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  1. Kurt permalink
    February 22, 2011 4:28 pm

    MM,

    I applaud everything the Irish bishops have said above. (including crediting the European welfare state to Christian Democracy, something rarely heard here). I agree with them and MM that the policies they denounce lead from or lead to a radical individualism at odds with Christianity. There is a pastoral issue here as well as a policy issue.

    But I have to agree with some thoughtful and prayerful Catholics (that would not include Catholic Vote) that statements on policy issues is not going to bring back the faith.

    The Catholic faith in Ireland, the USA and much of the western world is in deep trouble. Millions of souls are being lost. And a proper understanding of Catholic social teachings is not going to turn it around.

  2. February 22, 2011 4:35 pm

    Not surprisingly to anyone who reads my posts, I agree with this post wholeheartedly, MM.

    The great irony is that unrestrained capitalism always ends up being too top-heavy to support prosperity – when a few millionaires have all the money, no one else can afford to buy their products – and ends in tears for everyone, including the (few) prosperous. This is a structural problem, and the Rand-heads seem immune to evidence when this awkward fact is brought up. Unrestrained capitalism ends up bankrupting *everyone*, including (eventually) the capitalists themselves.

  3. February 22, 2011 4:56 pm

    We had this sort of attitude about Corps when the country was first established. The founders thought of the East India company as if it were some sort of giant malevolent loaded diaper.

    To start a private corp then you had to build some public works project first (road, bridge, etc.) then you usually only had the corp available for one year then it was disbanded.

    With the line drawn up through the Citizens United ruling, the people are now basically slaves to be exploited. Most of the major Corps do not even pay taxes these days.

    I do hope the Vatican takes a cue from Ireland, or we will most likely have to repeat the foolishness of the good old Lord and serf days.

  4. Chris Sullivan permalink
    February 22, 2011 5:59 pm

    Thanks for a great post, Morning’s Minion (what an apt moniker for this post!).

    Keep up the good work.

    God Bless

  5. Maureen O'Brien permalink
    February 22, 2011 7:28 pm

    FYI: An interesting article in yesterday’s New York Times

    U.S.   | February 22, 2011
    Billionaire Brothers’ Money Plays Role in Wisconsin Dispute
    By ERIC LIPTON
    Charles G. and David H. Koch are financial supporters of the Wisconsin governor’s efforts to reduce the power of unions.

    • February 22, 2011 8:22 pm

      Psst…Maureen…click on my name. I had it a few days before the NY times broke it although, somewhat in an unorthodox way.

  6. February 23, 2011 7:47 am

    Congratulations to the Church in Ireland for standing up amidst the crisis. The prayer of the entire Church around the world for healing in Ireland is gradual but surely the Spirit of the Lord is healing this land.

    God bless the Bishops, priests, religious and the Catholic faithful in the great country.

  7. February 23, 2011 9:39 am

    On the meta topic, I guess I’m a bit confused as to the train of thought you present here. You say that the Irish bishops had had their credibility damaged by the abuse crisis, which certainly seems believable. But now you seem to say that this credibility is best restored by speaking out loudly about banking and finance. Now, maybe I’m being overly simplistic here, but it seems like these two are not very well connected. If credibility was somehow lost over how they responded to the abuse crisis, you would think that it would be best restored by:

    a) assuring that they significantly improve the way they respond to child abuse by clergy in the future (which from what I understand they have done) and

    b) redoubling their efforts to bring home to their flock the basic message of Christ and the sacraments of His Church, while trying to avoid the excesses of clericalism and focus on stature within the world which might lead people to think that covering up a scandal was better than dealing with it.

    Now, from what I know, they have worked hard on both of these, and so I would tend to think it would be these which would restore their credibility (had they lost it) not coming out with a document on economic issues, which would seem, from most points of view, to be something of a side issue. Certainly, Christ didn’t take a very wonkish approach to the economy in His time on earth. He told people to sell all that they had and give it to the poor, he didn’t discuss the relative virtue of different economic “systems” or the ideal income spread.

    That said, I guess I’m also a bit confused by the question of this “bonus culture” an dhow it violates solidarity.

    It is our firm conviction that the neglect of this gift dimension of personal and societal living lies at the root of what has gone wrong in Irish society. If this proves to be the case, there is a need to critique exaggerated claims of independence/self sufficiency which give rise to and sustain a ‘bonus culture’

    Now, to take a personal example — a month back or so I got involved in an in depth pricing project and managed to come up with some changes (working on my own) which when we implemented them increased company profits by a monthly amount which will, assuming they stay in place for the rest of the year, result in increased profits of a bit over a million dollars a year. Admittedly, dealing with pricing I am very close to some of the levers of the business, so I have, by virtue of my position, more ability to change some of these things than many other very smart and hard working employees.

    That said, it’s a bit unusual to be able to find a million dollars in profits through a week’s intensive work by one person, and since it was shortly after that which I had to write up my self assessment for the year I called attention to that fact in hopes that it would be taken into account when raises and bonuses were handed out.

    Now, it’s true that given the sort of company I work for there’s not direct connection between my bonus and the extra profits that I produce — I’m certainly not like a hedge fund manager who gets to keep a set percentage of the billions in profits that he makes for his clients. But I don’t really see how wanting to see the amount of benefit which I provided to my company be reflected in my bonus is contrary to an understanding that many of my abilities are the result of education and nurturing I received from others over the years. I am aware of that, and indeed it’s partly in order to help those who provided that nurturing (given that I have a widowed mother, disabled brother, and a larger than average number of children) that I feel motivated to try to distinguish myself in the amount of work that I do in order to reap income which I can use to the benefit of those who have nurtured me and those whom I am tasked to nurture.

    Further, although I sit somewhere around the top 10% line in regards to household income, it’s not as if my desire to keep hold of a percentage of the fruits of my labor is all that different from the desire of a union worker to find some way to get more out of his company in return for his labor, a desire which, from what I understand, neither you nor the bishops would question.

    I suppose we could say that it’s justifiable for people like me or you or Matt or any of another of the set of people we consider “ordinary working people” to want to see a percentage of the fruits of our labor, but that it’s not okay for those who, due to the huge amount of money that passes through their hands, can count those fruits in the billions, to want to see a percentage of the fruits of his labor too. Maybe there’s some sort of justice formula which calculates that you and I are okay in wanting to receive compensation for our work, but people who succeed in producing profits a thousand times greater than the profits we produce are not justified in wanting to make, say, a hundred times what we make. I suppose that’s arguable, though I’m not necessarily sure how it is argued. I would tend to think, rather, that those who do earn a great deal because of that have an obligation to use those greater resources in a way that is of benefit to the common good — just as you and I do, but in keeping with their greater means.

    That, at least, would appear to be the way that the Church has actually behaved through most of its history, during which it had a tacit acceptance of (and indeed embrace of) a feudal culture which resulted in much greater income disparity and immobility than our current world.

    • February 23, 2011 2:42 pm

      Church doctrine has changed just a tad bit since feudal culture existed and meanwhile the feudal culture seems to be making a roaring comeback, but I would not want to compare the Church or it’s doctrine today if I were you good sir.

      The church does not embrace capitalism, it at best tolerates it, but only because it has no real choice in the matter.

      Your arguments for your for why it is valid for you to receive a larger share of your income are just as valid as any union worker’s would be to receive a larger share of the profits, even though in fairness you sir at 10% are doing massively better than any rank and file union member ever did, or ever will.

      That said, all union workers in this country, (the few remaining anyway) are not all Catholics, and I doubt even 30% of them are, but you sir are a Catholic, and not an impoverished one either.

      There are many impoverished workers in America today, many of them Catholic, mostly found slaving away in service sector jobs, many having to work two or three jobs just to make ends meet. They do not have the options their fathers had because most of the union jobs were busted up and sent overseas where American corporations could exploit workers there for sometimes as little as 19 cents a day.

      While your arguments are valid for a good capitalist worker in a good capitalist society, you sir are Catholic and we are not called upon by our church to take any more than we need to survive. No we as Catholics are supposed to keep what we need and give the rest away to those in need which offers you sir a choice.

      Either give more of what you do not need now from your superb income or perhaps consider renouncing your faith and selecting say one of the protestant flocks that allows them to accumulate wealth like a pirate.

    • February 23, 2011 3:02 pm

      I might add also that if you were working for a Catholic run company they should be taking what they do not need to maintain their business and donating it to charitable causes. We have a problem with corporate greed in America that tends to dwarf personal greed at epic levels.

      When you consider that most major U.S. corporations do not pay any taxes at all and ship most of their employment overseas to exploit poor workers the least they could do would be to increase their charitable giving.

      I am not holding my breath waiting for that to happen.

    • February 23, 2011 3:15 pm

      I through the sin of omission did leave out a third choice for your sir and I do apologize profusely for doing so. Let me amend the appropriate lines for you now:

      “Either give more of what you do not need now from your superb income, make constant trips to confessional and ask for absolution or perhaps consider renouncing your faith and selecting say one of the protestant flocks that allows them to accumulate wealth like a pirate.”

      • February 23, 2011 5:39 pm

        “I am not clear that Catholic doctrine has, in substance, changed since the feudal period. Rather, it has adapted in order to help people understand their moral obligations in a new set of circumstance”

        ———————————-

        “Rather, it has adapted”

        Doctrine was changed would you like me to post it for you sir?

        ————————————

        “On the other hand, I am very clear on how feudalism worked as an economic system, and I can assure you that we are not in any way coming close to it.”

        I was in fact mocking the sheer greed on display currently and was not seriously implying that feudalism has returned in full. it was sarcasm sir but with you from hence forth I will try to remain quite literal.

        —————————————

        “Well, so if my desire to take home more of the benefit I create for my company are essentially the same as the desires of a union worker on the low end or of a hedge fund manager on the high end, I’m a little perplexed as to why one would see the one desire as being acceptable while the others are unacceptable. It may be that the answer this question, but your prose style becomes a little confused in places, and so perhaps I missed it.”

        You are Catholic sir correct? What is more important to you, your Church and it’s doctrine or you personal political ideology and your own accumulation of wealth?

        I think my last question pretty much covers the rest of your comments as well.

        • Darwin permalink
          February 23, 2011 8:48 pm

          The rest of your comment is so incoherent that I’m not clear whether I have anything to respond to, but just a hint,since you’re clearly just getting started at this: Constantly calling someone “dear sir” while your prose style drips with disdain, if not outright hatred, does not, as you seem to imagine, make you sound more mature. It just comes off as sarcastic.

          Also, try hard to read the comment you’re responding to and respond strictly to what it says, not to what you imagine to be the personal habits or beliefs of the person you’re talking to. When talking to someone one does not like, one often guesses wrong and comes off looking foolish.

        • February 24, 2011 10:24 am

          I responded to your comment adequately and then you refused to answer my questions. Any of them.

          I did however post below a compassion filled response to you that the editor WAS kind even to publish.

          Please read it, and then try and answer the questions I asked you above, but you do not need to answer them publicly. I just hope you answer them privately.

    • February 23, 2011 4:48 pm

      Church doctrine has changed just a tad bit since feudal culture existed and meanwhile the feudal culture seems to be making a roaring comeback, but I would not want to compare the Church or it’s doctrine today if I were you good sir.

      I am not clear that Catholic doctrine has, in substance, changed since the feudal period. Rather, it has adapted in order to help people understand their moral obligations in a new set of circumstance.

      On the other hand, I am very clear on how feudalism worked as an economic system, and I can assure you that we are not in any way coming close to it. You might want to read up on it a good deal more before making assertions to this effect. Wealth and income were highly unequal in feudal society, but feudal society was not remotely laissez faire. Indeed, many modern commentators would probably consider its level of economic regulation “socialist” in many respects.

      Your arguments for your for why it is valid for you to receive a larger share of your income are just as valid as any union worker’s would be to receive a larger share of the profits, even though in fairness you sir at 10% are doing massively better than any rank and file union member ever did, or ever will.

      Well, so if my desire to take home more of the benefit I create for my company are essentially the same as the desires of a union worker on the low end or of a hedge fund manager on the high end, I’m a little perplexed as to why one would see the one desire as being acceptable while the others are unacceptable. It may be that the answer this question, but your prose style becomes a little confused in places, and so perhaps I missed it.

      (Also, just in case you’re not as familiar with the data in regards to household income as MM and I are, it’s probably worth noting that sitting around the 90th percentile in household income simply means that one’s total household income is around 100k. It’s not a very unusual amount for educated professionals to make, though many of them don’t realize that this puts them in the top 10% of US earners.)

      Either give more of what you do not need now from your superb income or perhaps consider renouncing your faith and selecting say one of the protestant flocks that allows them to accumulate wealth like a pirate.

      I’m not at all sure where I said how much of my income I give away, so I’m not sure why you advise me to increase the amount or else renounce our Holy Mother Church. However, it bears pointing out in relation to people wanting to take home a just portion of the value which they create through their work that the very reason why they wish to do this may be because they wish to use that money to fulfill familial and charitable obligations — whether that be supporting their parish, other Catholic causes, or other friends or relatives who are less fortunate. One of the difficulties of a leveling tendency which insists that no one make more than a certain amount is that it removes the means whereby those people may use their earnings to do good.

      For instance, in the parish I belonged to back in Texas, nearly the entire parish budget was covered by the donations of roughly 50 families out of the 2000+ member families in the parish. Some of those families were far from “rich”, though I believe they all made above the national median income. But without those specific families having the means to do so, the parish would obviously have suffered greatly.

      • February 23, 2011 5:40 pm

        OOOPS my response to you was posted above, Look on high my friend for my response.

        • Darwin permalink
          February 23, 2011 9:00 pm

          Also: Knocking things you don’t like as “feudal” is generally a bad call, as medieval society was one of the most genuinely Catholic that has existed,and much of Catholic Social Teaching involves trying to bring it’s lessons into the modern world. You don’t have to take my word for this, the gents who write here (especially MM and Henry) can convey this at greater length than I.

        • February 24, 2011 12:46 pm

          I think the Catholic Church is still apologizing for what happened during this period, so going after feudal times might just be appropriate.

      • February 23, 2011 8:46 pm

        As a friendly gesture to someone who I hope comes back to the flock and respects our doctrine, I will share this with you.

        You have found your way to believing that the battles are between the democrats and the republicans or perhaps between the public sector unions and the taxpayers but step outside the halls of smoke and mirrors for just moment with me.

        The battle is really between the haves and the have nots and you sir are a have not. You just do not know it yet.

        If your job can ever be wormed into the same category that all the factory workers whose jobs are now in China or Mexico were, you sir will be out on the street with the very people who you perceive to be your enemies.

        But to say it is between the haves and the have nots itself is perhaps too simplistic, as this battle is really between greed and compassion and right now greed and is standing on the head of compassion.

        Right now, and for as long as your luck hangs with you, you are comfortably inside the boot standing on compassion’s head.

        Following the path of Jesus is not supposed to be easy, it always comes with pain. But the path of Jesus is like a rose on a stem. Yes there are thorns and no way to avoid them. But at the top of that stem is a rose. It is true joy and true love, not a lie masquerading itself as comfort.

        Come home man, come home.

  8. Kurt permalink
    February 23, 2011 6:52 pm

    For instance, in the parish I belonged to back in Texas, nearly the entire parish budget was covered by the donations of roughly 50 families out of the 2000+ member families in the parish.

    The reason why I think liberals should be wary of Trusteeship.

    • February 23, 2011 7:46 pm

      Bingo, and I don’t mean the game. There were obviously families in that parish that could have contributed but had other priorities.

      Political ideology is just one of them. How many sins do we have again?

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