Worthless rich folks

I believe that inequality is necessary in a just world and do not envy the rich. However, I think it appropriate to ask how they got rich. I admire those who create wealth. This includes the likes of Bill Gates or Steve Jobs & also “robber barons” like John D Rockefeller or Andrew Carnegie. You don’t need to admire everything about them to know that they made the world richer. In this list, you find little to admire.

The majority here "earned" their money by inheritance or - even worse - did it by ripping off and oppressing large numbers of people.

We should all strive to live a life worth living. I don't think there are specific criteria for this, but I take a kind of "It's a Wonderful Life" standard. If you had never been born, would the world be a better or worse place. Most of us are small fish. Like the lead character in "Wonderful Life" was had significant local impacts, but nothing really global.

The people on this list have global impacts and generally for evil and not good. A man like Putin certainly did not "earn" his vast wealth by any means we would consider honorable. The same goes for those oil sheiks. People like the Queen of England arguable perform some useful services, but earn more than they could command in a free market. I am actually surprised how "poor" the British royal family is.

Anyway, I think that all of us - left and right - could agree that it would be good to tax away most of the money from these guys. Unfortunately, for most of these guys, the tax man works for them.

Confucius said, "When a country is in order, it is a shame to be a poor and common man. When a country is in chaos, it is a shame to be rich and an official." This applies here too.

Posted by Christine & John at November 30, 2013 11:10 AM
Comments
Comment #374708

“Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories, which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

“To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”

It seems Pope Francis has a different take on the nature of wealth. He denounces the “idolatry of money”, and calls for “financial reform”. This different take has enormous political implications for us. It will eventually move the entire political spectrum to the left, away from conservatism and towards liberal ideals. The world is changing, and it is changing for the better.

Seeing a transformational religious leader leading one of the world’s largest religions is simply amazing. It is as if the leader of Catholicism started seeing Jesus as a figure of love and compassion, rather than someone at the top of a corporate org chart.

Posted by: phx8 at November 30, 2013 11:46 AM
Comment #374711

phx8

It depends on wealth creation. Merely being rich doesn’t mean much and if the rich guy doesn’t do anything useful, his only effect is to buy stuff. Some “trickles down” but no significant wealth is created.

One of the ways that America has been exceptional is that our culture does not respect the idle rich. We expect our rich folks to be active. This is very different from most other societies where the rich are not expected to do useful work and in some times legally prohibited from commerce. Roman aristocrats, for example, were not allowed to go into business. The modern rich guys in my list are more akin to that.

Re Pope Francis - his outlook is in many ways pre-industial. He still believes in the old ideas that wealth is fixed and needs to be distributed. This was more or less the case when the Catholic Church evolved and his Jesuit education would have emphasized this.

I will point out that when these sorts of ideas ruled the intellectual roost, the world was poor and backward.

While I certainly respect the religiously based idea of helping the poor and am willing to help the poor help themselves, as a lapsed Catholic I find no morality in simply loving poverty and in fact consider it a medieval holdover.

My value is to create wealth. I respect those who do and have less use for those who don’t. I judge people by what they do, not what they are.

Catholics who do what the Pope asks can certainty take his financial advice. Maybe the world will be better for it and maybe it will help them get into heaven. I support their right to do so, as long as they don’t try to use the coercive power of the state to make it happen. We need to keep our religious power and our political power separate.

Posted by: CJ at November 30, 2013 1:07 PM
Comment #374712

CJ,
Wealth creation occurs through the act of labor. We call the excess value of labor ‘capital’. The question throughout history becomes this: having created wealth, what should we do with it?

The examples you cite of wealthy people is interesting because in almost every case, those people did not create their wealth. They inherited it, or they ruled a country and sold its natural resources to outside corporations, or they outright stole it through corruption. The wealth created in their countries was appropriated by the richest of the rich- what we call the ‘1%’.

Pope Francis specifically eschews political stands for Catholicism. He rejects dogma, and instead, advocates for the religious impulse behind the best of religion. He speaks of love and compassion, and rather than rejecting wealth, he advocates redistribution and the advancement of social justice. In Catholic terms, he represents the wing of liberation theology. But it is not just a matter or wealth, or money. He advances the cause of love and kindness and caring for all, especially the poor, because they need it the most.

You write: “One of the ways that America has been exceptional is that our culture does not respect the idle rich.”

Not so. Among the wealthiest of the wealthy, 60% of all that wealth is inherited. These people generally remain invisible and separate from most Americans. Are they respected or disrespected? Who can say? The vast majority of people do not even know who they are! The GOP has consistently represented their interests, whether it is pushing for a repeal of estate taxes, tax cuts for the rich, or condemning those who are not rich as ‘takers’ or ‘the 47%’ merely interesting in getting free stuff. They literally ran a member of the 1% for President in 2012!

In political terms in America, this new Pope is disastrous for conservatives. In this country, Catholic bishops have repeatedly pushed dogmas and political stands on issues such as abortion, as have many Protestants, socially conservative Republicans, and evangelicals. Now, the Pope speaks in a way that conservatives such as Limbaugh denounce. The Pope wants no more to so with social issues in the political sphere, and Catholics- especially Hispanics- will follow this lead.

It is not just the social conservatives of the GOP that will suffer from the political fallout. The same will be true for establishment conservatives. Suddenly, the Pope is preaching as if he were a religious leader! What a concept. And when it comes to the religious impulse, greed is NOT good.

What makes this so interesting is it fits into a larger thesis that many of us have noted, but few articulated. It is no coincidence that the first Non-European Pope has suddenly started talking like an American liberal. The vote for Pope has been extremely close in the past, but the demographics of the Church are changing. And just as the Church has demographically changed, so the population of American voters has changed.

In politics, demographics is fate. The voting population has become more diverse in every sense- more black, more Hispanic, more female, and so on. It used to be that the white male populace tolerated diversity. But while the Democrats and liberals embraced it, the Republicans never accepted it- just tolerated it. When shifting demographics finally undermined the Southern Strategy once and for all, and power changed hands, the Southernized GOP went into shock. A black man won the White House in 2008, and again in 2012. The shock was not mere racism, or even just partisan reaction. It was a fundamental shock, and it has sent conservatives into an irrational frenzy ever since.

The Catholic Church is changing, as epitomized by Pope Francis. The US is changing too, and in the same way. The political landscape is being fundamentally altered, and really, it is for the better. There will be oscillations in the pace of change, of course. Perhaps conservatives will stop health care reform, or win a temporary respite in the 2014 midterms. But this change is baked into the cake. Demographics is destiny. It is only a matter of time. And I am glad to see it happening.

Posted by: phx8 at November 30, 2013 4:01 PM
Comment #374713

Phx8

The rich people in the article indeed inherited or stole their money. They did so by use of coercion and government power. I mentioned that in the main article, so we agree. I am not sure how all of them made their money, but I doubt any created much wealth in doing it.

I gave four examples of people who created wealth mostly through market forces, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, John D Rockefeller & Andrew Carnegie. None of those guys inherited significant wealth. Their genius was mostly in organization.

Hard work, i.e. labor, is a building block of wealth but not in itself sufficient to break free of poverty. It is possible to work very hard indeed and produce very little. Organizing effort and securing necessary productive resources is key to success.

Re Romney - he contributed all the money that he inherited to charity. All of it. He earned his own money through his organizational skills, and he has always given a great deal of it to charity.

And, BTW, BOTH parties ran a member of the richest 1%. Obama is also in that club, although he made his money through politics and writing and speaking related to his political life.

Your new confidence in popes is touching. The Church has been against abortion, birth control and gay marriage for years. Most American Catholics did not follow that.

I am all in favor of the Popes spiritual leadership, BTW. We conservatives tend to give much more to charity. We care for the poor. We disagree re policy decisions that require bigger government.

Helping the poor, we should use evidence based methods. We found that government intervention in the 1970s actually made poverty harder, filling failed housing projects with a violent underclass. What helped the poor the most in our lifetimes was welfare reform of the 1990s. I supported that.

You are under the impression that conservatives don’t want to help the poor. This is wrong. We give to charity and push for school choice, which helps the poor. We help create jobs. We disagree with liberals re methods to help the poor. We learned the bitter experience of the 1960s and 1970s.

Re the Pope talking like an American liberal - don’t count on it. The Church has its particular ways, always has. It has tended to stand in the way of governments, liberal and conservative.

And the Church talking like this is not new. You may recall the American Bishops complaining about Reagan. Church leaders rarely understand wealth creation. Their job is to talk to God, who presumably doesn’t need to make investments in order to create returns.

Posted by: CJ at November 30, 2013 4:34 PM
Comment #374714

phx8

Re demography - you an guess about what people will look like, but their attitudes are more difficult to know. The white working class was solidly Democratic in 1960; it is Republican now. Hispanics are essentially the same as immigrants who now make up the white working class.

I am struck by how similar my background is to a Hispanic today. My grandfather was an immigrant who never really learned English and worked in unskilled jobs. My father’s first language was not English. Both my parents dropped out of HS. My generation is different. We just entered the American mainstream. Three generations. The Hispanic wave really got going in the 1980s. It has now almost stopped. We are in the second generation for many. Wait for the third.

BTW - you will also see this with blacks. For the first time in American history, significant numbers of blacks are freely immigrating. The immigrant experience is different from the black experience.

It is also true that the issue will be very different in the next generation. In the 1950s, Republicans were the party of trade protectionism and isolation in foreign affairs. The parties changed places on these important issues.

Using market forces is not really a choice you can make. The market just is. It is tool. You can defy market forces, but at a cost. We all want to limit the market is some way. But if you do it too much you end up with the Soviet bakery model or environmental protection Cuban style.

Posted by: CJ at November 30, 2013 5:09 PM
Comment #374716

CJ,
I am not disputing that various minorities will eventually become part of the mainstream. That is a given. What I am arguing is that the mainstream itself will change, that it will be very different from what we have seen. The Pope represents the same kind of change we are seeing in the American electorate. Attitudes, values, and morals will be different. It is not a matter of the pendulum swinging from conservative to liberal and back again, but a fundamental shift. We are going away from the dominant forces of the past two hundred and some years, and new forces are taking their place right before our eyes.

Demographics are fate. The disenfranchised of American history- blacks, Hispanics, women, gays, the young, the elderly- are replacing wealthy white males, both in the Church and in the American electorate. The new majorities have different values- acceptance and embracing diversity, rather than mere toleration- and much more.

This explains the vehemence of the hatred of Obama. Times are changing, and the changes are inexorable. Demographics is fate. Conservatives will resist, whether it is through voter ID laws intended to disenfranchise the new majority, or gerrymandering, or shutting down the government, or even carrying out the repeated conservative threat to destroy the economy. The conservatives may destroy health care reform, or even the Obama presidency, but it will not matter. Demographics is fate. The writing is on the wall. Change is coming, change is inexorable, change is liberal, and change is good.

Posted by: phx8 at November 30, 2013 6:58 PM
Comment #374717

phx8

Of course it will change, as it always has. There are some things, however, that cannot change. One of those is the market. No government can repeal the laws of supply and demand. Those that have tried have come to grief.

I would say that in many ways the U.S. is more market oriented or “conservative” than it was in 1960s and 1970. We understand a lot better today.

Re demographics - think about it. You include Hispanics. Only recently have there been a great many of them in the U.S. In the census of 2000, 58 million Americans called themselves Germans. This is the largest ethnic group. It used to make a difference. No more. The same will happen to Hispanics.

The story of the U.S. has indeed been increasing inclusion and that will not stop. We agree this is a good thing. My caveat is that we include individuals, not groups. Just as the Germans, Irish, Italians etc blended in, so shall, or should the others.

One more thing about white Anglo males. If you look at America, it has generally been a better place than others in world history. We may blame white males for many things, but we also need to credit them with creating a wonderful government that included the Constitution, Bill or Rights, Morrill Act, Homestead Act plus a prospering economy that created wealth never before achieved.

Having lived in other parts of the world, I am not sure I want my country to become more like Mexico, China, Africa or the Middle East. I am confident that immigrants agree with me. Every one of them thinks that America is a better place to be than the places they left behind, else why come here?

As I white (although non WASP) American, I welcome the inclusion of others. About time they pulled their own weight.

Posted by: CJ at November 30, 2013 7:42 PM
Comment #374718

phx8

Re pulling weight - I am particularly worried about conservation. Almost all the voluntary conservation in America, i.e. tree planting, soil protection etc, is done by white Americans, men and women and a group that is getting pretty old. We try to get volunteers from other groups, but it is very hard. It is a challenge. When we go to the great forest in the sky, I am not sure we will be replaced. I hate to think that protecting nature is a cultural trait, but I fear that it might be.

It is easy to get people to show up to rallies to demand others do things, but harder and harder to get them to engage in the more prosaic and maybe dirty day to day work that, although largely unnoticed, holds the system together.

Posted by: CJ at November 30, 2013 7:48 PM
Comment #374719
Re Pope Francis - his outlook is in many ways pre-industial.

Oh BS C&J. The man is very specific and timely. He slams “unregulated financial capitalism” not “mercantilism”, and rightfully so. The Pope mention “trickle down economics” C&J why would you try to go off on such nonsense as pre-industrial anything?

Posted by: j2t2 at November 30, 2013 10:15 PM
Comment #374720

j2t2

These days whenever anybody uses the term “trickle down” you know what the analysis will be.

I believe this Pope is a very good and spiritual man, w/o training or experience in creating businesses or wealth. His education and outlook is based on classics and Jesuit education. I know that type of education well, since that is where I started.

I expect religious leaders to be interested in such things. If you are a practicing Catholic, I expect you to take seriously what the Pope says. But for the rest of us, this is the opinion of a powerful, spiritual man a little out of his depth when he speaks about economics.

The Church has a history of being against the free market. It sees itself as a counterweight to the secular activities of business. In that, it probably serves a useful purpose. But a counterweight only serves a useful purpose when it balances. We should not expect to swing to that side.

As I said, I believe in the separation of church and state. Neither should step to far into the affairs of the other.

As I recall, you opposed the Church when they wanted to be left out of some provisions of ObamaCare.

Posted by: CJ at November 30, 2013 10:34 PM
Comment #374721
These days whenever anybody uses the term “trickle down” you know what the analysis will be.

Rightly so C&J. The facts are the facts. Greenspan even acknowledges Reagan and Thatcher were wrong, as was he. Corporate/Crony/Financial capitalism is the result. Free market Capitalism as practiced is tyranny as the Pope tells us. Capitalism is not Democracy it’s tyranny for most of the world.

I believe this Pope is a very good and spiritual man, w/o training or experience in creating businesses or wealth.

Ah yes, leave it to the elites, the Galts, the king of … the corporate raiders and CEO’s of the world and everything will be alright!Their self interest is our self interest. But it’s not. This narrow thinking is the type of tyranny supply side economics creates. It hasn’t worked in the past it didn’t work this time around and the Pope is right, As Reagan was wrong. After all what wealth did Reagan create? Oh corruption,of course he created Crony capitalism for his rich backers.. Look what that led to.


But for the rest of us, this is the opinion of a powerful, spiritual man a little out of his depth when he speaks about economics.

For being out of his depth, as you claim, he sure hit the nail on the head. His analysis is spot on, “free market” or more aptly unfettered capitalism has become a problem. Financial capitalism seems to be the result and leads to the social problems that allows the other more dangerous “isms” to flourish. A Socialist was just elected to office in Seattle as an example. The merging of extreme right conservatism into fascism another example. Capitalism ran amok infects Democracy negatively C&J.

As I said, I believe in the separation of church and state. Neither should step to far into the affairs of the other.

Couldn’t agree more C&J. But then I disagree that Capitalism is a form of government. Unfettered Capitalism is infecting our Democracy, but it’s not our form of government. But that doesn’t mean the Pope is wrong for speaking out nor is his message wrong. He was speaking to his flock not the Congress. Denying his right to be heard on the issue is sad C&J just sad ;)

As I recall, you opposed the Church when they wanted to be left out of some provisions of ObamaCare.

And when the Priests were sexually abusing little boys as well C&J. But you are confused if you think that I must agree with the Pope and/or Church on each and every issue. This line of thought is typical of conservatives, it seems, who seem unable think in shades of grey, It’s not all black and white my friend. I can agree with the Pope on some issues and disagree on others, hell I don’t agree with the wife at times yet we are able to get along.

Ya know C&J it seems to me you are putting up some weak arguments against the Pope not the Pope’s message (According to you that is as fascist as it gets). Is this because you are unable to argue the message but feel the need to defend Capitalism at any cost? Certainly you can see the problems with such a vast economic inequality in any system can you?

Posted by: j2t2 at December 1, 2013 10:55 AM
Comment #374722

Speaking of inheriting their wealth and such I noticed the Koch Bros weren’t on your list nor mentioned by you in your post. Yet they took their inheritance and …. well read it in the link below.

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-10-02/koch-brothers-flout-law-getting-richer-with-secret-iran-sales.html

SO you defend these types because they fund Tea Party conservatives? Or do you condemn them as you did others on the list in your post?

Posted by: j2t2 at December 1, 2013 11:06 AM
Comment #374723

j2t2

The free market indeed is not democracy. It tends to go with democracy. There is no such thing as “capitalism” except in university courses, BTW.

If you look at the index of economic freedom (http://www.heritage.org/index/ranking) you notice that those high on the list are generally nice places and those low are generally shit holes. The correlation between economic freedom and all the other kinds is not perfect, but it is very strong. None of the economically repressed places are places you or I would want to live.

Re leaving to the elites - that is exactly what the free market does not do. The free market relies on voluntary exchange. It does not privilege any experts to run things unless they can make themselves useful.

People who are successful in the free market often try to get the coercive power of government on their side and they often succeed. That is why I disapprove of the concentration of power.

Re “unfettered capitalism” - that is also a term w/o meaning outside academia. The free market exists within a context of rule of law. When that is absent, you cannot have a free market because you cannot guarantee the sanctity of agreements and contracts. The rule of law need not be constantly invoked, but it must exist in a reasonable form.

BTW - I learned this from real experience in E. Europe after the fall of communism and confirmed it in post-war Iraq. If you just let things go, a tyranny does indeed result, but it is not a tyranny of the market. It is one of state or parastatal coercion.

Re socialist mayors - my home city of Milwaukee had socialist mayors for decades and I have written approvingly of it in its time and place. I have visited various religious colonies that organized themselves around socialist principles. Socialism is okay, as long as it is fixed within a free market. Socialism becomes dangerous when it has access to coercive power. All prosperity is based on the protection of private property. If people want to get together in voluntary association and pool their resources, that is fine. If the elect a mayor who wants to enact various laws to benefit citizens by use of government power, that also is their business, as long as they can afford to pay for it and cannot use coercion.

Re shades of gray - I give you millions of shades of grey, but you cannot understand them.

My point with you and the Church is that you are trying to set up the Pope as an authority in an area where he lacks expertise and authority to command. I respect his right to run the Church, but do not recognize his authority elsewhere. If you seek to extend his authority, then you have to take some of the other peculiarities. If you are not trying to do that, you are simply citing the opinion of a powerful man trained in humanities and religion, w/o practical experience working in a free market, who is giving his opinion on the free market. I disagree with him and we are back to square one. In this matter, I believe my opinion is superior to the Pope’s. You may disagree and we are again back to square one.

Let me be simple, you can argue against the free market using your own expertise. Bringing the Pope in our your side carries no authority.

Re the Kock Brothers - I have never checked into their history. I know that they are effective business managers. They acquired Georgia-Pacific, with which my tree farms has a relationship. There policies resulted in my losing some free benefits I had enjoyed, but despite my private loss, I think that their management decisions made sense. They clearly do not simply live off their inherited money but create wealth. Beyond that I have no opinion beyond the observation that if you guys don’t like them, they are probably doing something right.


Posted by: CJ at December 1, 2013 1:28 PM
Comment #374724

C/J writes; “Re the Pope talking like an American liberal - don’t count on it.”

It is truly a “leap of faith” to conjecture that the Roman Catholic Pontiff is a political creature concerned with any “ism” at all.

As the Vicar of Christ he and most of us understand that Christianity is not about saving bodies, but rather, saving souls.

Anyone who confesses belief in Jesus knows that he, apart from any other human that ever lived, could have eliminated poverty, injustice, sickness or any other human adversity with merely a thought.

That wasn’t and isn’t why Jesus came upon the earth. The greatest commandments are to love God and our neighbor. Jesus didn’t advocate loving our neighbor by political means, but by our own efforts and resources.

Love is what we ourselves do for others and not for personal gain. Jesus was not a Robin Hood, but rather the Good Shepherd. He laid down His life for His flock that they may have eternal life.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 1, 2013 5:24 PM
Comment #374730
If you look at the index of economic freedom….

C&J what does it say about the conservative Heritage Foundation when the number 1 and 2 country on it’s list of economic freedom is Hong Kong and Singapore, both authoritarian nations only partly free? Seems to me your “free market capitalism” and democracy go together line is rather dated. As well as wrong. But that is what you were saying isn’t it? The other freedoms such as Liberty, justice etc. don’t count as much as economic freedom for the uber rich with conservatives.

Re shades of gray - I give you millions of shades of grey, but you cannot understand them.

Yes C&J you are truly a legend in your own mind. Perhaps it is your “these aren’t the droids you are looking for” hand wave that has me incapacitated. But to tell the truth C&J you sure haven’t seemed to grasp simple fact such as the Pope doesn’t have to be an economist to understand what is taking place today or that I don’t have to join the catholic church to agree with the Pope on this issue. But hey perhaps it is due to your targeting the Pope not the message.

Posted by: j2t2 at December 1, 2013 10:24 PM
Comment #374733

This whole thing is beyond hilarious… The left’s blogosphere is agog with ‘The Pope Said’ hysteria because they think it means something. Evidence phx8 who is now suggesting that this is signalling the turn to everyone being liberal that he’s been predicting, but in reality is nothing more than a wet dream that will never come to pass…

And as much as I could write about this, Matt Welch has already done a pretty good job of summing this all up, so I’ll just quote a bit from his article.

Pope Francis’s Evangelii Gaudium about the “new tyranny” of “unfettered capitalism” might just be the biggest thing to hit the lefty blogosphere since Mitt Romney uttered the instantly immortal, irrelevant phrase “binders full of women.”

“It’s about time,” says Daily Kos diarist Egberto Willies. “Great Pope or Greatest Pope?” wondered Wonkette’s Commie Girl. “Pope Francis Strafes Libertarian Economics,” celebrated Slate’s Matthew Yglesias. It’s like that time Sinead O’Connor ripped up a picture of the Pope, only this time the Pope is Sinead O’Connor, and the picture is capitalism! Yay!

I don’t wish to stand in the way of people enjoying other people’s prejudices, but Francis’s hyperbolic rants about the role and allegedly dictatorial power of free markets are embarrassing in their wrongness. Cheering them on is like donating money to a Creationist Museum, only with more potential impact. To take one papal passage out of dozens:

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.

More people have escaped poverty the past 25 years than were alive on the planet in 1800. Their “means of escape” was largely the introduction of at least some “laws of competition” in endeavors that had long been the exclusive domain of authoritarian, monopolistic governments. Here’s The Economist:

In 1990, 43% of the population of developing countries lived in extreme poverty (then defined as subsisting on $1 a day); the absolute number was 1.9 billion people. By 2000 the proportion was down to a third. By 2010 it was 21% (or 1.2 billion; the poverty line was then $1.25, the average of the 15 poorest countries’ own poverty lines in 2005 prices, adjusted for differences in purchasing power). The global poverty rate had been cut in half in 20 years.

The country that cut poverty the most was China, which in 1980 had the largest number of poor people anywhere. China saw a huge increase in income inequality—but even more growth. Between 1981 and 2010 it lifted a stunning 680m people out poverty—more than the entire current population of Latin America. This cut its poverty rate from 84% in 1980 to about 10% now. China alone accounts for around three quarters of the world’s total decline in extreme poverty over the past 30 years.

And don’t forget Africa and India!

In Africa, inflation-adjusted per capita incomes rose by an astonishing 97 percent between 1999 and 2010. Hunger in India shrank by 90 percent after the country replaced 40 years’ worth of socialist stagnation with capitalist reforms in 1991.

To look upon the miracles of this world and lament the lack of “means of escape” is to advertise your own ignorance. To call it a “tyranny” is to do violence to any meaningful sense of that important word (much like Francis’s predecessor did with his silly “dictatorship of relativism” crack). And to make such absolutist statements as “everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest” is to admit up front that you are not primarily interested in spreading truth, but rather in exciting popular passions. Which I suppose makes sense.

The hilarious part is that the left doesn’t even get the hypocrisy… That the Church is one of the richest organizations, if not THE richest organization, in the world. That they got that wealth by partnering with oppressive governments that did not participate in the free economy of capitalism and instead used slavery and serfs to amass that wealth. It was only when those oppressive governments were overthrown and people were allowed to freely interact with each other economically did poverty drop and a middle class was firmly established in society.

The facts are out there for anyone to see, but the pope, of course, does not truck in facts and logic, or he wouldn’t be the pope, would he? That requires faith, which requires the absence of logic. And he shares that with the left who, despite the logic and facts, think that somehow ‘the free market’ is part of the problem and not, as the facts show, the reason that millions and millions of people are no longer in poverty and living in relative freedom all over the world…

So, just like I do with my christian friends, I just shake my head and say ‘if that’s what you believe, then no amount of facts and logic that I have at my disposal is going to dissuade you from your faith’ and agree to disagree…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 2, 2013 10:47 AM
Comment #374734

More from SHIKHA DALMIA:

Pope Francis doesn’t celebrate Thanksgiving. So there is no need for him today to thank capitalism, a system that has done far more to alleviate poverty, his pet crusade, than the institution he leads. But he should take a pause from railing against it — not least because it enables the very activity that he cherishes most: charity.

For about the sixth time since assuming office eight months ago, the pope this week offered a sweeping condemnation of “unfettered” capitalism, blaming its alleged obsession with the “golden calf” for perpetuating poverty, oppression, tyranny and much else.

The pope claims that the “opinion” that “economic growth, encouraged by the free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness” has “never been confirmed by the facts.” (He obviously hasn’t been listening to Bono, which speaks well of his taste.)

No doubt such purple prose about “exclusion” will gain him adoring fans among the left — notwithstanding the irony that he is speaking for an institution that excludes half of humanity — women — from the ranks of priesthood. But is capitalism the cause of poverty and is redistribution the cure?

No and nyet.

Poverty is the default condition of humanity. It is the given. What needs explaining is wealth. And the greatest engine of wealth-creation is the market. By raising productivity and lowering the price of goods, markets certainly help the rich, but they help the poor more. Capitalism’s most impressive achievement, Joseph Schumpeter noted, was not providing more silk stockings for the Queen, “but in bringing them within reach of factory girls.”

In 1900, it took an average worker in the West about an hour to earn a half a gallon of milk. In 1930, half an hour. And today? Scarcely a few minutes.

If all the profits of the rich in America were handed over to workers, notes economic historian Deirdre McCloskey, the workers would only be 30 percent better off. “But in the last two centuries we’re 3,000 percent better off,” she wrote.

But capitalism hasn’t only produced gains in the West. Between 1990 and 2010, the number of people in extreme poverty as a share of the total population in developing countries has been cut in half, from 43 percent to 21 percent — a reduction of one billion people. Why? Because China and India jettisoned big government socialism, the very thing the pope advocates, and liberalized their economies.


Capitalism puts more discretionary income in the pockets of people to devote to charitable pursuits. It is hardly a coincidence that America donates over $300 billion annually toward charitable causes at home and abroad, the highest of any country on a per capita basis.

The church itself is a big beneficiary of this capitalist largesse, with its U.S. wing alone contributing 60 percent to its overall global wealth. Some of this money comes from donations, but a big chunk comes, actually, from directly partaking in capitalism: The church is reportedly the largest landowner in Manhattan, the financial center of the global capitalism system, whose income puts undisclosed sums into its coffers.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 2, 2013 11:09 AM
Comment #374740

j2t2

For the most part, the places near the top of the list are better places to live than the places near the bottom. Hong Kong and Singapore may not be full democracies, but they are places people want to go and live. I suppose a free market makes a place tolerable even absent full democracy.

Beyond city state types, the top is all democratic and the bottom doesn’t have one decent place among them.

Re the Pope - I am not saying that the Pope has no right to an opinion. I am just saying that his opinion on this particular matter is not informed by real expertise.

You yourself admit that you don’t take the Pope’s opinion on many matters. Why privilege this?

Rhinehold and J2t2

It is true that the free market has done a great job of alleviating poverty. In the pre-capitalist economy, almost everybody was poor. Today, most people are not thanks to free markets. Where the free market is weaker, people are poorer as a general rule.

Posted by: CJ at December 2, 2013 4:14 PM
Comment #374741

CJ, I’m not sure why people don’t understand that without free markets, there is no freedom, period.

A perfect example

Had today’s politicians and opinion-makers been in power four centuries ago, Americans might celebrate “Starvation Day” this week, not Thanksgiving.

The Pilgrims started out with communal property rules. When they first settled at Plymouth, they were told: “Share everything, share the work, and we’ll share the harvest.”

The colony’s contract said their new settlement was to be a “common.” Everyone was to receive necessities out of the common stock. There was to be little individual property.

That wasn’t the only thing about the Plymouth Colony that sounds like it was from Karl Marx: Its labor was to be organized according to the different capabilities of the settlers. People would produce according to their abilities and consume according to their needs. That sure sounds fair.

They nearly starved and created what economists call the “tragedy of the commons.”

If people can access the same stuff by working less, they will. Plymouth settlers faked illness instead of working the common property. The harvest was meager, and for two years, there was famine. But then, after the colony’s governor, William Bradford, wrote that they should “set corn every man for his own particular,” they dropped the commons idea. He assigned to every family a parcel of land to treat as its own.

The results were dramatic. Much more corn was planted. Instead of famine, there was plenty. Thanks to private property, they got food — and thanks to it, we have food today.

I wish people understood. This idea that happiness and equality lie in banding together and doing things as a commune is appealing. It’s the principle behind the Soviet Union, Medicare, the Vietnam War, Obamacare and so on. Some communal central planning is helpful, but too much is dangerous. The Pilgrims weren’t the first settlers on the East Coast of the New World to make this mistake.

Just a few years before, the colony of Jamestown was almost wiped out by the same idea.

Historian Edmund S. Morgan, in “American Slavery, American Freedom: The Ordeal of Colonial Virginia,” describes what happened in 1609-1610: “There are 500 people in the colony now. And they are starving. They scour the woods listlessly for nuts, roots and berries. And they offer the only authentic examples of cannibalism witnessed in Virginia. One provident man chops up his wife and salts down the pieces. Others dig up graves to eat the corpses. By spring only sixty are left alive.”

After that season, the colony was abandoned for years.


Posted by: Rhinehold at December 2, 2013 5:02 PM
Comment #374742

Rhinehold, as long as there are people willing to vote for those promising the most “goodies” there will be liberalism. Should liberals ever attain and keep the majority of voters they will also witness what poverty and starvation is like.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 2, 2013 5:28 PM
Comment #374743

Rhinehold & Royal

I think champions of the free market sometimes create problems for themselves by conceding language to the opponents.

For example, the reason why markets work has less to do with profits or greed and much more to do with freedom and information. People in free markets are often LESS selfish than those in more communal ones. But they have the freedom and incentive to make decisions based on the better particular information they possess. Therefore, it is not greed that works, but rather superior decision making capacity.

We also fall into the trap of talking about profit as the main motivation for business. Profit is necessary but not sufficient for most business enterprise. Most people go into business because they want to produce some kind of good or service. They continue to work long after they have made enough money and many start to give money to charity. Obviously, if their goal was only profit, they would not behave as they do.

We also need to be careful in letting opponents characterize the free market as everyone for themselves. The free market is superb at getting people to work together. They do so in voluntary association, which usually works better than the state-run alternative - coercion. In other words, the free market is superior to “communal” systems even in creating and managing communal effort.

Lefty communal systems are better at a few things, mostly negative. They are good at mobilizing mobs against “common enemies” real or imagined. They do this by invoking fear and envy, two powerful emotions. They are usually also more skilled at telling stories, since they have simple villains and heroes, and they often have more stirring protest songs.

Posted by: CJ at December 2, 2013 6:45 PM
Comment #374744

I don’t know of anybody who is opposed to ‘capitalism’. I would be surprised if any WB’er would express opposition. What people object to is ‘unfettered’ capitalism. Corpocracy, cronyism, corruption, deception, represent fettered capitalism and folks don’t like it.

Certainly doesn’t mean they will take any action to prevent the fettered stuff. Just the fact that 80 plus percent of incumbents are returned to office each election verifies that. The majority of folks, so-called Independents, are in the middle tween the left and right. This majority would approve of income tax, federal gov’t support for those below some level of income or wellness, SS and medicare and similar. The folks like gov’t involvement in their life and free market capitalism. Where the rub comes in is the degree of involvement and the level of regulation of capitalism. We don’t want entitlements to approach socialism and we don’t want unfettered capitalism to approach corpocracy.

For example, income equality can be controlled thru strong anti-trust law. Worker wages can be controlled to a degree thru immigration. HC cost can be controlled thru gov’t mandate. Social welfare for seniors can be controlled thru SS regulations, and so on …

Switzerland, ranked near the top in education and with a relatively good economy is working to reduce income inequality and provide a better quality of life for their citizens. Soon they will vote on a referendum to provide $2800/mo to each adult citizen.

http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/switzerland-to-vote-on—2-800-monthly-%E2%80%98basic-income%E2%80%99-minimum-for-adults-181937885.html

A recent vote failed to cap top exec pay at a 1:12 ratio pegged to the lowest paid wage earner in the company.


A study by economist Evelyn Forget of the University of Manitoba examined a small rural town in Canada, where about 1,000 poor families were guaranteed a minimum income for four years in the 1970s. Forget found not only that poverty disappeared, but that high school graduation rates went up and hospitalization rates went down.

http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/11/27/swiss-guaranteed-income

US referendums are to dot an I or cross a t, etc. We could use Article V Convention to gain some level of reform but that won’t be happening, unless we can gin up a 3rd party w/a/dif and so on - - - Gov’t is working hard to nail shut forever any hope that AVC will see the light of day. By the BY, Judge Tom Brenan, retired, is looking to hold a mock Convention in the coming year, www.conventionusa.org to hopefully draw some attention to the AVC issue.

One can only assume US voters are intimidated, frightened, disinterested or disgusted re seeking change or reform. Understandable, in that Corpocracy is so strong. Example, Switzerland trashed their old education policy, put teachers on a wage par with doctors and lawyers, took only top graduates for their teacher cadre and, boom, their intl ranking shot to the top in less than a decade. Couldn’t happen in this country; unions, corpocracy and the like.

Otherwise, we have the corpocracy we deserve.


http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/sideshow/switzerland-to-vote-on—2-800-monthly-%E2%80%98basic-income%E2%80%99-minimum-for-adults-181937885.html

A study by economist Evelyn Forget of the University of Manitoba examined a small rural town in Canada, where about 1,000 poor families were guaranteed a minimum income for four years in the 1970s. Forget found not only that poverty disappeared, but that high school graduation rates went up and hospitalization rates went down.

http://hereandnow.wbur.org/2013/11/27/swiss-guaranteed-income

US referendums are to dot an I or cross a t, etc. We could use Article V Convention to gain some level of reform but that won’t be happening, unless we can gin up a 3rd party w/a/dif and so on - - - Gov’t is working hard to nail shut forever any hope that AVC will see the light of day. By the BY, Judge Tom Brenan, retired, is looking to hold a mock convention in the coming year, www.conventionusa.org to hopefully draw some attention to the AVC issue.

One can only assume US voters are intimidated, frightened, disinterested or disgusted re seeking change or reform. Understandable, in that Corpocracy is so strong. Example, Switzerland trashed their old education policy, put teachers on a wage par with doctors and lawyers, took only top graduates for their teacher cadre and, boom, their intl ranking shot to the top in less than a decade. Couldn’t happen in this country, unions, corpocracy and the like.

Otherwise, we have the corpocracy we deserve.

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 2, 2013 8:07 PM
Comment #374749
I don’t know of anybody who is opposed to ‘capitalism’. I would be surprised if any WB’er would express opposition. What people object to is ‘unfettered’ capitalism.

Please tell me where ‘unfettered capitalism’ exists, Roy. And if that doesn’t exist anywhere, where do you think people who say that unfettered capitalism is destroying society is talking about specifically?

We are told that the US needs more regulation on its markets, yet we are now more regulated than Canada and many other countries in the world. It isn’t ‘unfettered’ capitalism that the Pope and the progressive totalitarians are trying to work against, otherwise they have already won on that front. So tell me what they are REALLY on about?

BTW, no one is saying that we should have ‘unfettered capitalism’ except for some anarcho-capitalists that are trying to influence from within the Republican and Libertarian parties. As you say, a market cannot be a FREE market if one group is able to manipulate it at will, which is why we need anti-trust laws in place. Without laws against fraud, the market cannot exist and operate freely either.

No, the issue comes in to trying to make the market RESULT in a specific way. To pick winners and losers, as it were, though I don’t like those terms much. But that is what the progressive totalitarians and the Pope are talking about, making sure that the market doesn’t negatively impact ANYONE other than businesses, because they are evil.

One can only assume US voters are intimidated, frightened, disinterested or disgusted re seeking change or reform.

The main reason I don’t support a convention at this time, Roy, is because with the large number of people who don’t understand or respect the idea of individual rights in this country today, I’m confident that a convention would destroy everything that this country was created for. Freedom of speech would be a thing of the past, all spying protections would be gone… Think the Patriot Act x 100.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 3, 2013 11:57 AM
Comment #374752

So, it seems you fear an article five convention.
For congress to propose an amendment 2/3rds of those present in house and senate must approve and then ¾’s of the state legislatures must vote to ratify.

Alternatively, 2/3rds of the state legislatures must submit application for a convention and then ¾’s of the state legislatures must ratify.

Rhinehold, explaining how the convention process would result in runaway legislation would fall on deaf ears here. I fear congress and their corpocratic legislation way more than amendment by convention.


From wiki: “Every state except Hawaii has applied for an Article V Convention at one time or another. The majority of such applications were made in the 20th century. While there is no official count of the number of applications, one private count puts the total number of applications at over 700.[14][15]
Even though the Article V Convention process has never been used to amend the Constitution, the number of states applying for a convention has nearly reached the required threshold several times. Congress has proposed amendments to the Constitution on several occasions, at least in part, because of the threat of an Article V Convention. Rather than risk such a convention taking control of the amendment process away from it, Congress acted pre-emptively to propose the amendments instead. At least four amendments (the Seventeenth, Twenty-First, Twenty-Second, and Twenty-FifthAmendments) have been identified as being proposed by Congress at least partly in response to the threat of an Article V convention.[16]
There have been two nearly-successful attempts to amend the Constitution via an Article V Convention since the late 1960s. The first try was an attempt to propose an amendment that would overturn two Supreme Court decisions, Wesberry v. Sanders and Reynolds v. Sims, decisions that required states to adhere to the one man, one vote principle in drawing electoral districts for state and federal elections. The attempt fell only one state short of reaching the 34 needed to force Congress to call a convention in 1969, but ended by the death of its main promoter Senator Everett Dirksen. After this peak, several states rescinded their applications, and interest in the proposed amendment subsided.[17] The next nearly-successful attempt to call a convention was in the late 1970s and 1980s, in response to the ballooning federal deficit. States began applying to Congress for an Article V Convention to propose a balanced budget amendment. By 1983, the number of applications had reached 32, only two states short of the 34 needed to force such a convention.[18] Enthusiasm for the amendment subsided in response to fears that an Article V Convention could not be limited to a single subject and because Congress passed the Gramm-Rudman-Hollings Act, which required that the budget be balanced by 1991 (but that Act was overturned by the Supreme Court in 1986)”, End quote.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/25/article-v-convention_n_2951027.html

Agree, Rhinehold, that totally unfettered capitalism couldn’t exist. Knives and guns would come out within a week or two. It’s a dance between free market and regulation of same and we shall debate it for the duration, IMO.

Because the NY train operator dozed off it is likely that gov’t will force the train company to install automated braking systems on their trains, same as the EU’s have been using. The train company will bitch and install the system. The riders will bitch and pay the higher fares. A govie that voted for the new reg may lose the next election. And, the debate will go on - - - That’s the way the sausage is made in this democratic republic, IMO.

Otherwise - - -

Posted by: Roy Ellis at December 3, 2013 9:21 PM
Comment #374759

Jack,

“Re the Pope - I am not saying that the Pope has no right to an opinion. I am just saying that his opinion on this particular matter is not informed by real expertise….

I disagree with him and we are back to square one. In this matter, I believe my opinion is superior to the Pope’s.”


As a lapsed Catholic myself, a former Alter Boy taught by Fransiscan Nuns, and Holy Ghost Fathers, I am suprised you have forgotten your Catechism classes.

In matters of the Church, Catholics believe the Pope to be infalible. His words are the words of God, his opinion…, well I hope you get the point. Feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, have always been matters of the Church

There are more than a few passagess in the Bible concerning “wealthy” people and the poor, and usually the poor win.

Look, I am not a spiritual man, but whether I aggree with “the” opinion or not I find this Pope to be a man of principal. He is not just talking the talk, he is actually walking the walk.

Royal,

“As the Vicar of Christ he and most of us understand that Christianity is not about saving bodies, but rather, saving souls.”

Saving bodies can make the job of saving souls far easier. An empty belly doesn’t make for an interested audience.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 4, 2013 6:22 PM
Comment #374760

Rocky

I am sure he is a man of principle. But even as a Catholic kid, I never believed he could not be wrong.

BTW - Gandhi & Mother Teresa were people of principle, but I would not trust their economic analysis.

The Pope should indeed stick to saving souls. Most of us agree that we should be generous with our fellow man. But the Pope has no right to advocate the use of secular power to achieve his spiritual goals.

If liberals want to start listening to the Church, perhaps they should close those abortion clinics.

Posted by: CJ at December 4, 2013 6:30 PM
Comment #374761

I recall that some years ago Roman Catholic clergy were forbidden, by church leaders, from running and holding political office.

The reasons were valid I believe, and are valid today. There should be a divide between state and church.

The Anglican church does a reasonable job of staying out of British politics without relinquishing its role as moral leader in the country.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 4, 2013 6:46 PM
Comment #374762

Saving bodies can make the job of saving souls far easier. An empty belly doesn’t make for an interested audience.

Rocky

If that were true Rocky, we should see a majority of the poor on government entitlements filling our churches.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 4, 2013 6:52 PM
Comment #374763

Rocky and Royal

I think that if the Church wants to help the poor, they should give them some of the Church’s wealth. And the poor should pay back the generosity by - as Royal implies - filling the churches and living good and sober lives. In fact, that is a true win/win, since if the poor all lived good and sober lives, most would stop being poor.

Posted by: CJ at December 4, 2013 6:56 PM
Comment #374764

The Salvation Army is at the top of my list for charitable giving. They do a good job of mixing a little religious help for the soul with major help for the body.

The RC church does have great wealth but I am not sure how much of it is available as ready cash or assets readily converted to cash. And, recent lawsuits have diminished the wealth considerably.

Much of the church’s wealth is in real estate on which churches, hospitals and schools stand and are being used for worthwhile purposes. A great deal of wealth is in art and church artifacts that would be difficult to appraise and should not be sold.

To the RC church, a gold cross is much more than just gold and a church is much more than just a building.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 4, 2013 7:05 PM
Comment #374765

Peggy Noonan
explains it all.

Posted by: Kevin L. Lagola at December 4, 2013 7:08 PM
Comment #374766

Many thanks Kevin for the Noonan article. I didn’t find any hatred or hyperbole in it…just facts and good analysis.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 4, 2013 7:28 PM
Comment #374767

Perhaps my liberal friends can tell us what forms of identification are necessary if one is poor and qualifies for obamacare under Medicaid to prove who they are and why they qualify.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 4, 2013 7:48 PM
Comment #374771

You just haven’t come to terms yet that you are the poor too. I rack your job you are street bound, what then? You are trusting the rich to rule for you in congress, to understand your issues, old money or old money with new monies added. YOU TRUST THEM IN HIGH PLACES? Good luck with that guy—have fun in hell. These people probably are entirely fiat and you trust them in congress or in the White House—really?????? The D students of anything.

Posted by: simpleheaded at December 5, 2013 12:05 PM
Comment #374782

Jack,

“But even as a Catholic kid, I never believed he could not be wrong.”

That’s great Jack, however, just as there are Christians dogmatic about their faith, there are Catholics who are going to hang on his every word, especially those that live in those “shitholes” you described.
Copping a “superior” American conservative attitude isn’t going to deter them from their beliefs, and in fact may push them even further into the Pontif’s court.


Royal,

“If that were true Rocky, we should see a majority of the poor on government entitlements filling our churches.”

Really?

Perhaps instead of being snarky, you could point the way to the multiple Catholic, hell, even Christian kitchens serving food to the poor on a daily basis.

Since the economy tanked some of us just don’t have as much liquid capital as we once had to donate to charity, and, as a point of fact, donations to charities have fallen off greatly since that happened.

Very few of us made money off of everything going into the crapper.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 6, 2013 12:15 PM
Comment #374785

Perhaps Jon Stewart can explain it better than I can;

http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/thu-december-5-2013/the-amazing-raise—-stuart-varney-vs—pope-francis

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 6, 2013 2:19 PM
Comment #374787
Perhaps instead of being snarky, you could point the way to the multiple Catholic, hell, even Christian kitchens serving food to the poor on a daily basis.

https://www.google.com/search?q=christian+soup+kitchens&oq=christian+soup+kitchens&aqs=chrome..69i57j0l5.5139j0j7&sourceid=chrome&espv=210&es_sm=93&ie=UTF-8#es_sm=93&espv=210&q=christian+soup+kitchens+-atheists

Shows 3 million hits…

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 6, 2013 3:03 PM
Comment #374788

“Perhaps Jon Stewart can explain it better than I can”

If you mean snarky populist totalitarian nonsense? Yeah, I’m sure he does a much better job… Just not sure that is what you were going for.

Posted by: Rhinehold at December 6, 2013 3:06 PM
Comment #374789

Hey Rocky…I watched the Kukula, Fran and Stewart clip and must admit it was funny. Perhaps Stewart could replace Letterman as he is certainly more entertaining.

Posted by: Royal Flush at December 6, 2013 3:37 PM
Comment #374799

Rocky

I don’t suppose Catholics in America to have any more to do with the Churches social policy than they did with birth control etc.

Beyond that, the Pope is asking individuals to be more generous. Conservatives are already more generous. Maybe now liberals will catch up.

Posted by: CJ at December 6, 2013 5:53 PM
Comment #374825

Jack,

“I don’t suppose Catholics in America to have any more to do with the Churches social policy than they did with birth control etc.”

You keep bringing up birth control and abortion as if you expect to elicit some Pavlovian response from me.
I hate to disappoint you, but the comparison is apples and watermelons.

“Conservatives are already more generous.”

You also keep saying this, and used Romney as an example, despite the fact that the inheritance was given to BYU in the name of the “Romney family” and the donation required matching funds to rescue a department that was to be closed, and re-open it in his father’s name.

BTW, Mitt and George Romney couldn’t have been any more different.


Rhinehold,

“Shows 3 million hits…”

It would be more interesting if each of those “hits” were a location where someone could actually get fed. You ignore the fact that there is much less money being donated to these charities.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 7, 2013 9:21 AM
Comment #374833

Rocky

I bring up those things to indicate that American Catholics generally do not follow the Churches lead in social and political realms, nor should they. People’s belief systems should inform their values, but if we really believed the Pope called the shots, we would have trouble. Didn’t John Kennedy call that bluff more than fifty years ago?

Liberals are suddenly finding religion because of a speech made by the Pope. This is not the first time the Church has messed with politics. I generally oppose mixing Church and state. Most liberals used to agree with me.

Re generosity - I keep on bringing it up because it keeps on being true. Romney gave his whole inheritance away. Whether or not he pushed for a matching grant by someone else means nothing more than he wanted others to be generous too.

I give a fair amount of money to charity. If there is a matching grant, that is all the better. If you give $100 to charity, it is still $100 whether or not anybody else gives a gift to match yours.

Posted by: CJ at December 7, 2013 3:20 PM
Comment #374836

Jack,

“I bring up those things to indicate that American Catholics generally do not follow the Churches lead in social and political realms, nor should they. People’s belief systems should inform their values, but if we really believed the Pope called the shots, we would have trouble.”

Do you assume that American Catholics are the only Catholics there are?

American Catholics comprise less than 10% of the worlds Catholic population. I can only relate what I know about American Catholics by what I know about my mother. She is a devout, church going (sometimes more than just Sundays) Catholic, and she listens to, and follows what the Church hiarchy preaches. Now granted she is 85, but I am quite sure she isn’t alone with her beliefs.

“Didn’t John Kennedy call that bluff more than fifty years ago?”

The point about Kennedy was a political ploy in an attempt to discredit him before the 1960 election.

“Romney gave his whole inheritance away.”

Yeah, he did, but he gave it away to fund a legacy for his father.
That’s not quite like giving it away to charity.

Rocky

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 7, 2013 8:05 PM
Comment #374838

Rocky

My experience with Latin American Catholics is that they are even less likely to take seriously - in practice - what the Pope tells them about social and economic matters. I suppose that is one reason why birth rates are dropping so quickly south of our borders despite supposed birth control bans.

European Catholics pay even less attention. People listen tot he Pope when they want to.

But let me emphasize that the Pope is an important leader. We take seriously what he says. That is why I always encourage my liberal friends to be more generous.

Anyway, American Catholics are the ones that matter to our polity. Again, I would hope that the Pope doesn’t have significant influence over secular politics.

Re Romney - so the man gives away many millions of dollars. He wants to have something credited to his father. And that bothers you, why? In your opinion all charity should be anonymous?

Posted by: CJ at December 8, 2013 7:04 AM
Comment #374880

Jack,

As you may have guessed I just don’t like Romney.

I believe he is a hypocrite going back to the ‘60s when he was at Stanford. He was an activist for the war in Vietnam, but then actively sought a 4D ministerial deferment so he wouldn’t have to go. During Nixon’s time as President he believed Vietnam was a mistake, but thought Nixon’s involvement in Cambodia worthwhile.
He rode into Salt Lake City as the savior for the Olympics, and used over $400 million from the government on top of the $1 billion earmarked for infrastructure repair and expansion to do so.

Look, Romney has given up to 14% of his income to Mormon charities. I don’t have a problem with that, and for that he should be applauded, though Mormons do have a tendency to take care of their own first.
However, I don’t see BYU as a charity, regardless of how much of his inheritance he gave to them

Rocky.

Posted by: Rocky Marks at December 10, 2013 1:11 PM
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