Income Inequality has everything to do with the destruction of the family

Income Inequality has everything to do with the destruction of the family January 9, 2015

And destruction of the family has everything to do with abortion.  Prolifers who ignore that fact are not serious about being prolife.

The biggest mistake prolife conservative Catholics ever made was blowing off the seamless garment in order to run after table scraps from the GOP. We need to recover the fullness of Catholic teaching and stop trimming it down to fit our diseased politics and parties.


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  • Ed

    Amen!

  • Doyle

    Correlation does not equal causation. Is the poverty in the US today like the poverty in 1890? (No.) We have technical miracles available to the very poor and education and food staples available to the poor in the US.

    Even if this conclusion is correct, socialism makes the problem worse not better:
    http://www.amazon.com/Life-At-Bottom-Theodore-Dalrymple-ebook/dp/B0047Y0FN2/ref=tmm_kin_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&sr=&qid=

    So then what?

    It is what is inside a man’s heart that determines whether he’ll be a good husband and father. He needs to go to mass and hear about the narrow Way. There is no other correct answer. You will not find it in government or politics. In my lifetime I have only seen those areas exacerbate the problem as they exert hegemony over areas of the Church and private sector, e.g. “sex” education and condom promotion in the public society.

    • jroberts548

      Who is talking about state ownership of the means of production?

      • ivan_the_mad

        Why, Marx Shea, of course.

      • Doyle

        Nobody. I linked to socialism, not communism, but that’s bad enough. These services people want to provide come with strings attached–health care that has you fund abortion, education that promotes atheism and fornication. Looking at government as the mechanism to solve the ills of the world is backwards. You are the mechanism for good that God has created. Government is a man made beast that must be restrained. That’s not to say free market capitalism should trod on the citizens.. People brought up in virtue are the requirement needed to put common sense limitations on government. Income inequality did not destroy the family, our culture that we chose did; we chose it because the Narrow Way is hard. Virtue is hard. Lack of virtue is why families disintegrate.

        • jroberts548

          Are the rich more virtuous? Is that why their divorce rate is lower? Or are you willfully ignoring the economic factors? It’s the latter.

          • Benjamin2.0

            Prudence is a virtue. Prudence in governing oneself and others is most certainly a plausible explanation of how one might succeed in anything. I don’t see how calling “the rich more virtuous” in general — especially given a lower divorce rate — is necessarily controversial. I can only see how it might be offensive to our quasicultural anticlassist taboos. That the divorce rate and income are inversely correlative certainly doesn’t rule out a causal relationship. Another possibility, though, is that they are both the result of a common cause. ‘Virtue’ is properly identified as the power to do what is good when the passions and appetites demand otherwise and is as good an explanation of these facts as I’ve ever heard.

            Meanwhile, what are the economic factors being ignored? Are you ignoring them, too? Are you saying that poverty leads to divorce? Are you saying that vice leads to wealth? What are you saying?

            • jroberts548

              Did you get Lazarus and the rich man mixed up?

              And yes, I’m saying that poverty leads to divorce. Financial stresses are a major factor in divorce. The government literally pays poor people not to be married.

              • Benjamin2.0

                Did you get Lazarus and the rich man mixed up?

                To say that rich men may be more virtuous than poor men is not to say that every rich man is more virtuous than every poor man. Even more than that, though, is the fact that one can practice the natural virtues perfectly (in theory) without practicing the theological virtues at all. The rich man of the story is condemned for not practicing the highest theological virtue of love. His wealth may well have been the result of his merely natural virtue while his postmortem penalties were the result of his lack of theological virtue. This could very well be the point of the story given the context in which it was given.

                The government literally pays poor people not to be married.

                Then, it seems to me, that you’ve determined another mechanistic problem. We should avoid, in our desire to alleviate the natural consequences of vice, all practice of rewarding vice or penalizing virtue. These practices are the definition of injustice and are contrary to love (virtues are extensively interlinked, rejection of one will always betray the fullest realization of the others). This point subsumes yours under my paradigm.

                Finally, a virtuous poor man would choose to remain married despite these stresses which appeal to his appetites and passions, complicating your case. Virtue just is to overcome stresses like this.

                • jroberts548

                  So in order for a poor person to be virtuous, he or she has to get married and remain married despite the government paying them not to be, but we’ll praise the rich for their virtue when they stay married when the government pays them to be married. You’re attributing morality and virtue to nothing more than good tax planning – it’s prudence in both cases. In the case of the poor couple, it’s also misguided temperance. (Also, yes, of course the rich have more natural goods than the poor. That’s what it means for them to be rich.)

                  A big chunk of the marriage and divorce rates among the poor could be fixed. It would be an easy fix. It would be a cheap fix. We could change the way we calculate the EITC. Alternatively, we can preach at the problem as if that’s going to solve anything. One solution would be a solution and would cost a small amount of money. The other solution isn’t a solution and requires doing nothing but scolding at the poor.

                  • Benjamin2.0

                    So in order for a poor person to be virtuous, he or she has to get married and remain married despite the government paying them not to be

                    Almost. I wouldn’t say that marriage is necessary. There’s always continence. Not violating an eternal vow in the face of financial difficulty is most certainly virtuous, though. When practiced to the point of death, we even call this martyrdom. Someday, I hope to be allowed to loosen the sandals of one such man.

                    but we’ll praise the rich for their virtue when they stay married when the government pays them to be married. You’re attributing morality and virtue to nothing more than good tax planning – it’s prudence in both cases.

                    Prudence (a.k.a. wisdom) is the highest natural virtue, so you seem to be making an unreal distinction. Every deliberate pursuit of the good, be it in charity or tax planning, is both moral and virtuous though not to equal degrees. If you admit prudence as a primary means of becoming wealthy, you admit more than you seem to want to admit.

                    A big chunk of the marriage and divorce rates among the poor could be fixed. It would be an easy fix. It would be a cheap fix. We could change the way we calculate the EITC.

                    I don’t disagree with your proposed means or ends. “No vice should be rewarded” is a demand both of justice and love, if you remember. I’m not proposing some alternative. I’m saying your approach treats the symptoms of a diseased society (an admirable end to be accomplished by a just means), whereas my points identify the cause of that disease (the curing of which being a parallel and higher end for which I have not yet proposed a means — Someone Else will deal with that, ultimately, while I just have to point at the problem and propose nuanced solutions which can only benefit individuals).

                    To ignore higher goods for the sake of mere material goods is the injustice we agree the rich man of the story committed. I know you’re not ultimately intending to set your practical solution in opposition to my diagnosis. The recognition of the reality of moral demands, both natural and theological, isn’t a pie-in-the-sky sentiment to be set against utilitarian or liberal ends. It’s the formal cause of a willingness to do any good thing. Even the idea that one act can be more or less desirable to utilitarianism or liberalism admits a moral dimension into an ideology which purportedly rejects morality. Ethics, being the science of determining what should or should not be done, isn’t contrary to this discussion. It’s the point of this discussion. It’s literally why we should do anything. Making moral discussions to be only about material, practical comfort is the error of the past few hundred years which we both agree is the problem. The reality of natural evils which follow from vice is precisely the thing the modern hedonist wants to overcome, not by hindering the practice of vice but by alleviating these natural consequences. This practice leads to further natural evil. A particular example of that practice is the very practical problem you propose should be solved. We’re clearly allies against a common enemy, whether you like it or not. Contra factum non argumentum est.

                  • Peggy

                    I don’t disagree with changing taxation and public aid policies to encourage marriage, but one must note that no one holds a gun to any one’s head to prevent or force ta marriage. We all are free to make our own choices. And if some one chooses not to marry b/c of a loss of public aid, then (s)he has made a moral choice. Similarly, if some one marries simply for tax benefits, they have not married for moral reasons. Yet, the material benefits and generally positive wellbeing of children that result from a couple staying married will be better than otherwise.

    • MarylandBill

      A request that our economic system be fixed does not automatically mean socialism is the suggestion, or in fact state involvement in the economy other than say taxation and regulation for safety and/or environmental concerns. What we do know is that income inequality has been growing in the United States for decades, wages for the skilled middle class are mostly stagnant and the unskilled middle class is declining to become a class of working poor.

      Now, are there poor who are there because of their own mistakes? Sure, but pointing that out would be kind of like an engineer on the Titanic complaining about the fires going out in the engine room as the ship is sinking. That being said, how does blaming them help their children? And does it consider the fact that large sections of our economy is built around exploiting the poor for every dollar they earn?

      • Doyle

        The quality of life for the U.S. poor (excluding those suffering from illness, of course) today is better than most Kings in history: Heating shelter furniture, plumbing, electricity, smart phones, education, food stamps.

        And I am not blaming anyone for their state in life. The government however is not a mechanism for solving the world’s ills. It’s a great mechanism for increasing them though and it’s doing a bang up job for the prince of the world. So no thank you, I am not interested in empowering government more.

        • HornOrSilk

          So, the homeless in America are better than kings in history? WOW.

          • Dave G.

            He said poor in general. He didn’t say the homeless. The homeless, by definition, would not live better than kings in history who, on the whole, were not homeless. It’s one of those things that reminds us the issues are complex. For the homeless are not better off than kings in history. But the poor in our country who aren’t homeless? Many do far better than the poor in, say, Bangladesh, or Ethiopia. Some who fall under the poverty level probably do enjoy a lifestyle superior to that of some 8th century king or chieftain. Still, this is also the US, where living like an 8th century king or chieftain will probably not allow you to partake in much of the things that go with living and thriving in our age, where the demands of the middle class probably exceed the lifestyle of a 17th century emperor or absolutist monarch. Which brings us back to the problem of income inequality, no matter how you slice it down to royal comparisons.

            • HornOrSilk

              The homeless are among the poor. When you say “The poor” as a group the homeless are in that group.

              • Dave G.

                But it’s more complex than a simple word. I was more or less agreeing with you, but we must also admit that we can’t say ‘we’ll do X for the poor meaning homeless, and that’s all’, because either those who are not homeless will get nothing, or they will get more than they need, which can cause problems in the long run. Post-modernity aside, it’s actually good to look at the details and nuances of a situation rather than drop a label, apply label, and move on.

        • kenofken

          The debate has nothing to do with large vs small government. It has not had anything to do with that for 80 years. One of the biggest lies in circulation these days is the one fostered by the 1 percenters which offers us the false dichotomy between Soviet-style command economy socialism and their vision of “free market”. It’s also a lie that they made and perpetuated their wealth in a free market or that they subject themselves to it’s dangers in any way. The “free market” folks have no problem with large, even enormous government, so long as it serves their agenda and perpetuates their wealth and privilege.

          The issue isn’t the size of government. It’s who it serves and who it answers to.

          The whole “you’re better off than…” argument is the same one which has been employed to justify slavery and colonialism of every kind over the centuries. The slaves, it was said (and sometimes still is), were better off in Virginia than in Africa. The Native Americans forced to reservations were “better off” than they were “in the wild”.

  • Elaine S.

    It’s a “chicken or egg” question — did the rise of the welfare state cause family breakdown, or did family breakdown lead to the rise of the welfare state? I personally think family breakdown came first, but at this point, the two are feeding off one another and worsening the situation. To some extent also, the decline of the family is also feeding unemployment and income inequality — children of struggling single/unmarried parents don’t get as much schooling or job opportunities, therefore are unable to get good jobs, which reduces their income and their prospects for marriage… lather, rinse, repeat.

    I also think the relentless emphasis society places on having ALL your financial ducks in a row before you even consider marriage, and on having “dream” weddings, is not entirely helpful. Of course, prudence is a good thing and all other things being equal, it’s better to have completed your education and gotten a fairly stable job before marriage. But when it gets to the point that vast numbers of non-rich people believe they “can’t afford to get married” even AFTER having cohabited for years and had kids together (if they have already formed a single household, how can they argue that they can’t afford to, unless they really mean “can’t afford a big splashy wedding”), something is wrong with this picture.

    • ivan_the_mad

      “and on having ‘dream’ weddings”
      “‘can’t afford a big splashy wedding'”

      And then there’s this

    • Peggy

      I haven’t seen much evidence of this being the cause of lack of marriage. Now, it may be true. Frankly, I think many people really don’t care any more. Marriage is grossly misunderstood and abused, of course. We are running into the 3rd (maybe 4th) generation of post-60s kids being raised without religious involvement or stable married parents. It just devolves further with each generation, in my observation of family and friends.

  • ivan_the_mad

    And we are confused as to why the pope should call youth unemployment one of the most serious evils of our time?

    “There exist also sinful inequalities that affect millions of men and women. These are in open contradiction of the Gospel:

    Their equal dignity as persons demands that we strive for fairer and more humane conditions. Excessive economic and social disparity between individuals and peoples of the one human race is a source of scandal and militates against social justice, equity, human dignity, as well as social and international peace.” — CCC § 1938

    • Dan13

      I interpreted the “youth unemployment” comment as having to do with “man does not live on bread alone.” It can lead to alienation from God, which as Christians we must see as a most serious problem.

    • Andy

      I agree — We have reached the point where our economy,it’s “leaders” and political leaders see people as fungible – we,as an economy, sell them in terms of wages, we trade their well-being for greater profits. Our economy dopes not value human dignity as valuable or even slightly useful. The adoration of business and the attendant worship of profit for the sake af profit is the religion of America.
      People, those who suffer the most from these are not alienated from God, rather they are crying out for His justice, and His justice for those who cry out to him should scare the hell out of us.

    • D.T. McCameron

      “And we are confused as to why the pope should call youth unemployment one of the most serious evils of our time?”

      Did he end up saying that in the end, or was that part of that half remembered interview from a biased source printed in a biased paper?

      There was a while there where it was hard to separate what was said, what was said and poorly translated, and what was never said at all.

      Anyway…I interpreted it as shining a light on issues often ignored…rather than actually elevating two social ills above the innumerable atrocities still rampant.

      • ivan_the_mad

        I take you to be referencing the (in)famous America article. I can’t speak to that, I don’t normally read that publication, having adjudged it … unreliably credible. I get nearly all of my reporting on Francis from the Vatican’s site, which aggregates his speeches, homilies, etc here. What I wrote above is based on my recollection, but I regret that I am unable to recall and provide you with a particular transcription.

        • Marthe Lépine

          And I remember clearly the outcry here in this combox from people who said that Pope Francis was wrong, abortion was the most important evil and nothing else counted. This then followed by a picture I found really objectionable of someone planting aborted babies inn rows into a field.

  • Careful with words like everything. I suspect there is more than one cause.

  • Silly Interloper

    Yes! Oranges have everything to do with Teletubbies, and Teletubbies have everything to do with abortion. People who ignore this are simply not serious about being prolife. My logic is irrefutable. Checkmate, you non-egalitarian evil orange huggers who torture puppies!

    We can learn from things like this, but radical egalitarianism is not the answer, and strident declarations that people who don’t buy into radical egalitarianism aren’t serious about prolife is just crap.

    And everyone knows that 95% of statisticians are poopy heads.

    • jroberts548

      I admire the leap from, to wit, “Income inequality is an issue we should be concerned with due to its adverse social consequences” to radical egalitarianism.

      • Silly Interloper

        I think you overestimate my wit. The statement “Income Inequality has everything to do with the destruction of the family” is obviously a radical application of egalitarianism–little wit needed for that. The problem isn’t inequality. If you want to talk to me about poverty, injustice, callous disregard for the poor, and the dehumanizing hand of capitalism, fine–but equality isn’t the problem with any of those. Radical egalitarianism is what gave us abortion, so statements twisted like that above to mean that inequality causes abortion is just nonsense from start to finish.

        • Matt Talbot

          Radical egalitarianism is what gave us abortion

          What does that even mean?

          • Andy

            Radical egalitarianism according conservatives, says that “the left” demands equal outcomes for all regardless of merit. It is a political theory that says Americans must work in a multicultural environment, and that we, Americans must be activists for social change. R. Bork attempted to link radical egalitarianism to allowing abortion as way of creating the need for greater government control, by the “left”. For me the above statements seem to be saying that not all of us are equal and therefore we do not deserve appropriate outcomes for dignity of each man and woman.

            • Matt Talbot

              Radical egalitarianism according conservatives, says that “the left” demands equal outcomes for all regardless of merit.

              Other than perhaps a remnant member of the American Communist Party (or maybe even both of them) I don’t know of anyone on the American left calling for that – certainly not the mainstream left.

              It is a political theory that says Americans must work in a
              multicultural environment, and that we, Americans must be activists for
              social change.

              Well, that’s not exclusively a “left” thing, is it? Racial harmony ought to be everyone’s goal, especially in the workplace, and the alternative to working for social change would be to accept the injustices we find.

              Bork attempted to link radical egalitarianism to allowing abortion as
              way of creating the need for greater government control, by the “left”.

              Which means…well, I have no real idea, but let’s just say that sounds odd.

              • Andy

                I spent more time then I wanted reading about this “theory” and came to the conclusion that radical egalitarianism is a “bogeyman” created by the very far, far right – as I reading about it made no sense.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  I also think that it is the most common argument that surfaces each and every time someone dares to mention inequality, as if there could not possibly be any middle ground between incomes of up to 70 million + dollars a year and the incomes of part-time workers at Wallmart…

                  • Benjamin2.0

                    It seems to me that there’s a great deal of mistrust between the two camps, and that mistrust, in our modern context, is sane, warranted, and healthy. People see the argument against vast income inequality used toward plainly evil socialist utopian ends. The other people see the arguments against that used to prop up the unhealthy status quo. Likely, if two non-heretical* Christians in these opposite camps got away from their high-jacked catchphrases and discussed the specific points of the matter, they would be in near complete agreement.

                    *I have recently proven categorically that formal heretics are incapable of thought regarding the subject of their heresy.

                  • Silly Interloper

                    You are missing the problem entirely, Marthe. Rapacious capitalists and unjust wages are problems that should be faced for what they are. They are not evil because they are unequal. They are evil because they are unjust. By bringing income inequality into it, you confuse and obfuscate the real evils of these problems, and you ideologically reject those like me who would be allies with you against those evils.

                    • Benjamin2.0

                      I’m giving you the high five. You are not free to refuse.

                      Also, for the record, this is not because you confirmed the suspicion I articulated below.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Except that I was not talking about rapacious capitalism and unjust wages, I was actually talking about the differences of incomes that are the consequence of that injustice. Can’t you read?

                  • Peggy

                    Marthe,

                    I’d suggest that people who want to gripe about “income inequality” but do not advocate “radical egalitarianism” (eg), be clear that they object to the EXTENT or degree of inequality for this reason or that…and are concerned that some market failure or unjust policy is at the root of it. That is a reasonable approach to just hammering away that there is “income inequality” at all as if it’s unnatural and inherently unjust.

                    Cheers!

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      You are in fact correct. Maybe a good part of the problem is that many people, myself included, too often assume that other people understand that we are talking, as you say, about the extent or degree of inequality. However, they usually cannot read our minds… Thanks for the reminder.

                • Peggy

                  Far be it from me to jump into a conversation among others, but I clearly understood the “radical egalitarianism” to mean the insistence by feminists that women must be able to have birth control and abortion on demand in order to be equal to men. God and biology are in their way. Thus, birth control and abortion are necessary for “radical egalitarianism.”

                  Egalitarianism is not just about income/wealth differences. it is about ANY kind of difference among humanity. They must all be washed away. Thus, laws to insure birth control and abortion services must apply to Roman Catholics and other people of faith who morally oppose them. That is Obama’s idea of equality. No one escapes the noose.

                  • Andy

                    According to all of the reading I did yesterday radical egalitarianism is a political theory – no where did I find it associated with feminist movement – the only place I found it tied to abortion was in articles by Bork.
                    The tie to Obama is tenuous at best and seems based on your interpretation of the phrase.

                    • Peggy

                      Of course, feminism is based on egalitarian ideals.
                      Here’s one text on feminism theories/history including discussions of egalitarianism.
                      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/feminism-liberal/

                      “Egalitarian” is dervived from French meaning “equal.” Heard of “equal rights movement” ever?

                      Mirriam-Webster: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/egalitarianism

                      Wiki has a good entry on the many aspects of egalitarianism. This would support feminist egalitarianism as well as the idea that laws apply to all the same, regardless of religion, eg.

                      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egalitarianism

                      That’s how O understands the HHS mandate or ADA (Hosannah-Tabor won, however).

                      Here’s a good academic article on the collision of “equality” and “liberty” in the HHS mandate (more about equality of sexual freedom than equality of law I think, but it’s very good):

                      http://www.thepublicdiscourse.com/2012/06/5562/

                      I’ve got some chores to do, but I do believe that cases like HHS and Hosannah-Tabor indicate that O et al believe the laws must apply equally regardless of religion, as religion is just one man’s view. Your religion does not exempt you from the law, he said in those cases. O hasn’t fared well in the courts on this and many other constitutional issues.

                    • Silly Interloper

                      You really need to do some more reading. It it manifestly obvious that feminism and objections to income inequality are driven by the same political basis that places equality above all else.

          • Silly Interloper

            The politics of equality and the arguments behind it are what led to the legalization of abortion. Is that controversial to you at all?

            • Matt Talbot

              I think you’re making a category mistake.

              The arguments against excessive wealth and income inequality are only (very) tenuously linked with arguments for legalized abortion – I guess they both deal in a general way with the broad category “equality” but other than that…what?

              Plenty of people (e.g., the proprietor of this blog, me, many other people on this thread, et al.) believe that both: a. Abortion ought to be illegal, and b. Income and wealth inequality are both serious problems that need to be addressed.

              • Silly Interloper

                They are both two heads of the same animal and use the same kinds of arguments. They put the supremacy of equality over everything else and confuse any discussion about justice or good in either context. The underlying arguments of equality are directly connected and not tenuous at all. By advocating for equality, you directly support the misguided elevation of equality above things of greater value and importance, and that abject error supports the erroneous ideological foundation for abortion.

                • Matt Talbot

                  I think you’re assuming premises from which people are not arguing – There are solid Catholic arguments that the current economic system is structurally unjust and needs to be addressed, and solid Catholic arguments that the currently permissive abortion laws are also unjust, and need to be addressed.

                  • Silly Interloper

                    Everything after your hyphen is perfectly agreeable to me, but has nothing to do with equality. The premises I’m arguing came directly from the blog owners mouth.

                    • Matt Talbot

                      Well, the premises I see “coming from the proprietors mouth” is this, in the original post: “We need to recover the fullness of Catholic teaching and stop trimming it down to fit our diseased politics and parties.”

                      So where’s all this stuff about abortion and radical egalitarianism coming from?

                    • Silly Interloper

                      Are you serious? Are you intentionally ignoring the opening sentences of his post that I’ve been arguing about–that I quoted and referred to directly in my posts several times? And you are now bringing up words that I haven’t said anything about and have shown no disagreement about?

                      If you don’t know what it’s about, you haven’t been paying attention, so please enough with this pretending I’m referring to something entirely different. That is the most disingenuous thing I’ve seen all day.

                    • Matt Talbot

                      Silly – no offense, but you’re living up to your name.

                      Do you have a serious argument to make, or are you just throwing bombs for fun?

                    • Silly Interloper

                      Of course, I’m living up to my name. Why else would I choose it?

                      My argument is serious, and you’re transparent attempt at deflection in your “premises” post is far sillier than anything I’ve said on this blog. But if you want to distract from such silliness by highlighting mine–knock yourself out.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      Most readers here do not try to put the worst interpretation of each and every word written by Mark. In addition, Mark’s post has to be read within the context of his previous posts and of his insistence to emphasize the teaching of the Catholic Church. To me, you sound like a Bible interpreter I once heard about, who insisted that there were 4 criminals being crucified with Jesus, not just 2, because different Gospels used different wording to describe those 2 criminals.

                    • Silly Interloper

                      I am addressing Mark’s words directly that use income equality as a standard of measurement to say someone is not serious about abortion. His statement was irrational at a basic level, and it was one that grossly overstates the evil of income equality and its implications. How does arguing against that make me a Bible fundamentalist? Never mind–your attempt to paint it as such already tells me you are more interested in obfuscation than addressing the argumet.

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      For someone who complains about people’s reading capacity that brings them to conclusions that you have not stated in black and white, you are doing exactly the same thing. You are the one obfuscating here. You cannot take just one statement out of context, even if it used as the title of a comment, and dissect it in order to push it to be the worst possible idea. It is a fact that a lot of people that I have read comments from refuse to admit that ignoring the plight of the poor by promoting the current level of inequality are not really thinking through their opposition to abortion, since they just refuse to look at some important causes of the perceived need of some poor people to have an abortion because they cannot support the families they already have.

                • Marthe Lépine

                  It seems to me that you just cannot, or don’t want to, see any scale of measurement between a society where a very small number of people hold most of the wealth, while the other just live from pay cheque to pay cheque, if they are lucky enough to have a job, and a society where everybody’s income will be kept absolutely equal. This is hyperbole, and I notice that it is always trotted out any time anyone dares to mention inequality. Or don’t you see a difference between incomes of several millions a year and incomes that barely afford a person enough to eat and have a roof over their family’s head? Many CEO’s, for example, earn in the first week of January more than the average yearly income of the rest of the population. Justice does not mean that the CEOs salaries have to be lowered to the average income of the population, but rather that workers are able to earn an income that allows them and their families to have their needs properly met. It seems obvious to me, and to almost everybody else here, but why are you holding so strongly to the idea that correcting inequalities such as the example given above, will always mean imposing a radical equality of income to everyone? It is not all of one or all of the other, and I am not even sure that you are honest in insisting on that vision of radical equality.

                  • Silly Interloper

                    It seems to me that you just cannot, or don’t want to, see any scale of measurement between a society where a very small number of people hold most of the wealth, while the other just live from pay cheque to pay cheque, if they are lucky enough to have a job, and a society where everybody’s income will be kept absolutely equal.
                    Please don’t attribute things to me that I didn’t even come close to saying, and then argue against that straw man. Address what I actually said, please. I have no intention of engaging you in an imaginary conversation. (I’m growing tired of this thread, so I may not even be back for further nonsense like this.)

                    • Marthe Lépine

                      By jumping from inequality to radical egalitarianism and not accepting any other point of view, you express very clearly that you do not believe that there is any middle position. You don’t need to state such a conclusion in black and white for someone to get to that conclusion by simply reading your arguments. That is what it means to actually be able to read…

              • kenofken

                The anti-abortion movement has zero credibility with the society at large because the movement, in it’s dominant strain, has shown itself to be utterly indifferent to most life when the rubber hits the road.

                “Pro-life” has been primarily a vehicle for righteous outrage against the Sexual Revolution and a tool of the GOP/billionaire welfare society. There’s all sorts of screaming about “life” and “the innocents” up until the point of birth. At that moment, that same infinitely valuable human being becomes, in the eyes of the GOP/Pro-life continuum, a meat machine, the value of which is solely defined and contingent on its personal wealth or the ability to generate wealth for its corporate masters.

                This political/economic/religious alliance is utterly indifferent to life for most, and utterly hostile to the lives of people in poverty. The very fact of their poverty is evidence of their unworthiness and moral corruption. Public policy is dedicated to keeping them poor, crushing them for any infraction of law and even criminalizing their existence, fostering a myth of upward mobility through work, profiting on their misery and marginalizing any argument for living wages or social investment as “socialism”.

                This cynical dual standard, combined with the active blood lust for capital punishment, pre-emptive war and torture, is why the anti-abortion movement in its current iteration will never foster a real culture of life or family.

                • cmfe

                  This.

                • Sam Schmitt

                  I think you have conflated the pro-life movement with the rest of the Republican industrial complex, but I wonder how much they really overlap – despite their relentless portrayal this way in the media. Of course this same media resolutely ignores the many stories of pro-lifers who help poor pregnant women and their families, or adopt abandoned children, etc.

        • ivan_the_mad

          “is obviously a radical application of egalitarianism”

          No. Income inequality is frequently referenced in the social doctrine and encyclicals and linked to a myriad of ills (including deleterious effects upon the family), yet the Church is certainly not an advocate for radical egalitarianism.

          • Silly Interloper

            Do you want to discuss the wording of a particular encyclical, or the strident wording of Mark Shea? They are not even close in the way they are presented and intended, so why are you even bringing them into the conversation?

            Any time I’ve ever seen egalitarian language in any kind of official church context, it was clearly alluding to the extremes that place callous rich people ignoring those in abject need. They were not making careless and broad-stroke statements like the one I quoted above, and they were definitely not making conclusions that inequality (in general–not in the context of poverty or injustice) is, of itself, an evil, and even more so that such equality would be tied to abortion. Nor do they chide people as “not serious about abortion” if they do not accept radical egalitarianism.

            I will concede that their use of egalitarian language confuses the issue more than clarifies. But when you look under the covers, they don’t mean what you seem to think them mean. (At the very least you have a long, long way to go to demonstrate that they do.)

            Mentioning encyclicals completely out of context with no effort or rigor at all toward interpreting what they intend has absolutely no rational bearing on what I said.

            • chezami

              I’ve said nothing about “radical egalitarianism”. I’ve simply pointed out that the language of hostility that has been so frequently directed at Francis’ warnings about income inequality is turning a blind eye to the fact that abortion and poverty are very obviously linked and if we are serious about the former we cannot neglect that latter. Ergo, it behooves us to learn from and not sneer at what Francis has to say.

              • Silly Interloper

                Mark, you’re killing me here. You said nothing in the opening post about Francis. You made a blanket statement with broad strokes about inequality. (I know you didn’t say “radical egalitarianism.” “Radical egalitarianism” are my words that characterize what you said, and with the broad strokes of the statement and the condemnation in your words, that description fits.)

                One of the reasons I’m so dead set against using egalitarian language to fight against injustice and poverty is that it is, in fact, a lie and it is used to promote evil in every context, and it is directly used to rationalize abortion. And for you to twist that around to say that those who are not against inequality are not really prolife is a horrible thing for you to say and utterly counter to reality.

                If you want to criticize people for piling up on Francis in regard to injustices, address that directly instead of confusing the issue by making such unqualified and extreme statements that goes far beyond what some jerks are saying about Francis.

                Also, by using the data so carelessly with very little scrutiny or understanding of what the data means, it just makes you look bad whether I agree with you or not.

                • cmfe

                  Three quarters of women who abort say they can’t afford another child. Living wage matters, and a worker’s entitlement to a living wage is solidly within Catholic teaching. No one is talking about “radical egalitarianism” except you, which is derailing the conversation from the point being made.

              • Silly Interloper

                So, Mark, let me try to explain how your post as written hits me. I’m tooling along, annoyed with the horrible patheos flotsam and jetsam popping up all over the place, but still checking in on you from time to time because I really like you and appreciate a lot of what you say. I know you’re embattled with certain people who pick on Francis, but I don’t really know the details and don’t really care right now. I also know that you have great criticism for the GOP and some of the blind politics that puts them against the Church, and I agree with a lot of it. Then out of the blue you post these condemning remarks about people who reject the politics of equality and generalize them in such a way that includes me–whatever the hell did I ever do to be classified as someone who doesn’t take my prolife stance seriously? Especially since the very thing you are condemning is what I know to be the supporting doctrine of abortion?

                This is how it comes off to me, and by using this sweeping and condemning language you count many enemies where you have none.

                • Silly Interloper

                  I said: Especially since the very thing you are condemning is what I know to be the supporting doctrine of abortion?

                  I meant to say: Especially since the very thing you are condemning is rejection of the supporting doctrine of abortion?

                • While it’s always good to clarify how someone’s words ring in your ears, it’s also good to consider how your words ring in others’ ears:

                  Yes! Oranges have everything to do with Teletubbies, and Teletubbies have everything to do with abortion.

                  This sounds like you’re saying that Mark’s causal chain is utter nonsense. It sounds as if the whole idea is completely absurd and not worthy of rational response.

                  Meanwhile, Mark’s entire argument is that there is at least correlation, and probably causation, between increasing income inequality and the breakdown of family structures, and between the breakdown of family structures and abortion. You may disagree with his argument, but he does make an argument based on evidence and logic, which can be disputed using logic and other facts. To dismiss the argument as absurd strikes me as petulant.

                  We can learn from things like this, but radical egalitarianism is not the answer, and strident declarations that people who don’t buy into radical egalitarianism aren’t serious about prolife is just crap.

                  Here it sounds like you’re putting words in Mark’s mouth. Nowhere does he call for “radical egalitarianism.” He simply argues that extreme inequality is causally connected to family breakdown. It sounds like you’re blind to or ignorant of any gradations between “radical egalitarianism” and … whatever it is you happen to believe about the status quo.

                  … but still checking in on you from time to time because I really like you and appreciate a lot of what you say.

                  This sounds like you’re familiar with Mark’s blog, and therefore should be aware that he tends to hyperbole in his writing style. So your insistence that his statement “Income inequality has everything to do with the destruction of the family” is to be interpreted in the most literal and radical way possible – promoting “radical egalitarianism” rather than establishing a causal link between income differences and family stability – comes across as disingenuous.

                  If you wish to be understood, the best way is to start by understanding your conversation partner(s) as best you can.

                  • Silly Interloper

                    This sounds like you’re saying that Mark’s causal chain is utter nonsense. It sounds as if the whole idea is completely absurd and not worthy of rational response.

                    That’s pretty close.

                    Meanwhile, Mark’s entire argument is that there is at least correlation, . . .

                    Pardon me if I ignore this articulation of some other discussion somewhere else. I’m interested in discussing what Mark, you know, actually said—not what he might have said in some historic conversation that you imagine is going on instead of, you know, the one right here that I’m criticizing.

                    Here it sounds like you’re putting words in Mark’s mouth. Nowhere does he call for “radical egalitarianism.”

                    I already explained in my response to Mark that those were my words characterizing his statements. And, yes, they fit.

                    This sounds like you’re familiar with Mark’s blog, and therefore should be aware that he tends to hyperbole in his writing style.

                    In fact, yes. But there is a difference between hyperbole and categorically identifying unqualified “income equality” as the evil that not only destroys families and thus causes abortion, but that can categorically judge those who reject that ideology as people who are not serious about opposing abortions. It is a direct attack upon my integrity and honor, and categorizes me complacent about murder. Pardon me if I don’t let that “hyperbole” just slide.

                    If you wish to be understood, the best way is to start by understanding your conversation partner(s) as best you can.

                    Thanks for the advice. Perhaps another nugget of wisdom would be that if you want to be taken seriously you should take responsibility for your words when someone objects to them rather than deflect, deflect, deflect. Which is really mostly all that I’m getting here, and it’s really getting tiresome.

                    • chezami

                      I don’t believe in radical egalitarianism. I’m a Catholic. I believe, with St. John Chrysostom, that “The rich exist for the sake of the poor. The poor exist for the salvation of the rich.” I also believe in a living wage, which will, if anything result in inequality–and also justice.

                    • Silly Interloper

                      Then why do you express your condemnation of faithful prolife people in radically egalitarian terms? By doing so you create enemies where you should have none.

                      In regards to the poor and the rich, we probably agree extensively–but you aren’t attacking people who actively ignore the poor alone, you are also attacking all those who reject the religion of equality who also see problems with capitalism (another head of egalitarian religion) and things like unjust wages.

                      This egalitarian ideology is a pernicious lie that is getting woven into your writing, Mark, and it pains me to see it.

                    • chezami

                      I don’t do that. I say that consideration of a family’s need for a living wage is part of what constitutes a consistent ethic of life. How is that condemning faithful prolife people?

                    • Silly Interloper

                      If that was all you said, we wouldn’t be having this conversation.

            • ivan_the_mad

              My goodness, but I don’t believe there will be anything gained from further discussion with you. Good day.

              • Silly Interloper

                Not worth pursuing when they won’t fold at the mention of an encyclical, are they?

      • Silly Interloper

        By the way–what are you quoting from? I don’t see those words in Mark’s post or in the article. So attributing my interpretation to words not even written is a little inappropriate (the kindest word that comes to mind right now) and not helpful at all.

        • jroberts548

          Do you seriously not know what “to wit” means? “To wit” tells you that I’m paraphrasing.

          • Silly Interloper

            Um. Heh. You made me doubt myself enough to look, so congratulations on that, but none of the definitions I found said anything close to “the following is a paraphrase.” “To wit” means–as I thought–“namely,” and by putting “namely” in front of a phrase that is in quotes, the quotes still indicate you are quoting something. So you are either mistaken about the function of “to wit,” or you were sloppy and unclear and just don’t want to admit it. Either way, you should probably check the meaning of a word before you embarrass yourself by chiding someone who reads it correctly for not understanding it.

            All that said, if I accept that you were paraphrasing, it still holds that your paraphrase didn’t address what I was responding to.

            • jroberts548

              You’re right. It would have been clearer that it was a paraphrase without the quotes. Oh well.

              But whatever. If you think any expression of concern over income inequality is a call for radical egalitarianism, you’re still either crazy or stupid.

              • Silly Interloper

                Right. Because an unqualified statement that “Income equality has eeeeeeverything to do with destroying families”, which also means it has eeeeeverything to do with abortions, and then making a blanket condemnation on anyone who might think otherwise isn’t extreme or provocational at all, right? Yeah. I must be stupid.

                • jroberts548

                  I didn’t say you must be stupid. I gave you options.

                  • Silly Interloper

                    Right. And since you attempted to paraphrase my point of view that obviously isn’t what I said rather than showing some diligence and actually quoting my own words, I figure you must think I’m stupid. Because Mark’s words were obviously not just “any” expression of concern. But I’m really getting tired of explaining the obvious to people who clearly don’t want to deal with what I say directly.

                    • jroberts548

                      I said you could also be insane.

  • etme

    I think this pseudo-debate also has to do with ignorance, as in – lack of information. In the American two-party system there has developed an either-or mentality that is, of course, completely made up, or artificial. Thus, either unregulated free market, or “socialism”. Either “left’ or “right’, understood as only two options, and as extremes.

    This, of course, is false, on many counts. There is NO such thing – actual THING – as an universal, metaphysical, anthropological “left” or “right”. These are artificial categories, and what they mean in the US today is a consequence of the vagaries of specifically American political and electoral competition over the last few decades etc. Furthermore, the very expressions “left” and “right” are products of modernity – again, not absolute realities. Lastly, these are words without an actual content, as they can mean anything, depending on the given society today – and, in most places, they do not mean ANYTHING, as politics does not work in these categories, in most countries in the world. Briefly put, there is no such THING as “left” or “right”. These are recent terms, that never had an actual solid content, and that even now, if they mean anything, mean different things, in different places, according to the very contingent realities of the given society.

    However, in the heat of partisan-political rhetoric infusing all public discourse in the US, people are educated (mis-educated) to think that these are actual anthropological realities. And they start top build their whole identity, worldview, and anthropology, and even theology, on such temporal vagaries. They have become, in other words, IDEOLOGIES – universal explanations of the entire world.

    This is why people cling so ardently to them – even desperately – and are violently attacking any attempt to shake these convictions. Because their very self, and understanding of the world, is built on these. And this is why this is a sad, sad ignorance. Because, for a Catholic, this identity, this understanding of the self and of the world, should be based on Revelation, as transmitted through the ongoing teaching function of the Magisterium.

    Are you a Guelph or a Ghibelline (political factions in the Italian city states in the middle ages)? An imperial supporter, or a supporter of the republic (ancient Rome)? With or against Pericles? Do these questions seem inappropriate, ridiculous, hilarious? Well, your insistence on “left” or “right”, on ‘Repub” vs “Dem”, is exactly the same.

    Finally, if the US would have a multiparty system (which simply is a matter of changing the electoral system, nothing else), suddenly there would be… more than just “two absolute options” – 8, 9, 10, who knows how many. Perhaps even a Catholic Party, which would probably be a majestic failure, with tiny support, and quickly dissolve in some other party/ies, after also involving its leaders in some public embezzlement scandals etc (see the history of Christian Democrats in Italy). So, yeah. Build you self (yourself) on something more lasting than yesterday’s news item or talk show rant.

  • Jonk

    People are unequal. That is a fact of life that is well understood by everyone, especially the Magisterium. That naturally results in people finding themselves in unequal circumstances, for which there are many institutions which can offer many solutions.

    That’s not the whole problem today. Today, the level of inequality greatly exceeds the deviations in normal human differences. We’re off in the “fat tail” of the curve. You or I may not be a whole lot dumber or weaker or less skilled than a Warren Buffett or a Jamie Dimon, but they have amassed a wealth far exceeding that difference. What, then, makes up the difference? I would argue that it comes from the font of all inequality: the government. Governments, by definition, have a monopoly on printing money, making rules, and applying force. That’s a good and right thing, so long as the roles of government are limited within a sphere in which such power is necessary and appropriate. It’s when government grows outside of those bounds that the most connected can benefit from its monopolies to enrich themselves and secure their station.

    Take Wall Street. Would we rather have a government that is tasked with controlling the actions and value of firms, who have a great incentive to, in turn, try to control the government? Or would we rather have a government, with its infinite printing presses, rule books, and police powers, look at Wall Street and say “I’m not allowed to play with you. As long as you’re not defrauding anyone and violating contracts, you’re on your own.”

    The latter strikes me as more stable, both in terms of institutions fulfilling their proper roles, and in terms of putting a cap on potential inequality.

    • Heather

      That’s right. That’s why Dickens novels are full of happy tales of the early industrial age working class and their happy and fulfilling lives back in the days before big bad government got involved in the silly business of telling industry what it was and was not allowed to do with its labour force.

      • Jonk

        Boss Tweed was just a humanitarian. Political corruption was invented by the Koch brothers.

    • Silly Interloper

      I just want to show you something about your language, Jonk.

      You wrote: Today, the level of inequality greatly exceeds the deviations in normal human differences.
      By saying “normal human differences,” you are saying the same thing as “normal human inequalities,” thus acknowledging that normal human inequalities are just fine. So if equalities are fine, how can this be coherent with that: What, then, makes up the difference? I would argue that it comes from the font of all inequality: and The latter strikes me as more stable, both in terms of institutions fulfilling their proper roles, and in terms of putting a cap on potential inequality.
      Do you see the problem of retaining coherence here? You may be saying some good things, but bringing inequality into it just confuses the conversation. This kind of liberal ideology does nothing but damage to the conversation and to attempts at remedying the problems.

      • Benjamin2.0

        I think I like this guy. He avoids the epidemiologist’s fallacy, getting to the relevant matters. Where else did I see these sentiments?

        Even if inequality could be wiped out, we should prefer it to equality out of love for polychromy.

        -Don Colacho’s Aphorism #910

        Unjust inequality is not remedied by equality, but by just inequality.

        -Don Colacho’s Aphorism #2920

        You seem to be in good company.

  • Peggy

    I’m now confused. I thought it was evil business owners who underpaid poor working stiff and are continually trying to keep them down. And they steal directly from the poor, right? How do you steal from those w/nothing? Those evil Koch Bros! Mr. Potter and Scrooge are still alive, eh?

    ==
    Actually, where ya been? I’ve responded with these facts on such posts in the past. Being married reduces likelihood of poverty and children growing up in poverty. That said, we are all different and will have different skills, opportunities and willingness to prioritize to put earnings first or 2nd or 10th…. People make choices.

    ==

    If only I were the Right Kind of Catholic.

  • Sam Schmitt

    Please excuse my ignorance – but how exactly is it that income inequality is the root of the problem? How is it that some people being rich, while others are poor, is a cause of our social ills? Would it be better if everyone were poor (and hence no inequality) – given that it is inequality, and not poverty, that is the problem? In other words, how is my higher-than-average income the cause of someone else not marrying or having an abortion? Will an increase in my salary necessarily mean that another person is worse off, and hence, less prone to marry? Or is the other person better off from my getting a pay cut? (I did make less last year than the year before, for what it’s worth.)Or is it the injustice of having someone well-off while another suffers?

    I suspect it’s some version of the last cause, in which case the problem is not primarily an economic one, but a spiritual one. As John Paul II has said, commenting on the parable of the rich man and Lazarus: “Was the rich man condemned because he had riches, because he abounded in earthly possessions, because he ‘dressed in purple and linen and feasted splendidly every day?’ No, I would say that it was not for this reason. The rich man was condemned because he did not pay attention to the other man. Because he failed to take notice of Lazarus, the person who sat at his door and who longed to eat the scraps from his table. Nowhere does Christ condemn the mere possession of earthly goods as such. Instead, he pronounces very harsh words against those who use their possessions in a selfish way, without paying attention to the needs of others.”

    • cmfe

      The injustice is in the degree. Many people who work full time still can’t make ends meet, even living the most frugal and virtuous of lifestyles. CEO’s make 400x over what workers make. To say that CEOs are just that talented and deserving is ludicrous. The leaders of industrial plants that ramped up production to meet the needs of WWII only made 35-40x what average workers made. There’s no good argument for the kind of disparity of incomes that exists today, except to mourn it as a symptom of a waning empire and fight it as destructive to social cohesion.