Them. I like the guy, but it’s basically impossible at this point for me to avoid the conclusion that, yeah, he really is pretty ignorant about economics and it results in him speaking a fair amount of gobbledeygook about it.

      • Marthe Lépine

        So,, if someone has ideas about economics that do not match the ideas that are prevalent in the US, that person “is pretty ignorant about economics”. When it comes to economics, any and every so-called “law” or “principle” is just one more theory. There cannot be any real “control group” to establish the validity of an economic theory in the same way that there are control groups being used, for one example among others, to verify if a certain type of medication does or does not work. If you want to close your mind to any other way to look at economics than the right-wing, out-of-control capitalism, trickle-down ones popular in the US, maybe it is you who is not as knowledgeable about economics as you think.

        • KM

          Martha, you bring up an excellent point. Who are the real ignoramuses when it comes to Economics? The mainstream Economists who dominate global thought and who did not foresee the crisis.

          Recently a group of Economics students in England wrote about their discontent with the very limited Economics ideology that dominates the curriculum. What is being taught is neoclassical theory, the ideology of the free market, which excludes dissenting opinions. The emphasis has been on theoretical mathematical models divorced from the real world. The aim of Economics education “should be to “bridge disciplines within and outside of economics.” Economics should not be divorced from psychology, politics, history, philosophy, and so on.”



          • Marthe Lépine

            Thank you, the links lead to very interesting reading. And the idea that came to mind while reading this is that Pope Francis, who in spite of his humility and his personally direct approach, has had a very broad education, seems to see economics in a much broader way, which is one of the reasons he is being harshly criticized by many people whose problem is that they are much too invested into the kind of “mainstream” economics being discussed in the “Post-Autistic Economic Movement” article from the “project-syndicate” link you gave above. Therefore, Pope Francis is said to be ignorant about economics simply because he dares introduce other ideas than the ones presently approved by academia…

          • Peggy

            In response to Marthe, Cheshire and KM’s comments:

            1. We do use methods of research that have “control” factors, often using time series of different policies in place or cross section of jurisdictions with different policies. Econometrics and multiple regression are huge tools in examining and predicting results of policies or economic decisions. As any other statistician in a social science, we can employ control variables etc. These are not simple operations. No stats are perfect either.
            2. I have no idea that the economics study is limited to neo-classical theories. Not at all true. We have delved into various choice theories, game theories etc, predicting personal and political behaviors beyond strict economics. Freakonomics was much about that. See the recently deceased Gary Becker’s body of work. Economists have gone well beyond their own sandbox, some might say. There is much econ literature on govt intervention to address “market failures” and regulate monopolies etc. Many well-known economists, eg, Paul Krugman and Robert Reich, are Keynesian and favor a more statist approach to the economy and labor than neo-classicals do. (Chicago School is the home of American laissez-faire economics.) Both micro and macro policy cannot be discussed absent politics or history of any nation or society at issue.
            3. I do not see any reference to consumerism. I would not at all argue with such a critique. But with all respect to the Holy Father, war is not encouraged by a global economy. War is probably being stifled by the increase in mutual interests. We also have many non-military tools to address disputes, such as diplomatic tools or raising tariffs or restricting entry of a nation’s goods. Most major nations agreed to take trade disputes to international bodies.

            • KM

              Well, “over 65 associations of economics students from over 30 different countries” disagree with you. They write in their open letter:

              “It is clear that maths and statistics are crucial to our discipline. But all too often students learn to master quantitative methods without ever discussing if and why they should be used, the choice of assumptions and
              the applicability of results….To properly discuss economic policy, students should understand the broader social impacts and moral implications of economic decisions.”


              The whole letter is worth reading, along with this article:


              • Peggy

                I started before finishing one of the links and lost my work. Sigh.

                I was in the academy last in 2000, pursuing further graduate work. There was no presumption of lowering taxes or the budget in macro or pub finance classes. That shocked me as a Chicago school thinker. There was a bias toward a great deal of market intervention. In the US academy, economic thinking is NOT monolith. The failure of some to recognize the market downturn in 2008 was probably on the part of those who were in the pockets of the banks or favored the home loans to those who were not in a position to pay them back. Some economists are more “independent” than others you might say!

                The quantitative tools are complex and, yes, most brainiac profs expect the kids to figure out much of it themselves. This is big kid stuff, econ study.

                These kids are hearing all kinds of leftist claptrap in other fields of study to the exclusion of other points of view. So, in general it is believable that the academy has narrowed its points of view in recent years. A lot of the “moral” leftist thinking has to do with things like pollution control of which there is quite a field of study. There is “feminist” economics and much literature examining the prevalance or impacts of racism, etc. You’ll find plenty of marxists in the academy, maybe not in economics–though there is plenty of statist interventionist viewpoint present. Marxist economics and Ricardo’s theories of value of labor are presented usually. There are various schools of thought that are presented. Or at least there used to be 10-20 years ago.

                Get off your butts and do research kids. Don’t dictate to the experts what the field should be. Present a thesis or dissertation to move the field. That’s how it’s done.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  So,you were only doing post-graduate studies in 2000… Then I should tell you to have more respect for your elders! Of course my own work after my graduate studies in the 60’s was mostly in taxation, in a country not yet tainted by libertarianism…
                  When you state things such as: “I was in the academy last in 2000, pursuing further graduate work.
                  There was no presumption of lowering taxes or the budget in macro or pub
                  finance classes. That shocked me as a Chicago school thinker. There
                  was a bias toward a great deal of market intervention.”, and: “These kids are hearing all kinds of leftist claptrap in other fields of study…” you are showing your colors. E.g. you sound as if you have swallowed “mainstream” economics in their totality and there is no room in your mind for any other approach. Therefore, you are confirming KM and mine opinions…

                  • Peggy

                    Look. I am sure all these areas listed by the students are taught at the universities as electives. There is much economic literature on the topics the students named. I cannot imagine some things like econ history are not core. Chicago school laissez-faire thinking is NOT dominant at all in the academy. It is very unique. I came from that thinking from reading Milton Friedman and working in utility regulation. Utility regulation literature has a wide variety of thought to it, as do all fields of econ. I have kept up with literature as part of my professional career. And as you know, one can study a specific field of econ in addition to the core coursework.

                    Most fields of study have dominant thinking that changes over time and will cause curriculum to change over time. Look at Common Core, “new math”, changes in teaching reading and spelling (much of which I disagree with). Change is the only thing constant.

                    Economics is the study of markets and how economic agents maximize their utility. That gets into personal happiness and psychology. We always start with markets. Whether they are (or should be) free or what is what one studies.

                    I believe what I believe. I have been exposed to many economic ideas and chose among them. I say I am more laissez-faire than many profs I’ve had over the years.

                    These children are trying to change the field. One does that by submitting research for peer review. Children are in no place to dictate the curriculum.

                    • Peggy

                      Here is the AEA web site. As you can see, there is a wide range of topics from which students can choose to study, research and specialize for a career in economics. All of the issues raised by the students are covered in one or more areas.


                    • KM

                      “These children are trying to change the field. One does that by submitting research for peer review. Children are in no place to dictate the curriculum.”

                      The problem, as Professor Emeritus Robert Skidelsky states, is that “economics teaching and
                      research is deeply embedded in an institutional structure that, as with
                      any ideological movement, rewards orthodoxy and penalizes heresy…Research funding is allocated on the basis of publication in
                      academic journals that espouse the neoclassical perspective. Publication
                      in such journals is also the basis of promotion.”

                      It’s hard to change the field itself by submitting research for peer review when the people holding authority can block publication. The students and parents are consumers who are paying for an expensive university education and are demanding a better product.

                      If I were in their shoes, I would just find a better program and refuse to pay $20,000/year for this, or find a different major, or perhaps have a double major. But I give these students big kudos for challenging the status quo. That’s how “revolutions” and change begin.

                    • KM
                    • Peggy

                      This challenge you describe is what opponents of the global warming fantasies face.

                      Always some barriers, eh? There may be some econ programs that are stagnant or weak, but the field as a whole welcomes new lines of thinking. One has to establish oneself to be heard. That’s how it works. A kid should write a dissertation revitalizing Keynesianism if that is what he believes.

                      Marxism and Keynesianism are generally considered discredited theories. (Marxism more so of course.) There’s really no need to focus intently on either one except as some sort of survey of ideas. No need to promote them. One prof wondered why we were still studying Keynes back in 1988. There are varying views of course. Obama admin has been the rise of the Keynesians.

                      Look if econ education is that bad abroad, then I guess I am fortunate enough to have received such a rounded education from a second rate (at best) state school in the midwest.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      “One has to establish oneself to be heard. That’s how it works.” But that is the problem we have been discussing: in order to establish oneself, one has to pass the barrier of “the people holding authority (who) can block publication. So we are going in a circle. “Marxism and Keynesianism are generally considered discredited theories.” Why is that? Could it be that the established “mainstream” economists have decided that is was so? Why could not students freely study if those theories hold some validity now, without being told that they are looking at discredited theories and their interest in such theories rejected offhand?

                    • Peggy

                      Established and experienced economists who’ve studied such things are eminently qualified to declare which theories were worthwhile or not. Don’t you think so? Who else? Should we ask a pediatrician? A barmaid? (Hey, don’t knock the intuitive wisdom of the uneducated.)

                      I daresay there are few professions with more diverse views in their field than economists. All you have to do is look at the articles in any journal. It is not much fun without debate. There’s no barrier to an aspiring or established economist to submitting a paper noting this or that which has been overlooked.

                    • KM

                      No one is saying that there aren’t diverse economic views being debated, just that the dominant theory is neoclassical, and the assumptions in the “debate” are based on that dominant belief. The students are saying that other views are marginalized and the debate is superficial.

                      Asking the mainstream economists — who didn’t foresee the global financial crisis and who arguably helped bring it along through their policies such as bank deregulation, for instance — to fix the broken system, is like asking the Iraq War architects, who helped create that disaster, to fix Iraq. The students are saying that other perspectives are needed and assumptions need to be reconsidered in order to remedy the problem.

                    • Peggy

                      I don’t know which mainstream economists did not foresee the financial crisis. Krugman? (Who are the “mainstream” economists, anyway? I’d submit they’re different people in the US and Europe or other nations.) I am not saying it was predicted, but I don’t know that it was denied openly. I’d have to review.

                      I also tend to think that European economic thinking is different from US economic thinking. Economists with a political agenda favoring the EU I suppose didn’t come clean on the probs of the Euro. I don’t think American economists were all on board with it. There were diverse views.

                      There are academics, those employed by govt, those employed by banks, and those who otherwise earn some (or all) income from consulting for other businesses. So, one needs to understand that some economists are “captured” by their living. Now, they may also believe what the propound. So, it’s not all necessarily disingenuous.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Possibly, a group of like-minded established and experienced economists can be qualified to declare which theories are worthwhile or not. However, if they already agree that some aspects of what a person is trying to write about go against what they have already decided was not worthwhile, they might be biased. Maybe a group of economists from various categories of theories, and/or from various cultural backgrounds, would be a better judge, though.

                    • Dan Berger

                      Really? “Fantasies”? Why should I listen to your explanations of your field when you have no respect for fields that are rather better established in both experiment and experience than yours?

                      And the horse you rode in on.

                      Signed, an actual scientist (chemist) with some expertise in those so-called “fantasies.”

                    • Peggy

                      If you google “global warming fallacies” you will see there is much unsettled science and many untruths being told to support global warming theories. And there’s been some flawed research in support of “global warming” such as the work of the hockey stick guy at Penn State (Michael Mann). There are also the East Anglia U revelations of further questionable research in support of “climate change” policies.

                      There are a lot of bad economic policies being proposed in the name of halting global warming. A Dr Roy Spencer who does believe there is some climate change is one scientist who, for example, has shown that the very costly and restrictive economic policies proposed to combat global warming won’t do anything to improve the alleged situation. They will be very destructive of the economy. The increased “warming” or “climate change” comes fro increased coal use in China and India. Economists have to know about these things, not just economics.

                    • Dan Berger

                      There’s your problem. I suggest you try Google Scholar.

                      The so-called “untruths” are lies and misdirection by the so-called skeptics; for example, the East Anglia “problem” has been thoroughly debunked. As for Michael Mann, he has been the victim of slander, which I hope is found to be legally actionable.

                      I bow to your expertise on the economic consequences of various proposed mitigation policies. Given the likely human hardship that will stem from anthropogenic warming, please suggest mitigation policies, balancing hardships from those policies against the generally accepted consequences of the unmitigated spewing of fossil CO2 into the air.

                    • Peggy

                      From what I understand there is no mitigation of such “climate change” on the planet without China or India taking action. (I was in Russia a couple of times and could barely breathe on the roads and highways we took around Moscow. This is a problem other nations are causing, it is clear to me.) The US should take no action as it would be crippling and apparently have no impact on the climate. Our environmental policies are already pretty good and I see no need to expand environmental protection in the U.S. Otherwise, we get into the typical lefty approach of moving the goal posts. That is, we were told to clean up the air and water a few decades ago. Largely done. Now that was not enough. There is more that must be done. Feminism is like that; affirmative action is like that, and so on.

                      There are more revelations of questionable climate research today. And I for one, hope NRO and Mark Steyn win against Michael Mann. We should be allowed to criticize and debate the veracity of these theories which are being used to destroy our economy, our standard of living in the US, and our freedom.

                    • Dan Berger

                      More revelations of industry sponsorship and ideological blinders on pundits, you mean. You are emblematic of what folks are decrying elsewhere at Mark’s place: a set of blinders that claims that any sort of recognition that the common good can supersede individual license is an attack on “freedom.”

                      NRO and Steyn went far beyond your standard of “criticize and debate the veracity” when they slanderously accused Prof. Mann of falsifying his research — the same accusation you are making. That is why I have to struggle to give you the time of day: you slap my face and ask me to comment on what an interesting point you are making.

                      As I said, “and the horse you rode in on.”

                      U.S. residents are still the largest polluters (not just carbon polluters) per capita on the planet, though a fair bit of that pollution is exported via the importation of foreign-made goods. China and India (Russia has been a serious environmental problem for decades) passed us only because they are raising living standards for their population. The figures are truly scary if you assume Chinese emission rates per capita as equal even to a German citizen, much less a U.S. citizen.

                      But this thread is not about climate science or anti-science paranoia, and I will not respond to you further. You may have the last word if you like; I simply wished to register a protest at your slander of my colleagues.

                    • Peggy

                      I am not speaking of revelations of industry sponsorship which may color an expert’s views. I get that. No. It is being reported that the US NOAA has been replacing actual data with computer model generated data. It is reported that the effect has been to report lower temps for earlier periods so that more recent temps look alarmingly high and the rate of increase is higher than it should be.


                      I don’t think the science field is entirely corrupt but clearly a certain number of scientists have been captured by the global warming political movement to a dangerous point that their integrity and the whole theory are in question. I am sorry that some in your field have gone down this road.

                      I will end on this point as well. Have a good day.

                    • Dan Berger
                    • HornOrSilk

                      No, there are CLAIMS of it by people who are not experts in the field. Those who have pre-determined not to accept global climate change. However, the Catholic and Orthodox BOTH teach it is real and we are to do something about it. It also connects to the theology of the Church on sin: sin affects the world, and makes it worse. Global warming is exactly the kind of thing theology has taught for centuries. But of course, the careless ignore this.

        • Chesire11

          The problem with an economic critique of the Holy Father’s condemnation of consumerism (not capitalism) is that it completely misses the point. Pope Francis is not critique the mechanism, but the purpose toward which the mechanism is ordered. The criticism of his argument boils down to pointing at the material benefits to society that follow from capitalism, as though His Holiness were offering an economic critique of the efficiency of capitalism. Essentially, the Pope’s detractors answer a pastoral critique of materialism by invoking all of the materials produced by materialists. It makes about as much sense as an alcoholic denying accusations of alcoholism by bragging about his impressive bar tab.

          He was not offering an economic argument at all. He was offering a pastoral response to the excesses of consumerism, which values material wealth over human life, and human dignity. He decries the spiritual scandal of a system that insists it is better to store up the things of this world than to lay down one’s life for his brother, that it profit a man nothing to gain his soul, but lose the latest iPhone.

          Unfortunately, defenders of the status quo make the mistKe of imagining that wealth is the proper object of human activity, rather than its true object, which is participation in the life of God, who is love, not money.

  • Dan C

    If critics of Pope Francis’s argument are supporting the military industrial complex, they divorce themselves with several other popes ranging from John 23rd to Benedict who have found such a system evil.

    I am lookin for the critic to man up and say, “Francis is wrong and we should be spending more money on Blackwater, on weapons.”

    There is a writing and speaking stance that promotes a passive-aggressive tone and passive voice while posing as the “grown ups” in the room, a poorly defined construct which sounds vaguely like what older men have graduated to after ten years ago been the “hard men willing to face hard truths” about the world. The men who were willing to break a few eggs to make the omellette. These are the same folks who deride the use of the term “love” as “wuv.”

  • KM

    “We have reached a stage where economists somehow think they are workers of some higher truth, and whatever ordinary people or politicians [or the Pope*] think, they will have to cater to their demands. We’ve already seen it – in Italy, in Greece– during the height of the Eurozone crisis; the EU tried to superimpose these technocrats onto these countries. This is fundamentally antidemocratic.” – Leading heterodox economist and Cambridge academic Ha-Joon Chang


    *(my addition)

  • Jonk

    Here’s a pretty good contrary opinion to Cowon’s:

    Also, if the defense sectors drive prosperous economies, they’re doing a pretty crappy job of it:

  • petey

    the state of this thread …