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Old 12-01-2013, 05:04 PM   #976
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So is the Pope saying Catholics should give their tithes and donations directly to their "excluded," sick or needy neighbors rather than the Catholic Church and their "trickle down" assistance system?
Yes. You've seen how this Pope lives in comparison to plenty of Popes past?

Way closer to actual Jesus and not Supply-Side Jesus.
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Old 12-01-2013, 05:49 PM   #977
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Yes. You've seen how this Pope lives in comparison to plenty of Popes past?

Way closer to actual Jesus and not Supply-Side Jesus.
If there had been more popes like this one - Western Civilization may have turned out much differently (I would think for the better).

As it is, I am thankful for Pope Francis - and I think he's setting the right tone for the entire Christian faith. Heck, even Bill Maher likes him (not that the Pope seeks out or requires such an endorsement).
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Old 12-02-2013, 10:06 PM   #978
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Greg Mankiw's dissenting view on Pope Francis's comments (worth reading, at least):

Greg Mankiw's Blog: The Pope's Rhetoric

Quote:
The Pope's Rhetoric
I see that the pope has decided to weigh in on economic issues:

“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,” Francis wrote in the papal statement. “This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

A few reactions:

First, throughout history, free-market capitalism has been a great driver of economic growth, and as my colleague Ben Friedman has written, economic growth has been a great driver of a more moral society.

Second, "trickle-down" is not a theory but a pejorative used by those on the left to describe a viewpoint they oppose. It is equivalent to those on the right referring to the "soak-the-rich" theories of the left. It is sad to see the pope using a pejorative, rather than encouraging an open-minded discussion of opposing perspectives.

Third, as far as I know, the pope did not address the tax-exempt status of the church. I would be eager to hear his views on that issue. Maybe he thinks the tax benefits the church receives do some good when they trickle down.
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Old 12-02-2013, 10:48 PM   #979
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This article was written just after he was named Pope:

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First, there’s the basic biographical particulars: He’s a Jesuit from South America, Argentina in particular. Both facts on their own represent intellectual and ideological milieus which are decidedly unconducive to creating appreciation for the virtues of the market system. The movement known as ‘liberation theology’ , which splices Marxist economic theory onto Christian vocabulary, has strong roots both among Jesuits and Argentinians. This is not to say that Cardinal Bergoglio was in any sense a liberation theologian, let alone a Marxist. He resisted that tendency, and was often criticized by the hard left. Then again, entering fully into liberation theology would have been a bridge too far, outside of the good graces of the Church entirely. But one can be a fierce critic of the market system and still remain within orthodox Roman Catholicism.

And that appears to be the case with Cardinal Bergoglio. Although he’s been criticized by the hard left, his biographer, Sergio Rubin (who no doubt is a very happy man right now), says that such complaints should be put in context:

This kind of demonization is unfair, says Rubin, who wrote Bergoglio’s authorized biography, “The Jesuit.”

“Is Bergoglio a progressive — a liberation theologist even? No. He’s no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes.
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Where do his political sympathies lie? Certainly not on the Left. Those who know him best would consider him on the moderate Right, close to that strand of popular Peronism which is hostile to liberal capitalism. In the economic crisis of 2001-2002, when Argentina defaulted on its debt, people came out on to the streets and supermarkets were looted, Bergoglio was quick to denounce the neo-liberal banking system which had left Argentina with an unpayable debt.”

The liberal National Catholic Reporter says that “Bergoglio has supported the social justice ethos of Latin American Catholicism, including a robust defense of the poor…” and approvingly quotes him as saying,

“We live in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least. The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”

The former Cardinal placed a strong emphasis on the distribution of wealth, not the creation of it. Spiritually he places emphasis on identification with the poor and the spiritual benefits of living a life of poverty. His decision to choose the name Francis squares well with that. Conflicting press reports claim that he either chose the name to honor Francis Xavier, the founder of his order, or to honor Saint Francis. I think probably the latter is true. Francis built a monastic movement on vows of poverty, recruiting men, many of them wealthy nobles, to imitate Jesus’ life without property. Resisting the Albigensian heresy which held that poverty is morally obligatory and that private property is immoral, the Franciscans stayed within orthodox Church teaching. Nevertheless, Francis has become a revered figure among the Catholic left partly because of his practice of voluntary poverty.
Is Jorge Bergoglio, The New Pope Francis, A Capitalist? - Forbes

I'm not sure where I stand on capitalism and socialism. But when people criticize the Pope for not being too crazy about capitalism, Acts 2:44-45 mentions how the apostles lived:

Quote:
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need.
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Old 12-02-2013, 11:06 PM   #980
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Greg Mankiw's dissenting view on Pope Francis's comments (worth reading, at least):

Greg Mankiw's Blog: The Pope's Rhetoric


those are good points.
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Old 12-03-2013, 12:42 AM   #981
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the guy is without sin
so he can throw stones

good thing Mother Teresa is not still alive, she would kill this guy in his sleep
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Old 12-03-2013, 08:33 AM   #982
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those are good points.
I think at least one of those points is really stupid.
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:06 AM   #983
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I think at least one of those points is really stupid.
Which one?
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:15 AM   #984
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Which one?
The third one, where he says that the Pope hasn't addressed the tax exempt status of the Church. What a non sequitur.

First of all, this is a matter of tax policy. The Catholic Church is not uniquely tax exempt - typically in countries where the exemption exists, as in the United States, it extends to all churches which fall within the definition under the relevant tax legislation, and it extends to charitable organizations. As a consequence, the Catholic Church is just one of many religious institutions that benefits from a tax exempt status.

Second, exemptions from tax for religious institutions is a matter that has been challenged on constitutional grounds and litigated at the supreme court level of a number of nations. Typically in those cases you will see a very good discussion of the purpose behind the tax policy, namely that the provision of charitable services by churches and charitable organizations decreases the tax burden on ordinary citizens who would otherwise have to cover the difference so that the state can provide the same services. We are talking about homeless and women's shelters, medical institutions, schools, food kitchens and food banks, counselling services, addiction treatment and so on. You can decide to take away the tax exempt status of these organizations if you are willing to then foot the bill through your income taxes (doubtful) and if the state is capable of providing the same sort and level of services (also doubtful).

Third, there are plenty of religious organizations which are far more "anti-capitalist" than the Pope's stance has been (consider branches of Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Christianity) and nobody challenges their baseline views by stating that they are invalid because those organizations benefit from a tax exempt status.

This tax exempt thing has become like a talking point against the Pope which is very strange because it is not related to capitalism at all, but to sound tax policy with a view to establishing the most efficient tax system. Furthermore, the Pope did not lobby for the exemption, nor is he benefiting from it in some way that other religious institutions are not.

There can be a legitimate discussion of whether this is the best tax policy or whether it needs amending, but then we are talking about it on a global level and not just about one branch of Christianity led by one man.
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Old 12-03-2013, 09:40 AM   #985
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The third one, where he says that the Pope hasn't addressed the tax exempt status of the Church. What a non sequitur.
Oh yes, I totally agree. It seemed like a pointless dig at the Catholic Church.
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Old 12-03-2013, 10:29 AM   #986
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I will generally agree that capitalism has helped greatly reduced the most extremes of poverty in the world, though I think that is in part due to a variety of things, but I'm not sure I'm seeing it as the driver of a more 'moral society'.
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Old 12-03-2013, 05:33 PM   #987
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Yeah, it was/is definitely a step better than feudalism for sure.
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Old 12-05-2013, 01:38 PM   #988
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Obama gave a speech on inequality yesterday that some are calling one of the best of his presidency.

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Obama focuses agenda on relieving economic inequality

By Zachary A. Goldfarb, Published: December 4

President Obama laid out an aspirational agenda Wednesday for the remainder of his presidency, looking past the Republican opposition that has long blocked his goals and toward policies to narrow income inequality and promote opportunity for the poor.

Obama’s remarks at an arts and education center in a low-income Southeast Washington neighborhood provided his most specific road map for how he intends to spend his final 37 months in office, seeking to overcome partisan fights about the budget and the troubled rollout of his health-care law. He pressed for a higher minimum wage, more spending on early-childhood education, an overhaul of immigration laws and other measures aimed at boosting the economy.

“We know that people’s frustrations run deeper than these most recent political battles. Their frustration is rooted in their own daily battles, to make ends meet, to pay for college, buy a home, save for retirement,” Obama said. “It’s rooted in the nagging sense that no matter how hard they work, the deck is stacked against them. And it’s rooted in the fear that their kids won’t be better off than they were.”

But the president offered little sense of how he might achieve his long-sought economic goals. Instead, the speech — coming at the end of a difficult and politically damaging year — was designed to help define a populist argument that he and other Democrats can carry into upcoming legislative battles and into next year’s midterm elections.

Wednesday’s speech came two years after a similar address Obama delivered in Osawatomie, Kan., in which he outlined policies to help the middle class that would form the basis of his reelection campaign. As he is now, the president was at a low point in 2011, battered by a dangerous debt-limit fight with Republicans and fearful that his chances for a second term were in peril.

Many Democrats think a rejuvenated economic message is far more comfortable terrain for them than for Republicans, particularly after the political whipping Obama and his party have received over the fumbled Affordable Care Act rollout. But the harder edges of Obama’s message Wednesday may make some centrists in the party nervous, posing a challenge for Democrats fighting to hold their seats in conservative states.

Republicans widely panned the speech and said they would continue to work in opposition to Obama’s economic agenda, including continued endorsement of deep spending cuts and an end to jobless benefits for the long-term unemployed.

“It should be no surprise why his approach has left more Americans struggling to get ahead,” Brendan Buck, a spokesman for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), said in an e-mail Wednesday. “The president’s economic policies promote government reliance rather than economic mobility. Rather than tackling income inequality by lifting people up, he’s been fixated on taxing some down.”

But Obama faulted Republicans for not offering their own proposals to address economic insecurity, relying instead on simply opposing him.

“If Republicans have concrete plans that will actually reduce inequality, build the middle class, provide moral ladders of opportunity to the poor, let’s hear them,” he said. “I want to know what they are.”

Jim Kessler, a co-founder of the centrist group Third Way, has expressed concerns about an overly populist tilt in the Democratic Party, openly feuding with ascendant liberals such as Sen. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) and newly elected New York Mayor Bill de Blasio. “On a political level, we find it just very divisive and seeking out a host of things to blame for people’s predicaments and those folks are holding you down,” Kessler said Wednesday.

But he said that Obama’s speech in Southeast struck the right tone. “The president has done a pretty good balancing act,” he said. “Income inequality is something that people at every end of the spectrum should be speaking at.”

Obama’s 48-minute address, filled with historical references and economic statistics, showed a president less concerned about retail politics and more concerned about his legacy — seemingly aware that he may not be able to pass any substantive legislation for the rest of his tenure.

At times dark and at other times sunny, Obama spoke of his and wife Michelle’s humble beginnings and recalled the economic activism of predecessors Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt and Franklin D. Roosevelt. He also invoked the views of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and of Pope Francis, who issued a long statement last week condemning economic inequality.

But in describing the “relentless decades-long trend” of a “dangerous and growing inequality and lack of upward mobility,” Obama acknowledged that his administration has not arrested two stubborn trends: widening income inequality and declining mobility, where lower-income people have a harder time finding a path to the middle class.

Many Democrats worry that the problems with the health-care law’s launch could undermine the public’s faith in the government’s ability to reverse such economic trends. But Obama argued that the law will help relieve one of the greatest economic anxieties facing middle-class Americans who have long struggled with rising costs and the threat of bankruptcy if they fall seriously ill.

The address, hosted by the liberal Center for American Progress and delivered at THEARC — the Town Hall Education Arts Recreation Campus — was the return to an argument Obama has been honing for more than a decade. Advisers said it would form the basis for next month’s State of the Union address, as well as for his priorities in the rest of his term.

Obama’s earlier concerns as a young politician focused on the impact of globalization and technological automation on middle-class jobs, as well as growing wage inequality. While those remain important to him, he lately has been sounding the alarm more loudly about economic mobility.

“The idea that so many children are born into poverty in the wealthiest nation on Earth is heartbreaking enough,” Obama said. “But the idea that a child may never be able to escape that poverty because she lacks a decent education or health care or a community that views her future as their own — that should offend all of us.”

In making his argument, the president sought to shatter “myths” about inequality, starting with the notion that it is exclusively a problem of minorities.

“Some of the social patterns that contribute to declining mobility, that were once attributed to the urban poor . . . it turns out now we’re seeing that pop up everywhere,” he said. “Government can’t stand on the sidelines in our efforts, because government is us. It can and should reflect our deepest values and commitments.”

Obama focuses agenda on relieving economic inequality - The Washington Post


at a minimum, it's time to raise the minimum wage, which is lower today, when adjusted for inflation, than it was in the 1960s.

income inequality is an issue that transcends politics, is the fault of both parties, and must be dealt with by both parties.

and there was something far braver in the speech:

Quote:
Obama Confronts Liberals' Biggest Skeptics: White People

The broad based social safety net has always faced skepticism from white voters, who don't want to spend tax dollars on the "undeserving" poor. In a speech today, Obama took that on.

If you’ve been listening to President Obama’s speeches with any regularity over the last two years, you’ll be familiar with this afternoon’s address at the Center for American Progress on income inequality and economic mobility. As usual, he notes the growing gap between the rich and everyone else, the deep insecurity of the middle-class, and the disappearance of working-class jobs that can provide a decent quality of life.

There was, however, something different about this speech relative to all his others. Namely, he zeroed in on one of the key problems liberals have always faced in their efforts to expand the social safety net.

White people.

Even today, nearly fifty years after the end of legal segregation, racial attitudes are the most reliable way to predict support for certain government programs. On one end is outright opposition: Whites who show high levels of “ethnocentrism,” for instance, are more likely to oppose means-tested welfare—like Temporary Aid for Needy Families (TANF)—even after you adjust for ideology. Likewise, whites who show high levels of “racial resentment”—the belief that blacks and other minorities unfairly benefit at the expense of white Americans—are reliable opponents of government programs for the poor.

Indeed, there’s some evidence to suggest that the Affordable Care Act’s poor approval with white Americans owes itself—in part—to perceptions that the law primarily benefits blacks, Latinos and other non-whites. Arguably, one ad in the 2012 election played on this perception, attacking Obamacare as a program that took billions from “you”—illustrated as an older white man—to spend on a new government program for unspecified others. What’s more, there is research to show that one ad—which attacked President Obama for “gutting welfare”—had the effect of priming negative racial attitudes towards African Americans.

Even among those who support safety net programs, the level and degree of support is mediated by racial perceptions. “As whites become more racially resentful,”writes Oberlin political scientist Christopher DeSante, “they are less willing to spend money on welfare, but are always willing to spend more on applicants with white names.”

This fits with a deep well of research which shows that Americans divide welfare recipients into the “deserving” and the “undeserving.” Thanks to decades of slanted images of black poverty, the broad image is that the black poor are lazy and unwilling to work, while the white poor deserve a break. Phrases like “welfare queen” and complaints about “handouts” and “Obamaphones,” for example, are heavily racialized and dredge up (or use) images of inner-city blacks.

Simply put, beliefs about who benefits are key to public opinion on the social safety net. And judging from his speech, President Obama is more than aware of this, telling the audience that “[T]he decades-long shifts in the economy have hurt all groups, poor and middle class, inner city and rural folks, men and women, and Americans of all races.”

From there, he dismisses the idea that these are “exclusively minority concerns,” stating that “The opportunity gap in America is now as much about class as it is about race,” and that “we have to reject a politics that suggests any effort to address it in a meaningful way somehow pits the interests of a deserving middle class against those of an undeserving poor in search of handouts.”

Now, it is true—as he points out—that “The gap in test scores between poor kids and wealthy kids is now nearly twice what it is between white kids and black kids,” and that problems of drug abuse and broken communities have spread beyond the inner cities, to the white working-class. Still, racial inequality exists, even adjusting for income and wealth. Middle-class blacks, for instance, live in neighborhoods that are dramatically poorer than their white counterparts. According to sociologist Patrick Sharkey, “Two out of three black children born from 1985 through 2000 have been raised in neighborhoods with at least 20 percent poverty, compared to just 6 percent of whites.” For every disadvantage conferred by class, in other words, race multiplies it.

But that’s a digression. What’s important is Obama’s decision to address race as a potential barrier to collective action. As far as I can tell, it’s a first for his presidency, which—overall—has been unusually mum on the subject of race. Yes, his comment won’t change the political landscape, but as far as his rhetoric is concerned, it’s a landmark worth noting.

Obama Confronts Liberals' Biggest Skeptics: White People

anyone who doubts that BECAUSE RACISM isn't a factor in the mindless, reactionary resistance to anything and everything Obama touches is a fool (tin foil hats! tin foil hats!), or being willfully obtuse. racial politics are alive and well and obviously working and being manipulated to continue the flow of capital ever upwards.
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Old 12-06-2013, 10:24 AM   #989
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some good news!

Quote:
U.S. Economy Adds 203,000 Jobs, as Unemployment Falls to 5-Year Low
By NELSON D. SCHWARTZ

The jobs picture brightened in November as hiring in the United States was stronger than expected and the unemployment rate fell to a five-year low, data that increases the likelihood that the Federal Reserve will begin easing its stimulus efforts sooner, rather than later.

Still, many observers cautioned the encouraging figures from the Labor Department on Friday do not necessarily mean the central bank will act when policy makers meet later this month. A move early next year, they said, is more likely.

While the 203,000 jump in payrolls in November was an improvement over the 158,000-a-month rate that prevailed in the summer, it is not much better than the 198,000 level in the first nine months of 2013.

“We think the chance of tapering this month has risen, but on balance we expect the Fed to wait a bit longer,” said Ian Shepherdson, chief economist at Pantheon Macroeconomics.

While the return of hundreds of thousands of federal employees following October’s government shutdown may have exaggerated the move in the unemployment rate for November, the continuing payroll gains suggest the economy has picked up momentum very recently.

In November, the jobless rate dropped to 7 percent. Economists surveyed by Bloomberg before the Labor Department announcement had expected an increase of 185,000 jobs, with the unemployment rate falling by 0.1 percentage point to 7.2 percent.

Payrolls are tracked using data gathered from employers, while the unemployment rate is based on a separately survey of households.

On Wall Street, the monthly report on the labor market is by far the most closely watched economic indicator, but the November data created more anticipation than usual.

That’s because the Federal Reserve seems poised to begin slowly easing back on its stimulus efforts. While the move had been expected in September, it was put off amid mixed economic data instead of the sustained signs of improvement policy makers want to see. The delay by the central bank caught Wall Street off guard three months ago.

But the spate of recent positive data, economists said, could bolster the case for the Fed to start pulling back in the coming months. The latest figures on hiring follow more robust data for economic growth and jobless claims on Thursday and a report on Monday showing increased activity at factories.

While welcome news for job seekers, a healthier labor market is likely to be viewed more warily by investors and traders, at least in the short term.

Stronger economic growth and employment gains should bolster corporate earnings and therefore stocks over time, but speculators fear a quick Fed tapering could sap the stock market’s recent momentum. The Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index is up more than 25 percent in 2013. Stocks were higher in early trading on Friday, with the S.&P. up about 0.8 percent.

Although the holiday shopping season seems to have gotten off to a mixed start, the retail sector added 22,000 jobs last month. Manufacturers, a sector that is closely watched as a bellwether for the broader economy, hired 27,000 workers. And the overall participation rate rose 0.2 percentage point to 63 percent, reversing a decline in recent months.

Even as the overall unemployment rate fell, the situation does remain desperate in some pockets of the labor market.

For example, the unemployment rate among workers aged 16 to 19 remains above 20 percent. And for workers with less than a high school diploma, the jobless rate stood at 10.8 percent.
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Old 12-06-2013, 12:32 PM   #990
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racial politics are alive and well and obviously working and being manipulated to continue the flow of capital ever upwards.
True. And on his watch - it's the worse "flow" since the Gilded Age.
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