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American Socialism (A Long and Detailed Post)

June 9, 2009

I was talking with some Republican-leaning Catholics recently. They nearly always tell you that they are Republicans because of abortion, and yet when you drill down, you find that they have accidentally ingested plenty of other Republican talking points too. The latest hobbyhorse is Obama’s socialism. The Church condemns socialism, I was told earnestly. Indeed it does (and it condemns full-throttled capitalism too for that matter), but what struck me is that these people really do not understand what socialism is. I will discuss three different issues — government ownership of assets, taxes, and deficits.

Ownership of assets

At a basic level, socialism is underpinned by state ownership of the means of production. And, in the United States, the government owns a whopping 0.2 percent of corporate and business assets. That’s it! Of course, everybody in their right mind understands that this is not socialism. Unfortunately, it is another example of the creeping Republican tendency to resort to a “total war” style rhetoric against that it opposes. Add “socialism” to that list.

Of course, there are many who disagree with the temporary nationalization of an institution facing insolvency, be it a bank or a car company. In each case, the tactic is chosen on a practical basis to avert further economic fallout that could lead to spiralling unemployment. It might satisfy some sense of justice to let those who made bad decisions pay the price, but the “collateral damage” might be too great.  To borrow a phrase, it might throw up disproportionate evils far greater than the one it is supposed to address. Many who object to these tactics — and please note again how minuscule this is in the larger scheme of things — usually do so on the basis of ideology, and adherence to free market principles at all costs. Pope John Paul, in Centesimus Annus, warned against the “idolatry” of the market, noting that there are some areas where the free market can work well, and others where it cannot. In the same encyclical, he specifically noted that governments may want to intervene directly in the business economy for “urgent reasons touching on the common good”. I would hold that the greatest recession in half a century qualifies as such an urgent reason, and that 0.2 percent of assets is nothing to worry about.

Taxes

As I look at the rhetoric of the right, I see two other complaints — taxes are too high, and the deficit is too high (of course, these are contradictory statements, but let’s gloss over that for now). Let me dispose of the tax argument first. The best way to measure this is to look at the ratio of total general government receipts to GDP — a quick look at OECD data tells us that the US stands at a whopping 33 percent of GDP (actually down from 34.5 percent a few years, because tax elasticies fall during recessions– a technical point). Anyway, in the euro area, it is 44.7 percent. In the UK, it is 42 percent. In Germany, it is 43 percent. Indeed, the US is at the bottom, sitting there with Ireland, Japan, and the Slovak Republic.

And taxes will not rise by much. Remember that Obama is basically promising to restore the top marginal rates that existed under Clinton, a rise of a few percentage points. I suppose the movement people will cry disincentive effects, but this is hardly credible given the boom of the Clinton years. More to the point, in Catholic social teaching, what matters is not so much the total wealth of the economy, but the equitable division and distribution of this wealth (Pope John XXIII, Mater Et Magistra). In other words, there is a strong case to be made for a decent progressive tax system, especially giving the steadily rising inequality and income erosion over the past few decades. Again, the US lags the OECD here, and is nowhere close to countries at the other end of the scale, such as in Scandinavia. So yet again, any talk of socialism is utterly ridiculous.

Deficits

Let me now address deficits. One of the greatest talking points about Obama is that he is overseeing a huge increase in the deficit, and it is true. The question is — is it dangerous? I would argue that it is highly risky, but also highly necessary. We need to cut through the ideological rhetoric here, and clarify a few things.

First of all, the oft-forgotten insight of Keynes is that governments should store up the wealth in good times, and borrow in bad times. Let me introduce a few concepts. Budget deficits change for two main reasons (it’s more complicated than that, but let me keep it simple) — the economy, and policy. If the government does nothing, fiscal accounts will improve in booms and get worse in recessions. This is referred to as automatic stabilizers. Everything else is discretionary change — deliberately increasing or decreasing taxes or spending. The overall deficit is the sum of the cyclically-adjusted deficit (measuring discretionary changes) and automatic stabilizers.

With that background, let’s look at the record. The general government deficit (again, the best measure) increased from 0.4 percent in 1998 ( a modest surplus) to -4.8 percent in 2003. This was almost all discretionary, as automatic stabilizers pretty much cancelled out over this period (a couple of modest good years, a couple of modest bad years). It got better after that, but after four years of faster-than-trend growth, the deficit was still almost 3 percent of GDP by 2007. And then came the recession. The deficit in 2009 is expected to hit -6.75 percent, very large in the historical context. That’s a 1.5 percent of GDP worsening in a year. But look at the breakdown — automatic stabilizers account for three quarters of the worsening, and only a third is coming from policy actions. In other words, the deficit is largely a function of the starting point and the recession. Keep that in mind.

For sure, the policy part will increase over time, as the stimulus money gets spent over the next few years. But it’s false to focus on the stimulus component, and ignore the larger deterioration due to the economy. And there is another issue. The stimulus bill is about $787 billion, divided between spending increases and tax cuts. Among the “movement”, this stimulus is derided. And yet, Nobel prize-winner Joseph Stiglitz thinks that the cost of the Iraq war will exceed $3 trillion. Already, more than the stimulus money has been spent. Where were the fiscal hawks then? More generally, I fail to understand how those who favor small government can engage in the kind of cognitive dissonance that allows them to seek more military spending, while cutting overall spending. Again, a look at the numbers is instructive. From the White House spreadsheets, defense is expected to cost $675 billion in 2009. That is almost a quarter of the entire federal budget! I propose some common ground — let’s agree to cut the size of government, if it all comes from the military and spares health and education.

I want to make a final point on the stimulus, for many also argue that it will be totally useless. I do not believe this. Even doomsayers like Nouriel Roubini are now seeing signs of hope in the world economy, and this is largely due to the fiscal stimulus enacted by so many countries all over the world (it’s important to note that most countries played their part, even those — like the Germans — who complained about it). Most of the problems with pumping up deficits is that it will cause crowding out — interest rates will increase and this will choke growth. This is exactly what is not happening now. As financial markets remain highly jittery, there is still a big demand for government paper. Liquidity is being hoarded and nobody wants to lend – it was one of the great insights of Keynes that in such circumstances, fiscal policy was the ideal tool to get the economy moving again (precisely because there would be no crowding out).

Of course, we could see inflation down the road, but we also don’t see any signs of it yet — while the risk of deflation has passed, people expect inflation to be no more than 2 percent or thereabouts, which explains why long-term government bond yields remain historically low.  And trust, modest inflation is preferable to deflation, which would be disastrous.

Of course, this could all change. I said it was risky. And when the economy recovers, there will need to be an effort to cut the deficit (you know my favorite target for cuts!), or we could get inflation, or a currency collapse. But those who cry wolf right now tend not to really understand the economics of government deficits. It’s not about the size of the deficit, but about sustainability, which is more determined by future real interest rates and real growth rates. OK, this post is long enough, I’ll stop here.

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39 Comments
  1. jdalley permalink
    June 9, 2009 4:43 pm

    I just want to point out one thing. The “Boom” of the Clinton years as you called it was not because of Clinton but because of Ronald Reagan. Things just take a little bit of time to take effect. But me I’ll stick to the good old FREE MARKET, thanks.

    http://planotexaspolitics.wordpress.com/

  2. June 9, 2009 4:54 pm

    Jdalley,

    A complete and total myth. The “Reagan boom” was simply a cyclical boom, as the economy recovered from a deep recession. If there were anything more long-term, then productivity (the primary driver of long-term growth) would have increased. It didn’t happen. Productivity stayed at 1970s levels. It was only in the mid-1990s that productivity increased again — this was mainly the IT boom, so I don’t credit Clinton either, but the tax rates during that period certainly exerted no disincentive effects.

  3. jonathanjones02 permalink
    June 9, 2009 4:57 pm

    The CBO has not been in line, at all, with the administration’s projections. And about a year ago I heard David Walker give a very detailed talk about the need to reign in spending…..what I remember most is when he said the coming entitlement crunch is going to be very nasty.

    Back to the CBO: former director Marron has been getting attention with his new site. This is particularly interesting / scary :

    http://dmarron.com/2009/06/08/the-exploding-federal-deficit/#more-388

  4. PianoPeck permalink
    June 9, 2009 5:17 pm

    actually jdalley, quite a significant portion of the Clinton boom was based on the tech bubble. And tax revenues increased during the Reagan years after the tax cuts, evidence that they were already helping.

    About the $675 billion for defense spending: defending us is the most important function of government. Helping out our economy is great if it works, but by straight keynesian economics, military spending would work for stimulus too.

    Finally, you need more evidence to say we are recoving because of the stimulus than that there was a stimulus and now we are recovering. As much as some people hate to think of it, the free market can produce recoveries on its own sometimes.

  5. June 9, 2009 5:25 pm

    The free market can produce recoveries on its own sometimes.

    I’m not sure what you mean by “free market” there – as I understand it, “the free market” is basically an abstraction: in the real world, economies are positioned somewhere (relatively close to the middle) between total state control and suppression of all private trade, and a totally free market with no government interference whatsoever.

    The free market can provide a recovery, yes, but it can’t ameliorate suffering – that’s not what it’s there for. The point of (some, modest, puudent, etc…) government action is to help people hurt by the market when it goes south, and to act as a corrective to the inequality produced when power and wealth are inevitably and iuncreasingly concentrated in the hands of economic elites.

  6. Joe Hargrave permalink
    June 9, 2009 5:37 pm

    I’d also point out that Pius XI argued that the state can and should take ownership of some businesses during a time of financial crisis.

    As for misunderstandings about the word ‘socialism’, and its confusion with the welfare state, see this article I wrote:

    http://insidecatholic.com/Joomla/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=5601&Itemid=121&ed=4

  7. June 9, 2009 5:45 pm

    Is the 33% of GDP fully loaded (state, local, sales, fees, etc)? What is the individual fully loaded tax rate? I am not sure I would characterize a lower tax/GDP ratio compared to Europe as lagging. I am in no hurry to become Europe (they have significant issues of their own including unsustainable work rules but I will take their vacation policies). A concern many have in these comparisons is the perceived envy of European policies.

    In the US, any recovery at this point cannot be attributed to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as that money is not flowing. The biggest concern with the that act is the lack of prior planning in all the haste that may lead to waste and corruption. Did it need to be a great big number with so many line items that few if any really understand? Why not a collection of targeted efforts? The broadband sections are all over the place.

    I am not really interested in the comparison of presidential terms since it takes more than a few years of both executive and legislative action to grow an economy of this size. Shrinking it is a different matter. Does the current monetary policy concern you? Too many years of very low interest rates gives very little room for monetary policy to effect corrections.

    From much of what I have read of our Holy Fathers (and I am not as steeped as you are), I see much caution for extremism. Over reliance on markets leads to greed (see the banking collapse), and over reliance on the government leads to greed (just a different group prospering).

    What about the theory of subsidiary? How does the Federal Government (or national governments) and its programs line up with subsidiary?

  8. June 9, 2009 8:17 pm

    We’ve had a progressive tax system in place for some time now. We tinker with it under different administrations but it is what it is. And it’s probably the most (potentially) fair model in use, in my opinion, with regard to Catholic social teaching.

    George Will made a case, last year, that the Clinton 39.6% top tax rate might even be the “sweet spot”. Far below the 70% days of the Reagan Revolution yet, perhaps, a reasonable figure with which to fund national security and overall public safety spending.

    How is it that the progressive tax system is now viewed as proof, by many conservatives, of socialism since Joe the Plumber came on the scene?

    McCain, Palin and Joe the Plumber continually used that ridiculous argument throughout the campaign. Hence, the “stupid party” thing started to stick.

    They weren’t advocating for a flat tax which, at least, would have been a logical end to their argument. Instead, they merely wanted to alter the numbers according to their own ideas while keeping the very same progressive tax system in place.

    They chose a disingenuous and dumb strategy which, unfortunatley, still lives on today in some conservative circles.

  9. scriblerus permalink
    June 9, 2009 8:39 pm

    re: Roubini, that’s dishonest. What he said was that even if other economists are correct that we are growing by the end of the year, there would most likely be a double-dip recession.

  10. June 9, 2009 9:14 pm

    I usually tell my friends who fret over the socialism of the “left” that they (the “left”) are far too rich to want true socialism.

  11. June 9, 2009 9:44 pm

    Joe — good catch on Pius XI. I wrote some posts a while back arguing that Quadragesimo Anno is more relevant than ever today, given that inequality has returned to last seen in the 1930s.

    http://vox-nova.com/2007/09/26/why-inequality-matters/

    http://vox-nova.com/2007/12/06/laissez-faire-restored-workers-left-behind/

  12. Blackadder permalink
    June 10, 2009 10:29 am

    Sullivan’s graphic is misleading in that it compares the value of all assets still in private hands to the value of assets recently nationalized. Not counted would be any government owned assets (e.g. the Post Office) that weren’t recently nationalized. Given that government spending in the U.S. about a third of GDP, I’d say a chart that actually included this might look a bit different.

    That’s not to say that Obama is a socialist. If we’re going by the classical definition of socialism as meaning collective ownership of the means of production, most Socialist parties aren’t even socialist anymore (to find a real socialist party you’d have to look to some fringe group like the BNP).

    There is, however, something ironic about (rightly) decrying false claims of socialism for the Democrats, then linking to previous posts in which you decry Republican policies as restoring “laissez-faire” when the same numbers you use to prove that Obama is not a socialist also prove that that’s not accurate either.

  13. June 10, 2009 11:43 am

    The Church condemns socialism, I was told earnestly. Indeed it does (and it condemns full-throttled capitalism too for that matter), but what struck me is that these people really do not understand what socialism is.

    Did not read through all the comments; perhaps this was addressed.

    The Church does not condemn socialism. The Church condemns Leninism under the name of “socialism,” usually without any indication that there is an infinite variety of socialisms. The closest we get is Paul VI’s recognition of a variety of socialisms at times. Thankfully, Benedict’s repeated personal affinity for “democratic socialism” is an indication of a move beyond the simplistic misconception that “the Church condemns socialism” which we hear from Republican Catholics constantly.

    When global capitalism finally collapses, the Church (and individual Christians) will have no choice but to recognize that a plurality and communion of indigenous socialisms is the only hope for a Christian (and human) social order.

    At a basic level, socialism is underpinned by state ownership of the means of production.

    Let’s say “social ownership” rather than “state ownership” in order to recognize non-state centered socialisms such as anarchism.

  14. June 10, 2009 11:49 am

    I usually tell my friends who fret over the socialism of the “left” that they (the “left”) are far too rich to want true socialism.

    This statement seems to me to be basically Euro-American focused, and it also does not recognize the more socialist-leaning political traditions and tendencies of poor peoples in the united states, such as the labor movement in Appalachia and elsewhere. It’s the kind of thing we hear from American Republicans, and interestingly, few others. Which is ironic: American Republicans proclaiming that “the” Left is “rich.” What an accusation.

  15. Blackadder permalink
    June 10, 2009 12:07 pm

    The Church does not condemn socialism. The Church condemns Leninism under the name of “socialism,” usually without any indication that there is an infinite variety of socialisms.

    Allow me to quote from Quadragesimo Anno:

    111. Socialism, against which Our Predecessor, Leo XIII, had especially to inveigh, has since his time changed no less profoundly than the form of economic life. For Socialism, which could then be termed almost a single system and which maintained definite teachings reduced into one body of doctrine, has since then split chiefly into two sections, often opposing each other and even bitterly hostile, without either one however abandoning a position fundamentally contrary to Christian truth that was characteristic of Socialism.

    117. But what if Socialism has really been so tempered and modified as to the class struggle and private ownership that there is in it no longer anything to be censured on these points? Has it thereby renounced its contradictory nature to the Christian religion? This is the question that holds many minds in suspense. And numerous are the Catholics who, although they clearly understand that Christian principles can never be abandoned or diminished seem to turn their eyes to the Holy See and earnestly beseech Us to decide whether this form of Socialism has so far recovered from false doctrines that it can be accepted without the sacrifice of any Christian principle and in a certain sense be baptized. That We, in keeping with Our fatherly solicitude, may answer their petitions, We make this pronouncement: Whether considered as a doctrine, or an historical fact, or a movement, Socialism, if it remains truly Socialism, even after it has yielded to truth and justice on the points which we have mentioned, cannot be reconciled with the teachings of the Catholic Church because its concept of society itself is utterly foreign to Christian truth.

    120. If Socialism, like all errors, contains some truth (which, moreover, the Supreme Pontiffs have never denied), it is based nevertheless on a theory of human society peculiar to itself and irreconcilable with true Christianity. Religious socialism, Christian socialism, are contradictory terms; no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.

  16. Kurt permalink
    June 10, 2009 12:15 pm

    To add to Michael’s comments, Pope Pius XI told the Archbishop of Westminster, Cardinal Bourne, that Catholics were free to join the Labour Party. If the British Labour Party of the 1930s did not come under the Church’s condemnation of Socialism, it is hard to imagine any condemnation of the Socialism following the 1951 Frankurt Congress of the Socailist International or the 1959 bad Godesberg Programme.

    John Paul II picked up the language of the Socialist International (with its admirable record of opposition to Communism) when he spoke of Communism’s “collectivization without socailization.”

    I don’t think we need to just look at anarchism as a non-state centered form of Socialism. Socialism has been in the forefront of worker and consumer cooperatives, as well as the political voice of trade unionism. Resolving matters through collective bargaining rather than state action or employer dictate has been important to both socialism and Catholic Social teaching.

  17. June 10, 2009 12:38 pm

    Blackadder – Read anything more recent? Might do you some good. Are you accusing Pope Benedict of not being a good Catholic or not being a true socialist?

  18. Mike McG... permalink
    June 10, 2009 12:44 pm

    Michael:

    Re: Reply to Blackadder:

    Does the sarcasm work for you? It doesn’t work for me. I find the thrust of your remarks congenial but the tone offputting.

    I am certain you aren’t this way in person. Why on line? Is it legimate to disagree with you without having obtained a graduate degree?

  19. June 10, 2009 12:54 pm

    M.J.I.: Am I to gather from when you wrote: “Which is ironic: American Republicans proclaiming that “the” Left is “rich.” What an accusation;” that I am an American Republican?

    Surely you know such a claim is not true. As for my use of “left” (referring to the Democratic party, since Obama’s socialism is the topic of this post), I did so deliberately. “The Left” or the “New Left” and so on are real movements that are quite different to me than the “left” that most people are fretting about: democrats.

    Sorry if that was to obscured by my initial comment.

  20. June 10, 2009 12:55 pm

    Does the sarcasm work for you? It doesn’t work for me. I find the thrust of your remarks congenial but the tone offputting.

    It does sometimes work for me. Thanks for registering your opinion though.

    Your comment about my degree(s) is irrelevant to my use of sarcasm, but telling: about you and your own problems, though, not mine.

  21. June 10, 2009 1:00 pm

    Surely you know such a claim is not true.

    Of course. But I didn’t make that claim. I did find it puzzling that you would make a claim about “the left” being “rich,” though. If you did intend to show an awareness of different “lefts” and did not intend to make the blanket claim that “the left” is “rich,” then yes, I did find these views obscured in your comment. Thanks for clearing it up.

  22. Blackadder permalink
    June 10, 2009 1:33 pm

    Michael,

    I didn’t realize that your remarks about the Church not having distinguished different types of socialism or of having only condemned Leninism were supposed to be time limited.

  23. June 10, 2009 1:43 pm

    BA – The encyclical you cited still speaks of one “Socialism,” if admitting that it has been “modified” or divided into two “sections.” It still assumes “Socialism” is essentially, at root, one thing which is fundamentally at odds with Christianity.

  24. June 10, 2009 2:02 pm

    Michael,

    If you want to play that game, your opponents might as well insist that what the Church calls “Capitalism” is not in fact free market capitalism as they actually support, and so they are free of critique as well.

    Also, given that Benedict XVI has said perishingly little about socialism one way or another, it seems rather early for anyone to go around saying that one must be either accepting socialism or against him.

    Though if we have to wait for the collapse of global capitalism to understand all this, it may be a long wait before any of us have any observations to work with…

  25. June 10, 2009 2:10 pm

    If you want to play that game, your opponents might as well insist that what the Church calls “Capitalism” is not in fact free market capitalism as they actually support, and so they are free of critique as well.

    I’m not playing games. The Church in fact differentiates different approaches to capitalism. See JPII’s CA. The burden of proof would be on the advocates of capitalism to show that their version of capitalism is free from the distortions and idolatries of the capitalism that JPII and others have condemned.

    Though if we have to wait for the collapse of global capitalism to understand all this, it may be a long wait before any of us have any observations to work with…

    What is the address of that rock you are apparently living under?

  26. June 10, 2009 2:56 pm

    That would be the rock under which a few percentage points of decrease in GDP do not equal the end of the world.

    Or more experiencally, the rock under which it’s not unusual for me to get a call from someone in Singapore to discuss how to price a product being assembled in China out of parts made in Korea to be sold in Europe.

    One shouldn’t minimize the severity of our economic problems, but calling them a collapse is silly.

    You make a good point about Capitalism, but the return would, of course, be that it would be the duty of the proponent of Socialism to make the case that the socialism which he espouses does not in fact possess any of the distortions and idolatries of socialism which have been condemned by the Church at various times since the 1880s.

  27. Kurt permalink
    June 10, 2009 3:02 pm

    I think it is a very hard sell to say that the faults the Church legitimately found in 19th century (and heavily anti-clerical) Socialism applies to today’s political programmes of the member parties of the Socialist International.

    It might also be said that some the Church’s criticism of 19th century capitalism does not apply to today’s social market/mildly regulated capitalism.

    Given so, it might be best to examine specific policy proposal than grand ideologies.

    1924 and Ramsay MacDonald had just won the General Election making him the Labour Party’s first Prime Minister. The British public, particularly the Establishment, was uncertain and curious as to where the first man to call himself a Socialist would take England. A newspaper reporter asked “Mr. MacDonald, there has been a lot of talk about having a Socialist as Prime Minister. The question is, are you a Fabian Socialist? A Christian Socialist? A Marxist? Syndicalist? Mr. MacDonald, what exactly is Socialism?”

    MacDonald looked the reporter in the eye, stood up tall and ramrod straight and with all of his Scottish seriousness, and intoned “My lad, Socialism is whatever is in this year’s Labour Party Manifesto.”

  28. June 10, 2009 4:01 pm

    One shouldn’t minimize the severity of our economic problems, but calling them a collapse is silly.

    “Our”?

    You make a good point about Capitalism, but the return would, of course, be that it would be the duty of the proponent of Socialism to make the case that the socialism which he espouses does not in fact possess any of the distortions and idolatries of socialism which have been condemned by the Church at various times since the 1880s.

    Let me know which distortions and idolatries I should be on the lookout for, and I’d be happy to.

  29. Blackadder permalink
    June 10, 2009 4:20 pm

    If Michael expects the collapse of global capitalism any time soon, I’m afraid he’s likely to be disappointed. If recent elections in India and Europe are any indication, the world is going to be moving more in the direction of free markets in the coming decades, not less.

  30. June 10, 2009 4:34 pm

    BA – You are captivated by the doings of politicians, the powerful, etc., but the world belongs to the poor. Capitalism will not only collapse, it is already collapsing. But you need eyes to see and ears to hear. The Kingdom is at hand.

  31. June 10, 2009 4:44 pm

    Poor Michael. A prophet gets no honor on his own blog, I guess…

  32. June 10, 2009 5:10 pm

    prophet

    Your words, not mine.

  33. June 10, 2009 5:23 pm

    Mike,

    Tell you what, let me buy you a copy of Joseph Heath’s Economics for People Who Hate Capitalism for you to read. Heath’s a card carrying Canadian social democrat, and half the book is taken up criticizing economic arguments made by conservatives, so you might even enjoy it. At the very least on the ‘know your enemy’ principle you ought to increase your knowledge of what economics is all about, and why lots of people (and not just crazed ideologues like me) thing that free markets are actually *good* for the poor.

    What do you say?

  34. June 10, 2009 7:21 pm

    BA – Sure. Discredit my “prophecy” (har har) by saying I don’t know anything about capitalism and that I just need to read a little more. But sure, send me the book. I like free books. Message me on Facebook or email me for my address. The book must be incredible if it presents the gospel of capitalism so clearly and convincingly in one small tome. Did I say something “wrong” about capitalism in this thread?

  35. Michael Enright permalink
    June 11, 2009 9:12 am

    A better question would be, what is it exactly about socialism that was condemned by the Church.

  36. Joe Hargrave permalink
    June 11, 2009 10:20 am

    Michael,

    In what documents does Pope Benedict praise ‘democratic socialism’?

    I’m not saying it is conclusive, but my search of the Vatican website – where I can usually find any document on any topic written by any pope I am looking for – does not contain any documents with this phrase.

    I’m not saying that this means it was never said or written, only that I’m not quite sure where else to look for it.

    And, as much as I think BA and Darwin deserve a kinder tone from you, I do agree with what you said – the world belongs to the poor. It will not be shaped, at least not for long, by technocrats and academics.

  37. June 11, 2009 10:39 am

    Joe – Benedict talks about it in his theological works and interviews, not in official ecclesial documents to my knowledge. I believe Poli wrote about it a while back. You can probably find the references in some of his earlier blog posts. The fact that he takes this view in his personal theology (or in his capacity as Cardinal and head of the CDF, I don’t recall which) as opposed to taking it in his role as pope is not relevant to the point I was trying to make.

  38. June 11, 2009 10:40 am

    Also, democratic socialism is clearly implied in JPII’s Laborem Exercens.

    Finally – If anyone else wants to mail me books, feel free to email me.

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