Communist Class Warfare in the Vatican

Communist Class Warfare in the Vatican April 21, 2014

Damn Komminnisses is everywhere.

“Is it not also a scandal that some people earn salaries and collect pensions that are sometimes 100 times higher than those of the people who work for them and that they raise their voices to object when a proposal is put forward to reduce their salary for the sake of greater social justice?”

Fortunately, this homily is not about abortion, so it means nothing and can be totally ignored. Also, priest abuse! And job creators! So shut up, padre.

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  • ivan_the_mad

    Perhaps even more powerfully: “The betrayal of Judas continues throughout history, and the one betrayed is always Jesus. Judas sold the head, while his imitators sell [the] body, because the poor are members of the body of Christ, whether they know it or not.”

    Here’s the link to the homily, which is worth reading in full.

    • Andy

      Thank you for the link – this homily does give one pause and another reason to reflect on my life

  • Dan C

    To quote an observant wag: “salaries 100 times higher? How quaintly egalitarian.”

  • Dave G.

    I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like when the emphasis starts to be on how Christians can have their Netflix, their DVRs, their country club memberships while their fellow believers lie starving in the mud below the Equator. It’s easy to look at Wall Street billionaires and think how poor I am, until I stop to realize that compared to a sizable hunk of the starving world, I’m Bill Gates.

    • But it’s not just amount solely. In order to make a living wage in nearly all cities in the United States you have to have a car. That represents a big chunk of money you are required to spend. I spent a year in Sudan where nobody cares if you go to work wearing clothes you got off a container of donated Goodwill rejects. You can’t do that here.

      Part of living a dignified life in a particular society is having the resources to contribute meaningfully to the common life in that society. If you don’t have that essential part, your life is drastically impoverished compared to people in say, parts of Africa, even if materially you’re far wealthier.

      • Marthe Lépine

        Good point, that is too often neglected in order to derail discussions of a “living wage”. There will always be someone who is worse off than any of us, somewhere in the world.

      • Dave G.

        That’s why I didn’t say car or clothes not from Goodwill. I picked things we would never really need, in any society, yet still continue to enjoy.

    • Dan C

      This is a very very important point. I would love to have this discussion.

      It will be though, a discussion that will still not change Manhattan’s financializatilon of the economy.

      • Dave G.

        I doubt it will rock Wall Street, but it’s something I think about whenever I buy some frivolous little thing for the family. I’ve thought that ever since Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger. I wonder if we’re heading in that direction, a more radical call to abandon our assumptions on a variety of fronts.

    • Cypressclimber

      Whether you should have Netflix or not I cannot say.

      But I am curious how your eschewing Netflix would help create jobs for people “below the Equator”?

      I realize you didn’t speak of creating jobs for them, but specifically of them starving. So I suppose your point would be to use that money to buy food for them. But surely that’s only a temporary solution? Catholic teaching surely stresses employment and the opportunity to provide for oneself, as the ultimate goal, instead of charity?

      Thus my question. How would you — and presumably lots of other people — foregoing Netflix, DVRs, “country club memberships” lead to folks in poor countries gaining meaningful employment, and all the other goods that flow from that?

      Because I am not seeing how that happens, so please explain that?

      • Dave G.

        The point being, it’s easy to get worked up at things that don’t apply to us, but apply to others. But how about those luxuries and creature comforts we spend money on for ourselves? Oh sure, we have good reasons. We always do. But think on it. I just picked Netflix out of the air. It could be anything we spend money on for our own comforts knowing full well that at the very moment, a fellow believer in some part of the poverty stricken world has just died for want of basic necessities.

    • Marthe Lépine

      There is an actual difference between people with a more than comfortable income making use of the goods of this world, and people with incomes in the millions hiding their income in tax havens in order to avoid paying their fair share of taxes which could, for example, be invested in infrastructure work, which is actually needed, while those infrastructure works would provide good jobs to other people. And this is just ONE example, the is no need to go off on a tangent to derail the present discussion. Again, there are some people who just hoard money and use money to make more money, while others just enjoy a good life, e.g. enjoy money for the purpose money exist, to facilitate exchange that in turn redistribute money to various working people.

      • Dave G.

        Oh sure, there’s a difference between someone bilking the system and someone not bilking the system. And it’s not a tangent. It’s a serious thing I’m thinking on. I notice a lot of the discussions on the Catholic blogosphere – A LOT – have to do with things that don’t really impact me. What’s it to me when discussing the sins of billionaires? I’m not one. For that matter where I stand on Hiroshima or our policies in Iran. Talk about things that don’t impact me, or force me to sacrifice anything in the saying. But just when I start thinking how easy it is to stand on all the right issues, how about that creature comfort I bought for myself while knowing a fellow believer (or fellow human for that matter) has just died from starvation in the world. Sure we’re OK with it. We always are. But is this just the beginning of a new and radical approach to the gospel meant to focus more on ourselves and what radical steps we can take? We’re already going in there in some ways. Perhaps we’ll be going there in others in the not too distant future. Or at least, perhaps we should.

  • Cypressclimber

    If I make an ample wage — let’s say, just to be concrete, $100,000 a year, and I pay reasonable taxes and so, after taxes, I am able to provide for my family,give some away, and put money aside…in short, I have a good life…

    How does the fact that someone else — even my employer — makes “100 times” that hurt me?

    • CradleRevert

      It doesn’t, but economics has never really been a strong suit for many who claim to hold the only Authentic view of Catholic Social Teaching (TM).

      • Andy

        I know those who eschew Catholic Social Teaching the aforementioned version of have a solid grasp of economics. Perhaps it is not economics that the people you belittle have no grasp of, maybe it is a different understanding of the Gospels and the teaching of Christ and the church. Economics has become our downfall because it puts money – mammon at the center and not God and each other.

        • Cypressclimber

          Bashing economics is just another variant of the anti-science mindset Christians sometimes get into.

          Economics is a science; not exact, and not supreme. But it is a science, and as such, deserves respect for what it tells us about how people actually behave, as opposed to wishes.

          A lot of human suffering — today, right now — is a direct consequence of deciding that the science of economics is bad, and should be disregarded, and as a result, public policy is enacted on the basis of wishes and happy thoughts.

          • Dan C

            No one is deciding economics is bad. Most use it for our critiques.

          • Andy

            I am not bashing economics – however, it is not a pure science, it is a social science and therefore loaded with all the issues of social science. People have elevated it to the status of exactitude and power that it does not merit. I would suggest that a lot of the ills of the world exist because of the adherence to the science of economics and not the morality of the church. What passes for economics today is nothing more than a recipe for those with much to get more.

            • Cypressclimber

              You said: “Economics has become our downfall.”

              Would you also say:

              “Evolution has become our downfall.”

              “The discovery of air travel has become our downfall.”

              “Advances in geriatrics have become our downfall.”

              The problem is not the science of economics, any more than the theory of evolution is the problem — even though there are uses that both can be put to that are problematic.

              • Andy

                Since you play lots of word games – witnessing your other posts please be accurate and complete – I said “Economics has become our downfall because it puts money – mammon at the center and not God and each other.” To compensate for your lack of comprehension – let me restate – Economics which puts mammon at the center of our existence has replaced God with mammon. This replacement is our downfall.

                • Cypressclimber

                  Your original comment blamed “economics” — unqualified. If now you are clarifying that you blame a particular sort of economics, that’s a horse of a different color.

                  It’s not word games to ask people to clarify their meaning. Thanks for doing so. Blaming me (“your lack of comprehension”) for your lack of clarity is unbecoming.

          • Marthe Lépine

            You are probably not an economist, but I happen to be. And I do not think it is a science, it is a “social science” and as such any conclusion it makes, even the “law” of the market, is and always will be just another hypothesis.Scientific evidence requires “control groups”, or ways to isolate two distinct groups in order to experiment with one theory on one of the two groups, and something else with the other, which in the real world would be impossible.

            • Cypressclimber

              You are correct, I am not an economist. But you yourself call it a “social science.” You claim there is no science to economics?

              Would you not say that economics intersects with psychology? What sort of science is that?

              Economics is an interesting study of the choices people make, with incentives as variables, in groups. And it has been possible for economists to develop theories and models that accurately describe how people behave.

              Which is why I said it isn’t an “exact” science.

              • Marthe Lépine

                Theories and models are not as exact as experiments using controlled groups. They are just that, theories. The creation of a model is of course based on mathematics, which are now considered a science, but the major use of models is to try to support theories, which still remain theories, but maybe with more or less accurate calculations to support them.

              • Marthe Lépine

                Theories and models can never be “accurate” descriptions. They are hypothesis about the results of the decisions made by large groups of human beings, and many of them start with the idea that human beings will always try to better serve their own interests first. Many times, the results do come close to describing actual situations, but other times they do not, or unexpected events will be changing the way most people will think.

    • It may not hurt you, but it hurts other employees who make less than you, and who don’t get raises or even a liveable wage so that the employer can keep making his salary.

      • Cypressclimber

        The presenting example was this: that when someone rich-rich-rich makes “100 times” his employee, that’s a scandal.

        If the employee is doing well, how is it a scandal?

        Now, if people want to argue that it’s a scandal when there are hungry people, struggling people, and they can’t improve themselves…

        Well, then say that — not that a magic formula is a scandal.

        If 100:1 equals scandal, is 80:1 OK? 60:1? 30:1?

        What’s the morally acceptable ratio? And by what calculus do we decide that X:Y equals a morally praiseworthy ratio, but X+1:Y is now “scandal”?

        • Dan C

          Let’s be clear: 100:1 is quaint in these evaluations. We are not likely really discussing that. We are talking the 8-9 digit earner while average salaries are far far below that- maybe 1000 times.

          • Cypressclimber

            Again…why is the ratio the moral calculus? I admit in high school, I started getting lost when we got into “irrational” numbers. But I really don’t recall the section on immoral numbers.

            • Dan C

              Because disequity is sinful and a cause for scandal. This was pointed out in Rerum Novarum.

              • Cypressclimber

                Look, if you insist that a certain ratio is immoral, than it is necessary to know what that ratio is. That’s why it’s a silly argument.

                Hence my illustration: what’s meaningful is the wage at the low end of the ratio.

                Also, what matters far more is mobility. A job that only pays $5 or $7 an hour is not a scandal. The scandal would be if there’s no “up” from there.

                • Dan C

                  If there was meaningful employment with more middle and lower class gains, this discussion would be different. But we do not see that and even Douthat calls this a Gilded Age.

                  Labor and laborers are not treated with respect. Workers at all classes undergo chaos and instability that dramatically negatively affect families and communities as a result (good luck finding a Scoutmaster for the desires “intermediary” organizations).

                  The ratio is indicative of a concentration of capital and increasing disrespect of workers and the product of their work.

                  • Cypressclimber

                    I agree lack of good jobs and thus mobility is a problem. That’s a worthwhile point to make.

                    The ratio is irrelevant. And it’s potentially a harmful distraction.

                    History is filled with lots of examples of people trying to fix the ratio. And they usually end in tears.

                    Let’s put it another way.

                    Depending on the sorts of policies in place, you can have a widening ratio, in which the poor advance more quickly…

                    And a static or narrowing ratio, in which they advance less quickly, or else not at all.

                    What’s more important to you? That those on the bottom rise faster? Or that the gap between them and the rich narrow?

                    And if you assume that narrowing the gap and improving the lot of those on the bottom go together, you are making a false assumption.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      We have a point in common here: Lack of good jobs is a problem. But many people lack jobs at all. And, tell me, who gives the jobs, and/or the good jobs, and/or the opportunities to move from bad jobs to good jobs? Employers,that is who. And nowadays we see that employers are more interested in good shareholders. Excessive money paid to the higher echelons does mean that more and more capital is being hoarded at the top and not used to create jobs. The responsibility of the rich is to provide opportunities for all others to make a living at a living wage; many do not, and many choose there investments for only one reason: making more money with their money.when the already have much more than they, and their families, will ever need, sometimes for generations to come. The money they hoard, in such circumstances, is money stolen from the poor, or in this context from potential workers.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      Well, first of all, your assumption that accumulating wealth comes at the cost of employment doesn’t quite work.

                      I have money in the bank — not millions, but some money. Does my putting money aside for my retirement mean less employment? Howso? You are mistaken in assuming this.

                      In fact, my savings almost certainly do create jobs. Capital doesn’t just sit in bank vaults.

                      The same is true for people who have billions as opposed to my thousands; the scale is different.

                      Now, a more useful discussion is why do we not have more job creation? Are you suggesting that people with money have an intention against job creation? They want more unemployment?

                      We used to have much more job creation than we have now. It seems clear enough that this is a function of public policy. We currently have an array of policies that discourage job creation.

                      If you want to blame someone for that, why blame the people with billions of dollars?

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Actually, I do believe that to a certain point, people with billions do want unemployment. They want to maximize profits by reducing one of the heaviest areas of cost for a corporation, the human costs, e.g. jobs. Many do see the salary costs and their attending benefit expenses as the main area of their businesses – or more exactly of the businesses they are shareholders of – that can be squeezed. They will insist that what they are insisting on is not unemployment per se, but higher productivity, or rationalization of business…

                    • Cypressclimber

                      “people with billions do want unemployment.”


                      By the way, who says human beings are more a “cost” than an “asset”? That’s a remarkably dumb notion, eminently provable. I don’t doubt there are people who do believe that, but they are fools.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      I guess that you have read even less business literature than I did… I have often read about the fact that human beings constitute about 1/3 or all the costs of a corporation and that is deemed to need to change. Since I am an avid reader and I do not take the time to write things down because I have a good memory, it would be difficult to quote exact sources, but I am sure you would find such material if you use Google, or maybe even Wikipedia. One of the best ways to shrink human costs is to improve “productivity” by “rationalizing” the business and lay off people. Maybe just looking into the methods of some “hedge funds”… Particularly one that was owned by a recent Republican presidential candidate.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      Ah, now we shift from imputing bad motives to bragging about who reads more “business literature” and condescension. Sheesh.

                      Anyone who claims to be an economist, and doesn’t get the simple insight that human beings are not a liability but an asset, should not claim to be an economist.

                      After all, why hire employees — ever! — if they don’t add value?

                      One simple example will suffice: some years ago, an employee at — I believe — the 3M company was working on some sort of adhesive. In the process of his work, he invented “post-it notes.”

                      You can insist that employees are net cost rather than asset, but the portion of the world that uses post-it notes knows better.

                      And of course, only some employees increase value in such a spectacular way; but all employees, if they are doing their jobs and the company is well run — add value.

                      That’s why you have employees!

                      (I can’t believe I need to explain this to someone who claims to be an economist, and a better-read one than me, to boot…)

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      So now you have to resort to insults… I am not claiming that employees are not considered an asset, I am actually deploring things that I DID read in business literature. Just do your research before accusing me of ignorance. There is plenty of evidence that many people believe that employees are too costly.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      No insult. I said that people who think people aren’t a net asset are — and I quote — “fools.”

                      Now, you could have said you agree…instead you chose to brag about how much more you read than I do.

                      So it sure seemed like you were disagreeing.

                      I”m glad to have you clarify that you indeed agree that people are assets, not liabilities.

                      But then, that undermines your earlier claim (unsubstantiated) that billionaires want unemployment.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Reasonable people consider that people are assets, not liabilities. However, a lot of very rich people did make a lot of their money from extreme efforts by themselves or their various levels of subordinates made to reduce expenditures made on human resources by laying-off people. Of course they would argue that they are not creating unemployment, that there are plenty of jobs around and if their former employees were motivated enough the would take any job available…

                    • Cypressclimber

                      You as an economist ought to understand that a business can have too few employees, or too many, as well as have the wrong people working in the wrong jobs. It’s not any sort of mystery. So at any given time, a company will either hire, or fire. That’s pretty normal, not evidence of something sinister.

                      To fire someone — while obviously a difficult thing to do (I’ve had to fire people for various reasons, and anyone who has been an employer faces that day sooner or later), is often the necessary and just thing to do for all concerned. To employ someone who isn’t doing the job is unfair to the company, to the other employees, and to the employee, who either needs to be helped to be an effective employee, or else move onto something that s/he actually is qualified to do.

                      Now, all that is common-sense; but it contradicts your breezy imputation of sinister motives to employers who engage in layoffs.

                      Again, it’s amazing I have to explain these things to someone who claims to be an economist.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      I do not know who of the two of us just “claims” to know more economics… There are certainly good reasons to get rid of some employees at some times, but what many of those “hedge funds” have been known to do is just laying-off people for the bottom line – I remember reading some things on the Internet about the latest defeated presidential candidate and the way his own fortune happened to have been made. I did not keep links, but you should not have much trouble remembering his name and checking out his business deals (since I am not a US citizen I expect to be forgiven for forgetting the name of the defeated candidate in your last elections…)

                    • Cypressclimber

                      I don’t think I ever made any claims about how much I know about economics. I certainly never claimed to have any formal education in the subject (I recall one course in college), and I never claimed to be an economist, whatever that might mean (it could mean several things).

                      What I’ve done is offer my understandings of the matter. I think that’s what most of us do.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Maybe because people with billions of dollars are more able to influence public policy? Just saying…

                    • Cypressclimber

                      Again, evidence?

                      I can offer counter evidence:

                      > Super rich Koch brothers can’t seem to prevent the Senate Majority leader from calling them “unamerican” and liars, and tax cheats, day after day…

                      > Super-rich mayor of New York vowed to spend his billions to influence gun policy. Spectacular failure.

                      > Super-rich Steve Forbes runs for president. Didn’t win.

                      > Super-rich Ross Perot runs for president. Didn’t win.

                      I could go on, but I want to give you your turn. Please cite evidence of your claim.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      How about super rich Wall Street former executives getting top government adviser jobs by a president? And how about unlimited money given to candidates by PAC? Actually the super wealth of just one person (such as Forbes and Perot) may not be enough, you would need a coalition of super rich corporations and billionaires. I am not in your country, but it is what I understand PACs to be…

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      I did not really just mean that more money at the top means less for those in the bottom. I was actually thinking about some much more radical think I did read a long time ago that said more or less that if I have two coats and my neighbour does not have one, not giving that person my 2nd coat would be cheating him/her of something that should rightly belong to her/him. A kind of sharing that I must admit I myself would find hard to do…

                    • You can also have what the United States had in the 1950s- a narrow ratio in which the poor advance incredibly quickly.

                    • Dan C

                      Right now you have nothing good happening because the 30+ year endeavor has been to dehumanize and indignifying labor.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      OK, but I note you didn’t answer my question about which you prefer? A narrowing gap with the poor static or worse off, or a widening gap, but the poor rise faster?

                      If you don’t want to answer it, that’s fine.

                    • Dan C

                      Paul Krugman would note that the high ratio is a surrogate marker of the fact that economic forces, and he goes into this, prevent the possibility of a widening gap and an improved bottom of the ladder.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      OK, care to translate that? Sorry, I’m dumb so I don’t get how that answers my question.

                    • Dan C

                      The answer is “you can’t have that situation for the long term.” And we are now out in the long term. Deceiving ourselves that the 1980’s would project wealth onward and “trickle down” etc, may have shown short term gains that decade (or a part of it) , those gains were not durable. You cannot have for the long term an economy promoting Gilded Age tycoons and perpetually increasing benefits for workers. Ultimately, capital, which only knows covetousness and wants what everyone including the poor have, will gain nearly all.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      Well, the 80s and 90s were far better for wealth creation, job creation, and real advancement into better jobs, than our current situation. So I’m puzzled why you’d support your argument by complaining about public policy during those periods.

                      Or do you actually think things are better now — in the U.S., for the poor to advance from poverty — than in, say, 1994?

                    • Dan C

                      This is the continuation of these same policies, and the consequence has been a concentration of capital and an esoteric financializatilon of the economy that makes usury look honest.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      No it’s not the continuation of the same policies!

                      There has been a tremendous change in a variety of policies, from taxes, to regulation, to energy policy, to health care, and interest rates, in the Bush and Obama years vs. Reagan, Bush and Clinton.

                      Not all bad; but to say it’s all “the same policies” is simply factually wrong.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      As you like to ask too, proofs please?

                    • Cypressclimber

                      > There has been a significant change in tax policy since the 1986 tax-overhaul, trending now back to more complicated taxes, more deductions, loopholes and credits, and also greater “progressivity”–i.e., higher marginal rates.

                      > Current environmental/energy policy is far more hostile to coal production, while a lot of tax money is being devoted to “renewable” and putatively less-carbon-producing energy.

                      > Obamacare. Lots of taxes and regulations that affect business decisions, and hiring.

                      > Interest rates are substantially lower now than in the 80s and 90s.

                      > More could be cited in the area of banking regulation, overall government spending, etc. But I’ve made my point. Public policy is not “the same” — whether these changes are good or bad, they aren’t “the same.”

                      You don’t know this?

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Those are not “the same” policies, these are new policies that are even worse. And they do not exclude a lot of the same policies having remained unchanged.

                    • Dan C

                      You claim histrionics that more thoughtful commentators on the right distance themselves from. Tax policy has barely changed over 20 years and only for some few.

                      I suggest reading Professor Reno.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      The 1986 Tax Reform resulted in substantially different tax rates and tax deductions/exemptions/credits, from what was before, and what has taken it’s place.

                      Your claims that tax policy has “barely changed” is simply factually wrong. It’s changed a lot. Maybe good, maybe bad, maybe both.

                      But it has significantly changed.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Your first choice would mean that everyone would become quite poor, and of course it would not be good. And a widening gap where the poor rise faster may never exist, or, if you have seen one, please give some references or links…Otherwise, your question is quite theoretical and not quite honest, since anyone with any sense would say that the first choice is not good, whatever they are thinking about a just distribution of the world goods.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      No, it doesn’t. If English isn’t your first language, that’s fine, but at least own up to that, and I’ll do my best to help.

                      My first example is that both rich and poor are rising — get that? RISING — that means “going up.” But the rich rise faster.

                      And of course a scenario in which both rise, but the rich rise faster, can indeed happen. It’s quite obvious. There’s no need to “prove” it. You’re the one who claims it can’t happen.

                      Prove that.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Sure, seen that way, you are correct. The problem is that the poor are not rising fast enough to make much difference,and the rich are rising much too fast.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  I have heard a similar argument before, in a different context. It wend like: I agree that torture is evil, but it is necessary to clearly define what actions constitute torture… I am not sure it is an honest argument.

            • Dan C

              I am not suggesting exacting “equity” but profound disequity should not be something Catholics sleep well with. This is something we observe today- lay offs by the ultra-rich.

              The numbers make do make a difference. The numbers of unemployed and out of work individuals are the numbers which indict.

        • You are right that details matter. But so does context. In this case, this was a rhetorical device in a homily, not a detailed analysis of the salaries and wages of a particular company. Coming up with a specific hypothetical, as you did, is missing the forest for the trees.

          • Cypressclimber

            Mr. Shea chose to place his stress on that particular quote, and to ridicule anyone who doesn’t accept that the quote is uncontestable.

            • The fact that he emphasized that particular quote does not mean he is focused on that particular ratio the way you seem to think he is. He could, in fact, be emphasizing it for the same rhetorical purposes as the priest.

      • Marthe Lépine

        I would add that maybe Cypressclimber and others who just do not care because it does not hurt them are guilty of being too satisfied with themselves and not doing anything to help their coworkers earn a living wage… as well aw allowing an unjust system to continue.

        • Cypressclimber

          Ah! Now we get to the imputation of base motives: “Cypressclimber and others who just do not care…”

          When you can’t argue the facts, attack the person you argue with…

          • Marthe Lépine

            If you keep maintaining that as long as it does not affect you, there is nothing wrong with the system, it really sounds to me as the words of someone who does not care. Forgive me if my experience with life has made me misinterpret you. Stating what appears to me to be a truth does not necessarily mean a condemnation…

            • Cypressclimber

              Well, perhaps English is not your first language, so your reading comprehension may not be what I suppose.

              I never said: “as long as it doesn’t affect” me that “there is nothing wrong with the system.”

              I never said there was “nothing wrong with the system.”

              If you pay me $5 a citation, I’ll go to the trouble of gathering all the times — in this thread — I’ve said that there are, indeed, problems. (I’ll gladly donate the money to Catholic Relief Services)

              Do we have a deal?

              • Marthe Lépine

                There are words, and there is a meaning to words, and understanding words based on previous knowledge and experience. However I have often noticed how easy it is to fall back on “precise wording” in order to challenge an interpretation of what is being said. Seems to me that it can happen when there is not enough time to think of actual argument…

                • Cypressclimber

                  I’ve made plenty of arguments, without having to impute any base motives to anyone here. You can’t say that.

                  Again, if you want me to gather up all the proof that your assertions are wrong, let me know. I won’t do the extra work for free.

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    Go ahead, I am waiting! Then we can have a discussion.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      So you are agreeing to my terms, namely:

                      “If you pay me $5 a citation, I’ll go to the trouble of gathering all the times — in this thread — I’ve said that there are, indeed, problems.”

                      I would like a clearer affirmation, so that there is no unclarity in the contract.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      I do not have that kind of money. But if you need to be paid to start looking for proofs that you are correct, it leaves me to wonder…

                    • Cypressclimber

                      No, I asked you to pay me to gather all my earlier comments into one post. I offered to do so, since you claimed, above, that I said something I manifestly did not.

                      So to make it easy for you, I was willing to repost all those comments of mine — in this thread — that disprove your false statement.

                      I don’t have to do that. I am willing to do that extra work if you compensate me. If not, then you can scan the thread and read what I wrote…

                      Which you should have done, already, before you said: and I quote you now:

                      “If you keep maintaining that as long as it does not affect you, there is nothing wrong with the system.”

                      I put the key words in bold for clarity’s sake.

                      This assertion is FALSE. As in, not true. And my many comments here are evidence that I do, indeed, consider there to be something wrong with the system.

                      If reading English is difficult for you, that’s fine, just say so. But then I would hope you would refrain from claiming I said things, I haven’t.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Except that I just disagree that your comments are convincing enough for me. Sure, you are presenting arguments, but they do not convince me, so you could try to find better ones…

                    • Cypressclimber

                      So the basis of this was your claim that I deny there’s a problem. That is a false claim.

                      Feel free to prove your claim.

                      After all, the one making the accusation has the burden of proof, not the one being accused of something. You accused me of claiming there is no problem.

                      Prove it. Ball’s in your court.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      That was my one and only claim. It was just one aspect of what I wanted to say, among others, and it was not an accusation, just an interpretation of some of your wording, or maybe an expression of the ideas that came to mind as I read the wording of your comments.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      To say that someone “does not care” about human suffering qualifies, in almost anyones book, as an accusation. You said I did not care…and you buttressed that claim by saying I deny there’s even a problem.

                      Look, why don’t you just (wo)man up and say you shouldn’t have said it in the first place?

    • Eve Fisher

      I do not know, nor have I ever known, anyone as friend or family who has earned or does earn anything close to $100,000. The average wage in my small town world is $24,000. That’s why there are a lot of dollar stores. And a lot of drinking. To argue from the realm of affluence misses the whole point of the way most of America lives, much less the world – average wage, $10,000. So how does $17 million a year sound now?

      • Cypressclimber

        When did I claim you knew anyone who earns that much. That’s irrelevant. I am making a point, and I’ll make it again. If the “downtrodden” — the person making a mere 1/100th of Mr. Rich — is actually making a good wage, then please explain what the problem was?

        If I’m doing well (as an employee), how does it hurt me if my employer is doing scads better?

        Please explain that.

        • Dan C

          What is a good wage? Why do we have a jobless recovery? Because hiring people is not anyone’s interest. Humans are discounted and are negative signs on someone’s investment sheet. Replace them with a robot and that robot is an asset.

          Gone are the days when an employer was proud of the number of employees he employs. They resent every paycheck and receive on Wall Street a negative mark for each one.

          • Cypressclimber

            I think there are a lot of reasons why we have a largely jobless “recovery,” and I have a number of ideas about how that could be different.

            I don’t agree that technology is necessarily a problem. Taking technology out of the world would not make for more food and housing and health care for the seven billion souls on our planet. It seems pretty clear that technology is enabling us to feed and clothe more than ever.

            Technology is essentially neutral — the morality lies in how it is used. Money is like that, too.

            • Dan C

              Technology is not my problem with the jobless recovery. I claim strongly again, that the business world resents every paycheck and labor and laborers are not dignified.

              • Cypressclimber

                I referred to technology because you did — i.e., you made the point about robots. I was simply replying to what you said. Would you rather I not do that?

            • Exactly. And that’s what both Mark and the original homily are saying.

        • Eve Fisher

          If you’re doing well, it’s fine. But my point is that many people are not making a living wage. For example, the CEO of Walmart makes $30 million a year. BUT, Walmart employees (who are paid minimum wage) are coached on how to get food stamps and other state and federal welfare benefits. And Walmart has admitted ( that its business model depends on its employees getting food stamps, etc. So how justified is Mr. McMillon’s salary? Basically, the money goes to Mr. CEO, and the tax-payer gets to make up the difference. And that’s not even going into the Walton heirs, who are all billionaires, thanks in large part to very low wages and taxpayer-funded welfare assistance for their employees. Yes, if the employer is doing scads better, it really can hurt not just the employer but all of us.

          • Cypressclimber

            If you took me to mean I earn $100,000, allow me to clarify: I do not. That was offered merely as an example.

            And, as I said, I was using a concrete figure just for the sake of clarity. I might as easily have said $50,000 or $70,000 or whatever. My point was to say this:

            If the lesser-paid person is getting an ample wage — whatever it is — why do you care if his or her employer gets a LOT more?

            That’s my question.

            • Marthe Lépine

              Actually, a lot of the concern is that the lesser paid person often does not get a wage that is even sufficient for a decent lifestyle while the employer still gets a LOT more and would strongly object to that changing..

            • Eve Fisher

              And I answered it – fine. But my question is, if the lesser-paid person must go on government assistance to survive, i.e., on your dime and mine – how is the employer mega-salary justified? Especially since you can bet dollars to donuts the CEO is paying as few taxes as possible.

              • Cypressclimber

                Who does NOT pay “as few taxes as possible”? Do you pay more in taxes than you have to? Do you know anyone who consciously overpays his or her taxes? So why do you blast CEOs for doing what you do?

                Moreover, you seem to have this notion that “rich people” have money just piled up around their mansions; perhaps they take baths in tubs filled with gold coins — all that money, just sitting around, doing nothing. Which means, they could in turn bulk up the paychecks of people who work in low paying jobs, and solve the problems of the working poor.

                How do you arrive at these conclusions?

                Have you ever sat down and tried to see if your assumptions have any factual validity? For example, why not pick a concrete CEO — someone who makes a huge salary. Your pick. Then determine how many people work for the company s/he is in charge of. Then it’s simple math: if the CEO, say, cut his/her salary by 80%, how much would that increase everyone else’s pay?

                I’d be very interested in the results of your calculations. My guess is that it won’t work out as you imagine.

                In the meantime, that CEO, of course, will simply quit that job and go somewhere else. And the candidates who will accept the job on those terms will prove to be mediocre at best, and before long, everyone will wonder, gee, whatever happened to the once-great XYZ corporation? It used to employ so many people around here.

                And before you accuse me of being Scrooge McDuck, I’ll just add this. It’s fine to wish that the world is other than it is; and it’s noble to seek actually to change it; and change it, we can.

                But it’s a whole heck of a lot harder than it seems, and the hardest thing to change is people. So wishes are fine — we all wish everyone had good paying jobs and no one was ever poor and hungry. But how do we get there? Well, the whole world would like to know. If you have the answer, you could make a bundle providing it, and have a clear conscience doing so — and then you can give all that money away and feel even better!

                • Marthe Lépine

                  About taxes, the problem is that the richer a person is, the more ability that person has to use tax havens, loopholes and such to avoid paying even the taxes they do owe. And if they get caught, they still can afford the best lawyers to justify themselves. However, other ordinary people just have to pay hat they are expected to.

                • Eve Fisher

                  I did pick a specific corporation, and a specific CEO – Walmart, and Mr. McMillon. (I suppose I should have re-referred to him by name in my response.) He makes over $30 million a year; his employees make minimum wage and are specifically told by Walmart HR to get on food stamps to eke out their wages to survive. To use other people’s tax dollars in order to make his (to me, I admit) overblown salary possible on the backs of his working poor employees appears to me flagrant abuse. Again, I ask, how does this strike you?

                  I pay taxes, and I pay them without cheating or evasion. You can call me a sucker, but I prefer to consider myself as companion to the late, great Oliver Wendell Holmes, who once said, “I enjoy paying taxes. Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society.” I also pay close attention to St. Paul, who also wrote at some length about taxes. The fact that people proudly and openly evade taxes, and at the same time take tax dollars from us, makes me sick, especially since so often they – and here I will be specific, people like Paul Ryan and Rand Paul – want to dismantle the very civilization I am paying my taxes for: education, infrastructure, CDC, Social Security, etc.

                  And, by the way, right now, most corporations and wealthy people ARE sitting on a whole lot of cash:

                  So are banks. So is everyone except, of course, the poor.

                  Re the world’s problems – well, the solution is right there, in Church teaching from the lips of Jesus until the present time. Perhaps someday we will not only hear it in the pews but live it in our homes and businesses.

                  • Cypressclimber

                    Mr. McMillon makes, you tell us, $30,000,000 a year.

                    According to Wikipedia, Wal-Mart has 2.2 million employees.

                    If he took absolutely *no* salary, that would increase everyone else’s salary something like $14 . . . a year.


                    And I asked if you overpay your taxes. You admit you try to pay just what you owe, no more. As I said, that’s what CEOs do, yet you bash them for doing what you consider acceptable…for you.

                    And no, no one “sits” on cash. It’s put to some active use, even in bonds or money market accounts. Do you think no one would notice if all the money-market funds were emptied between 9 and midnight tonight?

                    • Eve Fisher

                      Well, we disagree, obviously. I don’t like my tax dollars subsidizing the slave wages that make Mr. McMillon’s salary possible, or the multi-billionaire wealth of the Walton family. And I believe there is a big difference between paying without evasion or hesitation and the amazing tax tricks, loopholes, and off-shore investments that corporations and most millionaires delight in, and our Congress has made legal, thanks to intense lobbying by the same. But, I keep remembering John Steinbeck’s prescient quote: “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”

                    • Cypressclimber

                      LOL. In other words, other people’s methods of minimizing their taxes are disreputable — but yours are fair and wholesome!

                      And your point about Mr. McMillon’s salary being related to “slave wages” (I didn’t know slaves got wages? I thought they worked for free?) is simply refuted by the facts.

                      If Mr. McMillon received a $1 a year in salary, the wages of the 2.2 million Wal Mart employees would be raised less than $14 a year. So if, indeed, Wal Mart’s wages are too low, raising them in a meaningful way (probably more like $14 a day — or more) will require more than scapegoating the CEO. Where will that money come from? Do you know?

                      So, the difference between your position and mine is that mine conforms to the facts, yours ignores them, wishing them to be otherwise.

                    • Eve Fisher

                      The argument that “cutting this won’t help that” is one of the many arguments that were made against abolishing slavery; against cutting the work week from 6 days a week; against establishing a minimum wage; against giving benefits; against anything that might actually help working people. (Except, of course, when it comes to cutting social security and then that’s going to pay for the entire deficit.) Anyway, somehow, the economy survived and thrived after all those things changed. I actually don’t mind CEOs – my favorite is Henry Ford, who paid his employees enough so they could buy what they were manufacturing – an automobile. But okay. I’m living in la-la land, where I am surprisingly comfortable. Enjoy.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      This has nothing to do with abolishing slavery, etc.

                      Look — it was you, dear friend, who linked the high salary of the Wal-Mart CEO as a cause of the low wages of his employees. All I did was show that claim is spurious.

                      Does Mr. McMillan deserve $30 million a year? I don’t know. Do his employees get paid enough? I don’t know.

                      My own view is that what will do the most good is a robust economy that creates LOTS and LOTS of jobs, so that someone can start at $9-10 an hour, but not stay there. In the 90s, when we had an unemployment rate around 4%, we had traditionally low-wage fast-food jobs begging for workers; with the result that those jobs’ wages were rising. More of that, please.

                      No, I’m not claiming the 90s were Nirvana; I am just pointing out that what can help is realistic to hope for.
                      And, I’m more interested in talking about realistic, practical steps — that are actually doable — as opposed to fantasies such as these silly notions that all we have to do is cut CEO salaries drastically.

                      As I showed already, your claim that Mr. McMillan’s high salary somehow is connected to the “slave wages” of his employees is false — you can entirely eliminate his salary, pay him ZERO, and you will make only an absurdly small difference in everyone else’s pay.

                      Moreover, even if you could demonstrate that slashing his salary is a good idea, you haven’t explained just how you intend to do that. I’ve actually thought about that, and the mechanisms by which you might do that are frightening to me, and are a trail of tears.

                      To me, it just makes a lot more sense to focus on workable solutions than fantasy; and if we can foster more good paying jobs, and lift the quality of life for vast numbers of people by some degree, that’s an outcome I can live with…

                      Even if the Mr. McMillans of the world continue to get gargantuan salaries. As I said in my original comment: if those at the low end are doing reasonably well, who cares how well the tippy-top people are doing?

                    • Adolfo

                      Are you a Catholic? Are you familiar with the sin of scandal? The Church’s teachings on wealth? Otherwise, I wouldn’t expect you to understand the homily or Mark’s comments or the discussion at large.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      Yes, yes, and I think so. Why do you ask?

                    • Eve Fisher

                      It is a shame, but we cannot get to a point where we agree. You can’t understand why I don’t see that what the top makes has no connection to what the bottom makes, and I can’t understand why you don’t see that there IS a connection between what the top makes and what the bottom makes. I can’t understand why you don’t see that it is wrong that Walmart (and McDonald’s) is deliberately, consciously using us, the taxpayers, to subsidize their low wages. I can’t understand why that doesn’t bother you. I can’t understand why you don’t see that those at the low end in America are NOT doing reasonably well, and until they are, it does indeed matter how well the tippy-top people are doing.

                      And the really sad part is that neither of us have workable solutions. Mine is to turn all the CEOs into Warren Buffett and Henry Ford, and I’ll admit that’s fantasy… ah, dreams, idle dreams… Yours is to trust the market, which (thanks to outsourcing, creative accounting, predatory lending practices, skyrocketing medical costs, etc.) has turned the bottom half of America into a financial ruin, where most people are only a couple of paychecks away from homelessness. I think we’re both living in la-la land. Pax, Pax tibi.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      I appreciate your good wishes, and — taking you to mean we’ve reached an impasse, I think that’s right. However, I can’t leave certain assertions you made, about what I said and think, stand:

                      First, you say: “I can’t understand why you don’t see that those at the low end in America are NOT doing reasonably well…”

                      Actually, I never claimed they were doing well. I AGREE that they’re not. I just don’t agree with any of your notions about either causation or how the problem might be solved. But I never denied a problem exists. Got it?

                      Second, you say: “Yours is to trust the market…”
                      Well, that’s not an expression I would use, as it makes no sense to me. “The Market” is an ambiguously defined term, so how can I recommend trust in it? I don’t.

                      If you insist on that sort of terminology, then I’ll say it this way: you can “trust” “the market” in the same sense that you can “trust” a bear. They do what they do; and if you expect that, and work with that, you’ll do better than if you approach bears with happy notions of them being something they are not. Neither bears nor markets should be unregulated; but you can overdo the regulation too.

                      Of course, predictability is very different for bears and “the market” — that’s where the amorphousness of the term “the market” breaks down, and why I don’t talk that way — but there are things that are predictable about how people engaged in commerce behave; and in that sense, the analogy still holds. For example, wage and price controls always fail, and yet people express surprise every time they do. They are like people who see a bear, and think it surely must be friendly, and are surprised to find out differently.

                      What I actually said was we need good jobs and lots of them, as a product of a robust economy. I rather expected that statement would be something all of us could agree on. Guess not.

                      Even in a robust, job-producing economy, there are other factors that keep people from improving their lot: the three biggest are lack of education, a criminal record, and children out of wedlock. So any grand strategy to eliminate poverty will address those things too. Finally, there are people whose various disabilities (physical, emotional, mental) make it unlikely they can support themselves, or at least, it’s a difficult path. At some point, some folks just will have to have help; they can’t make it on their own.

                      Again, all that would seem pretty common-sensical, which is why I didn’t bother to go into it.

                      Anyway, thanks for your peace. Et tu.

    • Andy

      When the focus is on self only then the answer to your question is it doesn’t. However, that is shortsighted and really ignores the issue that the homily addresses – worship of mammon.

      • Cypressclimber

        I’m not taking issue with the homily, but the example that Mr. Shea decided to stress.

        • Andy

          Implicit in your comment is that extreme concentration of wealth in a small group is acceptable, even if it is at the expense of others. THat all we should be concerned with is how it impacts us. Hardly what the church teaches.

          • Cypressclimber

            No, it’s not.

            Instead of trying to dig around for what you think I *really* mean, why not just focus on what I actually said.

            There are problems, but the ratio — whatever it is — is not the problem.

            One real problem is the notion that if I get rich, that necessarily comes at someone else’s expense. It can, but it’s not necessarily true.

            The inventiveness of various people in the last 200 years — from the railroads to electricity, all the way to the Internet — has made various people fabulously wealthy, while at the same time making everyone else better off as well.

            Or, would you say that all those people who bought Edison’s light bulbs were better off with candles?

            • Andy

              You miss the point of a homily – it is to teach us, to point out the meaning of what Christ taught in the context of our lives. To reduce it to numbers allows you and others to dismiss what was taught by Christ and the church to not being applicable int eh world of science and numbers.

              • Cypressclimber

                I’m not commenting on the homily, I’m commenting on what appears on this page. In this case, I’m responding to your statement that I implied this-or that.

                I’m not dismissing anything. I’m pointing out flaws in your own arguments. I understand why you’d rather change the subject.

    • Inflation. Because you (and your group of super millionaires who earn $100,000/year) can afford higher prices, you push up the prices for everybody else as well.

      Inflation isn’t caused by certain numbers in wages on the top or the bottom end, inflation is caused by the width of the spread *between* the top and the bottom. When that spread is narrow (like it was due to confiscatory income taxes in the United States in the 1950s) inflation is extremely low, and deflation sets in whenever production efficiency is increased (because it doesn’t pay the rich guy to raise prices). When the spread is large, it pays the owner even more to minimize wages and maximize prices- because *some* people can afford it and the per unit profit is larger.

      • Cypressclimber

        Actually, it’s fallacious to say that higher wages cause inflation, or higher prices (not the same thing as inflation). And it’s fallacious to say that higher demand in and of itself causes either inflation or higher prices.

        It’s true that prices will go up if demand exceeds supply; but then there is the opportunity to increase supply, and a new equilibrium is achieved.

        Inflation is the expansion of money — debasing the currency in old terminology.

        What many people here — I suspect — seem to think is that there is no such thing as wealth creation just shifting wealth around; so that when you have more, I must therefore have less, and vice-versa.

        But if that’s what you are assuming, that’s simply wrong. Wealth can be created, and when it’s created, it can be “distributed” either widely or narrowly.

        Question: do you suppose there is a finite quantity of “wealth” (in the very broadest sense) in the world? I would say that while there might be, I doubt anyone but God knows what the upper limit is. For our purposes, it seems that there is is always room for more wealth creation.

        More wealth creation — combined with a variety of other factors that allow as many as reasonably possible to share in it — seems to me to be the way to go…

        Not confiscating more from the very wealthy, just because they are very wealthy.

        • Marthe Lépine

          I think that there a distinction here: wealth creation does not necessarily mean putting more wealth in the hands of the already wealthy and not expecting anything of them. Wealth creation could more exactly be seen as putting money in the hands of everybody, in order for it to be spent (instead of hoarded for more profit) and the more money gets spent (even while leaving some for responsible saving), the more it circulates and goes around to create demand and jobs, e.g. the multiplier effect.

          • Cypressclimber

            Well, wealth creation is not going to happen without people doing it. Who will do it?

            Your proposal for confiscating wealth from very wealthy people is a great way to discourage wealth creation, at least in jurisdictions where their wealth-creation is subject to higher taxes.

            As Milton Friedman said once, who are the angels you intend to have sort out all the wealth, so that everyone gets just the right amount, not too much, and not too little?

            I don’t want the job. Are you offering yourself?

            • Marthe Lépine

              That is the actual job of governments, even according to Rerum Novarum. ANd I would say that discouraging “wealth creation ” by billionaires on Wall Street making money just out of manipulating money would not be a bad thing, actually…And I would rather listen to Rerum Novarum than Milton Friedman, especially since I have read some of his material and found much of it immoral…

              • Cypressclimber

                Well, the author of “immoral” material can still make a valid observation.

                It’s curious that for the past five-six years, we’ve had government policy that strongly emphasized higher taxes on the rich and wealth-redistribution . . .

                And — I’m sure utterly by coincidence! — we also have a nearly jobless “recovery,” and more emphasis on capital than on labor.

                So governments’ record of confiscating-and-redistributing wealth isn’t a very good one.

                • m

                  Some of it may be due to the wealthy using more sophisticated tax evasion tactics… Which is only natural if their only interest in the matter is making even more money. Governments could also crack down on tax evasion and close loopholes, but there Iiam not sure that they would want to face discontent from their financial backers, they may just want to appear to attempt some redistribution, just as long as it does not affect them personally… particularly when comes the time to finance their re-election!

                  • Marthe Lépine

                    For some reason my name got abbreviated here to “m”; it’s still me, Marthe Lépine

                • Last I saw, the top marginal tax rate in the United States is about 70% less than it was in 1952.

            • A starving person spending $1 on bread, creates $8 in wealth. A rich person spending $1 on a stock may reap $8 in profit, but only by stealing it from 8 other people.

              • Cypressclimber

                Many years ago, I worked for Procter and Gamble; and as an employee — even part time — I took part in the company’s program of buying P&G stock. I think I ended up with about 8 shares, and somewhere along the line I sold them.

                Now, I assumed I earned the wages they paid me; and the stock I acquired was part of my pay.

                But you tell me that I actually “stole” from someone.

                From whom did I steal? Please explain that.

                • The people who bought the stock high when you sold it.

                  • Cypressclimber

                    That’s absolute nonsense. And I don’t use the modifier “absolute” lightly. I mean: it’s utter and total nonsense, with nothing about that statement that is anything other than nonsense.

                    • Where do you think the money came from to buy your stock back?

                      That’s the problem with markets- you don’t know because a market is anonymous.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      From someone who wanted the stock shares, while I, on the other hand, wanted cash. Both parties benefited. There was no theft.

                      By the way, the notion that the stockbroker provides no value is silly. I wanted to sell my shares, but I didn’t want to sell them myself. So I arranged for someone else to sell them, and that person gets paid to do so. Nothing unfair about it.

                      And it’s precisely the same when I buy or sell a car, or a house, or if I buy or sell food or clothing or what-have-you. Someone has a product or service to sell, who wants cash in return; and happily, there is a person who has cash, who wants that good or service.

                      Of course there can be dishonest people, but the basic mechanism of buying and selling is not theft. That is absurdity cubed.

                    • “From someone who wanted the stock shares, while I, on the other hand, wanted cash. Both parties benefited. There was no theft.”

                      Stock shares are a scam, they’re not legal tender, nor are they useful consumable items.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      Words fail.

                  • Cypressclimber

                    “…who bought the stock high…”

                    How is that relevant? Are you under the impression that my P&G stock lost value when I sold it?

                    How did you reach this conclusion, without even a scintilla of evidence? I don’t even remember when I sold it, so there’s no way to know whether — at the time — P&G stock was trending up or down. You certainly don’t know either — how could you? It may well have continued to grow in value after I sold it. Or down. Or both, over time. How is this even relevant?

                    The people who bought it — now that I think about it, it was the P&G company itself — wanted the stock. They offered a price, I accepted (through a broker).

                    • I’m under the impression that stock is in and of itself valueless, and primarily just a pyramid scheme to rip people off.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Actually, the way I see it, stocks were originally meant to represent a tiny part of a company that a person was purchasing, and when a company was selling such stocks, it was a way of obtaining some needed financing. I don’t think there is anything wrong with that. However, over time, stocks have taken a life of their own and became objects of speculation, and I think it is those speculative transactions that are the problem.

        • Not the world, perhaps the universe. Having said that, far too many rich people say that they’re into wealth creation when they’re really into wealth accumulation- that is, taking wealth away from others.

          The Stock Exchange is a great example. Produces absolutely no wealth at all, just redistributes it.

          All of the income methods of the very wealthy are disconnected from labor.

          • Cypressclimber

            That’s silly. The stock market is just that — a market. Why rail against a particular market?

            Do you make similar comments about farmers’ markets? Because while the products, the technology involved, and the scale are obviously different, it’s the same basic reality: a huge aggregate of people buying and selling things that are valuable.

            If you have any sorts of IRA or pension, you are very likely a stockholder. That means your savings are helping to keep any number of businesses open, employing people, perhaps building new plants, etc. Most people have a goal of seeing these investments increase — I assume that includes you, but I may be wrong; perhaps you want to see your investments decrease, who knows?

            But if you want them to increase, guess what? You’re one of those terrible people who you have been railing against. Your funds’ growth requires profits on the part of those companies in which your money is invested. And if you were willing to eliminate your return on investment, then of course all those workers who are paid less, could be paid more.

            Why are you so greedy?

            To be clear, *I* don’t think you’re greedy; but that’s the upshot of the sort of reasoning you’re laying out here.

            • “That’s silly. The stock market is just that — a market. Why rail against a particular market?”

              It is a market that doesn’t include the dignity of work.

              It is a market that doesn’t produce anything at all, but instead, takes profit off of other people’s work.

              It is, in short, a tax without a government.

              “Do you make similar comments about farmers’ markets?”

              No, because farmers produce a crop- food, which they sell. Stock brokers don’t produce anything.

              “If you have any sorts of IRA or pension, you are very likely a stockholder.”

              Yes, you are. But I work for my living, I don’t live off of investments.

              I’d rather make something with my money, and sell it, the old fashioned way- not out of the sin of usury, but out of the dignity of labor.

  • Ed

    Cypressclimber wrote:
    “The presenting example was this: that when someone rich-rich-rich makes “100 times” his employee, that’s a scandal.”

    That was not the example. Allow me to quote it to you again in full:

    “Is it not a scandal that some people earn salaries and collect pensions that are sometimes 100 times higher than those of the people who work for them and that they raise their voices to object when a proposal is put forward to reduce their salary for the sake of greater social justice.”

    It is the unwillingness of the CEO’s of the world to entertain any possibility of a reduction in their own earnings for the sake of the betterment of their employees that is the scandal here, not the mere fact that they make 100 times as much in salary.

    • Cypressclimber

      So, it would be useless — and perhaps even immoral — to ask whether confiscating wealth from the wealthy is actually a workable way to improve the waves of the less wealthy?

      Because that assumption is itself the really interesting question.

      And, my answer is, no, I do not think it is a scandal that rich-rich-rich people oppose such confiscation, per se. Because in my judgment, that sort of confiscation is a very poor way to address the problem. And opposing bad public policy is not a “scandal.”

      Of course, people can oppose bad ideas for ignoble reasons. But that’s not what the quote asserts, is it?

      • Was it confiscation to pay the workers in the vineyard all a living wage, regardless of the number of hours worked?;&version=NIV

        • Marthe Lépine

          Good point. If I recall the story properly, the owner of the vineyard told the disgruntled “first hour” workers that he was free to give his money any way he wished. And I may be wrong, but in today’s economies, according to “theories” such as those in Rerum Novarum, governments may rightfully have a responsibility to ensure that workers get a fair pay.

          • To be exact, the government only needs to step in when the rich fail to be generous. If the rich were generous with their wealth, there would be no market for welfare.

            • Marthe Lépine

              There I think that the word “generous” does not really apply. I think “if the wealthy were paying just wages” might be more appropriate. To be generous should mean paying even more than the strict just wages.

              • I don’t believe strict just wages, given the inadequacy of a minimum wage job to support a family, is enough to avoid welfare. The rich must be generous and pay MORE than strict just wages- they must see their employees as human beings with the same wants and needs as themselves.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  I fully agree.

        • Cypressclimber

          No. The question at issue is proposals to take the wealth of the super-rich, on the promise (as yet unsubstantiated, but some people think good intentions are enough — I don’t) that it will redound to the benefit of the poor.

          You cite an example of a rich person being generous. No one is objecting to that, but that’s also not what we’re talking about.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Actually, some of the wealth of the super-rich, if taken away and redistributed to the poor as, say, better wages for Walmart workers so they do not have to ha recourse to taxpayer-funded food stamps to survive, will be spent by those Walmart workers in goods and services that will raise the demand for goods and services and in time become wages for more workers, and the cycle will continue. That has been called the “multiplier effect”, another economic theory that seems to have fallen out of favour.

            • Cypressclimber

              Good luck with that. I’m sure the “super rich” will not do anything to avoid having wealth taken from them.

              Seriously, you claim to be an economist?

              • Marthe Lépine

                I am sure it would be reasonable to tax the owners of Wallmart a little more (even at 50% they would still be able to live comfortably) in order to finance those food stamps that their employees require. Why should you and your neighbour (not I because I do not live in your country) should have to feed Walmart employees because their owner does not pay them enough? In a case like that,I do not see much harm to some legislation that would “punish” Wallmart owners or others of their ilk because their higher incomes are not really “earned” by themselves, but are being withheld from their workers. Maybe a special extra rate of taxation, combined with more serious efforts to punish tax evasion, would do it.

              • “Good luck with that. I’m sure the “super rich” will not do anything to avoid having wealth taken from them.”

                In fact, they will do *everything possible* to avoid paying fair wages, and I simply object to you claiming they have a right to do so. We know as a rule that *most* people become rich not through work, but through investments.

                • Cypressclimber

                  Again, when did I refer to a “right” to avoid paying fair wages? That is simply not a topic I’ve addressed.

                  • It’s all linked. The reason taxes are so high, is because we need welfare to keep people alive. The reason we need welfare to keep people alive, is because their employers are such penny pinchers that they don’t pay high enough wages to live on.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Just a clarification, please? I have read in several other posts, over the last few years, some tenants of the libertarian philosophy claiming that taxes in general are “confiscating” money from those who have earned it. Some, but not all, of them, sometimes even add that such confiscation is “to give this money to those who are too lazy to work”, e.g. the “takers”. It is one definition among several, and it is ok to discuss various definitions. However I would like to know if you are normally considering taxes in that way? That would give me, and all the other people writing in this discussion, some idea of where you are coming from.

          • The question at issue is whether the wealthy are willing to pay enough wages for the workers to live without the government stepping in to provide welfare- you are objecting to that concept.

            We wouldn’t need the government if libertarians like you were generous.

            • Cypressclimber

              When did I object to “wealthy” being “willing to pay enough wages for the workers to live without the government stepping in…”

              Please quote me as saying that. I don’t think I said any such thing.

              There are lots of bad ideas that I’m against, as well as sloppy thinking, and my comments in this thread have been directed against both categories I just mentioned.

              But again, I defy you to quote me as opposing wealthy individuals paying generous wages. Feel free to prove me wrong with a statement of mine.

              • Marthe Lépine

                I may be wrong, but maybe he thought you were one of those wealthy opposing paying generous wages…

                • Cypressclimber

                  Quote me. I will send $100 to Catholic Relief Services when you produce a quote of mine in which I say wealthy people must NOT pay generous wages.

                  You keep accusing me of saying things, start backing them up with facts. This is ridiculous.

                  Wealthy people are, as far as I’m concerned, entirely welcome to pay wages as generously as they wish. Which is what I said up-thread. But you keep insisting I say other things.

                  So produce the quote. In this case, I’m offering a donation to a worthy cause. If you can produce it, why wouldn’t you, in order to help CRS?

                  • “The presenting example was this: that when someone rich-rich-rich makes “100 times” his employee, that’s a scandal.”

              • “The presenting example was this: that when someone rich-rich-rich makes “100 times” his employee, that’s a scandal.”

                That says to me that a rich person MUST not be generous with his wealth, that he *should* earn 100, or 10000, times what his employee earns if he can get it, for the simple reason that the rich are a different species that can play by different rules than the rest of humanity.

                • Cypressclimber

                  Well, I can’t account for the dialogue inside your head. But the words I actually typed, which appear under my name, do not say what you claim they say.

                  • So you thus agree with the Pope that a rich person exhibiting a severe lack of generosity is a scandal?

                    • Cypressclimber

                      Sure. But I’ll go further. *Anyone* lacking in generosity is wrong, not just rich people.

                    • Agreed with that one as well, so therefore, you’d agree that it is a scandal when a CEO opposes the minimum wage.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      Nope. That’s a non sequitur.

                    • Why? I thought you agreed that a lack of generosity is a scandal.

                    • Cypressclimber

                      Gee whiz…

                      A minimum wage law isn’t about generosity, it’s about a mandate of a certain floor to wages.

                      A person can both be generous, and think such a law is a bad idea. Particularly if the law is badly crafted.

                      For example. Suppose Congress were contemplating a minimum wage set at $100 an hour. Now, of course that’s made up; but my point is, lots of reasonable people might support a lower minimum wage, yet oppose that one. Are they lacking in generosity?

                      Further, a libertarian-minded person might oppose *all* minimum wage laws, yet in his/her own business, pay employees well over the proposed minimum. In what world would that employer be lacking in generosity, because s/he doesn’t want a law that forces him or her to do what s/he already does voluntarily?

                    • If a man asks for your cloak, give him your coat as well.

                      If you’re paying your people over the proposed minimum, why would you care?

                    • Cypressclimber

                      I’ll let someone else explain that. I’m utterly exhausted.

                    • Danny Getchell

                      When one gives of one’s own, that is generosity and to be commended.

                      When one gives of the possessions of others, commandeered from those others with the threat of prosecution, that is not, repeat not, “generosity’.

                    • Once again, the threat of prosecution goes away if one is merely generous, so therefore, the answer is to simply be generous.

  • Ed

    “So, it would be useless — and perhaps even immoral — to ask whether confiscating wealth from the wealthy is actually a workable way to improve the waves of the less wealthy?”

    I never said anything about the morality or immorality of confiscating wealth from the wealthy or of asking the question of whether it is the way to proceed to help improve the “waves of the less wealthy.” I merely pointed out that your original conception of the scandal to which Father Cantalamessa referred was incorrect, or, at the very least, incomplete.
    As for the economics of the whole thing, I can’t say that I know the answer. But I take it from what you say that you agree in principle with the notion that wealth should be more equitably distributed. What is your proposal for achieving this end?

    • Cypressclimber

      The comment you quoted was not addressed to you, but to someone else. So what you said or didn’t say is irrelevant to that citation.

      • Marthe Lépine

        So what? You posted it for everyone to read, and anyone who wants to reply can do it.

        • Cypressclimber

          Your reply might be read as suggesting that my comment was in response to you, and that you were taking issue with how I characterized your prior comments (“I never said…”). I wanted to clarify that point.

          Are you ‘Ed’ or are your ‘Marthe Lepine’? You seem to be appearing with different names. That’s quite curious.

          • Marthe Lépine

            Seems to me that any comment here is shared with everyone who participates; if you want your conversation to remain private with one individual or the other, and nobody else to join in, you can use e-mail. Unless Mark objects, anyone is entitled to reply to anyone else. And you might be mistaken (I cannot recall every word I wrote here nor do I have the time to read everything back), however it is not my usual way to say things as “I never said…” in my replies. I could say that someone has misread me, but that is not quite the same thing. You should know that there are many different ways to say the same thing, and for that reason there are many different ways to understand what is being read/heard, which can be influenced to a lot of different prior factors, not all of them may have come directly from the discussion at hand.

      • Ed

        Cypress blogger,
        I simply went by the indicator at the top of your post which said that it was a reply to me. Perhaps I’ve misunderstood it’s meaning.

        • Cypressclimber

          Are you Ed or Marthe Lepine? Something odd is going on here…

          • Ed

            My name is Ed. Ed De Vita to be precise. I can assure you that I am not Marthe Lepine.

  • Cypressclimber

    Marthe was quite prolific with comments until I asked whether s/he was also Ed. Then, silence.

    There may be some sock-puppetry going on here.

    • Marthe Lépine

      Sorry, I did not see that question you say you asked me. Actually the reason I stopped if that I needed a coffee – my first one of the day! I am definitely not called Ed; I don’t even know anyone called Ed. Thanks for the nasty comment.

      • Cypressclimber

        There was no “nasty comment.” Your response to a comment directed to Ed struck me as odd and when I asked you about it, you didn’t respond. There’s no need for drama.

        • orual’s kindred

          Well, I find that a rather odd comment to make, considering that replies in an internet discussion have been known to continue through many days, even in heated discussions. I could be mistaken, but I imagine lots of things happen away from the keyboard; perhaps, even unexpectedly. Myself, I will most likely go down for a meal after I post this comment, after which I’ll have to do some work, which in turn would probably take a few hours. Also, I would think that a sock puppet performance necessarily involves at least some drama?

          • Cypressclimber

            Well, this seems like a dumb conversation to continue to have, but I’ll explain my meaning.

            There was what seemed to me an odd exchange between Marthe and Ed and me about a comment I gave in reply to Ed; and at one point, I directed a comment to Marthe that only makes sense if I thought she was the person who posted the earlier comment that is labeled as by Ed. In other words, it seemed to me that Marthe was responding…as if a comment I directed to Ed, had been directed to her. Now, the curious thing is, she responded without missing a beat. And when she did — and then, I noticed the discrepancy — that’s when I asked, are you Ed or Marthe.

            Now, misunderstandings happen, and I have to assume that’s all it is. But when things seemed — to me, at least — to be a bit odd, I asked if there was something amiss (sock puppetry). Our genial host says no, and that settles the matter.

            Considering the readiness of Marthe to accuse me of not caring about people lacking work and income, I found her “nasty comment” complaint a bit over the top.

            • Marthe Lépine

              My replying to a comment directed at Ed, without missing a beat, should not be that surprising… It could be that what Ed had previously said seemed to fit so well with my own ideas that I kind of took part-ownership of it. It does happen in heated discussions.

            • orual’s kindred

              This may be subjective on my part, but broaching the possibility of ‘sock puppetry’ because of an exchange that you found ‘odd’ is an ill-founded conclusion to make. It’s quite easy to miss the correct reply button, especially in Disqus comments. Dumb, perhaps, but scarcely anything as deliberate as ‘sock puppetry’ might imply.

              I do note, though, that you said: I directed a comment to Marthe that only makes sense if I thought she was the person who posted the earlier comment that is labeled as by Ed. Why would you direct a comment to her which would only make sense if you thought she posted the earlier comment labeled as by Ed?

              Nonetheless, I went to the thread below where you asked Ed De Vita if he was Ed or Marthe Lépine. He had quoted your query ( So, it would be useless — and perhaps even immoral — to ask whether confiscating wealth from the wealthy is actually a workable way to improve the waves of the less wealthy? ) to preface his reply to you, which continues as: Cypressclimber, I never said anything about the morality or immorality of confiscating wealth from the wealthy or of asking the question of whether it is the way to proceed to help improve the “waves of the less wealthy.” . Again, this comment, which included the quote, was made by Ed.

              Interestingly, you answered that the question he quoted ( So, it would be useless… ) was not addressed to him. I did a search of that question on this page, which yielded two results. One is when Ed quoted it, as mentioned above. The other is when you make it, as a reply to a previous comment that he, Ed, had made. (If another search is entered, my quoting the question should now return three results.)

              It was only afterward that Marthe said that you posted a comment for everyone to read, and anyone who wants to reply can do it. I’m afraid I don’t see how that’s suggestive of any sock puppetry.

              Given what I’ve seen so far, if there’s any drama in this discussion, I doubt it was she who introduced it.

              • Cypressclimber

                Without going through an extraordinarily tedious blow-by-blow — which may interest you, but I doubt anyone else — it seemed to me, yesterday, that there was some switching back and forth between Marthe and Ed. I was there, I know what I experienced.

                A side note — somewhere else in the thread, Marthe acknowledges that her screen name “somehow” was changed to “M.” OK; so there’s some precedent for my noticing some oddity in names.

                Now, it turned out to be a misunderstanding.

                Why this is a subject you want to analyze so closely, I don’t really get.

                • orual’s kindred

                  Oh! I found your suggestions of ‘sock puppetry’ both malicious and paranoid, and your subsequent dismissiveness toward Marthe Lépine base and smarmy, as well as generally dishonest. I wanted to find out what occasioned such behavior; and point out that your treatment of her was uncalled for. As such, I wanted to make sure I understood what was going on. I may not have followed the discussion very well, and I did not relish forming an impression of anyone in the way your comments had lead me to consider you. So I asked you for some explanation, and also went back to the thread–which was rather a tangle! And I was quite unhappy to discover that you had pursued your line of thought on the basis of a misunderstanding on your part.

                  As for wanting to analyze–I don’t know if I want it well enough, considering that it took me a day or so to reply to this thread. At any rate, I’m not sure how much more I can or should explain to you. It rather seems that you tend to overlook innocuous, reasonable possibilities in favor of deceitful machinations, which I think does not lend to an honest, rational mindset (or discussion).

                  • Cypressclimber

                    Well, I will let you have the last word.

                    • orual’s kindred

                      Why thank you 😀

    • chezami

      No. There’s not.

  • Elmwood

    Who cares what the Holy Father or Fr. Cantalamesssa the papal preacher or for that matter, what catholic social encyclicals say.

    If you want the “true spirit” of catholic social doctrine, look no further than the Acton Institute where any “trickle down wealth” catholic can soothe their pricked consciences.