Wednesday, December 21, 2011

comrade Benedict


""Benedict notes that economic "inequalities are on the increase" across the globe. He does not accept the trickle-down theory, which says that all boats will rise with the economic tide. Benedict condemns the "scandal of glaring inequalities" and sees a role for government in the redistribution of wealth.

Yes, you heard that right. The pope favors the redistribution of wealth. When was the last time you heard a liberal Democrat use those words?

The pope also disagrees with those who believe that the economy should be free of government regulation. An unregulated economy "shielded from 'influences' of a moral character has led man to abuse the economic process in a thoroughly destructive way," he writes. This has "led to economic, social and political systems that trample upon personal and social freedom, and are therefore unable to deliver the justice that they promise."

Critics have complained that the Occupy Wall Street movement has no program. The people in the movement could do a lot worse than to study what the pope has said about the economy. Sadly, few Catholics know of the church's teaching on economic justice, which has been called the church's best-kept secret.

The pope does not have a magic plan to restore economic prosperity, but he does focus on the values that a political and economic system must support. The priority, he says, must be "access to steady employment for everyone." And that means not just here in the United States, but also in the developing world, where we must rescue "peoples, first and foremost, from hunger, deprivation, endemic diseases and illiteracy."""

While we should probably be grateful that the Pope supports many of the same issues that protesters support, we might ask what practical measures  he or the RCC has  taken to implement economic fairness. The RC Church is the largest fund raiser of any organization in the US. Where are the church's job programs? How about making some of their pricey urban real estate available for job training programs, etc.? Or sell it to provide scholarships, job training, education-- or perhaps donate the rental / investment proceeds to those ends.

Of course, the immediate and most potentially useful thing churches could do to improve conditions throughout the US and the world--especially the Catholic church, given its abundant wealth-- would be to begin paying their fair share of taxes on their properties: that, alone, might resolve much of our debt. Nations, states, even local governments suffer from an increasing array of church-related and other “non-profit" organizations that hide behind their tax-exempt status to eschew payment of property, income and other taxes. A recent business program noted that "nonprofits" are the fastest growing "business" sector in the US. "Good works" are most likely far less a motivation behind the growth of non-profits and Church-building than is the desire to operate tax free while pursuing personal agendas, usually tied to narrow political goals. That goes for the Kochs. Or Christendom, Inc.

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