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…it‘s okay to ignore the prattle about “class envy” from the usual apologists for Class Warfare against the poor and acknowledge that we are facing a very serious problem.
Catholics would do well to consider the possibility that Pope Francis, speaking out of the same Tradition as his predecessors, knows what he’s talking about.
So, without committing the genetic fallacy, can somebody tell me why Reich is wrong?
Some things are obvious if you know where to look: A fatal error of the present system is that someone, somewhere, has forgotten that workers and consumers are one and the same… When more and more people in the US and other developed countries are getting poorer and are seeing their jobs disappear because some workers on the other side of the world are desperate and take whatever little pay they can get, it means that they are only going to spend on what is really necessary. On the other side of the world, the workers getting slave wages have hardly enough to get the bare necessities of life, and sometimes not even that. Therefore, it is obvious that an economy like ours that is founded on consumerism will collapse, sooner rather than later.
How dare you be logical? Workers as consumers, that idea is so Henry Ford. Our leaders, long may their green flags wave, have adopted a mammon first view of the world – all things are consumables and all things are to be used and thrown away. Our system is on the verge of collapse, I do agree, and the various groups who are charged with maintaining it are rearranging deck chairs.
We really need to look more closely at what the church teaches about the universal destination of goods, dignity and solidarity.
I agree. There really isn’t a viable man-made solution to the current depth of inequality. It will not change until it is forced to change by events largely beyond our control (economic collapse, war, some combination of the two). The system is like a star that can only keep growing until it flames out. We’re past the point of being able to make the kind of legislative or regulatory changes that would bear good fruit. And if Dodd-Frank is any indication, those avenues have only made the situation worse.
I disagree. There are several man-made solutions to the current depth of inequality, but there really is not any “miracle” solution that will change everything in a flash. There will never be a solution if all that is ever done is discussing it. Maybe getting started in small ways, in local ways, like starting cooperatives, for example, will be valid steps towards positive changes. It is a matter of tenacity and solidarity, to keep working at small local solutions without getting discouraged, and change will come. An example that always come to my mind about getting started and letting God work with what our small efforts can accomplish is that of Mother Teresa. What I admire most about her is that she was able to start doing something, even if it seemed insignificant. There were, and still are, hundreds of people dying in the streets of cities in India. If I had been in Mother Teresa’s shoes, I most probably would not have been able to decide which one of those people to bring home in order to at least give a clean bed to die. I would have thought that, by choosing one among those many people, I was being unfair to all of the other. Or that taking care of only that one person would not make a lot of difference, so why bother? But Mother Teresa just started doing what she could. And I am sure she did not expect to become world famous by doing it… But God blessed and expanded her small effort. I think it is possible that by trying to do what we are able to do with the means at our disposal, even if it does not seem big enough, would open the door to change, and that we can trust that God would in some way support our small efforts.
Good points, but the difference between here and the society in which Mother Theresa worked is that we can vote . We can both work to alleviate the current misery and effect change to reduce it.
I agree, the possibility of using our votes is one of the ways to work at changing things, and an important one. But not the only one, as, like everything else, it is not perfect. It seems to me, for example, that nowadays the amount of money collected – and spent – by the various candidates and parties has way too much influence on the results, because it gives considerably too much power to some groups of people who work behind the scenes instead of getting themselves elected. As is said by the title of a book I read several years ago, you have “The best democracy money can buy!” (I said “you have” because I still hope (against hope?) that my country, Canada, is still not quite at that point, since there is some legislation that limits the amount of money each candidate can spend.)
As someone wisely stated above: quote Chesterton:
“Capitalism is contradictory as soon as it is complete; because it is dealing with the mass of men in two opposite ways at once. When most men are wage-earners, it is more and more difficult for most men to be customers. For, the capitalist is always trying to cut down what his servant demands, and in doing so is cutting down what his customer can spend. As soon as his business is in any difficulties, as at present in the coal business, he tries to reduce what he has to spend on wages, and in doing so reduces what others have to spend on coal. He is wanting the same man to be rich and poor at the same time. This contradiction in capitalism does not appear in the earlier stages, because there are still populations not reduced to the common proletarian condition. But as soon as the wealthy as a whole are employing the wage-earners as a whole, this contradiction stares them in the face like an ironic doom and judgment.” (From his essay “The Peril of the Hour” in his book “The Outline of Sanity” – a must read. http://www.cse.dmu.ac.uk/~mward/gkc/books/Sanity.txt)
How coincidental that this was published yesterday.
Meh, Mr. Wright’s analysis is just as lazy as his reading of Chesterton. This is an old hand that has been played dozens of times. (It does seem to have gotten him quite a few clicks on his blog, though.) Chesterton does not get everything right – of course! – but most of the criticisms of him that I’ve read (including the link you posted) are intellectually unable to tussle with the man.
The quote in my post above is just as appropriate today as it was back in the early 20th century, regardless of whether you may disagree with his social theory.
I don’t think you read it, given the time between my post and your response.
Wrights’ notes on it are not a point by point refutation of him. (Indeed, in most other things, he praises Chesterton highly) They are general observations that I have also noticed about his theory. I once simply swallowed anything at all, especially economic related, in quotes that had “GKC” after it, like it was antifreeze at a petting zoo.
Then I actually studied it. Then I actually was running a for profit business and interacted with real employees and real customers and began to have serious doubts about certain points he brings up.
“but most of the criticisms of him that I’ve read (including the link you posted) are intellectually unable to tussle with the man.”
– There’s not much to tussle with when it comes to the economic side. The primary moral principles are not actually in dispute. How they should apply to economic interactions with people are simply incorrect, as John C. Wright points out.
We can’t have an intelligent exchange if you don’t give me the benefit of the doubt. You don’t think I can read a short blog post in 9 minutes? That’s your fault.
As I said, Mr. Wright’s critique isn’t original, and your defense of his critique isn’t either. I’m glad to hear that he likes most of Chesterton. I do too, so we can probably drink beer together just fine. Men smarter than me have written about Distributism in a technical sense if you care to re-open your investigation of GKC sometime.
Lastly, don’t assume that people who still support Chesterton’s theories haven’t run “a for profit business” or “interacted with real employees and real customers”, it makes you look shallow.
“don’t assume that people”
– I see you read my post with the same inattentiveness you read John’s. Where did I say I assumed that anyone who supports Chesterton’s incorrect theories hasn’t run a business? I did not claim anything about other’s experiences, only my own
“Men smarter than me have written about Distributism in a technical sense.”
– I have actually. I’m still unimpressed. Many of their assertions do not mesh with reality as I’ve seen it.
I usually don’t bother arguing with people who push Distributism. It’s mostly like trying to argue with an earnest Mormon: you can’t raise questions about the accuracy of the book of Mormon because the Mormon has taken it as their base assumption that the Book of Mormon is right and will not question that. And they will cite the Book of Mormon to support their assumption.
At least you’re finally convinced that I read Mr. Wright’s piece!
My morning coffee is finished. I have to get back to my primary activity of bringing home the bacon. I sincerely trust you’re doing the same the best way you think how. Good day.
Isn’t distributism based on Quadregismo Anno and other encyclicals dealing with these ideas?
Yeah, I’m quite sure that Mondragon Corporation has run a for profit business and interacted with real employees and real customers 😉
That’s two posts with lots of adjectives about Wright’s article but no argument, not a single clause.
Maybe it is because this thread here is about Mark’s post, not Wright’s article? In addition, a good starting point towards finding arguments about Wright’s article would be to read with an open mind what various popes have had to say about this matter for well over a century, therefore there is no need to repeat it all here. And if your first reaction is to be that the popes are not economists, I would reply that most of them must certainly have had access to various specialists, including economists, but seem to not have let themselves be limited to exclusively US economists.And I would add that if you claim to be a Catholic, you do need to read and pay attention to what popes have to say, particularly Francis, by the way, since he has recently introduced the matter of “inequality” in his recent writings.
“Maybe it is because this thread here is about Mark’s post, not Wright’s article?”
Slippery. As you well know, both your post and thisismattwade’s posts immediately above were about Wright’s thesis, or rather about smearing it as opposed to arguing it. One can ignore such a side topic or one can argue it, but one can not smear and prove anything.
Well, Pete brought it into the discussion and gave the link, so I wanted other readers to know my opinion about it, that’s all, and it does fit in this discussion to say so without having to write hundreds of words, since this would be a diversion from the actual subject of this present thread. Any reader who wants to know what I had been commenting about can follow the link and read the post, and can make their own mind. In the meantime, I thought that the present discussion should remain focus on “inequality”, particularly since there are so many people who just want to deny its very existence and keep ignoring what Francis had to say about it.
Wright’s comments about Chesterton sound to me like exactly the kind of comments that are commonly made in the US about the Church social encyclicals, e.g. a quick dismissal, with a few references to some kind of scarecrow that in the US is called socialism.
I finally had the time to go and read Mr. Wright’s analysis, and had a good laugh. Typical example of a lawyer who thinks he knows everything about economics, but who simply regurgitates the current economic theories of his time. I was a graduate student in economics some 25 years before he even graduated from law school, and his rant, complete with insulting comments about Chesterton, seemed to me to simply the silly impressions of an amateur. However, instead of saying that he should stay within the realm of what he knows about, I would say that what he says could be the start of a good discussion, and that many good ideas do come out of good arguments between people educated in various fields.
I would add that he does not seem to have even read Rerum Novarum – which was among my textbooks at the University of Montreal in the 60’s, by the way – and that from a Catholic who claims to comment on economics, this is inexcusable. Some of the ideas he “debunks” happen to be in Rerum Novarum. And his ideas about an ideal economy just do not take into account our fallen human nature; there is no human way that economics left to what he describes as freedom and to the goodwill of men can possibly work. Unfortunate, but true.
A fatal error of the present system is that someone, somewhere, has forgotten that workers and consumers are one and the same…It’s far worse than that. Treating people as only workers and consumers is utilitarian. If everyone were to “remember” that the workers are the consumers, it still treats human beings like mechanisms, and the dignity of humanity still has not been worked into the equation.
When this subject comes up, Righties most often come back with, “Oh, don’t give me that class warfare again!” Followed by the eye roll.
As is always wise in situations of disagreement, quote Chesterton: “War is not ‘the best way of settling differences; it is the only way of preventing their being settled for you.”
No discussion of class warfare! The Great and Powerful Oz demands it!
On the one hand I agree with several of his points but I think his argument has a couple of flaws as well.
First two technical issues: A. The extension of unemployment benefits has broadly been shown to increase the duration of unemployment and thus the extent of a recession ultimately hurting the poor as a broader class (even as it helps specific individuals). B. Extending Medicaid will quickly bankrupt the states for whom medicaid benefits have grown to be the most significant and out of control expense – thats just math not a moral point.
Philosophically I have a lot of difficulty with an argument that “they” support/oppose xyz things and that “they” are waging a war on the poor. For his argument to be more than a veiled “grab your pitchforks” ala French Revolution he nees to define that “they/them”.
Please share the research about “The extension of unemployment benefits has broadly been shown to increase the duration of unemployment “. The cometh about extending medicaid ignores the impact on hospitals of having to serve patients and thus raising insurance rates on those who have insurance.
I think the claim about busting unions is probably a reference to right-to-work legislation, which doesn’t bust unions but merely gets rid of mandatory union membership. Once unions have that kind of power, they usually care as much about the poor as the CEOs and board members do.
I’m no big fan of unions, but I’m pretty sure taking away any power they have and giving it back to the CEOs and the board members isn’t a solution to our problem.
Historically, in areas where there were strong unions, other job paid better and had better benefits. Unions aren’t perfect, but nothing has done a better job so far for getting workers living wages. There has been a very effective anti-union propaganda war waged in this country. Great for the CEO’s, bad for everyone else.
I fully agree with you. And a little bit of Canadian history you might appreciate: Some of the first unions organized in Canada came about on the advice of Catholic bishops in the province of Quebec, soon after Leo XIII’s Encyclical Rerum Novarum. Of course, unions being organizations made up of human beings, they were and are not perfect, and one real problem at times comes from the fact that “power corrupts” and some union leaders have not always acted wisely and justly, just as any other person, in any part of society (including CESs!), can choose to do wrong. But as you say, they have done a good job for getting workers living wages, and they are needed to create some balance of power when it comes to negotiating wages and working conditions with employers, since one worker alone who really needs a job can be easily induced to accept less than ideal pay and working conditions. As an example, if I remember correctly, some study of workers’ safety in Canada has found that unionized workplaces seemed to have fewer work-related accidents, precisely because unions (more exactly union representatives at the workplace) help to keep employers “on their toes”.
Typo alert: I meant to write, between the brackets, “including CEOs”.
More government aid is the solution to the problem of income inequality? Count me as unconvinced.
Maybe those who disagree with Reich are not greedy, mean-spirited plutocrats waging war on the poor – they just think that growing the economy is more effective than more direct government aid. In fact, government help is just that – a temporary hand-up that can have serious ramifications if treated as a “solution” to poverty.
Growing the economy means that the “plutocrats” will have to invest in the country, not buy a small company elsewhere and move to lets say Canada. It also means that the wages paid have to allow for workers to consume – that is buy goods. What we have right now is not a growing economy.
I agree we don’t have a growing economy.
(And for some reason, no on ever mentions that that plutocratic fast food company may have just stayed in the U.S. if our corporate taxes we’re closer to Canada’s. They’re just as invested in the US as ever before, only they no longer have to pay taxes to the U.S. on money they make outside of the U.S.)
If indeed the fast food company actually paid the rate as advertised of 35% I would agree – but on average corporations in the US pay 12.5% rate according to the GAO. Instead we focus on the before deduction, write-off rate of 35%. Why? More problematic is that the fast food company will continue to reap the benefits of the US – in terms of tax breaks to open new stores, the infrastructure which although poor is still nationwide and the like.
I think you may have missed KM’s point.
Who is KM?
So you’re saying that Burger King should pay more than it has to in taxes. Does this apply to individuals as well? (I don’t now about you, but I make sure I don’t pay more than I am legally obliged to do under the tax code, and feel no remorse about it at all.)
You’ve just illustrated the core reason why this problem continues. On the one hand, we have the Left saying that Big Government should fix everything. On the other, we have the Right saying that government should stay out and Big Business should be free to do whatever it wants. So it comes down to Big Government vs. Big Business. It doesn’t matter which side you really pick, because they both end in slavery. It’s Sauron vs. Saruman.
The inherent problem isn’t so much the government or business aspect of the equation as the “Big.” Both Big Government and Big Business need to be chopped down, split up, and power and wealth divided amongst as many people as possible. The problem is how to do that justly. And I just don’t have a good answer for that right now.
If someone has the Ring and can point the way to the Fire, I’ll do my best.
“You’ve just illustrated the core reason why this problem continues. … On the other, we have the Right saying that government should stay out and Big Business should be free to do whatever it wants.”
– Reading his comment several times, I do not see where he said or implied this anywhere. You’re fighting a strawman.
The essence of his ACTUAL argument, at least that I can see (feel free to correct me, Sam) is that we have already MASSIVE government intrusion and control over most aspects of economic life, and we are still in a lot of trouble, in spite of so many claiming that this very control would make everything wonderful and just. It hasn’t happened. So, the solution should be something else, not trying to do more of the same.
He is not advocating some dystopian hellscape like the corporate owned world of RoboCop.
Or maybe the government isn’t using its power correctly.
1. Government regulations are disproportionately burdensome on small businesses and individuals. Large corporations either have the resources to follow the regs or the influence to successfully evade them.
Solution: The government grows some stones and uses its power to level the regulatory playing field by aggressively going after the large companies and leaving small firms alone to be regulated by the market.
2. Large corporations wield disproportionately large amounts of power in the marketplace and use it to fix prices, drive smaller competitors out, and other such legal but pernicious practices.
Solution: The government grows some stones and uses its power to tax large companies more heavily, both to create a hugeness disincentive and to put aside to help pay for the social damage large companies cause when a greater percentage of the population lacks the self-determination you possess by working for yourself or someone you know rather than for Bill Lumbergh.
3. Large corporations bully small towns, by, for example, insisting on tax breaks to put a store within their city limits, threatening to go to the next town taking all their potential tax revenue with them while also driving any local competitors who are paying taxes out of business.
Solution: The government grows some stones and uses its power to outlaw these kinds of practices.
These are just three ideas for a good use of government power in the face of massive and real and destructive corporate power. But “Conservatives” won’t do any of them because this kind of action demands a recognition of a rational ideal for society to shoot for, a recognition that conflicts with their fatuous dream of libertarian “independence” on a Pa Ingalls frontier.
“grows some stones”
– You use this phrase…. and it’s really stupid to do so in this context.
Your basic assumption that I can tell is that the government is made up of altruistic people who simply are to afraid to do what’s right.
The only way I can accept that someone could HONESTLY believe this is if they not only don’t own a TV (good for you, actually), don’t read a paper, don’t read internet news and has never come into contact with any form of regulatory bureaucracy. So, maybe you’re typing this from Easter Island, I guess.
Uhm, no. The government has balls for days. It’s your assumption that they are altruistic that is faulty. A government that exercises eminent domain on a homeowner in order to give the land to a developer is not ‘afraid’ to do the right thing and ‘stand up to the developer’. The government has the enormous, solid bronze balls to BRAZENLY shred its Constitutional limits (which you don’t seem to like either) in favor of a party that has bought access to that power. How you see the government’s problem is ‘lacking stones’ is a mystery to me. Your solution is to give this SAME government MORE POWER. I guess we could just keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result…
One other thing I notice is that you seem to have zero comprehension of what the government’s Constitutionally limited power entails. To you it seems you advocate just about any use of power, as long as the ends seem to justify it.
You also seem to have the rather naive belief that the best person to determine winners and losers in the market is the government. Why you think this isn’t explained. If I had to guess, I’d say you take it as a matter of blind Faith, like others do.
You also seem to have zero grasp overall of how a market works.
“help pay for the social damage large companies cause when a greater percentage of the population lacks the self-determination you possess by working for yourself or someone you know rather than for Bill Lumbergh.”
– WTH does that silly garbage even mean? Do you live in a vacuum? Is the idea that not everyone is cut out to be a self-employed entrepreneur foreign to you? The dumbness of this boggles my mind.
So the government that uses the continuously increasing power people like you give it to engage in ever increasing cronyism, that same government you advocate it taking more power to seize resources from one person to ‘pay for social damage’ (some non-quantifiable BS you made up), and disburse these resources “ALTRUISTICALLY OF COURSE” to people who are NOT it’s cronies.
Yes, that’s totally sane and will work great.
The only person here with a “fatuous dream” is YOU. YOU are the one daydreaming about a government with even greater power, somehow made up entirely of Cincinnatus clones, that will set society right for you.
I used to think a little like this. Then I got a job. And then I started a business and realized how dumb my previous assumptions were.
1) I never advocated any extra-constitutional use of power. Not one of the three general proposals I described involve the government using more power than it it uses now, just using the power in better ways.
2) Your rhetoric about the wickedness of all politicians and government workers is pernicious and unchristian. It is unchristian because “love hopes all things”, and you, sir, are slandering thousands of people who want to do good. I know some of these people. They go to my parish, and they work very hard at promoting the common good. I don’t always agree with them, but I will not allow you to imply that they got into government for their own wealth and self-aggrandizement. Shame on you.
Secondly, your hackneyed rhetoric is pernicious because it refuses to call those who inevitably do exercise power to act for the sake of something higher than their own gain. It gives the tempted an excuse to succumb and to the truly unselfishly motivated a reason to despair and thus abandon offices to the wolves.
3) You call realities like social damage and self-determination “silly garbage” and “unquantifiable BS”. You sound like the worst of the New Atheists, for whom anything not measured in numbers ipso facto does not exist. Social damage exists, whether caused by Hollywood’s assault on marriage or corporate America’s assault on the family. Self-determination means having the freedom to do what you believe is right, and you do not have to start your own company to have the freedom and confidence to demand better treatment if your job is demeaning and your boss requiring you work on Sundays.
Don’t worry. Eventually these things will be measured in numbers: the number of broken homes, the number of people working 39 1/2 hr a week jobs, the number of people living in crappy apartments because they can’t afford to buy their own homes.
4) There is a difference between the government choosing “winners and losers” and government promoting a rational ideal of the common good. (That you see the outcome of society as a matter of “winners and losers” is itself a horrifying indictment of your rhetoric.)
The operations of the market, which you seem to conceive as inexorable laws of nature, do not exist in some kind of hermetic vacuum. They operate in response to the laws and structure of the society in which they operate. Change those laws, and the behavior of the market changes. Right now, the market behaves as though Walmart were the “best” way to deliver goods to people. And, given our highway system, our tax structure, and our disrespect for the working man – a very peculiar set of circumstances – it probably is. But change those factors and Walmart’s success will melt away and something else will rise in its place.
Your disrespect for philosophy means you inadvertently advocate for evil. Read the social encyclicals of the church. Read Hilaire Belloc’s Restoration of Property. Read Simone Weil’s The Need for Roots. Read Aristotle.
You say I live in a dream. You, sir, live in a nightmare, which is no more real.
“Both Big Government and Big Business need to be chopped down, split up, and power and wealth divided amongst as many people as possible.”
– You know it requires a big, powerful government to do this, right?
“The problem is how to do that justly. And I just don’t have a good answer for that right now.”
– Nobody ever does. And yet, too many people advocate for it to happen right now anyway.
To be honest, you sound more like Boromir than Frodo to me.
Actually, Social Security, and the GI Bill did more to create a secure middle class than any other initiative. They provided a minimal safety net and a path for economic self improvement. Government investment in the interstate highway system allowed distribution of manufactured goods that benefitted the economy enormously. Used with discretion, government programs can work.
“A rebalancing of the tax code to make it more progressive, including an increase in inheritance taxes;” (Inheritance tax is already a double tax. It’s bad enough I have to finance abortion. Now my dead parents are going to have to, as well?)
“Increase in college tuition aid and in pre-school programs to make the U.S. workforce more competitive” (LOL wut? The reason we need so much aid is because Sally Mae bankrolled everyone, thereby encouraging the halls of higher education to jack up tuition at will to cover things like massive athletic training facilities, and such. Increasing aid will not reduce debt slavery and despair once the re-payment notices start rolling in)
Amazingly, S&P is the same outfit that is arguably the most culpable for the banking crisis that created the conditions they are now preaching against. Between them and Moody’s, more crap mortgage securities got rated AAA and eventually sold off to a nation of willing dupes, than by any other entity.
I don’t disagree that there’s a huge wage gap. But coming from these guys? That’s just rich (no pun intended). The answer isn’t going to come from feeding the bloated government pig with more taxpayer money. The answer will come when the halls of justice start imprisoning more than Bernie Madoff and Jeffrey Skilling for stealing the wealth of a nation.
I’m just going to go ahead and summarize any and all responses you’ll get to this post:
“WHY DO YOU HATE POOR PEOPLE!?!?!?”
I’m so terribly sorry to have disappointed you.
Actually, I’m glad to see a change from the average once in a while!
I think you’re right regarding college tuition aid. Perhaps it would be more effective to subsidize the establishment of and tuition for trade schools and the like? I think part of the problem of college tuition aid, in addition to what you enumerated above, is that the final product might not be a terribly good ROI regardless of the means of the funding.
“Perhaps it would be more effective to subsidize the establishment of and tuition for trade schools and the like?”
– No. We simply need to stop brainwashing kids into thinking that unless they go to a four year college and get a degree then they have no value. That’s almost as poisonous as throwing more federal money at colleges.
There are tons of companies out there that are shorthanded for skilled labor. Tons in my area even offer TRAINING to willing, competent people. It’s not a lack of available training that’s the problem.
“is that the final product might not be a terribly good ROI regardless of the means of the funding.”
– For a college, if the Federal government is paying and guaranteeing, who cares if they are giving a good ROI?
There are actually some good youtube discussions out there featuring Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs where he talks about the college/skilled labor problem.
I agree mostly with what you say – my only comment deals with college tuition – it is not just sports and dorms – it site proliferation of “professional administrators” who “run” colleges, pull down inordinate salaries. Colleges to a large part have adopted the pay the manager lots so we can say we are doing well. I know of the proliferation because I teach at a small college and the top five administrators (Pres, VPAA, VPD, VPIT, and VPSF) makes as much as the entire humanities and education divisions which consist of 17 faculty.
Mr. Reich, who are “they”?
Well, since Republicans are the most vocal against the programs he supports, he means Democrats.
I’ve read a bit of Mr. Reich and he’s been critical of Democrats for being to cozy with the plutocrats too. “They” is open to interpretation.;)
Robert Reich is a professional liar, and this video was produced by a despicable organization that lives on lies. Like all liars, he mixes in plenty of truth to win you over. The Right that he criticizes is certainly negligent, but if you think his promotion of his Godless leftwing program shows that he cares one bit more about the poor than the Right then you are just buying into his lies. His program is about control and about increasing reliability upon big government so that more and more voters will side with the Left. It is all about Left power and increasing their hold over social issues such as abortion on demand and death panels for the aged. In the meantime, the Left–this is the Left that is dismantling the ability for Catholic charities to participate in society and address these issues–completely distracts us from any kind of effort to really understand the problems and address them. Reich’s presentation here is simple-minded and doesn’t even scratch the surface of the issues, but because people accept the arguments on such an ignorant level, he wins over adherents.
That’s an ad hominem attack if I ever saw one. Attack the argument, not the arguer. If they are lies, point them out with truth.
You apparently don’t know what ad hominem is. I didn’t say any particular argument is wrong because he is a liar. In fact, I acknowledged that there is truth in his words. I furthermore indicated the nature of his lies in that he presents grossly over-simplified ideas that hide both the nature of the problems and the nature of the solutions in all their details that they are proposing. It would take far more time and energy than I have to go into it all. I am saying this as a warning from one Catholic to the other–look deeper or be a sucker to lies. If you don’t want to heed the warning, that’s up to you. But if you don’t dig any deeper than this video, you really are a sucker and your efforts will be appreciated greatly by the Left.
Well, you made a series of ad hominem attacks. To say you didn’t implies you do not know what an ad hominem attack is.
Bullcrap. Ad hominem does not mean what you think it does. The ad hominem fallacy says: “This man is ; therefore, his arguments are wrong.” I did nothing of the sort. I called him a liar because he is a liar, but I did not say that his arguments are wrong because he is a liar.
Please invest in a logic book and research the term “ad hominem” before making further accusations of ad hominem.
“It is an intolerable abuse, and to be abolished at all cost, for mothers on account of the father’s low wage to be forced to engage in gainful occupations outside the home to the neglect of their proper cares and duties, especially the training of children.” – Pope Pius XI Quadragesimo Anno
:: feminist screech ::
Where I disagree with Reich is this:
1. He refers to “they” in this video, and I assume he means only Republicans. Democrats are also responsible, caring more about their corporate donors’ interests than the average American’s problems. Neither party represents or cares about the working class or the poor.
2. Not sure if it’s a deliberate “war” against people or not, but his solutions IMHO don’t get to the root of the problem. The economic disparity is the end result of financialization (Wall Street profits over people), monopolization (big corporations dominating various sectors and squeezing out smaller competition), and government/corporate collusion (e.g., big tech working with NSA; medical insurance companies and big hospitals partnering with government and squeezing out smaller players).
We need major political reform in order to achieve social reform.
“He refers to “they” in this video, and I assume he means only Republicans. Democrats are also responsible, caring more about their corporate donors’ interests than the average American’s problems. ”
Amen. How did the Clintons go from “broke” (Hillary’s words) when they left office to a worth of an estimated $100million? Moving to NYC, Wall Street, had something to do with it.
The Light-god, Barry, will soon be a multi-, multi- millionaire within a year or two of leaving office.
Many liberals are disappointed with Obama for promising hope and change and delivering neither. Instead crony capitalism and inequality have worsened under his administration. A few middle class small business owners we know are losing income, and are forced to cut back staff and other business expenses just to stay afloat.
Obama (like most of the political class) sold out to the highest bidders, as have the Democratic Party and the Clintons. The Republicans have too of course. Not excited about the 2016 presidential election unless a real pro-middle-class/working-class candidate emerges.
Per Aug. 28, 2014 Gallup: “Enthusiastic Support for Obama Among Democrats Wanes”
“Democrats are also less likely to approve of Obama now than during his honeymoon period in 2009 (78% vs. 88%, respectively). Additionally, whereas Democrats were nearly three times as likely to strongly approve as moderately approve of Obama in 2009, the ratio is now about 1-to-1.”
I know GKC is well-loved here, even by me, but one has to take what he says on economics with a grain of salt. He was from a very comfortable background and displayed the contempt for business which people with an artistic bent from said background had.
No economist worth his weight in zinc would argue that egregious income inequality is good, but would admit that some is inevitable. The masses now all use technologies which highly paid specialists develop, for instance, whose centres of activity are near large metropolises. Some people will earn more because what they do is of more value merely on the bottom line.
No apologies from me for the present system, I am just calling them as I see them.
One thing I would blame, though, is the deregulation of the banking system beginning under Nixon, which took the US off the gold standard. It did free up the banks to tap into more creative sources of capital, but with the risks of it eventually turning to quantitative easing for life support, i.e. protection money. Catholic teaching on social justice is not meant to micromanage the economies if put in practice, but to inform informed solutions in whatever sphere it may apply to, otherwise it looks like Catholic fantaszing which leads to nowhere, or ridicule at best.
Our nature is fallen. There will be inequalities. Immediate things a Christian can do is feed the hungry, clothe the naked, etc. which is what we wil be judged by rather than by our beliefs.
Actually, saying its an issue of inequality at all muddies the picture and distracts from the real problems.
But the issue is inequality. Even the ex-CEO of Kroger acknowledges his pay was absurd.
No. The issue is that his pay is absurd. Inequality just muddles that. How money is made (with or without integrity) and how outrageous CEOs reap benefits while watching their companies languish are issues. Watching out for the common good and the needs of the poor are issues. By making it an “equality” issue, you misdirect that fight away from the problems. There is no such thing as equality and there never will be. There will always be people richer than others, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Sure, there will always be people who are richer than most. Of course, it is ok, but it does not mean that it is right that ALL the wealth gets more and more concentrated at the very top. Inequality in the context it is being discussed here refers to the fact that there are too many people falling into poverty or even destitution, compared to the wealth of a small minority of people. A total equality is not necessary in order to have a society where everyone can afford a decent standard of living, e.g. where every worker earns a just wage.
As far as I can tell, Marthe, all you are saying is that inequality is irrelevant to the problems of ALL wealth being concentrated at the top and of people falling into poverty, while at the same time trying to say inequality is relevant. This kind of incoherence is exactly why we should religiously avoid “inequality” as part of the discussion.
So you cannot read and think at the same time… I said that a certain amount of inequality is normal, but the kind of inequality we have now is wrong. Some inequality is unavoidable, and even necessary in order for some people to have the capital needed to start businesses, particularly those that require huge investments. However, the inequality that is becoming a problem is that the largest part of the wealth gets concentrated in a smaller and smaller number of people. It should not have been that hard to understand… Just stop and think for a few minutes after reading something and before writing a criticism, instead of thinking of your objections at the same time as doing the reading…
So you cannot read and think at the same time…
That’s exactly right. Thank you for the validation I needed. You are so precious. And smart, too. And let’s not forget charitable.
But as long as you say inequality is okay and necessary, it is self-contradictory to say that inequality is the attribute of the problem that makes it wrong. You distract from the substance of the issues by pushing your ideology. So, yeah, I think I’ve thought this through better than you have, missy.
If not, I is so sorry, ma’am fer bein’ so stoopid. You is so many smarter than I. Have pity and charity on sech a small mind as me, please.
So you like to play with words instead of real arguments… Your choice. And I really don’t mind people disagreeing with me: My Mensa entry test showed that, technically, there can be 99.9% of people disagreeing with me but I can still be correct. so your condescending last comment (would it be because I am a woman?) does not really reach me….
Ah. I see. So “you like to play with words” is how you dodge the contradiction inherent to your argument. Well played, Miss Mensa. Little ol’ pea brain me could never hold my own against such superior tactics. And, yet. . . that problem with your self-contradiction still remains. How awkward for you, having to hide it like a tatty run in expensive dress stockings.
You have a way of dealing with ad hominem and non sequitur which has earned you the rare and valuable high five.
Prop him up and knock him down — classic straw man.
Let’s see: George Soros, Oprah Winfrey, Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, most celebrities and sports icons, media giants like Bloomberg, bankers, Wall Street gurus, and many, many hedge fund managers (the latest way to make oddles of money because of loopholes in the tax code) support the leftist ideologies. Reich is on their team. These people talk about “the poor” publicly, but their solutions always seem to keep the poor just where they are. Funny how that is. I think many of people who never got ahead wonder how all these 40 years of voting for Democrats, they and their families are still on the bottom, scraping along.
Reich’s video has little to do with concern for the poor and much to do with setting the political agenda for the upcoming elections in November. Why would this presumably very intelligent man never name the “they” who are waging a “war on the poor ? Because he wants to imply it’s conservatives, Republicans, yet the leftists themselves (I hesitate to call them Democrats. I believe they gather with the Democratic party, but there are a lot of Socialist and Communist Party members under that umbrella), institute policies that in effect, make their oligarchy very rich, and the solutions they pretend are to “help” the poor are not anything that will actually build wealth, but are handouts, and keep you where you are, and maybe even make you poorer. The super rich are controlling the economy, and rigging it for themselves. They are creating the very impoverishment the “programs” he talks about pretend to address. Heads I win, tails you lose.
One example: Democrats (starting with Jimmy Carter, continuing with Bill Clinton), and with policies in Congress carried out by Barney Frank and Christopher Dodd, first outlawed “redlining,” circling a geographic area as high risk for mortgages. Then they basically loosened the rule for mortgage companies requiring collateral and reasonable expectations for repayment of loans. Remember Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were a part of this. Then as the bad loans were being made, they allowed bundling of this junk, renaming it as “mortgage backed securities” and the financial industry sold this as AAA securities, meaning low risk, high rate of return. To you and me. To unsuspecting local governments in small towns and wealthy people in Europe. To mutual funds. And houses were flipping like pancakes, values going up and up because getting a mortgage was easy.
And then, the whole fake collapses. And guess what? You and me lose a lot of money. And any person who got a mortgage they couldn’t afford ended up losing every penny they put into that house. Well, so what? They would have had to pay rent anyway during that time, so they just move on. But now their credit rating is garbage. And any wealth they thought they were building disappeared like smoke. And you and I pay. Know why you only get 1/2 of 1 percent interest on your savings account? It’s not because the banks aren’t loaning out the money. It’s because the banks are taking almost all of the interest they charge and giving us nothing, to make up for the massive financial losses of 2008.
And who got punished for it? Nobody. Not one single person who was responsible for the fiasco got fired. Not one. Oh, companies went under, like Lehman Bros. and Arthur Anderson and lots of people lost jobs. But none of the super rich, none of the ones who knew this was what was going on, the ones who meet together with the Fed to plan out what will happen next, lost a thing. (Bernie Madoff is only an anomaly because he went to jail, not because he did anything significantly different than the rest of Wall Street.) And not only did they not lose anything, our tax dollars bailed them out! PRIVATE COMPANIES were given public money to keep them from suffering the loss caused by their crooked dealings! Who arranged that? Democrats were in power, but I didn’t hear much outcry about it from Republicans either. In any case, wouldn’t you think the advocates for the poor would be furious, and punish the wrongdoers from top to bottom? Yeah, you’d think. Wonder why they didn’t.
In addition, the Fed is printing money like crazy. That causes inflation in and of itself. So, have you seen the price of beef at the store lately? $5.79 for chuck steak!?!?!? And then we get the likes of Robert Reich saying the poor are struggling! Amazing.
Want more examples? Where are all our manufacturing jobs? In China.
Who made that happen? The government.
Who is making money off of that? The wealthy.
What good are job programs and education when there are no jobs to get that allow one to climb the economic ladder? How many college graduates out there are not finding good work, and move back home with mom and dad?
Where are all our big companies moving their corporate headquarters? Over seas.
Why? Because the tax rates are better.
What happens to all those corporate jobs, good paying jobs, for mid level managers and college educated people? They go to Europeans.
But who makes the tax rates? Obvious answer.
And who creates the welfare “programs” corporations are supposed to pay for via taxes? Same obvious answer.
Who is arranging all this? The incredibly wealthy who are in power.
Why are the poor poorer? Because our very rich are fixing the system to make moving up the economic ladder nearly impossible.
Who gets on their feet with unemployment checks and food stamps? Who ever, if you have a half a brain, thinks you can raise a family or build wealth on McDonald’s or any minimum wage pay? How will government paying for medical care create independence for a person? Raising wages causes inflation and job loss, because business owners either pass the cost on to customers, hire fewer workers, or close the business because they can’t make a profit. And who created the inflation that makes the minimum wage have no buying power? Why, the Fed, of course, who has been printing money so fast it would make your head spin.
With regards to the “crumbling infrastructure.” I presume Reich means this would create jobs. But does anyone recall Obama’s stimulus program that was supposed to “jump start the economy”? Just as predicted, it didn’t, and just as predicted, it’s money down a rat hole.
It amazes me Reich says those (unnamed villains) waging the war on the poor know, when you are desperate, you’ll accept any morsel of anything, and won’t speak up, because you are sinking, and afraid. In my own mind that statement verges on the sinister, because it appears to me, the “they” he is speaking of is himself and his own political party.
How about, for once, thinking out of the box? In your country, everything seems to be looked at from the same lens, the one that sees only 2 parties and nothing else. As I watched that video, I was pretty sure of what he meant by “they” – not one or the other of your 2 political parties, but those who really control the economy, that some people used to call the 1%. In the US, it seems to me that there is no longer any real politics. Politics are only the main , and they keep most of the population totally polarized on one side or the other. From election to election, from party to party, there is really no difference; only the wording changes a little. Your analysis is just more of the same: you criticize Reich for speaking for his own political party, instead of trying to separate what is true and what is false. Hing: It is not necessarily wrong, or false, just because it comes from the party you least approve of…
Well said, my dear. I often the left vs. right thing is to distract us from more meaningful discussion. Bottom line: a rigged game is making it awful hard for families to make a go of it. An living wage for an honest day’s work is essential.
Okay, I see your point. But Reich IS part of the political system that caused these problems. He IS part of the 1%. If that is true, who are the “they” he refers to? Certainly not the 1%?, because he is not blaming himself or his own political ideas. He is obviously placing blame on those who do not share his political ideology. Divisive. Not at all solution based.
I sincerely believe his ideas are wrong and false, and not because it comes from the party I least approve of. I think the ideas are wrong at their inception. They keep people dependent, instead of creating independence and freedom. That is why I disagree with him and his political party.
The thing is that, looking at it from a different perspective because I am from a different country, I do not think that his ideas are wrong. And since Mark has included this in his blog entry without some kind of direct criticism, I can assume that Mark agrees with him too.
I think his ideas are wrong because they don’t solve poverty, or lift anyone out of poverty. I understand you are saying: you are sort of looking at it from outside of the USA, and you have a different perspective. I don’t know what country you are from, and if it is one bereft of social programs for the underclasses and you wish there were more, or if your country already offers many of these programs and you think it is best. Whichever the case is, I think the strength of a country is measured by the industry of it’s people, and people are better off with jobs where they earn their wealth, and have opportunities to build it, rather than just exist in some handout state that keeps them stuck, and taxes the heck out of companies that eventually makes them look for ways to evade the cost of taxes.
I don’t really know Mark’s perspective on this, but he asked “can somebody tell me why Reich is wrong?” and I tried to offer (as best I can in this kind of forum), the reason I think this kind of thinking is wrong in the long run as economic policy.
This debate is hopeless, seemingly always resorting to a blame the other team mentality. I think this statement by Mr. Deenan from Ethika Politika says it best:
We live in a curious time in which most people on the Left—liberal Catholics included (starting with Mario Cuomo) – argue that politics should not be in the business of “legislating morality”; while those on the Right—many conservative Catholics included—argue that markets run best purely on motivation of individual self-interest. That is, Catholics follow the American political division that treat one sphere as morally autonomous. Both of these positions are rightly rejected by the comprehensive Catholic understanding that all dimensions and spheres of life ought rightly to be governed by an Aristotelian-Thomist understanding of the Good.
Very far down this thread, Aquinasman wrote: “There really isn’t a viable man-made solution to the current depth of inequality.” And I put in a long reply, but I am afraid that it will be missed because it almost at the end of this. So, here it is again: I disagree. There are several man-made solutions to the current depth of
inequality, but there really is not any “miracle” solution that will
change everything in a flash. There will never be a solution if all that
is ever done is discussing it. Maybe getting started in small ways, in
local ways, like starting cooperatives, for example, will be valid steps
towards positive changes. It is a matter of tenacity and solidarity, to
keep working at small local solutions without getting discouraged, and
change will come. An example that always come to my mind about getting
started and letting God work with what our small efforts can accomplish
is that of Mother Teresa. What I admire most about her is that she was
able to start doing something, even if it seemed insignificant. There
were, and still are, hundreds of people dying in the streets of cities
in India. If I had been in Mother Teresa’s shoes, I most probably would
not have been able to decide which one of those people to bring home in
order to at least give a clean bed to die. I would have thought that, by
choosing one among those many people, I was being unfair to all of the
other. Or that taking care of only that one person would not make a lot
of difference, so why bother? But Mother Teresa just started doing what
she could. And I am sure she did not expect to become world famous by
doing it… But God blessed and expanded her small effort. I think it is
possible that by trying to do what we are able to do with the means at
our disposal, even if it does not seem big enough, would open the door
to change, and that we can trust that God would in some way support our
Your comments are so good, and I hope you don’t mind if I add something from the U.S. Bishops from 1994 that mirrors your insights. They were addressing the violence in our culture as a symptom of our society’s moral failing and lack of respect for life:
“We are also experiencing the polarization of public life and militarization of politics with increased reliance on “attack” ads, “war” rooms and intense partisan combat in place of the search for the common good and common ground. Fundamentally, our society needs a moral revolution to replace a culture of violence with a renewed ethic of justice, responsibility and community. New policies and programs, while necessary, cannot substitute for a recovery of the old values of right and wrong, respect and responsibility, love and justice. God’s wisdom, love and commandments can show us the way to live, heal and reconcile.
“…Our faith challenges each of us to examine how we can contribute to an ethic which cherishes life, puts people before things, and values kindness and compassion over anger and vengeance. A growing sense of national fear and failure must be replaced by a new commitment to solidarity and the common good.”
They give a “Framework for Action” in their pastoral letter which is still relevant to today. The change will be slow but starts with rooting out anger from our own hearts as the first step.
My other recommendations include:
1) let’s turn off the divisive hate-filled media and start building relationships with people in our communities and churches.
2) reject the consumerist culture and don’t buy from corporations that are part of the problem but instead buy from local sources where possible,
3) don’t invest in stocks of corporations that are part of the problem, and 4) value people more over possessions which means buy less and realize that one’s self-worth doesn’t come from “stuff.”
Very good, thank you. Since I live in Canada and only became interested in Internet blogs about 10 years ago, I was not aware of that message from the US Bishops. As soon as I have a chance, I will go and read the entire message.
The economic liberation of India from the regulatory raj and the economic liberation of China from maoism essentially put 2 billion new competitors for jobs on the global labor market. Neither the regulatory raj, nor maoism could be supported in good conscience by any Catholic. All the points that Reich makes are dealing with the unfortunate second order consequences of that very happy increase in effective labor supply but none of them mention the root cause because by recognizing this reality, the jig would be up in short order for the particular solutions Secretary Reich likes. So Reich ignores the elephant in the room with regard to the poor and working class and focuses on second order effects because he’s got some awesome answers for those, if you ignore the fact that they actually make the underlying problem worse.
How do you find work for over 2 billion (soon to be 3 billion as Africa and Latin America come on line)? The solutions for this must be in diverting capital towards successful business formation, legalizing work hand over fist, and enlarging the capitalist class as fast as you can, as much as you can.
I don’t like to manage poverty. I want to end it as an objective reality of the world. The poor we will always have with us, if you measure poverty as the bottom of income ladder. That doesn’t mean that we must have the starving, the hungry, and the homeless.
When it comes to diverting capital, would you say that a large part of the problem is that too much capital is being held in too few hands/corporations? It seems that many corporations are holding on to their capital, waiting for… what? It seems that incentives such as lower taxes and bailouts don’t really work to change that situation. Those already in the capitalist class don’t seem to want their class to enlarge any time soon. So, where is the capital supposed to come from? On the other hand, maybe attempts on a smaller scale, like starting local cooperatives, might work, but I would not know how to start a large cooperative movement, and governments don’t seem too keen about facilitating cooperatives…
Actually, the biggest problem is that too much capital is frozen, unusable to borrow on and finance business formation. Latin America, it’s been estimated has huge resources that are simply locked up by inadequate legal regimes, mostly capital in the hands of the poor and working class. See Hernando deSoto’s The Mystery of Capital
Conservatives are quite happy to help people establish property registries and help figure out how to reduce the incidence of frozen capital. The post 1989 re-establishment of Romania’s cadastru property registry system was financed by USGS, for example. I credit that system for saving Romania from the economic fate of Greece, a country that to this day has yet to get its cadastru system in order.
You can borrow on land that’s properly registered and has a functioning system of title transfer when property backed loans go south. Coops might arise (my in-laws have a family one that covers some communist seized farmland of theirs) or not (my in laws also have non-coop business). Local needs will determine the form of organization, whatever it is.
The number of hands that have capital but do not have a functioning legal system to turn that into capital accessible to create business dwarf the number of hands that have both capital and a legal regime that allows them to access it for business formation.
You, personally, can simply understand your own system and start to expect that others adopt legal rules that reduce friction. I’m participating in a bitcoin lending marketplace in a minor way. This means that people sometimes try to steal money from me and I need to sue to get it back. In the US, $10k limits on small claims court to get lenders’ money back is common. In Canada, the limit is $25k. Belgium has a limit of about 2K in euros ( I believe that I’m being defaulted on on a loan where the borrower is in Belgium so I was looking this up today). I will happily loan to any jurisdiction where there’s an effective small claims process right up to the limits of the small claims court. That tends to divert capital from my local bank that would otherwise have the money and loan it locally, to my bitcoin wallet, which can earn better interest by loaning it further afield. This is an experiment, a long term project to assure that the poor have adequate pathways to work their way out of poverty if they choose to do so.
Every time someone defaults on me, I can’t recycle that money into further loans. This makes me pay attention to legal regimes and limits my loans to places where take the money and run is a viable business plan.
In this forum, anonymized borrowers set their own terms, from amount, to interest rate, to repayment time. Anyone with an internet connection and a bitcoin wallet can participate. You only find out their real details if there’s a default. I can loan far smaller amounts of capital than I could using dollars which means I can diversify to a level that is beyond anything available in the conventional loan system and the friction of this sort of subscription loan is very small.