Thursday, January 03, 2013

Vatican’s Scapegoating Capitalism

The easiest way of blaming social evils has been to bash capitalism. 

A good example has been the recent New Year homily by the Catholic Pope Benedict XVI who condemned “unregulated capitalism” for sowing “hotbeds of tension and conflict caused by growing instances of inequality between rich and poor” due to "the prevalence of a selfish and individualistic mindset which also finds expression in an unregulated financial capitalism” (BBC)

In the eyes of the Pope, the world operates on unregulated or unfettered individualism. 

In reality, the world is being suffocated by mounting regulations that has essentially been shifting the balance of social power from the markets to politicians.


In 2012, in the US 29,000 laws came into existence in the state laws with more coming.

In 2013 in Illinois, motorcyclists will be able to "proceed through a red light if the light fails to change." In Kentucky, releasing feral or wild hogs into the wild will be prohibited. And in Florida, swamp buggies will not legally be considered motor vehicles.

On Jan. 1, as crowds of people toast to a new year, more than 400 news laws across the country will take effect — and possibly improve life for some.

"The laws that state governments deal with are really the laws that impact people on a daily basis," said Jon Kuhl, a spokesmanfor the National Conference of State Legislatures, which tracks the bills. "Whether amending or updating laws or enacting brand new legislation, it was an active year."

In addition to the new laws of 2013, more than 29,000 laws were passed by state legislatures this year, Kuhl said. Many dealt with healthcare, education, gay rights, child safety and the Internet.
And that’s aside from Federal laws. (MSNBC estimates the above at 40,000 laws including federal)

Another fact is that US tax code has ballooned from 400 to 72,000 words.

As Voxxi notes (chart theirs)
We have more professional tax preparers in the United States than law enforcement officers (765,000) and professional firefighters (310,400) combined.

But we need them. Consider this: in  1913, we had 400 pages of federal tax code in law. Today, its more than 72,000 pages.

Fear of being audited has led to this boost in tax preparers.
In short lobbying, tax avoidance, corruption and other means to influence political institutions to acquire favorable treatment becomes the commonplace operations.
And the above is just a segment of the overall political picture.

In other words, the Pope got his perverted idea of social malfeasance backward. Either the Pope has been misinformed or has not been forthright.

The Pope only needs to see how government debt levels in developed countries has been skyrocketing and how central banks have been bailing out the the privileged bankers. This has hardly been a function of individual-market based greed but of greed by those in power and their cohorts.

What the Pope and the Vatican seem to really rebuke hasn't been unregulated capitalism but state capitalism, corporatism or cronyism.

Yet in truth, individuals are not innately evil. It is mainly political power that debauches morality.

As the great John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, popularly known as Lord Acton [Online Library of Liberty] pointed out
I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
I am inclined to think that institutions like the Catholic church have used capitalism as convenient scapegoats when they are underfire, i.e. to deflect on the raging controversies, such as charges of institutional corruption and sexual abuse  which like the Australian Catholic Church admits and apologized.

Is it not that the Bible warned that “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone”? (John 8:7)

Does this not apply to the Vatican too?

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