Inequality

Sorry, Pope Francis: Poverty, Not Inequality, Is the Source of Social Evil

Inequality in poor countries is much worse than inequality in rich countries

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Pope
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Conservatives are upset that Pope Francis' recent tweet "inequality is the root of social evil" was meant as a nod to French economist Tom Piketty's 500-plus page controversial bestseller, Capital in the Twenty-First Century, which warns that Western capitalist countries are headed for ever-widening inequality.

That the Pope is on Piketty's side is hardly a revelation given that he has previously blamed "unfettered" capitalism for perpetuating oppression, tyranny and every other ill on God's great planet. But he was wrong then, and wrong now.

Setting aside the irony that this sweeping condemnation of inequality is being issued by the head of the most hierarchical organization in the world, there isn't much empirical evidence for the Pope's claims.

For example, the rap against rising inequality is that it retards economic growth and leads to bad health and social outcomes for the poor. But Harvard University's Christopher Jencks found little impact of inequality on the poor's: standard of living; life expectancy; violent crime; political participation; or even happiness.

Consumers in America, the most unequal of all Western countries, he found, "do better than their counterparts in other large democracies."

Indeed, after looking for all the ills that liberals attribute to rising inequality in Western countries for over a decade, he has come up with so little that he has abandoned his book plans. (He told New York Times' Eduardo Porter last week, he feared headlines like, "Professor Doesn't Know What he is Talking About.")

Jencks' findings sound counter intuitive, but they aren't. Why? Because the real issue is not inequality but poverty: If the rising income gap between the rich and the poor stemmed from the poor losing ground, Jencks would have found the dreaded ill effects. But even Piketty doesn't claim that the poor are getting poorer in America or the West—only that the rich are getting richer faster. He expects this trend to grow because advanced capitalist economies offer bigger returns on capital investments (rich people's main asset), over labor (poor people's main asset).

But even if inequality due to the rising income of the rich doesn't affect economic and social outcomes of the poor, it is still possible that it is inherently corrupting for society. That's because the rich can be arrogant jerks. Being vastly better off makes them feel that they are better: smarter, more talented, more virtuous and therefore more entitled. Such attitudes erode social bonds and trust and produce resentments.

Indeed, research by University of California's Paul Piff found just that last year. He conducted lab experiments in which rich people consistently demonstrated an "empathy gap." Even when their wealth resulted from pure chance, they became less generous and ethical.

That might be true. But my experience with rich people in a rich country like America and rich people in a poor country like my native India suggests that India's rich are bigger jerks than America's on all those counts. Whereas in America, expensive cars and designer clothes define a rich person's style, in India they define his status and worth. India's wealthy classes are far likelier to blame not the system and its lack of opportunities for rampant poverty, but the poor themselves. Conversely, they are more likely to attribute their success to their own superiority, not their good fortune or privilege.

Why?

Because the scarcity of wealth elevates its social importance, making it a far more important metric for judging people. Since abject poverty has been more or less eliminated in America, wealth itself has become more of a lifestyle choice. Americans often opt to not realize their full earning potential—becoming journalists instead of doctors; professors instead of lawyers; writers instead of accountants—living more modest lifestyles as a result. They do so not because they are losers, but because they cherish some other value—their calling, leisure or family time, intellectual/artistic/spiritual pursuits—over extra income.

All of this generates an ethos that recognizes that there are metrics of success other than money, tempering the pathologies of wealth in wealthy countries. This is one reason why America's rich are far more apologetic—and less flamboyant—than their more in-your-face Indian counterparts.

The Pope needs to bear in mind that not all inequalities are equal: Inequality that stems from prosperity isn't nearly as big a problem as that resulting from poverty. Wealth, paradoxically, can be its own antidote.

A version of this column originally appeared in the Washington Examiner

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  1. “Inequality is the source of social evil.”

    No. No, it’s not.

    1. Look at the opulence of the Vatican and its treasures and know they have not given it to the poor. Is the Pope declaring himself evil?

      1. This. If you are unaware of just how much, um, good stuff the Vatican possesses you are indeed naive.

        1. With the net, just Google Vatican treasure and click Images. And that’s just the public stuff.

          1. It’s truly mind-blowing. Think of the warehouse scene at the end of “Raiders” where the boxes represent classical art museums.

            1. Look at the opulence of the Vatican and its treasures and know they have not given it to the poor.

              But that all belongs to God (by way of his representatives here on earth of course).

            2. They have the crashed UFO from Roswell and a complete set of Topps baseball cards WITH the gum.

        2. No, no, all of that was freely given to the Church in furtherance of its good works on earth….

          1. Yes, freely given – out of fear of fire everlasting.

    2. Well he did say social evil whatever the fuck that is.

      Ironically, material inequality is not seen as an inherent injustice in Christianity, which the pope purports to believe in.

      In fact, envy which is the source of much evil imo, is expressly condemned in the ten commandments. And blind hatred and hubris are condemned elsewhere. The three together are the central foundation of leftwing politics, apparently including the pope’s.

      1. “Well he did say social evil whatever the fuck that is.”

        When you add the word “social” in front of a word, it cancels the word’s actual meaning and transforms it into an expression meaning the approximate opposite of the original word.

        E.g. Social Justice, Social Security, Social Contract.

        1. That’s a good one; I’m going to have to remember that. As I’ve been pointing out, if you have to add adjectives to a word like “justice” or “evil”, it’s a pretty good indication that you’re not talking about what people usually think of when they think of the word. If it were really “evil” or “justice”, you’d just call it that.

      2. Those are the three indeed. Been thinking for some time that the desire to avoid responsibility for one’s own decisions and actions is a major theme of our post-modern world.

  2. When did Jonathan Pryce become the Pope?

    1. Ah crap. I will never unsee that now.

      Good call.

  3. Using the Catholic leader’s name and the word fetish in the same teaser title probably isn’t a good start if you’re trying to convince any of the faithful of your POV.

    1. I’ve also learned they don’t like it when you refer to him as “Speaker for the Dead.”

  4. The central fallacy of the pope and most of the left’s world view is the belief in zero-sum economics. I can forgive the view on the pope’s part because he has a pre-modern mindset where taking someone else’s property was the fastest and surest way to wealth.

    1. Remember, he is an Argie.
      Argentine economics is a zero-sum game of parasites, looters and populist plunder.

  5. Inequality in the financial sense, or inequality in the sense of being able to get away w/ raping children by fleeing to the independent nation of The Vatican, while hiding your organization’s own billions to prevent their victims from taking it away in a lawsuit over said rapes?

    1. Uh, the courts have been far more successful collecting damages from the Church than, say, from the govt schools with their legal protections from liability if their teachers rape students.

  6. Is Shika running this hit twice or has the unholy squirrel cursed the server again?

  7. What really pisses me off about Pope Francis is that he claims inequality is all because of those who believe in the “absolute equality of the free market”. Yeah because those guys are in charge of everything. Nobody who believes in government limiting or intervening in the market has any power whatsoever. If there was a God I’d ask him to give the pope cancer.

    1. Don’t worry – if he lives long enough, He probably will.

  8. First a Nazi Pope, then a Commie Pope. Can we please stop getting Popes who represent failed authoritarian regimes of the 1900s?

    1. Probably around 2050.

    2. Really?

    3. First a Nazi Pope, then a Commie Pope.

      Would you be ok with a Smoking Pope?

      1. gaijin,

        Why not. The current one is already blowing smoke up peoples’ butts anyway.

    4. To be fair John Paul II was an important voice against Communism.

  9. I realize that Catholics don’t read the Bible, but somebody might want to point out to the Pope that there’s a thing in there about not coveting your neighbors stuff. I think it’s even on Gods Top Ten List of Things Not To Do.

    Or as P J O’Rourke wrote: Yet think how important the Tenth Commandment is to a community, to a nation, indeed to a presidential election. If you want a mule, if you want a pot roast, if you want a cleaning lady, don’t be a jerk and whine about what the people across the street have ? go get your own.

    The Tenth Commandment sends a message to all the jerks who want redistribution of wealth, higher taxes, more government programs, more government regulation, more government, less free enterprise, and less freedom. And the message is clear and concise: Go to hell.

    1. Further: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal.”

    2. Beat me to it – so now the Catholic church has a Pope who doesn’t know the Ten Commandments.

      “You shall not covet . . . anything that is your neighbor’s. . . . You shall not desire your neighbor’s house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.”

      1. I might as well pile on

        “Woe to those who devise wickedness and work evil on their beds! When the morning dawns, they perform it, because it is in the power of their hand. They covet fields and seize them, and houses, and take them away; they oppress a man and his house, a man and his inheritance. Therefore thus says the Lord: behold, against this family I am devising disaster, from which you cannot remove your necks, and you shall not walk haughtily, for it will be a time of disaster.”

        Micah 2:1-13

        1. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

          Matthew 19:24

          1. It all makes sense now. We must steal from the rich so they can go to heaven. Socialism is actually for the betterment of the wealthy.

          2. I agree with most of the thoughts expressed on this thread, but I hate it when people quote this passage of scripture. It’s the most misunderstood line in the Bible. An Eye of the Needle isn’t an actual needle, it was a name for a small side gate to a walled city. The camel can pass through, you just have to unpack all the goods and materials heaped on it and make crouch a bit. It can be done, it’s just a right proper pain in the ass.

    3. “I realize that Catholics don’t read the Bible”
      Nice.

      1. Well for many centuries they didn’t, because it was in Latin, and because most people couldn’t read anyway. I’ve always gotten the impression that the flock wasn’t particularly encouraged to read and interpret scripture for themselves.

  10. NOT FAYER!

    NOT FAYER!

    NOT FAYER!

    *stops feet*

    NOT FAYER!

    1. We need a Single Fayer system.

      1. Nice.

  11. I agree with SD and *disagree* with the Pope re inequality in the West.

    I agree with SD *and* the Pope re inequality in the poor countries, the milieu with which the Pope is familiar.

    And it’s my understanding, taking the Church’s teachings as a whole, that the faithful are free to advocate free-market, noncoercive solutions to the plight of the poor and the arrogance of the rich.

    1. “…taking the Church’s teachings as a whole…”

      Totality of circumstances, man. Totality of circumstances.

    2. I agree with SD *and* the Pope re inequality in the poor countries, the milieu with which the Pope is familiar.

      You agree with the pope that the unfettered capitalism of the Argentine economy is responsible for social disharmony, because greed?

      1. Take a look at what SD said in the article.

        1. Keep picking around in there.
          Sorta like the bible, I’m sure you can stitch together some words he’s spoken at one time or another to make him look not quite so stupid.

        2. I’d rather focus on the piece of non-sequitur bullshit you just dropped, but I can see why you’d rather avoid the subject. You’re getting as good as Tulpa and Bo at that lately.

          Just for kicks though, my point was that “rich people are assholes who abuse the poor and make them resent them”, to the extent that it is true, doesn’t have jack shit to do with the “unfettered capitalism” upon which the pope places the blame for wealth inequality, least of all in a place like Argentina, or any of the other communist banana republics representing the “millieu with which the pope is familiar”. If the pope is economically ignorant as a result of the environment in which he has lived then he should shut the fuck up about economics. His holiness’ abject ignorance isn’t quite the miracle salve you think it is for people who don’t already worship the man.

          1. “You agree with the pope that the unfettered capitalism of the Argentine economy is responsible for social disharmony, because greed?”

            No, check SD’s article and her earlier article on the subject five days ago, which I can’t seem to link to right now.

            Just to reiterate, you can work with Catholics like George Weigel (not the columnist), Tom Woods and Judge Napolitano, or you can keep throwing out phrases like “bullshit,” “shut the fuck up,” “communist,” “fuck with a chainsaw,” etc.

  12. It is all blathering by power-mongering sociopaths that use communism as a means of enslaving people.

    Hey Francis, go fuck yourself.

    Thanks Shikha. I was having a good morning and very thoughtful dialogue. This really pissed me off. I descended into advising the pope to go get fucked.

    1. What the Pope says and what other people say the Pope said are two different things. There’s been a concerted effort in the media to portray this Pope as a liberal in order to bash conservatives, and it’s a dirty business.

      1. True, I have not sat down with the man personally and had him outline his positions for me.

        Still, no matter the context, without some pretty heavy editing he is still spouting the politics of envy in a pretty blatant fashion. I know what that means, and I have not seen a single report anywhere from anyone of him refuting that. Given the power of the church I am sure he could find an outlet somewhere to defend himself if he is being slandered.

        This guy is a POS commie who has managed to get himself elected as the head of the world’s largest, wealthiest, and most powerful church. It is what it is.

        He should take my advice and go fuck himself with a rusty chainsaw.

        1. Running or non running ?

          Details man, details.

        2. This guy is a POS commie who has managed to get himself elected as the head of the world’s largest, wealthiest, and most powerful church. It is what it is.

          Morally speaking, one can think of communism as Christianity without the belief in a deity. There really isn’t a great deal of difference in the moral principles that underlie the two – I can remember some of my more progressive high school teachers emphasizing the goodness of Karl Marx the man years ago. Under both systems moral behavior is that which benefits others -if it benefits primarily oneself, it receives no credit as being moral. After all – we are placed on this Earth to serve, either God or our fellow man – certainly not ourselves. Also, remember that Christianity is not based on the Ten Commandments – that’s Old Testament. Christ and his teachings in the New Testament supersede the Old Testament.

        3. The Catholic church has long redistributed wealth–not before skimming the lion’s share for “God”, of course. It has also preached central control and absolute power for many centuries. What this Pope professes is not new, then. What is different is that he is repackaging the old to make it palatable to modern leftists. Someone above pointed out that the (leftist) media is using his teaching as a weapon against the Right. It is obviously working.

  13. The Popes are still “Absolute Monarchs”. Read the book by John Julius Norwich. Anyway, the present one is a Jesuit, thee most LIBERAL order in the Catholic Church, so what did anyone expect when this guy got in? And yet he talks about equality and inequality but he continues to live in a world of luxury with everyone running around kissing his rear end on a daily basis. So, he can yap all he wants about the poor and downtrodden while he continues to live the good life at the Holy See in Vatican City. Yet another example of the never ending b s of the human race.

    1. Liberal in the modern, authoritarian sense of the word. Nothing to do with actual liberty.

      1. Drake,

        Well said.

    2. The Pope actually lives in humble lodgings, rejecting many of the trappings of office.

      1. Me too. And, I obey the Tenth Commandment.

      2. Bravo for him.

    3. “Yet another example of the never ending b s of the human race.”

      Uh, you can certainly include the Pope, but other than that, I think there’s some projection here.
      We’ve read your posts.

      1. Sevo,

        I have read your posts too. So what! What’s the “we” for? Do you represent some powerful f***ing organization I’m supposed to know about?

  14. Jencks’ findings sound counter intuitive, but they aren’t. Why? Because the real issue is not inequality but poverty: If the rising income gap between the rich and the poor stemmed from the poor losing ground, Jencks would have found the dreaded ill effects.

    It’s almost like economies aren’t zero-sum.

  15. “But even if inequality due to the rising income of the rich doesn’t affect economic and social outcomes of the poor, it is still possible that it is inherently corrupting for society.” — I think you proved Pope Francis point.

  16. Perhaps you could ask Tom Woods and Judge Napolitano – both of them Catholics who support economic freedom – whether it’s constructive to insult millions of potential allies by calling their Pope a POS commie, etc., etc.

    This plays into the hands of the Catholic Left, to whom economic freedom is a heresy to be read out of the Church altogether – and in this they are More Catholic Than the Pope, since the Vatican has never denounced Woods’ or Napolitano’s works as heretical.

    What’s with a movement which is willing to ally with actual socialists like Bernie Sanders and the Seattle potheads, but writes off an influential religious tradition which actually (look it up!) developed vigorous defenses at least of landed property and denounced arbitrary government. “Oh, but the Pope isn’t a libertarian, so screw all the Catholics!”

    1. but writes off an influential religious tradition which actually (look it up!) developed vigorous defenses at least of landed property and denounced arbitrary government.

      To the extent that’s true, and your characterization is generous beyond belief as has been hashed out on these pages innumerable times, the century-old pronouncements of long-dead popes have no bearing on this one, anymore than Calvin Coolidge’s economic viewpoints vindicate Barack Obama’s.

      1. I suppose it all depends on whether you’re trying to make public-policy victories by finding largely-sympathetic allies like George Weigel, Woods, and Napolitano who support economic and religious freedom, OR whether your focus is on purges and purity tests.

        So let’s see you’re trying to persuade Catholics to join you in supporting economic freedom – do you

        (a) Call the Pope a communist

        (b) Call the Pope a POS

        (c) Say the Pope should fuck himself with a chainsaw

        (d) Say that Catholics don’t read the Bible

        (e) Show how the objectives of Catholic social teaching, especially justice for the poor, can be best fulfilled by economic freedom?

      2. “century-old pronouncements of long-dead popes”

        Century? St. JP II wasn’t a century ago.

        “have no bearing on this one”

        To the extent Popes disagree with the predecessors, the faithful can get assurance that they are not necessarily bound by the current Pope’s declarations.

        Even better, they can read the current Pope’s declarations in light of the declarations of earlier Popes and Councils.

        It’s not as if the Church erases its institutional memory in each generation and allows each new Pope to start from scratch. Not suggesting that the current Pope is trying to do this.

        1. People want to jam the Church into little alleys of idealogy to support their own agendas. It doesn’t work. So when a Pope says something about economics the Left whoops it up. Then when he condemns abortion the Left pours out venom.
          The Church is not American, republican, democrat. The Church is not Russian or Argentine or communist and people that try to dress it up as any of that are deluding themselves.

          1. Worse than that. The Church is one of the oldest existing institutions – it has outlasted governments and political ideologies by the score.

  17. Whenever someone talks about inequality, do you all picture the only alternative as absolute total equality? Because relative wealth is important. It’s not just a matter of saying poor people in rich countries don’t die of malaria and malnutrition, so everything’s OK! There’s the problem that the rich, if they are too far separated from everyone else, will have an unacceptably vast share of the power in their society. There’s also the moral problem that a large amount of inequality definitely means that the rich gained their wealth through means other than mere industriousness–the system is rigged in their favor.

    But you’re libertarians. There is scarcely a means by which someone becomes rich that is not only legitimate but praiseworthy. The real problem is how poor people feed themselves. Gotta keep your eye on the real abuse!

    1. “The real problem is how poor people feed themselves. Gotta keep your eye on the real abuse!”

      The mantra of the left!
      If they didn’t like the poor so much, they wouldn’t make so many of them.

    2. There’s also the moral problem that a large amount of inequality definitely means that the rich gained their wealth through means other than mere industriousness

      No, no it doesn’t. Like, not at all. That has to be one of the most ignorant things ever posted. Once again, your complete and utter lack of statistical comprehension is awe-inspiring.

    3. There’s the problem that the rich, if they are too far separated from everyone else, will have an unacceptably vast share of the power in their society.

      and that is bad because…

      There’s also the moral problem that a large amount of inequality definitely means that the rich gained their wealth through means other than mere industriousness–the system is rigged in their favor.

      So rich people are nothing but a collection of Bernie Madoffs and Lance Armstrongs?

      1. I’ve never understood how a “poor” person is any more inclined to look out for my interests than a “rich” person.

        It doesn’t matter to me who holds the shackles.

      2. and that is bad because…

        Why should I have to explain this? If by virtue of your relative poverty you have no real say in your own society, then it’s not a democracy, there is no legitimacy to the law, and the poor don’t owe the rich a goddamn thing, like respect for their property rights.

        So rich people are nothing but a collection of Bernie Madoffs and Lance Armstrongs?

        The rich in this day and age are mostly not people who pulled themselves up from bootstraps and made their way by engaging in productive trade. They made it by gaming the system and stealing from the rest of us. The financial sector is supposed to exist to serve a social function. Now it exists to turn money into more money at everyone else’s expense.

        1. The rich in this day and age are mostly not people who pulled themselves up from bootstraps and made their way by engaging in productive trade.

          Of course, that’s horse shit, but, umm, look! Over there!

          1. A million dollars makes you wealthy?

            1. Lol, uh, if it doesn’t, your whole 1% schtick kind of implodes, dun’it?

              If you’d prefer to discuss billionaires instead, the same holds true there as well.

            2. It does if you don’t have any money.

            3. A million dollars makes you wealthy?

              Your messiah in the White House seems to think so.

        2. “The rich in this day and age are mostly not people who pulled themselves up from bootstraps and made their way by engaging in productive trade. They made it by gaming the system and stealing from the rest of us. The financial sector is supposed to exist to serve a social function. Now it exists to turn money into more money at everyone else’s expense.”

          This is the most primitive, unhealthy mindset about money. It’s pure jealousy. It’s very common in Europe though. You know why? Because the government and corrupt government crony’s got rich that way, so it’s what they know. It’s NOT true for the most part in the US, and it’s not even feasible with limited government and strong capitalism. It is, however, very prevalent in socialist countries that have put in place countless (but hilariously backfiring) methods to keep people poor. When you make getting or being rich difficult to do legally (Which is where we are headed, and what communist/socialist counties try very hard to do), only criminals will be rich.

        3. …and the poor don’t owe the rich a goddamn thing, like respect for their property rights.

          The poor owe it to themselves to respect property rights – everyone’s property rights, not only those of the rich – if they want their own property rights respected.

    4. will have an unacceptably vast share of the power in their society

      What kind of power, and how does this compare to the power inequality one sees throughout history? Or, for that matter, how does it compare to the power inequality between citizens and officials of the state?

      1. Officials of the state are accountable to elections. Plutocrats aren’t.

        1. Officials of the state are accountable to elections.

          But wait, I thought they were completely unaccountable on account of all the richies having purchased the elections and stolen the franchise?

          Plutocrats aren’t.

          Rich people aren’t plutocrats. But other than that minor total non-sequitur, you really knocked that one out of the park.

          1. Or to be more specific, rich people in this particular country under our particular set of laws and constitution aren’t plutocrats. The presence of money is not sufficient to establish plutocracy.

        2. Well that completely ignored my questions. Thanks.

        3. Officials of the state are accountable to elections.

          Not the ones who really count. We are ruled administratively for the most part, by people who are appointed by elected figureheads. The officials who interpret and apply all the damned regulations, laws, and edicts never have to answer to the electorate.

    5. There’s also the moral problem that a large amount of inequality definitely means that the rich gained their wealth through means other than mere industriousness–the system is rigged in their favor.

      Which is why, unlike you, libertarians also oppose corporate welfare and favor making the government so small and cash-starved that it doesn’t have the power or money to hand out favors to special interests. The only thing that pisses you off about the current system is that occasionally somebody who votes for a party you don’t like manages to get on the gravy train instead of a Top Man.

      1. Yeah but until the day comes when your absurd fairy tale utopia becomes real, you’re going to oppose any and all attempts to rectify anything if it has to do with taxing or regulating wealthy people or corporations. So forgive me if I assume that’s the whole point.

        1. That might be because taxing wealthy people and corporations isn’t a remedy for anything except your petty, impotent, small-minded jealousy, and most of us don’t share your failings.

          1. So your only solution to cronyism is to enact libertopia, and it will simply be solved like every other problem in the world. So how about until that happens we actually address the problem?

            1. My only solution to cronyism is to, you know, kill the source of the cronyism. Taxing wealthy people and corporations doesn’t address cronyism. If it did America wouldn’t have any cronyism – we have the highest corporate tax rate on planet earth. It’s an odd coincidence that your solutions don’t actually correlate to the problem they are ostensibly intended to solve. So you’ll forgive us for assuming that’s the whole point.

  18. Fuck this socialist pig.

    Let’s just, for a minute, say wealth IS money. And let’s say no one EVER moves up or down the income ladder. (Both bullshit, but the left’s argument.)

    Businessmen OWN the mechanisms that create wealth. Who in the business would/should receive the biggest paycheck, an employee or the owner? Let’s also assume whomever is answering that last question is sane, and agrees it should be the owner…

    What happens “wealth” between workers and business owners over time when one is paid more than another?

    Big red fucking truck! Talk about a fucking NON-issue.

    Fuck the Pope in the ass with a red-hot cattle prod! Fucking moron!

    1. The “left” do not say nobody never moves up the ladder. Being people who often read things other than children’s books, we understand that poverty itself is a pitiable condition, whether you spend your whole life in it or six months between jobs. People in this country do dip in and out of poverty in relatively quick intervals. That’s the mobility you morons treat as something to celebrate.

      Nobody wants everyone to get the same paycheck. But ignoring inequality completely means any problems associated with inequality (and they do exist as I outline above) go untreated. Capitalism left unchecked certainly results in increased inequality… all the way up the ladder to plutocracy. Somewhere along the way it is guaranteed that the vast majority of people lose their say in their own society and their ability to be truly upwardly mobile. And you call it freedom.

      1. It amazes me how you can write two full paragraphs and say nothing rational.

        Complete gibberish.

      2. Inequality is the excuse you use to cover up for your envy. Never mind that today’s poor live like kings of old, all that really matters to you is that somebody somewhere has more than you and that’s “not fair”.

        If you actually cared about the poor, you’d spend your time advocating against the people and institutions who butter their bread by keeping people poor.

        We already live in a plutocracy, where the real currency is power over others. And people like you are the plutocrats.

        1. And envy is the cheap bullshit you guys use to slavishly defend plutocracy. Let me clear it up: I am not extraordinarily envious of people wealthier than I am. I am sincerely talking about public policy. It’s very difficult to talk about that when you ignore any legalized theft that goes into the accumulation of wealth and then say we can never ever tax any of it to rectify things because that would be stealing.

          1. It’s very difficult to talk about that when you ignore any legalized theft that goes into the accumulation of wealth and then say we can never ever tax any of it to rectify things because that would be stealing.

            It’s even more difficult when your solution to legalized theft (which, it’s worth pointing out, you define as allowing anyone beyond some arbitrary threshold of your choosing to retain any of their money) is to legalize more theft to thieve back the loot that was thieved in the original theft.

            1. (All the more so when one party to the first theft is supposed to be the enforcer of the compensatory thievery of the second)

          2. you ignore any legalized theft that goes into the accumulation of wealth

            What legalized theft? Slavery was abolished in 1865. The only “legalized theft” I see is taxation and government-created inflation.

          3. And envy is the cheap bullshit you guys use to slavishly defend plutocracy. Let me clear it up: I am not extraordinarily envious of people wealthier than I am.

            That’s true – you aren’t envious. You and your ilk aren’t capable of any so innocent an emotion as simple envy. Rather, what you have time and time again expressed on these boards is unreasoning hate and resentment of anyone who might be better off than others. Dog in the fucking manger.

      3. Tony|5.7.14 @ 10:29AM|#
        …”Being people who often read things other than children’s books,”…

        You keep making claims like this and then immediately proving otherwise with your comments.

    2. Francisco,

      You have just been taken off the sainthood candidate list. a “RED-HOT CATTLE PROD” was too much. I would have opted for an Ice Water Castor Oil enema at 2 in the morning without benefit of lubrication.

      1. Cattle prod? Probably not any worse than a taser – which cops use all the time. Not even considered a deadly weapon – unless, of course, someone attempts to use one against a cop.

  19. Tony
    “I am sincerely talking about public policy. It’s very difficult to talk about that when you ignore any legalized theft that goes into the accumulation of wealth ”

    So you want to go on the record as being against Liberal approved cronyism like Solyndra and numerous other examples of late ?

  20. Funny how on a blog that regularly highlights corruption in American government- much (but not all) driven by rich people buying or bribing their way out of trouble or driving competitors out of business- that as soon as the Pope mentions economic inequality the same people get pissed. Pope is just stating the obvious.

  21. It’s possible to believe that (some) wealthy people are giving us a butt fucking without being a communist.

    1. Sure, and what’s your solution?

      1. fuck ’em back

        1. And how would you go about doing that? A specific example of a harm done and an appropriate restitution would suffice.

  22. The ludicrous hypocrisy and idiocy I see keeps coming up with morons who believe, like the Pope, that there is something wrong with the rich getting rick quicker than the poor is that – the only reason the “wealthy would have too much say in society” is if you provide them a government that gives them power over others. Government is the avenue through which the corrput rich enact “undue” power over others, their industry, etc. Small government would almost completely prevent the concers of liberals.

    The mask slips.

    Also, the Pope, Tony, and other morons should be worried about inequality of OPPORTUNITY – not outcome. The former is a just concern, but since they actually complain about the latter, their motive is revealed as simple jealousy.

  23. People who are leftist and religious really annoy me.

    1. Pssh, then everyone religious person should annoy you – almost every religion I’m familiar with advocates a worldview of “the weak are divine, the strong are evil”, “serve others over yourself”, “give to those most in need”, “people are born evil and must prove their grace by doing things that are symbolic but ultimately meaningless”, etc.

      Organized christianity is very socialist, and attempts to destroy the self at every opportunity.

      1. * really annoyed at my typos today – apologies to all.

      2. DC_36 you are correct, I personally can assure you that Organized Christianity is socialist, because I grew up in a fundamentalist Anabaptist system, very socialist and a very strict hierarchy,
        Not Fun.

  24. Envy, and the hatred that it fosters, is the root of all evil. Or, to put it biblically, “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil….” Timothy 6:10

    The Pope should read his Bible.

  25. If the pope is so concerned then why not share some of the Vatican’s wealth?
    I say turn the Vatican into one huge museum, charge, and share the proceeds with the poor,

  26. The tapeworm my dog has probably has similar feelings as this Pope. Difference is it doesn’t spew economic nonsense as it feasts.

  27. The Christian church, especially the Catholic church, is terribly confused on this topic.

    Yes, we (the church) are called to help the poor through loving gifts of our time, talent and treasures. That is the essence of the meaning of “charity.”

    No, it is not the role of governments to be charitable. Governments are incapable of charity because charity must be done out of love for others. Governments are incapable of love. The “giving” of governments is only possible by virtue of the taking that which is not the governments from individuals by coercive, confiscatory means. There is certainly no love in that.

    Finally, it neither the calling of the Christian church, nor the purview of governments to achieve or strive for economic equality. Neither is it possible.

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