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Pope Francis Issues Major Policy Slamming ‘Trickle-Down’ Capitalism As ‘Tyranny’

by David Badash on November 26, 2013

in Economics,News,Politics,Religion

Post image for Pope Francis Issues Major Policy Slamming ‘Trickle-Down’ Capitalism As ‘Tyranny’

Pope Francis I, just one month before Christmas, issued an extensive policy statement that decimates today’s capitalism and the economic system known as “trickle down economics,” — which many believe was followed by Ronald Reagan — calling them a “new tyranny.” Francis also decries greed and the pursuit of wealth at all costs.

Pope Francis, who is said to have penned the extensive 224-page work himself, writes that “some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.”

“This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system,” the Pope writes. “Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting. To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.”

Evangelii Gaudium,” the Pope’s official policy, run more than 47,000 words, and offers positions including, “No to an economy of exclusion,” “No to the new idolatry of money,” “No to a financial system which rules rather than serves,” and “No to the inequality which spawns violence.”

A deeper reading into the text reveals even stronger statements. For example, Pope Francis mentions the poor more than 80 times.

“I encourage financial experts and political leaders to ponder the words of one of the sages of antiquity: ‘Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood. It is not our own goods which we hold, but theirs.’”

Francis calls for “an ethical approach which favours human beings,” and insists “that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor.”

He finds the “current financial crisis…originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person!”

And the Pope blasted conspicuous consumption.

“Today’s economic mechanisms promote inordinate consumption, yet it is evident that unbridled consumerism combined with inequality proves doubly damaging to the social fabric. Inequality eventually engenders a violence which recourse to arms cannot and never will be able to resolve. This serves only to offer false hopes to those clamouring for heightened security, even though nowadays we know that weapons and violence, rather than providing solutions, create new and more serious conflicts. Some simply content themselves with blaming the poor and the poorer countries themselves for their troubles; indulging in unwarranted generalizations, they claim that the solution is an “education” that would tranquilize them, making them tame and harmless. All this becomes even more exasperating for the marginalized in the light of the widespread and deeply rooted corruption found in many countries – in their governments, businesses and institutions – whatever the political ideology of their leaders.”

Pope Francis’ words would put a chill in those religious institutions and especially mega-churches that preach the God wants people to be wealthy.


Image by Agência Brasil via Wikimedia

Hat tip: The Raw Story

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Jakrabt November 26, 2013 at 1:47 pm

Wonderful words! Now, if Pope Francis I is sincere and I want to believe that he is, he will unleash some of the pent-up wealth of the Vatican toward some of the problems of the poor, liquidate some of their assets and use the proceeds toward his embrace of poverty in all areas of the world.

bgryphon November 26, 2013 at 1:48 pm

So many thoughts in reaction to this- yes, he is correct. Conspicuous Consumption is an old term- when only the uber-wealthy (now known as "the one percent") could afford to waste their days shopping. It referred not only to their unbridled spending- it also included their buying flashy items; having a dozen cars for a small family, a large house with more bathrooms than residents & staff combined, etc. Sadly the progress that included building up a thriving middle class led them (we) down the garden path of Rampant Consumerism – and so now it's a wall-mounted big screen with Surround Sound™ speakers and new clothes for every month.

Speaking out against that is one modern tradition of the Catholic Corporation I would admire if it wasn't itself sitting on billions of dollars worth of art, historical artifacts and precious gems. Enough to feed all the poor for some time. Or, perhaps, to educate them all to "catch fish" and build sustainable economies around the world. As an aside, it is rumoured the Vatican archives contain historic items that would provide a great deal of information and knowledge. Of course it is also rumoured that the release of such things would destroy the Church (and perhaps all others on the same foundation).

Oh- of course, by "carrying the burdens of the weakest and poorest" was a spiritual reference.

But then there's the wonderful line that the pope finds the “current financial crisis…originated in a profound human crisis: the denial of the primacy of the human person!” While I agree that placing Corporations (and not just commercial ones) ahead of actual living humans is wrong- dangerously, criminally, morally wrong, the line is quite something coming from the head of an organization founded on labeling the human animal a broken creation for denying the primacy of its (claimed) Creator.

blackwingbear November 26, 2013 at 4:56 pm

And HOW much gold does the Vatican still have?

fishershannon November 26, 2013 at 7:43 pm

Christianity Is Evolving Back into What It Was Intended to Be: a Genuine Mirroring of the Life of Jesus –

labman57 November 26, 2013 at 8:54 pm

Free Market Capitalist: Someone who, if given the means and opportunity, would take control of the global atmospheric oxygen supply … and then charge humanity usage fees for breathing.

Capitalism is an important component of our economic structure, because it sometimes promotes competition which can lead to innovation. But the inherent danger of unbridled, unregulated capitalism is that it leaves the consumer open to abuse by a self-regulating private sector in which the only protection available is the motto: buyer beware.

Furthermore, the prejudicial presumptions and favorite right wing/tea party talking points — that those who are out of work would prefer to subsist on welfare rather than be gainfully employed, and that only unemployed people need food stamps — are completely baseless and perpetuate the ignorance-based stereotype of people in need as being lazy parasites on society … no doubt a deliberate tactical decision by the callous propaganda peddlers in the right wing blogosphere.

In addition, many conservatives indignantly point out that the United States has the best medical care available anywhere in the world. This may or may not be true, but it totally misses the point.

If people are denied or cannot afford to pay for health insurance coverage, let alone their own (or their children's) preventative care or chronic illness medical treatments, then as far as medical care availability is concerned, there's no THERE there.

The Congressional GOP to constituents: "Can't make ends meet? No health care coverage? It sucks to be you!"

Response by middle class and socio-economically struggling Americans to tea-chugging conservatives: "Don't pee on my shoe and call it trickle-down economics."

bgryphon November 27, 2013 at 8:11 am

I have summed up my reaction to "trickle down" on a t-shirt:

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