Pope condemns 'trickle down economics', American right-wing goes berzerk

No to an Economy of Exclusion

"Just as the commandment “Thou shalt not kill” sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say “thou shalt not” to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points? This is a case of exclusion. Can we continue to stand by when food is thrown away while people are starving? This is a case of inequality. 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.

Human beings are themselves considered consumer goods to be used and then discarded. We have created a “throw away” culture which is now spreading. It is no longer simply about exploitation and oppression, but something new. Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be a part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the “exploited” but the outcast, the “leftovers”.

In this context, 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 naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. [Emphasis added] 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. In the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us."

- Pope Francis in the Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel).

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This is the darling economic plan of the American right, most recently recycled with the Romney-Ryan election campaign: savage cuts in public aid to the poor accompanied by lavish tax cuts for wealthy Americans. This is the myth and dogma of trickle down economics.

Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Budget Committee, claims his fiscal views are informed by Catholic teaching-- a double layer of religious dogma backed ideological dogma-- but the US Conference of Catholic Bishops says he is full of it.

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Now we have the Pope, leader of the largest Christian Church on the planet, unequivocally condemning the political dogma of the American right as immoral, factually untrue, exploitative, and harmful to the point of being deadly.

So what's a good Christian to do? Consider and address the Pope's actual point? Modify the ideology of greed and exploitation to fit the religion of Jesus, on which the Pope is the supreme authority in the Catholic Church?

Naw. Modify your personal interpretation of the faith to fit the ideology, Paul Ryan style! That way, you can be Christian, Republican, and hate children and the elderly for living in poverty while you cruise by in the limo.

Yes, religion, capitalism and politics are totally separate things. Religious leaders should butt out, because they have no business involving religious teaching where business and government resources are concerned. Just ask Rush Limbaugh:

Tags: Limbaugh, Marxism, Pope, Religion, Rush, down, trickle

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Every time I hear "trickle down economics" I imagine a certain yellow-tinged liquid trickling down onto the masses while the elite have a good snicker.

I wonder how the conservatives in the Catholic branch of my family are handling the cognative dissonance. I'd like to see how they spin it given that their Pope is "infallible!"

I wonder how the conservatives in the Catholic branch of my family are handling the cognative dissonance. I'd like to see how they spin it given that their Pope is "infallible!"

The answer to this question, at least in my family, has come down to selective reasoning and wilful ignorance.

Confronted with the Pope's condemnation of fantasy-based trickle-down economics, I asked my folks if they would stop supporting the Republicans 'let them eat cake' economic plan. No, said they, because Republicans are against abortion and nothing is more important than human life.

I reminded them that the number one reason women have abortions is financial. Republicans encourage abortions by slashing public higher education and aid for low-income children, making motherhood even more unaffordable.

Well, said they, it's all very difficult and confusing, Gallup. They said nothing more, but assumed the cold, hardened expressions they get when they talk about millions of lazy freeloaders sitting around collecting welfare.

In other words, nothing the Pope said changed a thing. The fantasy of the lazy, freeloading, able-bodied poor shall persist. The reality of the poor-- who are mostly children and the elderly and people who want decent jobs at a living wage-- shall persist.

My folks remind me of what the Pope said about being "incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them". My folks do this by telling themselves that poor people don't actually exist. There are only lazy good-for-nothings who pretend to be poor, but really aren't poor, or don't have to be poor.

I liked the video, until the guy started talking about Iraq and Somalia. Blaming the problems there on "unfettered capitalism" is just dumb. There are so many more problems in both those places that completely eclipse what ever problems there may or may not be with the economics in those countries.

But yeah, it still amazes me that so many people in America who are religious also agree with economic policies that are completely counter to the message that's in the gospels.

My goodness, @Gallup is quoting His Holiness.  And agreeing with him no less!

So do I. 

Don't give up on your parents, @Gallup.  It takes time to change long-held habits and beliefs.  Tell them human life is indeed valuable; the poor child on the streets of our impoverished cities no less than the child in the womb.

My goodness, @Gallup is quoting His Holiness. And agreeing with him no less! So do I.

The Pope is not the first to realize that trickle-down has no basis in reality, so it's not a matter of me agreeing with the Pope. The Pope is making a public statement indicating his agreement with subject matter experts who say as much. The idea that showering the rich with lavish tax cuts at the expense of the poor grows economies and resolves recessions doesn't have much traction as an economic theory.

So sure, Bob. It's to the Pope's credit that he condemns the grotesque, fact-free dogma of American right-wing economics. On the other hand, the papal condemnation is arriving over a hundred years late. That is how long the Republicans have been selling trickle down.

I suppose that's an improvement in timing relative to the Galileo affair.

Don't give up on your parents, @Gallup. It takes time to change long-held habits and beliefs. Tell them human life is indeed valuable; the poor child on the streets of our impoverished cities no less than the child in the womb.

My folks are incorrigible, Bob. Just like you. Just like Rush Limbaugh.

Where dogma is concerned-- religious or ideological-- they are impervious to reason. They don't think. They rearrange their prejudices. Facts that get in the way are disregarded or distorted, or the prejudices are rearranged to bridge them.

They are voting Republican no matter what the Pope says.

My folks are incorrigible, Bob. 

If your current approach isn't working, try a different approach.

It's a bit like being an American in France.  It just doesn't work if you speak English LOUDER.  Those French are incorrigible.

Try talking to them in their native language, and sometimes they come around, slowly. 

On the other hand, the papal condemnation is arriving over a hundred years late.

The Church has been saying the same things for longer than that; you just haven't been listening.  Pick up the 1983 U.S. Bishops Letter on the Economy, which was promulgated right in the middle of the Reagan "trickle down" years.

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