Modern politics…

Modern politics… August 1, 2012

…consists of fabulously wealthy poligarchs snookering people who are getting poorer and poorer into pitying them as victims and underdogs.

The hilarity of watching these out-of-touch oligarchs try to pretend they have any lived connection with the electorate, while shouting down all who notice the pretense as Class Warriors is one of the funniest farces in American political life. Te perpetual game of out of touch pligarchs pretending to be Hee Haw viewers every four years and then labeling as Class Warriors anybody who does not capitulate to that ridiculous charade is one of the most grotesque and silly aspects of our system. I miss the days of FDR and JFK when the patrician class just frankly and openly said, “We are patricians and we feel a sense of noblesse oblige to the lower orders” instead of pretending to *be* the lower orders and doing stuff like this:

or pretending to Stand with the People while being a wholly owned subsidiary of Wall Street:

The besetting sin of an aristocracy is pride. The besetting sin of democracy is envy. We are a democracy so our aristocrats have to pretend to be victims. Hence, the attempt to generate pity for a freakin’ thousand dollar T shirt among an electorate that is struggling to make rents and mortgages that cost that much each month. The amazing thing is that we actually buy into this sort of Team Sport instead of saying “What on earth do I have in common with either of these bluebloods or anybody else in our Ruling Class? Given their bipartisan support for indefinitely detaining me and murdering me if they feel like it, and their bipartisan willingness to cannibalize my young and smash my conscience if it gets in their way, What possible motivation do I have to believe either of them sees me as anything but prey?”

Why can’t they both lose?

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  • CK

    “Why can’t they both lose?”

    Leviathan requires binary results.

  • MikeTheGeek

    Whatever happened to the bizarre concept of someone spending their money how they see fit? I presume the Romney’s tithe, even if I don’t particularly care for the institution they most likely tithe to. I’ll give the Obama’s the benefit of the doubt. In either case, it’s between them and God. Of all the things I’m going to get upset about with respect to the candidates for the presidency, their wifes’ wardrobes are pretty close to the bottom of the list. (Their pets’ wardrobes are probably lower.)

    If I had a near-infinite money supply, I’d buy a Lamborghini. If somebody started getting upset over the fact, I’d run over them. Well, I’d probably use the F150 for that. Might put a ding in the Lambo.

    • +1 to you, sir.

    • Andy, Bad Person

      See that blur? It was the point going right by you. Mark actually didn’t criticize either candidate for being rich or spending their own money how they please. He criticized them for being aristocrats and then pretending that they’re “just one of us.”

      • Marion (Mael Muire)

        For those on the Left, it’s not so much what you actually do, it’s what you say you support and owe fealty to, that counts.

        Thus, in the Peoples’ Republic of China, freedom of religion is smashed, churches closed, priests arrested, but that’s OK, as long as the Party leadership says that the Revolution is all about religious freedom for the people.

        So, the Obamas in their private lives may live as pasha-wannabes, but as long as they keep their Lefty street cred up by supporting the correct platform and continue to say they’re oppressed members of the underclass, . . . then, hey! They are good to go! Move along, folks, nothing to see here.

        • JB

          As an American-born Catholic who LIVED in Communist China for some years in the past decade, I can say about:

          “Thus, in the Peoples’ Republic of China, freedom of religion is smashed, churches closed, priests arrested, but that’s OK, as long as the Party leadership says that the Revolution is all about religious freedom for the people”

          …as one who has LIVED long term in that country and under that regime, I can tell you something else: The Chinese Communist Party claim their legitimacy FROM their (broken) promise of freedom of religion.

          In other words, ONE OF the PRINCIPAL reasons why the majority of Chinese either supported or accepted the Communist Party’s rule in 1949, was because in 1949 the Chinese Communist Party promised freedom of religion.

          The Chinese Communist Party has consistently broken that promise for the past 63 years, therefore it is not the legitimate government of China.

      • MikeTheGeek

        Who is “us?” I may or may not give the rear end of a naked-tailed Asian rodent for either one politically, but I’m not in the habit of exluding them from “us.” I have friends with hot-and-cold running money; I have friends that don’t have a pot in which to deposit liquid bodily waste. Both are “us.”

        Not having money doesn’t spare one from a sense of elitism and the overweening pride that goes with it.

        • Andy, Bad Person

          Of course it doesn’t; it’s just much more common among those that actually have money. There’s a reason why Christ said it would be very difficult for the rich to enter heaven.

    • Dan C

      We are not to spend our money as we see fit, but as God sees fit.

      Economic choices as a foundational basis of a Gospel life take up most of the Sermon on the Mount. Lots of words are spent of these matters in the Torah. God has told us how He expects us to use our resources. The clear message is that it is not “as we see fit.”

      Such thinking, common today, is not Christian at any point over the past 2000 years.

      • Dan C

        Let me be clear: The indulgence of such materialistic excess is a vice. It is certainly covered by a routine consideration of the Deadly Sins. It is a cross between greed and gluttony. This is excess is a common one today and is neither a virtue nor a morally neutral choice. Modesty is attire includes not just how much skin one covers up but how much one spends on their clothes.

        The Desert Fathers spoke on these matters.

        • Marion (Mael Muire)

          Well said.

          Also, the Master calls His disciples to poverty of spirit. We are not called to live in destitution or squalor, but we are called to live in solidarity with the needy and the unfortunate, and to give to them from whatever we have beyond what is necessary. That is, once we have availed ourselves of the necessities of life and material possessions suitable to our state in life, we as Christians would choose to live simply and modestly so as to have that much more with which to assist the needy, and also that we may be identified more closely with Jesus, who had nowhere to lay His head.

          I don’t know where Mrs. Romney or Mrs. Obama are in their walk with the Lord, and it’s not for me to judge anyone else, but generally speaking, it would seem that low-key and less expensive fashion choices tend to bespeak someone who takes Jesus’ teachings very seriously; ultra upscale fashions tend not to.

        • MikeTheGeek

          Deciding for others what is and isn’t materialistic excess seems to be a hallmark of regimes like Obama’s. If Abouna Don or Fr. Len tell me that I’m not meeting my obligations and that I need to cough up more dough, I’m oblged to listen; if you try to tell me what I can and can’t purchase, then my only response is, “Get off my lawn.”

          The use of money isn’t a zero-sum game. My earning a buck doesn’t take it away from someone else. The net increase in the amount of wealth in the world is what buys Romney’s Lambo (if he had one), my F150, and the help desk guy in Bangalore’s Tata Manza. And the Lambo purchase pays for the Lambo assembly worker’s Fiat that he couldn’t drive until he got the job building Lambos.

          • Marion (Mael Muire)

            “If Abouna Don or Fr. Len tell me that I’m not meeting my obligations and that I need to cough up more dough, I’m oblged to listen; if you try to tell me what I can and can’t purchase, then my only response is,’Get off my lawn.”

            I don’t advocate a return sumptuary laws.

            However, if anyone were to tell me that her or she is “a serious Christian” and I see that individual is in the habit of purchasing things to wear, to eat, to drive, and to live in that exceed in sumptuousness and luxury what is required for their position in life, I would have to conclude that the term “serious Christian” doesn’t mean what they seem to think it means.

            It’s not about “force” or “regulation”. It’s about “street cred” as any kind of Christian.

            • Marion (Mael Muire)

              P.S., Ultimately, neither you nor I, nor anyone else is the judge of your life choices; Jesus alone is.

              Christians who are serious about wanting to follow Him show that seriousness by their life choices, which they are free in this life to make or not to make. And their fellow Christians, observing those choices, may be edified and imitate them, or not edified and imitate them anyway, to their destruction, as the case may be. Example means a great deal in the Christian life.

            • MikeTheGeek

              (a) Speaking of points zooming by…see original comment
              (b) If I’m meeting my moral obligations, what I do with the leftovers is none of any other human’s business.
              (c) The purchase of an occasional fun item does not remove one from the Church.
              (d) By your logic, I guess St. Constantine (and yes, he’s recognized as a saint and proclaimed from the altar in my thoroughly Catholic Eastern Rite Parish, for all you followers of ancient, barbarous Italian customs) should have scrapped the palace and lived in an apartment.

              • Marion (Mael Muire)

                “The purchase of an occasional fun item does not remove one from the Church . . .

                Say what?
                On what planet did anyone here say you would be “removed from the Church” . . . for any reason?
                I sure didn’t.
                All-righty then!
                Hey, it’s been real! God bless you, and have a good life.

          • Ted Seeber

            “The use of money isn’t a zero-sum game.”

            I think Chancellor Wiemar said something similar. Right before his “money isn’t a zero-sum game” scheme produced the one billion mark note.

            • MikeTheGeek

              Non-sequitur. Printing money is not the same as wealth creation, unless you’re B. H. Obama. Apples and oranges.

    • ds

      That bird shirt is kinda fly, too, gotta recognize. Props, Ann.

    • Ted Seeber

      “Whatever happened to the bizarre concept of someone spending their money how they see fit?”

      Hate to sound like a fundamentalist- but where do you find THAT in scripture? Or Tradition? Or Catholic Theology?

      It sounds like a Protestant Moral Relativism concept to me “Forget the poor, forget the unborn, just spend your money how you see fit and everything will be alright, rock-a-bye baby”

      • Merkn

        How about Matthew 20:15. the rich have obligations to use what they have charitably as do we all. It is not for others to judge.

        • Marion (Mael Muire)

          “the rich have obligations to use what they have charitably as do we all. It is not for others to judge.

          Right. And adult children have an an obligation to honor and care for their infirm, elderly parents, and whether they do this or not, others are not to judge.

          And parents have an obligation carefully to train their young children up in the way they should go, and whether they do this or not, others are not to judge.

          And all persons have an obligation to refrain from gossip, to keep their word, to give a just day’s work for a just day’s wage, to keep holy the Lord’s Day, and many other things. And whether they do this or not, others are not to judge.

          It’s true we are not to judge one another, in the sense that we don’t give up on them or beat them up when they fall short, whether in our own minds, behind their backs, or to their faces. We don’t cut them from our list, write them off, consign them to the netherworld, make them persona non grata, or treat them as unwelcome pests, because they don’t measure up to our standards. We don’t do that.

          On the other hand, it can hardly be expected that the Christian is somehow inurred to the example that his fellows give; that we don’t notice, or shouldn’t notice and draw unfortunate conclusions when those around drink too much, become inappropriately angry, slap their children around, lose more money gambling or shopping than they can afford, neglect their families, flirt with people they shouldn’t, and the thousand and one other things people do every day that we know perfectly well a full-fledged saint would carefully refrain from doing, and that we hope we would never be caught doing.

          No, we don’t judge. Yes, we keep our mouths shut. No, we don’t roll our eyes or make tsk-tsk sounds when we see things that shouldn’t be happening. That would be obnoxious. No, we don’t gossip about what we heard or saw. Yes, we pray for the person. But, yes, in our estimation what we just heard or saw was an unfortunate moment in what we hope is an otherwise splendid Christian life, a moment best forgotten, and certainly not one for me to imitate, if I can help it.

          And, yes, I have a pretty good idea what level of sumptuousness and luxury in clothing I require and someone like the First Lady of the US requires according to our relative states in life. As I have a pretty good idea what constitutes generous and considerate treatment of my in-laws as well as yours, when I meet them. And what constitutes just and charitable treatment of my co-workers and members of the public with whom I deal each day, and what constitutes just and charitable treatment of others when I see you dealing with them. If I have taken the time to inform my conscience, then, yes, I will make an analysis of these things and will form some evaluations, without, however, going so far as to judge, which is a distinct operation.

          We may esteem or admire another’s actions, or regret them, without judging the person.

  • Julie

    Ann Romney’s shirt is ugly. But yes, God, the media is manipulating us. And we really are developing an aristocracy and an underclass who the top dogs think they can easily manipulate. Are we really that gullible? I suppose so many of us are comfortable with our big screen TVs and fast food, etc. Our material things. We need the Church now more than ever.

    • ds

      That bird blouse is totally kick ass. Ann’s the one we should be calling R-Money, not Mitt.

  • “Why can’t both sides lose?”

    Understandable but useless sentiment. One or the other of these guys is going to win. An ugly but unavoidable reality. Third party voting is not going to change that or lessen the impact of that reality.

    • Chris M

      and if we keep repeating that (which is exactly how the two parties want it), nothing WILL change.

      • James Isabella

        Your plea for third party relevancy in Presidential races has been repeated time and again for over 2 hundred years and will be echoed again until our Republic ends.

        There are simply too many barriers to success for third party candidates. Why? The political rules we play by just don’t give third party presidential campaigns a chance to be viable. You might as well lament not being able to score a touchdown in an ice hockey game.

        Change can only be affected within the two major parties, and the best time to do that is during the primary season.

        Sorry, but its true. Please show me one example in our history to show even the tiniest glimmer that I might be wrong.

        • Noah D

          Well, for a while, some states weren’t under the established 2-party system of the US Federal Government. So, there is a way.

          (True, it didn’t end so well for them, but when the US is willing to go to war to prevent someone from dissolving the political bands which have connected them to another, it’s hard to resist that kind of force.)

  • Bill

    As Mark stated back with FDR, JFK, and even to an extent Reagan (though he ultimately had plebeian roots) the rich made no bones about being rich. Noblesse oblige back then was par for the course and most people didn’t find it condescending.

    I think, actually, the big sin today isn’t envy (it exists but so many people have creature comforts) but pride among many folks that forces them to get indignant and demanding of the more successful to condescend rather than them try to succeed (I understand how terrible the economy is as I’ve been in and out of work a lot lately so I do sympathize with those who really are trying and struggling).

    And the politicians biggest vice is overt venality and whorishness. So they are more than willing to oblige.

    • Dan C

      I get to work with “the more successful” all the time. Acton and its mouth pieces have fooled folks into thinking that the less well-to-do, when they talk about welfare and the like, are promoting “envy.” Let me assure you: the wealthy envy the common worker their jobs. They want you off their payroll; they envy your salary and perceive to cut your employment to cut expenses to augment their earnings.

      It has been the clever work if the Deceiver to make you think the opposite is happening. The “more successful” make economic decisions routinely in a brutal, Darwinian manner. It is the successful that envy, it is the successful that bask in sins of pride (“I made this all by myself/I got here on my own.”) that keep people unemployed and underemployed.

      • Rosemarie


        I think you’re confusing envy and greed here. Two distinct vices.

        • Envy is the habit of wanting someone who has something good to lose it.

      • Marion (Mael Muire)

        Dan, I’m only a simple social sciences major, so I don’t quite follow your reasoning here.

        If I own a widget factory, and I employ 300 workers, can I hope to fire all but one worker and make more money in that way? It would seem to me that the answer would have to be, “Sure, for about an hour-and-a-half, at which point, my phone would be ringing off the hook, with customers screaming, “where are the widgets I ordered last week?” and “cancel my order! I’m going to buy from somebody who can supply me with enough high-quality widgets and on time!”

        ‘Cause the place would’ve fallen apart! Without enough employees – widget factory operators, shipping room workers, drivers, phone sales workers, payroll, A/P and A/R staff, facilities maintenance, etc., I can’t take make enough widgets; can’t ship my widgets, which means I care of my customers, and if I can’t take care of my customers, my customers will run – not walk – to my nearest competitor.

        Meanwhile, my competitor has hired all my good people I trained and let go, and is expanding into the next county, the next state and the next two states beyond that. He’s going to have me encircled; soon instead of being a premiere widget manufacturer, I’ll be second-tier, then out-dated and outmoded, then extinct. In very short order.

        Good people are a company’s best asset. Successful companies know this and live it every day. Loser companies, flash-in-the-pan companies may start up and make a run for some years, but unless they learn the the value of the people who make up their work force, they will go belly up. It’s just a matter of time. And loser companies go belly up just like that every day. I’ve worked for some, and have had the satisfaction of seeing them close their doors and go out of business. Now I work for a company that will soon celebrate 100 years in business; they are all about valuing their employees and treating them well, and even in this tough economy, this firm is holding its own very nicely, thank you.

        • Jamie R

          But if it were profitable to fire those 299 employees, you would, just like if you could save money by switching to cheaper or more efficient light bulbs. Payroll, like any other expense, is an expense. If you can cut it without a loss to productivity, you will. I don’t know if greed and envy are necessarily the right terms, but to the so-called job-creators, their employees aren’t different from light bulbs. That’s why productivity and GDP have gone way up over the past few decades, and real wages have stayed constant. The truly wealthy don’t want to spend money on payroll, just like they don’t want to spend money on lightbulbs.

          • Marion (Mael Muire)

            “If you can cut it without a loss to productivity, you will.”

            But why should business owners subsidize the paychecks of workers whose labor they don’t need? Enlightened companies, when they have to let people go, give employee assistance, job re-training, extra time to find new work, generous severance packages, etc., and this is the difference between the good guys and the bad . . . but if the work isn’t coming in . . .? or if business has slowed dramatically, or any number of other reasons, you can’t just continue to pay people a full day’s work for doing only half-a-day’s work forever and ever.

            Sure, you try to be considerate about letting people go, but you can’t keep paying out what you can’t justify in dollars and cents.

            It’s nobody’s fault; it’s the way things work out.

            I’ve worked in not-for-profit offices as a temp, where the bottom line doesn’t matter, where the budget is there, and people get paid no matter what, and it’s very nice and secure and comfortable. When things are slow, the secretaries sell Avon products on their (extended) coffee breaks, and chat on the phone with family and friends. The IT guys play hackeysack(?) in the hallways.

            In for-profit companies, if you don’t keep your costs (including payroll) in line with what the competition is keeping theirs at, then you will have to charge higher prices for your products and/or pay lower stock dividends to the shareholders. If you do that for too many quarters in a fiscal year, you go belly up. Then everybody’s out of a job.

            To me, it makes more sense to cut a few jobs and keep most of my workers employeed, than to keep positions I don’t need filled, filled, pay for them, find myself unable to compete, lose my shirt, and have to turn all my employees out on the street.

            What am I not getting here?

            • Jamie R

              That’s true. Which is why Dan C was right to say “they want you off their payroll,” but not necessarily correct to attribute that to greed or envy, rather than a desire to run a successful company. So I’m confused about why you’re saying, at first, that companies don’t want to reduce their payroll, and then saying that they do and there’s nothing wrong with it, but this is probably just a miscommunication. Improved productivity and efficiency is, in principle, good for everyone, but let’s not pretend that the rich are generous job-creators.

            • ds

              I don’t have any great solutions, but people getting laid off to maximize profits being “nobody’s fault; it’s the way things work out,” is one of the big problems with capitalism.
              Profit is king, all other consequences are inconsequential.

              Also the shortsighted way many companies are run today means the guy making the layoffs isn’t concerned about negative consequences to the company caused by layoffs, because he will meet his bonus numbers and be long gone from that job before the whole thing falls in the crapper. Again, no one can criticize him because the good capitalist did his job and made his money.

              • Marion (Mael Muire)

                FWIW, my husband and I were each laid off during the last 18 months. I know at first hand how awful that is. My husband was once actually laid off from his own father’s family business. Wasn’t going well, couldn’t be helped. That was rough.

                Let’s say my father-in-law were prohibited by law from laying off my husband and the handful of other workers. How would they be paid?Would magic pennies rain down from the ceiling as their wages? Without the necessary cashflow, Dad-in-law couldn’t continue to make payroll. My husband understood that. I understood it. I guess somehow you have a way to cross your arms, blink your eyes, and wiggle your nose, and “shazamm!” there is now money to payroll.

                Have you applied for a patent on that yet? Because, it’ll make you richer than Bill Gates!

                • ds

                  I don’t expect anyone to run their company into the ground by keeping employees. I said laying people off to maximize profits, not to keep the door open. Like upper management types meeting their bonus goal of increasing 3rd quarter profits by 5% or whatever by laying off x number of jobs.

                  • Marion (Mael Muire)

                    My younger brother’s current job is on the firing line in just such an arrangement. My brother is, if you don’t mind my saying so, brilliant, highly motivated, and darn-near indispensible. His immediate manager happens to agree with my evaluation of Frank, and is striving to do whatever it takes to retain him. His manager is the idiot who wants to eliminate not only Frank’s position but his entire layer. Just to make himself look good to the senior, senior managers. (Loser!)

                    Frank says that if they eliminate his position, his former boss will not only have double the workload that he has now, and won’t be able to keep up, no matter how hard he tries, but he won’t have the expertise in many of the details Frank deals with day-to-day. Things will begin to go wrong; serious mistakes will be made. That’s mostly why Frank’s boss is striving to keep Frank on: he knows it’s in his face that the running of the department would blow up.

                    Frank says that if his firm eliminates these positions, that they will end up either recognizing their mistake and rehiring within about eighteen months, or else experience a systems failure of his division of their operation.

                    We agree that truly smart, successful, enlightened, humane, generous-minded, and class-operation businesses structure their employment carefully, and eliminate jobs only when necessary. (My husband, fabulously valuable as he was, knew when the work wasn’t coming in; he knew that he was on payroll while looking for something to keep busy each day. When this had been going on for some weeks my husband started looking around, because he knew. )

                    Class operations eliminate jobs only when there has been for some time no sound business reason to retain them. Idiot, loser operations eliminate critical jobs to increase their bottom line; their operations suffer; they either have to rehire people who now have to get back up to speed on operations that have fallen into chaos or else they fail and close their doors. Really, really smart top management have a pretty good idea what job closures are likely to result in operational chaos, and they don’t put into practice moves that would bring that about. Such managers tend to choose to work for classy firms. Loser top management types – greedy and short-sighted – aren’t wanted by truly successful classy firms. They tend to work for firms that are destined to fail, which don’t have a handle on the importance of valuable people and positions, and they pull short-sighted bone-headed moves like eliminating critical jobs to increase their bottom line. If they continue to make these kinds of mistakes and others like them, their firm will eventually go belly up, and they will be out of jobs themselves.

                    This is not “karma”; this is the common sense.

        • Ted Seeber

          What you’ve missed is automation and outsourcing.

          Scenario A, for Automation- fire 299 of the 300 workers and replace them with widget making machines and subcontract with just-in-time delivery from UPS. Customers are happy, prices are the same, and you just increased your profit by 500%

          Scenario O, for Outsourcing- fire the 300 highly paid, highly trained American workers, move to the Sudan and subcontract with al Qaida to supply slaves at 1/1000th the cost- and subcontract with just-in-time delivery from FedEx. Customers are happy, prices are the same, and you just increased your profit by 1000%.

          These twin forces are what is really going on.

          • Merkn

            So we should run society using the same 1900s technology to avoid upgrading to more efficient equipment? Your scenario o does not exist. Even in subSaharan Africa workers do not work for 1/1000 the cost. There also are no skilled workers if you are talking about genuinely sophisticated positions. If you mean unskilled workers, there are other costs that mitigate against the extreme case you posit. Fe Exis not free. what exactly is the product? Sure things are outsourced, like the apple products you may use. Consumers here benefit from the lower price that is charged. At the end of the day by any reasonable measure the standard of living of everyone is increased by trade, and hes that includes the temporary displacements caused by outsourcing.

  • Faith

    Honestly, I can not fathom spending that much money on clothing if you have any sort of conscience or compassion for the poor. However, I do have to concede that Mrs. Obama has better taste here than Mrs. Romney. Of course, she paid more and you get what you pay for, don’t you? 😉

  • Dan C

    Ms. Marion,

    The routine is simple: lay off folks as much as possible and insist on the same work product. It is the routine. The workers then do work late. Forced to sign out, they remain at their tasks or come in on Saturdays to finish their work. Not being paid. If one really needs the work, such behavior is tolerated.

    Or…lay off workers and get cheaper workers later who are new or novice and less expensive or in another country.

    Workers are considered as but expensive, high maintenance machines. If there are fewer, the “successful” are only so happy for now, until they can reduce that personnel expense line once again.

    Workers with good things, like reasonable work weeks, full family lives, and decent benefits are openly derided by the “successful” who are openly jealous of the lives of these workers. The successful work many many more hours (but still need the lowly worker), have neglected their families, and envy these middle class workers.

    Such is the way of the successful.

    One doesn’t find these “envious” activities discussed at an Acton conference or a First Things column.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      “Forced to sign out, they remain at their tasks or come in on Saturdays to finish their work. Not being paid. If one really needs the work, such behavior is tolerated.”

      That is illegal, as well as immoral. Reputable firms don’t do it, and they don’t do business with firms that do. I know whereof I speak. The really top talent, whether senior managers to maintenance, drivers, operators, etc. will always, always, always gravitate toward the reputable firms who treat their employees with respect and with humanity. This leaves the “bad-ass” firms with the practices you describe unable to secure the top talent, and with poor reputations in the industry. They may make money for awhile, but they go under sooner or later. Can’t compete. Can’t get enough of the top-notch people and have a bad rep. That’s bad medicine in business.

      Companies that do this bad-ass business to their people may get ahead in the short-run, but in the long-term they will not endure. Good companies are the ones that endure.

      • Ted Seeber

        I’ve never known a reputable firm on this topic.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      “Workers with good things, like reasonable work weeks, full family lives, and decent benefits are openly derided by the “successful” who are openly jealous of the lives of these workers. The successful work many many more hours (but still need the lowly worker), have neglected their families, and envy these middle class workers. Such is the way of the successful.

      These sound like “successful” persons whose grandkids will be working as porters on cruise ships or flipping burgers. Why? Because “successful” Gran or Gramps treated “the help” like shit, pissed too many of them off, couldn’t atttact top talent anymore, had a poor rep in the industry as a low-class, shitty employer, and nobody wanted to work for them or do business with them.

      Ergo, business fails, money runs out, Gran or Gramps is broke, progeny back to square one on the food chain.

      It’s how corporate life works. Unfortunately, it can take a couple of decades from start to finish, and a lot of good people have to suffer. But there are good companies out there, lots of them, that do a good job producing a good product or service and value and take care of their people. You have to be careful which company you choose.

  • Dan C

    Not only is the wage stagnation a sign of this trouble, so is the corporate earnings successes of the past three years with a more than modest increase in the stock market a sign of these troubles. Workers are disrespected and indignities insomuch as they are objectified by the machinations of the corporation and the market.

    Corporate profits are fantastic now. But companies aren’t hiring US workers. That is the new economy. The New Economy is that human workers are one more commodity bought and sold like any computer or cell phone.

    Apologists for this predictable consequence of capitalism will answer to God.

  • Dan C

    The relevant Gospel line is perhaps not from Matthew’s version of the beatitudes (“poor in spirit”). Luke is much clearer: “Woe to the rich” without clarification or explanation.

    I am always humbled by this part of the Gospel. Matthew gives me too much wiggle room.

  • JB

    As a native-born American who became an Australian subject of Queen Elizabeth II, I say:

    All of the above are good arguments for Australia to keep the Monarchy. Because the main reason for the British (and Australian) Monarchy to exist, is because it does not pretend to be a meritocracy, and consequently the Monarchy makes the spouses of the Heads of Government insignificant.

    My American friends often ask me, “WHY do you Australians keep the Monarchy?” The answers ought to be self-evident. Having a hereditary and self-evidently NON-“meritocratic” monarch with almost NO political power, DISABLES political hacks and their wives from becoming pseud0-“meritocratic” celebrities!

    In other words, the value of the British Monarchy is that it does NOT PRETEND to DESERVE its power and fame!

    • DTMcCameron

      Nothing to foster a sense of humility or duty quite like the, “This was given to you by God, now what will you do with it for Him?”

  • Dan C


    You and many others seem to construct the functions of the economic order with a sense of justice that resembles Hindu karma and dharma more than Catholicism. Successful companies are often not “good.”. Nor should we think that the market is so ordered as that those who behave unjustly, but legally, are going to have a comeuppance in this life, or among their children.

    The market is an example of Paul’s “way of flesh” or “way of this world.”. In Christianity, one is often abused by the powerful and the merciful are only shown mercy by God.

    This sense of temporal justice that the market will mete out in God’s Name rests on the image of the Invisible Hand as The Hand of the Holy Spirit. It is not.

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      “You and many others seem to construct the functions of the economic order with a sense of justice that resembles Hindu karma and dharma more than Catholicism.

      I’m not talking about “karma” or “dharma”. I’m talking about common sense.

      Didn’t your mother ever tell you, “don’t bother the bee, and he won’t bother you.”? Does that mean that every time anyone ever got stung by a bee, they had bothered the bee? No, of course not. Sometimes, your number is just up for a sting. But in general, it’s common sense. The way people treat each other tends to be reciprocated. Not always. Not 100% of the time. Most of the time

      Now, drug-dealers, psychos, and greedy S.O.B.s are guaranteed to be horrible vicious monsters to everybody.

      But most business people aren’t drug-dealers, psychos or S.O.B.s. Some are.

      And they will get weeded out sooner or later. And this is true not only the economic order, but the interpersonal and political, and every other kind of order that there is.

      I think your starting point seems to be “All successful business people are vicious monsters who want to crush workers.” Which I don’t agree with. Some are. I’ve worked for pretty vicious people in the non-profit field, too. And there are really vicious who are dirt-poor and own nothing. And some very wealthy successful folks I’ve known who are princes among men. And some who are good as long as someone keeps an eye on them, but who knows what they might get up to if nobody’s looking.

      I have no time for people who claim that “all poor people are ignorant, lazy, good-for-nothings.” Not true!

      Or equally, who say, “all successful, wealthy persons are vicious greedy oppressors of the workers.” Not true, either.

  • JB

    Jesus had, and has, more simple answers to all of this:
    1 God’s Kingdom is not of this world;
    2. Therefore there is no economic “justice” in this world;
    3. Meanwhile, personal property is good but is morally conditioned by how it serves others.

  • Irenist

    Romney net worth: about $250 million.
    Obama net worth: $6-12 million.

    Neither is an impoverished do-gooder. Then again, many great statesmen have been wealthy, and I’d be happy to vote for Croesus if only he were pro-life and anti-torture, inter alia. No such luck with these two….

  • Mark R

    I thought Ann Romney was the very funny, but notoriously bad dresser Amy Pohler at first. Paying that much for an ugly shirt…Sucker.

    • Ted Seeber

      Yep. My real response is that she paid $990 for a shirt she could have gotten at K-Mart for $12?

  • Lizzie

    Envy is not a sin of democracy. It is a sin of humanity. Democracy is merely one form of government in which envy is allowed to determine policy. Of course, it’s nothing compared to the envy found in pure socialism.

  • john

    They are just like us only better and more important (polititans and the media)

  • David Davies

    Pity them? I don’t think that emotion ever crossed my mind (or heart) for either side. They are grownups with money and they will do just fine, win or lose. I don’t envy them either, and can therefore never be a Progressive………..heh.

  • Terentia

    A few short comments
    Romney earned his money. All of his sizable inheritance from his father was donated to charity. He has ontinued that charitable giving ever since, just compare the level of giving listed on Obama’s and Romney’s tax returns.
    Ann’s clothes are paid for by the Romney’s. Michelle’s clothes costs come right out of my pocket.
    Michelle has better taste than Ann only if you consider just those two tops. If you have ever seen those ladies at any other time, Ann wins the “taste” contest, hands down.

    • Peggy R

      Yes, I agree. While that particular Ann top doesn’t do much for me, on a routine basis, Michelle’s style is flashy and often ill-fitting or gauche. There are web sites devoted to mocking her horrible choices. Ann is mostly classic style.

      On this whole thing, the “us” and “them” thing based on income is unfortunate. While I do not claim Romney is conservative and believes what we believe–either theologically or morally, I don’t think him an empty suit entirely. He’s Mr. Squeaky Clean Ward Cleaver. I think Mitt and Ann are basically decent people. (I don’t think the Obamas are basically decent people.) Sure, they don’t know “how the other half lives.” I find it interesting that Mark mocks Romney visiting the black school in Philly for which Mitt was criticized by black leaders. Why can’t he try to meet these folks and understand how they live and what their challenges are? He is running to be president of all Americans. He should try to meet and listen to as many of us as possible. I don’t think there is any reason to have contempt for Mitt doing this.

  • Caroline

    And if they paid that amount of money for paintings to hang on the wall instead of clothing to hang on their bodies, what then? When the rich employ people whom the rest of us could never employ does the Gospel condemn them?
    When Mary anointed Christ’s feet with the expensive perfume, weren’t there many who stood behind her having earned their livings from the making and transporting and marketing of that super luxury item?
    Have you ever walked into a shop and bought an item, just a little inexpensive thing even, because you felt sorry for the shopkeeper? Would putting the same money into the poor box be holier?

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      “When Mary anointed Christ’s feet with the expensive perfume, weren’t there many who stood behind her having earned their livings from the making and transporting and marketing of that super luxury item?”

      You raise some interesting questions. Just to note that Jesus is the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, and therefore the entire planet and everything and everyone in it was created for His use and disposal, including expensive perfumes. God deserves our best, our ultra-best; according to Saint Thomas Aquinas, creatures, including ourselves, deserve what we require to lead decent, productive lives in which we will thrive spiritually, intellectually, emotionally, as well as physically. Anything we have beyond that should go back to God, either in the form of donations to make His house – churches – more beautiful, or for the spread of the gospel, for the training of seminarians and religious, or to relieve the needs of the infirm, the elderly, the widow, the orphan, the stranger, the prisoner, the unwanted, those unable to care for themselves.

  • Lloyd Petre

    I’m gonna see if I can be a deep thinker, too. uh, well, uh ……
    oh yeah. The Pope wears shoes , calf or kid leather in the winter, Nappa leather in the summer, custom made for him by Adriano Stefanelli- no off the rack Prada for him- paid for with tax deductible donations. Wonder how they compare in price to the FootLocker? Or if they’ll fit through the eye of a needle?

    • Marion (Mael Muire)

      Lloyd, what would be your observations about the priceless jewels, tiaras, and sumptuous evening gowns worn by the Head of the Church of England?

      • Bob

        or the things worn/driven around by every other head of state? Actually, in this particular case of the shoes, they are just as likely to have been donations.

        Actually, in both their cases (the latter, because she is my queen, not because she is Head of the Church of England), I find it quite elegant and tasteful, and part of the trappings of office, which show the dignity of the office. This is before one allows for the fact that both of them are working, and quite hard at that, well beyond the age when most other people have retired.

        There is also something to be said for their role (and the role of religious and royal finery in general) in aesthetically elevating. The Queen is the symbol of the state, and the Pope of the Church. As such, what they wear does have some value for those who live in the state(s) or are members of the Church. One wouldn’t, in like manner, begrudge Obama, Airforce One, or the White House.

        • Marion (Mael Muire)

          Right! “Trappings of office,” I would argue, is a legitimate requirement of the job. That includes security details, mansions and their furnishings – antique furniture, sumptuous hangings and rugs, important artwork, servants, lavish banquets for diplomats and heads of state, private transport (air, water, and ground), dedicated state-of-the-art communications and data systems, a vacation villa or two, libraries, and, last but not least, top-of-the line apparel and accessories in which to at state or other official occasions.

          This would all be true for a head-of-state or the topmost prelate of a Church: Queen of the UK, Abp of Canterbury, the Dalai Lama, the President of France, the Pope, the President of the U.S., etc. And their wives, and diplomats and other senior representatives of their offices. The pomp and glitter of officialdom is rightly and suitably on display in such cases. But each according to what is suitable and becoming to the office.

          Even when the pomp and glitter of the trappings of office are called for, there are still limits to what is suitable and proper. For example, what if former First Lady Laura Bush (a lady of low-key, impeccable taste) had purchased a $30,000 diamond necklace, and a $20,000 hand-embroidered, gem-encrusted evening gown, and a $50,000 tiara to wear to the Inauguration ball? She would have looked respendent, but grotesquely overdone! It would have been obvious to the American people that their new First Lady had lost her mind, and had thought she was become either Cleopatra or the Queen of Sheba. Highly inappopriate!

          See, even where top-of-the-line trappings are a given, there is a field within which it is suitable and appropriate to operate, and an area into which one ventures out-of-bounds into unseemly extravagance. And no one wants to see a habit of unseemly extravagance develop in a Head of State, a Head of Church, or their auxiliaries (wives, husbands, other family senior staff, or those high-level officals who report to them, etc. )

  • Confederate Papist

    Karl Marx much? Wow…you drew the anti-capitalists out on this one Mark.

    The rest of us were out eating Chick Fil A…

    • Peggy R

      Filter wants words, mere words….

  • BobRN

    As for Romney’s investments in companies that perform embryonic stem cell research: sadly, many Catholics in America are also invested in such companies, through their 401K’s. Most employees have no idea what companies their 401K’s invest in, and would be shocked (hopefully) to find out that they’re retirement funds are from profits earned by companies that invest in such things as abortion services, child labor, the homosexual political agenda, pornography, etc…