The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Z_CNHI News Service

December 6, 2013

Liberals listening to Pope Francis - selectively

Editor's Note: If you're not a weekly subscriber to Taylor Armerding's column, you can publish this one if you notify him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

- See more at: http://www.cnhinews.com/cnhins_opinion/x633307300/Tis-the-season-to-beware#sthash.xbk6VysY.dpuf

Editor's note: CNHI newspapers that are not weekly subscribers to Taylor Armerding's column may publish this one if they notify him at t.armerding@verizon.net.

Pope Francis, at least for 15 minutes or so, has become a darling of the left.

It likely won’t last. If he has the temerity to reassert the church’s position on “social issues,” he will once again become the religious extremist, bigoted leader of an outdated institution deserving only scorn and ridicule.

But, for the moment, he is way cool. The pope’s recent encyclical is seen as an attack on capitalism, especially as it is practiced in the United States. He’s blaming America first! How awesome is that?

And, indeed, the pope does decry what he calls “the idolatry of money.” He declares the alleged benefits of “trickle-down” economics “have never been confirmed by the facts,” and that our “throw-away culture” throws away the poor.

This had the Los Angeles Times salivating, figuring it would likely “cause Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul D. Ryan some distress.”

No word from the paper on any possible distress for Democratic millionaires in Congress whose charitable giving is slim to none, and for whom “compassion” consists of spending other people’s money.

But it is strange that the left suddenly thinks the pope’s words should have any influence on government policy in the United States.

If he or any Catholic leader affirms the church’s position on abortion, gay marriage or female clergy, they are immediately told to stop imposing their morality on the rest of us  or trying to violate the separation of church and state.

If the pope is allowed no standing in those areas, why is he welcome in others? Could it be because those on the left perceive him to be attacking their enemy – capitalism? How convenient.

Actually, if they bother to read the whole document, their ardor for the pontiff may cool. The alleged attack on capitalism takes all of about four of 84 pages. The majority of it is about evangelism – proclaiming the Gospel to nonbelievers in an effort to convert them to Catholicism.

That, even through persuasion rather than force, is anathema to the left.

And even the part they are applauding deserves some examination. It turns out I have some common ground with the far left: I don’t believe the Pope is infallible. He himself says numerous times in his encyclical that context is important.

For example, his denunciation of unfettered capitalism is welcome. But capitalism in the United States is the opposite of unfettered. It is drowning in regulation – enough to discourage entrepreneurs, many of them minorities.

The pope is obviously correct that there is inequality in the United States, as is the case everywhere. The more important point is that this nation remains the destination for millions from other countries.

If, as self-appointed scold Noam Chomsky declares, America hates its poor, why do we provide them with billions of dollars worth of food stamps and other benefits? Why are they not fleeing our borders for Mexico, instead of the other way around?

Yes, the pope is correct that there is greed in the United States. But all we hear is about corporate greed. What should we call it when public employee unions – particularly those in public safety – demand work schedules that the rest of us could only dream about, make double or even more what the average taxpayer they “serve” makes, and get benefits grossly out of proportion with those in the private sector?

Does the fact that they are “only” making tens of thousands more than average taxpayers, instead of hundreds of thousands, mean they get a pass? Is greed only a matter of degree?

The pope lumps “exclusion” and “inequality” together as factors that create an economy that “kills.” That is only half right.

Yes, the ideal should be to banish exclusion; equal opportunity is one of America’s sacred goals. But equal opportunity does not guarantee equal results. To demand that is as absurd as me demanding that I make the NBA because I tried as hard as Kobe Bryant.

The anti-capitalists are especially excited at the pope’s smackdown of the “trickle-down” economic theory, which he contends has never brought about “greater justice and inclusiveness in the world … (and) expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power ….”

That point deserves a substantive response from conservatives. But, again, context is important. The pope should say how “trickle-down” theory, or capitalism in general, compares with socialism in the former Soviet Union or totalitarian communism practiced in China.

Text Only
Z_CNHI News Service
  • 072214 Diamond Llama 1.jpg Llama on the loose corralled in Missouri town

    A llama on the lam cruised Main Street Tuesday before it mistook a resident’s fenced backyard for a place to grab a meal and freshen up.

    July 22, 2014 2 Photos

  • When your doctor commits suicide, things get complicated

    When they call for appointments, patients are told they can't see their doctor. Ever. The standard line: "We are sorry, but your doctor died suddenly."

    July 15, 2014

  • NWS-HB0713-HowardMartin-004.jpg Airman laid to rest back home in Indiana six decades after death

    The mystery of what happened to a military transport plane that disappeared in the fall of 1952 into an Alaskan glacier was solved two years ago when a helicopter crew spotted the wreckage. But it took another two years to retrieve the remains of Airman Howard Miller and 16 other servicemen passengers. Saturday, Miller was laid to rest in his hometown of Elwood, Ind., with full military honors. Hundreds turned out for the funeral and burial services.

    July 13, 2014 2 Photos

  • This is what happened when I drove my Mercedes to pick up food stamps

     I climbed the ladder quickly, free to work any hours in any location for any pay. I moved from market to market, always achieving a better title, a better salary. Succeeding.

    July 8, 2014

  • Nation's first soda tax could come to Berkeley

    The Berkeley City Council unanimously decided last week to put the 1-cent-per-ounce tax on the ballot this November. Approving the tax would mean a major defeat for the soda industry, which has spent millions to crush the effort nationwide.

    July 7, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Declare your independence from empty slogans

    'Independence Day' is now an ironic celebration in a country where the president promotes government dependence over actual freedom, and where bumper-sticker slogans have replaced actual, independent thought.

    July 3, 2014 1 Photo

  • President Barack Obama mug Best president? Worst president? Don't read too much into those polls

    The questions about who are the best and worst post-WWII presidents are useless. What they mainly show is that Republicans are far more unified around a single story than are Democrats.

    July 2, 2014 1 Photo

  • What states can do on their own about immigration

    It's official: Congress won't take up immigration reform this year. This week, President Barack Obama said he'll use executive actions to change policies unilaterally.

    July 1, 2014

  • taylor.armerding.jpg Taxi owners, government patrons try forcing Uber to go 'off-duty'

    Uber gives urban passengers an enticing alternative. Rides on-demand arrive faster than taxis, are cheaper and cleaner, and get rated by customers. Rather than hail innovation, government enablers are helping the heavily regulated taxicab industry freeze out the upstart.

    June 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • The Internet has changed how we curse

    Relatively recent technologies — cable television, satellite radio, and social media — provide us with a not-too-unrealistic picture of how often people swear in public and what they say when they do.

    June 24, 2014

Front page
Clinton Herald Photos


Browse, buy and submit pictures with our photo site.

Poll

What are your plans for the weekend?

Enjoying the outdoors
Staying in out of the heat
Traveling
Other
     View Results
AP Video
Olympics 2014
Featured Comment
Featured Ads
Blue Zones Project
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.