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Originally posted at Talk to Action.

After sustaining a series of self-inflicted political wounds - particularly, the GOP nominee's dismissal of 47% of the population -- the Romney Campaign is scrambling for something analogous from Obama. The best that they could dig up, courtesy of Matt Drudge, is a statement from 1998 in which then State Senator Obama said he  believes in a limited form of redistribution. Romney supporters now are running around the country equating Obama's belief in liberal, New Deal-derived economics as either "Socialism" or "Marxism."

An absurd assertion indeed! Marxism, particularly the Soviet model, is a form of anti-liberalism. But perhaps what would be more surprising to GOP's would be Dynamic Duo is that the more accurate description would be "Good Catholic doctrine."

New Deal-inspired liberal economics is not about Marxism or destroying capitalism. Instead, it is about saving capitalism from those bad apples that would abuse it, seeing it only as a means to create non-meritorious wealth by dint of deceit and unscrupulousness.

Part and parcel of New Deal economics is Distributive Justice. Its roots are found in the works of Aristotle, Cicero, Maimonides and adopted into Catholicism by Thomas Aquinas. And it is Aquinas who defines distributive justice as follows:

...in distributive justice something is given to a private individual, in so far as what belongs to the whole is due to the part, and in a quantity that is proportionate to the importance of the position of that part in respect of the whole. Consequently in distributive justice a person receives all the more of the common goods, according as he holds a more prominent position in the community. This prominence in an aristocratic community is gauged according to virtue, in an oligarchy according to wealth, in a democracy according to liberty, and in various ways according to various forms of community. Hence in distributive justice the mean is observed, not according to equality between thing and thing, but according to proportion between things and persons: in such a way that even as one person surpasses another, so that which is given to one person surpasses that which is allotted to another.(1)

Aquinas addresses something either Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan or Ayn Rand conspicuously do not: a duty to distribute with provision to the poorest of society

That is why with the issuance of Pope Leo VIII's 1891 encyclical, Rerum novarum (Of New Things; subtitled, "The Rights and Duties of Capital and Labor") Distributive Justice was adopted as the heart and soul of Catholic Economics.

What Is Distributive Justice?

The liberal economist Monsignor John A. Ryan (1869-1945) outlined six canons for the distributive justice of wages. The first three, needs; arithmetic equality; and efforts and sacrifices are ethical in nature; while the next two, scarcity and comparative productivity, are economic in nature. Any one by itself, consummate to the product produced, would not pay a worker a just wage. And while laborers of superior talents deserve greater reward for their efforts and creativity, the first canon of needs is prominent and must always be the first to be satisfied. All five when properly balanced against each other results in the equitable distribution of wages as described by the sixth cannon, human welfare.

It is the all-too-common mischaracterization of the canon of arithmetic equality that gives rise to the accusation that liberals are "levelers," "egalitarians" and of course, "Marxists" or "socialists." Conservatives and neoconservatives often score points by taking this one canon of distributive justice argument out of context by interchangeably using the term "redistribution of wealth." Our opponents erroneously claim that liberalism is about taking hard-earned income out of wealthier taxpayers' pockets and redistributing it to the poor solely for the sake of soaking the rich. Nothing could be further from the truth.

First, the canons of distributive economic justice only apply when the employer enterprise can first provide his family with their basic needs. Secondly, it kicks in solely to justly distribute profits proportionately based upon meritorious contribution. Cleary, that is not Marxism but a fairer form of capitalism.

Modern distributive justice was first enunciated by Catholic progressives during the early 1890s and more clearly articulated in The Bishops' Program of 1919. Led by economist-priest Monsignor John A. Ryan many in the Church were beginning to embrace the reformist ideas of the protestant Social Gospel movement then being pursued by progressive ministers such as Walter Rauschenbusch.

The Role of Progressive Taxation.

Progressive taxation has nothing to do with "the confiscation of wealth." Such an interpretation is - once again - based upon a serious misunderstanding, focusing on only one of the six interdependent cannons of distributive justice: arithmetic equality. Instead progressive taxation seeks to maintain the wealth of those who succeed by playing by the rules. This means helping the middle class maintain a standard of living for which many of its members struggle every day to maintain.

It is not merely the percentage of taxes paid that defines justice, but the payment in proportion to wealth created by each individual after which the basic necessities of life have been first satisfied. The working poor and the lower echelons of the middle classes should not be forced to pay a flat tax rate equivalent to wealthier members of our society; the overwhelming majority of the former's income goes to basic needs such as food, clothing and shelter. They have little or no superfluous income. Thus, their tax burden should be the lightest.

Middle-class workers have a bit more superfluous income, but in light of their decreasing power in this area, care should be given to their tax burden. Yes, they should pay proportionately more than the poor, but always with the caveat that they fund many of our government programs.

If the middle-class or even lower echelon wealthy have some superfluous wealth by the dint of operating a small business that, too must be taken into account. The owner of a small trucking company or a produce distributor is more prone to suffer financial hardship than the CEO of a Fortune 500 company. Furthermore, small business owners generally reinvest a greater proportion of their personally created wealth into their endeavors than does the hired executive. Because they are in the middle of the economic spectrum and reap the fewest benefits from the government, they naturally have a greater resentment of the abuse of tax revenue. They are the ones who, more and more, are struggling to maintain their measure of hard-earned wealth that they have created for themselves.

The stock conservative argument that our present tax system is one based upon "the envy of wealth" or "is a redistributer of wealth" is a fraud. Instead it is a value for value transaction-especially for the very wealthy. If the rich want to argue that a 90% or 70% top tax bracket is onerous, they may have a point. But having Bill Gates pay a federal tax rate of about 41% will not put a crimp in his lifestyle; he will not be denied self-development. In fact, in the early 1960s when the highest tax bracket was 90%, the conservative writer Willmoore Kendall proclaimed that if the top bracket were to be lowered to 40%, it would allow anyone to become "smacking rich."

It is the wealthy who have the most to gain but who lately have been contributing the least. Yes, the rich are entitled to their rewards, but their wealth is their reward, not massive tax rebates. And if they want to protect their wealth, it does not come without a cost: A just and progressive taxation system.

Protecting wealth means paying for military and homeland defense, as well as for "first providers" such as police, fire fighters and EMS workers. Protecting wealth means having enough funds to ensure that the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission can go after those who would engage in fraud and stock manipulation in an effort to unjustly separate the wealthy from their money. Protecting wealth means sufficiently funding the F.D.I.C. to protect citizens against bank failure.

The greater proportion of their tax burden does not come from income going primarily for basic necessities, but from overabundant, superfluous income. How can we bemoan their inability to buy a third or fourth vacation home when many hard-working Americans do not even have basic health care, let alone have the ability to purchase private property?

There is nothing wrong with being a millionaire. We should not discourage wealth creation, but encourage it. However, where we differ from the right is that wealth must gathered and maintained more fairly. Does this mean an egalitarian redistribution of wealth? No -- but, it does mean adhering to the principle that our tax contributions fairly correlate with the benefits we receive the government.

On the False Charge of Marxism.

Distributive Justice capitalism is not Marxism - although that is what many of its critics on the Right falsely allege. Instead it is a third way that strives to ignore the arbitrary power that often results from the unchecked power that accompanies both Marxism and yes, laissez-faire capitalism.

Unlike Marxism, the model presented here still centers on the twin goals of private property ownership and profit motive. And unlike under Marxist regimes our government does not become the ultimate owner of property nor of the means of production. Instead, it acts as the umpire to assure that laws and mechanisms exist to allow workers to better bargain for a fairer share of private profits, safer working conditions and the ability to acquire private property.

Marxism desires to do away with both profit and private property. Distributive Justice concentrates on the democratization of capitalism through the fairer distribution of profits to all those who produced a given product or provided a specific service.

Capitalism at its best unleashes creative forces that have provided a vast improvement in standards of livings in many, many societies. But while capitalism is the most efficient vehicle across the board, it has also been uneven and sometimes unfair in its results. The trick is to make capitalism more democratic and thus more just.

For far too long this viable economic philosophy has been in the hands of buccaneer types who see market-based economics as an excuse to satisfy greed and do so under the guise of "economic freedom." Clearly, there is no freedom for the collateral victims of economic practices that have no consideration for the common good. As we have seen in the 1920s and in the post-Reagan years, unfettered capitalists left to their own devices will only care about one thing and one thing only: maximizing profit. Government's proper role is to not to eliminate their capitalistic instinct, but to prevent that instinct from causing unnecessary collateral harm.

The distributive justice model differs from the laissez-faire model is in its understanding that a just form of capitalism requires a sturdy government guarding against exhibitions of arbitrary economic power. Its mechanisms include the governmental oversight oversight of financial institutions, progressive taxation and policies that favor the distribution of profit primarily based upon an individual's contribution in creating such profit.

"Good Catholic Doctrine."

This is far from the first time Liberals have been called Marxists or Socialists for wanting to use the power of government to ensure that capitalism be fairer and less predatory. It is a battle that was being fought a hundred years ago often in the form of providing workers with safe working conditions.

Shortly after the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, two prominent Catholic politicians took up the cause of Distributive Justice. They were then-New York State Senator Robert Wagner and then-Assembly Speaker Al Smith - two giants whose imprimatur would be on FDR's New Deal.  As Dave Von Drehle recounts in pages 215-216 of his book, Triangle: The Fire that Changed America:

The work of 1912 produced a series of new laws in the 1913 legislature that was unmatched to that time in American history. The Tammany Twins [Wagner and Smith] pushed through twenty-five bills, entirely recasting the labor laws of the nation's largest state. There were more fire safety laws - by that point, two years after the Triangle fire, nearly every deficiency in the Asch Building [the site of the Triangle fire] had been addressed. Automatic sprinklers were required in high-rise buildings. Fire drills were mandatory in large shops. Doors had to be unlocked and had to swing outward. Other new laws enhanced protections for women and children and restricted manufacturing by poor families in their tenement apartments. To enforce the laws, the Factory Commission pushed through a complete reorganization of the State Department of Labor.

Business leaders didn't quite know what had hit them. But gradually they started making their complaints known.. Real estate interests, in particular, were upset by the number of safety modifications they were required to make. One member of the Factory Commission, Robert Dowling was a New York real estate man, and he often found himself dissenting from the sweeping recommendations pushed by the volunteer staff. (Eventually he resigned from the commission, blaming Francis Perkins, in particular, for going too far.)  He saw it as his job to remind Wagner and Smith of the costs involved in their unprecedented reforms. During one executive session, he referred to the statistics on the number of people killed in factory fires. Notwithstanding the catastrophe at the Triangle, he ventured, "It is an infinitesimal proportion of the population."

Mary Dreier was shocked. "Bur Mr. Dowling," she cried, "they were men and women! They were human souls. It was a hundred percent for them."

Smith jumped in on Dreier's side. "That's good Catholic doctrine, Robert! He declared.

Not Marxism or even socialism; as Al Smith said, just "good Catholic doctrine."

----------------

(1)   Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, "Question 61: The Parts of Justice, Article 2."

Originally posted to Frank Cocozzelli on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 05:47 AM PDT.

Also republished by Retail and Workplace Pragmatists - Members and Editors and Community Spotlight.

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Comment Preferences

    •  Frank, this was great. (11+ / 0-)

      Those of us who pay attention to Catholic social justice teachings should be diligent in reminding conservative Catholics of the existence of those teachings.  The conservatives are quick to condemn those whom they describe as "cafeteria Catholics"--i.e., those who pick and choose the teachings they like, and ignore the ones they don't, usually the ones having to do with sex.  But the conservatives are at least as guilty of this practice.  Take a simple example; fair wages.  Every social justice encyclical since Rerum Novarum has championed this notion. In Centisimus Annus, John Paul II commented on and updated what Leo XIII had said in Rerum Novarum:

      The Pope [i.e., Leo XII] immediately adds another right which the worker has as a person. This is the right to a "just wage", which cannot be left to the "free consent of the parties, so that the employer, having paid what was agreed upon, has done his part and seemingly is not called upon to do anything beyond". It was said at the time that the State does not have the power to intervene in the terms of these contracts, except to ensure the fulfilment of what had been explicitly agreed upon. [This, of course was the Lochner doctrine, named after the infamous Supreme Court case which held that the State couldn't regulate wages and hours of work.  It was used to overrule a number of New Deal laws and programs until the famous "change in time that saved nine," the conversion of Justice Roberts to supporting the New Deal in March, 1937] This concept of relations between employers and employees, purely pragmatic and inspired by a thorough-going individualism, is severely censured in the Encyclical as contrary to the twofold nature of work as a personal and necessary reality. For if work as something personal belongs to the sphere of the individual's free use of his own abilities and energy, as something necessary it is governed by the grave obligation of every individual to ensure "the preservation of life". "It necessarily follows", the Pope concludes, "that every individual has a natural right to procure what is required to live; and the poor can procure that in no other way than by what they can earn through their work".

      A workman's wages should be sufficient to enable him to support himself, his wife and his children. "If through necessity or fear of a worse evil the workman accepts harder conditions because an employer or contractor will afford no better, he is made the victim of force and injustice".

      Note that Leo and John Paul are not only talking about a minimum wage, but a living wage.

      Compare this teaching with Paul Ryan's express rejection of minimum wage laws.  And does anyone think Mitt Romney believes that an employer should pay a worker more than he has to in order to get him to work?

      Interestingly, in an editorial in the Washington Post on September 20, Michael Gerson, George W. Bush's speechwriter, gave a brilliant [and very Catholic] condemnation of the Romney/Ryan world view:

      Yet a Republican ideology pitting the “makers” against the “takers” offers nothing. No sympathy for our fellow citizens. No insight into our social challenge. No hope of change. This approach involves a relentless reductionism. Human worth is reduced to economic production. Social problems are reduced to personal vices. Politics is reduced to class warfare on behalf of the upper class.
    •  Is Acts of the Apostles Marxist? (12+ / 0-)

      Acts 4:32-35 says as follows:

      All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all 34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
      I wonder if Ryan ever put down his Ayn Rand long enough to bother reading Acts.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 12:56:30 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  And anyone who didn't (0+ / 0-)

        share all their possessions with the disciples commune were fatally punished-  ala Anannias and his wife.

        Do we have a label for that?

        •  If We Want to Get Nit-Picky... (0+ / 0-)

          Anannias and Saphira weren't punished because they didn't share; they were punished because they made a big deal about how they were selling their property and giving the proceeds to the poor when actually they were pocketing much of it.  The issue was honesty, not generosity.

          "All the World's a Stage and Everyone's a Critic." -- Mervyn Alquist

          by quarkstomper on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 06:13:09 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  And they deserved to (0+ / 0-)

            die for their dishonesty?  That's sure harsh in my book of Justice!  Note that at the end of the narrative "a great fear came upon the whole church, and upon all who heard of these things." So the rest of the group didn't agree with what happened to this couple, they were AFRAID.  Fear apparently works well when you want to run a commune.

    •  Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Franco, Pinochet (0+ / 0-)

      Chavez, Peron, Castro, Napoleon .......all Catholic

      Oh yeah and this guy

      There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

      by bernardpliers on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 05:41:54 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Thank you, Frank. (14+ / 0-)

    This is a valuable and useful look at Catholic social justice and I've learned some new stuff. Fine work as always! :-)

    There are, in every age, new errors to be rectified, and new prejudices to be opposed. ~Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)

    by slksfca on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 06:04:52 AM PDT

  •  One of my favorite facts is the fact that (13+ / 0-)

    Adam Smith, the great philosopher and the first economist who invented the concept of capitalism, devoted many passages in his great tome Wealth of Nations to the need to regulate.  He recognized that an unrestricted free market would leave to inequalities that would sink the ship for everybody.

    Of all the people in contemporary politics, I think Elizabeth Warren has the clearest take on this.  How did she put it in the debate with Brown a few days ago?  Something like, a clear choice between a party of selfishness and a party that cares for everybody.

    I doubt if Ryan spends much time reading the Gospels, and he certainly isn't reading this diary.

    Great diary, Frank.

  •  Pacem in Terris (12+ / 0-)

    In this papal encyclical, Pope John XXIII states that health care is a right, as are food, clothing, and shelter.

    Health insurance, along with pensions, social security and compensation for accidents, were declared as rights in Pope John Paul II's Centesimus Annus written for the 100th anniversary of Pope Leo XIII's  encyclical, Rerum Novarum.

    “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

    by RoIn on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 06:17:31 AM PDT

    •  Well, *men's* health care is a Catholic right (3+ / 0-)

      Women's health care is another matter entirely...

      •  And that is the real problem (0+ / 0-)

        Economic justice will  just have to wait until the right to life of the most vulnerable is protected. So before the Catholic church will fight for economic justice we must ban abortion and contraception. Protecting the right to life of the weakest humans is just more important. Alas. But as a description of what the church should be supporting this is correct. That today's Catholic leadership is willing to sell out its economic teachings for a futile war on sex is a shame.

    •  Funny (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Frank Cocozzelli, Calamity Jean

      how Romney described those very things as something irresponsible serfs deem to be entitlements.

      •  Massive redistribution of wealth upward (3+ / 0-)

        Since about Reagan's election, there has been a massive redistribution of wealth -- upward. The wealth has been redistributed upward into the hands of a few rich assholes who gamed the system at the top. This money didn't come out of thin air, it was taken from average middle class and poor people. It is time for the pendulum to swing back, which is what really freaks out rich pricks like Romney.

        Lost is Romney's gaming of his so called average taxes over the past twenty years was the fact that includes the entire 1990s when his personal tax rate was way higher than it is now. He is playing games with numbers and averages.

        Everything I write is within a margin of error of precisely 100%.

        by Bailey Savings and Loan on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 04:34:05 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Progressive Taxation is COMPRESSIVE Not Redis- (12+ / 0-)

    tributive.

    The reason we need those >>50% top marginal rates is not to take money away from the top earners but to prevent it from ever being offered in the first place.

    Analogous brakes need to be applied to all types of gains obviously including estates, and also investment gains.

    The New Deal era compensation compression kicks in around the upper end of the middle class where unregulated business is able to begin exponentially rewarding management, professionals and ownership to the point where they quickly become liberated from the interests of society and even their own enterprises. This liberation is what endangers markets and nations, whereas keeping decision makers dependent on the consequences of their decisions is needed to make society safe, responsible and stable.

    The other reasons for this are all those cited in the diary, but it's not done by taking from those who have, it's done mostly by intervening in their extreme abilities to gain.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 06:18:51 AM PDT

    •  Actually Gooserock, It Is Both (5+ / 0-)

      Progressive taxation is compressive so as to prevent inequality from becoming lop-sided - oligarchy.

      But with that said, progressive taxation is also distributive in order to make capitalism more equitable - and to ensure liquidity. When wealth becomes too concentrated in the hands of a few, it constipates the flow of money throughout society. That, in turn, inhibits the purchase of private property by the many which then, in turn, forces more of us to rely on credit.  

    •  I'll never forget watching the House pass Reagan's (4+ / 0-)

      tax cut in 1981.  I instinctively understood that we were crossing a Rubicon as a society.  Lowering the top maginal rate from 70% to 50% (as well as slashing effective corporate rates) fundamentally changed a set of social incentives dating back to FDR's time.  

      There is a direct line from that legislation then to Romney's 47% comments today.    He's the latest symptom, not the disease.

      Some men see things as they are and ask why. I dream of things that never were and ask why not?

      by RFK Lives on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 01:02:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Why is "redistribution of wealth" considered some (9+ / 0-)

    sort of backdoor communist plot, when in fact the redistribution has been going the other way?  How is it that the recipients of this largesse control the narrative?  Oh yeah, silly me, money talks.

    The government - yes, the GOVERNMENT - has been redistributing wealth from the middle class to the very wealthy for decades now, legislating the theft to operate via the tax code and failing to legislate against the redistribution of U.S. jobs abroad, devastating the middle class for the express purpose of further enriching the investor class.

    The wealthy sucking at the government teats keep those teats lubricated with lots of campaign cash.

    In God We Trust belongs on U.S. currency, because in the United States, money IS God.  

    Our ears hear symphonies through wireless headsets, but our knuckles still drag the ground.

    by ZedMont on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 06:23:38 AM PDT

  •  Thank you. (9+ / 0-)

    This is wonderful and I can't wait to talk about these points with my conservative friends.  I see heads exploding.  I needed a solid run down of these issues and facts.

    Everyone! Arms akimbo!

    by tobendaro on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 06:24:12 AM PDT

  •  Dorothy Day Quote (13+ / 0-)

    “Our problems stem from our acceptance of this filthy, rotten system.”  
                  -- Dorothy Day, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement
     

    “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

    by RoIn on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 06:26:27 AM PDT

  •  Peter Maurin Quote (12+ / 0-)

    "The world would be better off if people tried to become better,. And people would become better if they stopped trying to be better off."
                  -- Peter Maurin, co-founder of the Catholic Worker movement

    “I believe all Southern liberals come from the same starting point--race. Once you figure out they are lying to you about race, you start to question everything.” ― Molly Ivins

    by RoIn on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 06:27:32 AM PDT

  •  Frank this is a great diary... (7+ / 0-)

    I very strongly believe in the Social Gospel. I believe we are all our brother's keeper. I believe taxes are the price people pay to live in a civilized country - a country where everyone has health care, nobody has to live on the streets or go hungry.

    I admire progressive Christians and their commitment to social justice and fairness. I just hope Christianity will move in that direction we could do a lot. A big key to Republican success the past 40 years has been the so called "unholy alliance" between the Christian Right and business elites.

    We need another era where business leaders don't know what hit them.

    As a member of Courtesy Kos, I am dedicated to civility and respect for all kossacks, regardless of their opinions, affiliations, or cliques.

    by joedemocrat on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 07:05:18 AM PDT

  •  Excellent diary (6+ / 0-)

    The USCCB is running away from the gospel's direct teachings.

    •  And Catholic social teaching ... (6+ / 0-)

      This week's news about the new about the new appointment from the Archdiocese of Denver, Chaput''s man, Jonathan Reyes, to head the Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development--puts that office on its head. He's a Christendom man and will be sure to offer the revisionist Acton Institute's view of Catholic social--(minus the social) teaching-- a la Michael Novak --democratic capitalism. They are trying with an all out effort to create Catholic Calvinism.

      A now deceased bishop warned me a few years back that "The Calvinist have arrived" in regards to the current regime heading the post-Bernardin era at the Conference. Another bishop actually shared that the poor would be abandoned by the new leaders. Both statements have been proven true.

  •  Since much of the foundaton of the Catholic (3+ / 0-)

    Church's vast wealth is stuff stolen on its behalf from the worlds indigenous peoples and other infidels, will they be redistributing it back soon? Just asking.

    That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

    by enhydra lutris on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 08:17:36 AM PDT

  •  And for the more "evangelically inclined"... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Frank Cocozzelli, Ahianne, rmabelis

    one might direct them to that black book with the gilt-edged pages, wherein we find in the 2nd Chapter of Acts:

    44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

    45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

    And the Lord called unto himself twelve Marxists?

    Ad creandos magis et meliores democratas.
    h/t to codairem for correcting my dreadful Latin grammar.

    by jgilhousen on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 08:49:08 AM PDT

  •  the trap is very subtle (8+ / 0-)

    From the point of view of conservative Catholics (including the Church's leadership), the implications of this argument are the mirror image of the ones we see.  Social justice is not "good Catholic doctrine" because of exegesis; rather, good Catholic doctrine is social justice by default.  Catholic doctrine promotes social justice by virtue of being the teachings of the Most Holy Roman and Catholic Church guided by the love of the one true God.  In other words, the only way to achieve social justice is for everyone to be good obedient Catholics.  Same two elements, but cause and effect are reversed, with profound and wide-reaching intellectual and political implications.  

    You'll often hear Religious Right leaders arguing that humanity can only achieve social justice by becoming faithful and obedient members of their respective religions.

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 10:24:56 AM PDT

  •  Their catholicism stops at abortion and gay issues (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, tofumagoo, Calamity Jean
    •  Morality equals sex. (0+ / 0-)

      For the conservative Christians, be they Catholic or not, sexual  morality is the whole of morality. Doing God's will means saying no to abortion, contraception, and same sex marriage. If you do God's will by opposing these things God will take care of your material needs. So we don't need government sponsored welfare. All we need to do is God's will as stated above.

  •  Reprinted from (5+ / 0-)

    WOID (with slight modifications):

    A Marxist, an economist and a theologian are stranded on a desert island. A can of beans washes up on shore. "We have to share this," says the Marxist. "But first we have to figure out how to open the can," says the economist. The theologian says, "Let us assume the existence of a Divine Can Opener..."

    WOID: a journal of visual language http://theorangepress.com/woid

    by WOIDgang on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 01:37:43 PM PDT

  •  Tipped, rec'd and hotlisted.... (0+ / 0-)

    Excellent work, Frank.

    This is far from the first time Liberals have been called Marxists or Socialists for wanting to use the power of government to ensure that capitalism be fairer and less predatory. It is a battle that was being fought a hundred years ago often in the form of providing workers with safe working conditions.
    It's a battle we seem destined to fight over and over again, in this country.

    Thomas Jefferson was accused of wishing to bring the guillotine & the French Revolution to the US.

    FDR was labeled a Communist and a class traitor, because of the New Deal.

    Truman was called a Communist, because he wanted us to have a national health care system.

    President Truman offers national health program plan, proposing a single system that would include all of American society.

    Truman's plan is denounced by the American Medical Association (AMA) , and is called a Communist plot by a House subcommittee.

    And now they point the finger at Obama and his supporters.

    It isn't just good Catholic doctrine. It's good Christian doctrine - period. The irony is that most of the people who call themselves Christians obsess over issues like abortion and gay marriage, but completely ignore Christ's insistence that his followers must care for the sick and the poor.

    Protecting wealth means paying for military and homeland defense, as well as for "first providers" such as police, fire fighters and EMS workers. Protecting wealth means having enough funds to ensure that the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission can go after those who would engage in fraud and stock manipulation in an effort to unjustly separate the wealthy from their money. Protecting wealth means sufficiently funding the F.D.I.C. to protect citizens against bank failure.
    FDR actually discussed this at length in a speech his gave in 1936. Here's a snippet:
    ROOSEVELT: This contrast between Democratic and Republican leadership holds true throughout the length and breadth of the State of New York...Here was a State noted for its industry and noted for its agriculture—a State with the greatest mixture of population- where the poorest and the richest lived, literally, within a stone's throw of each other—in short a situation made to order for potential unrest. And yet in this situation the best that the Republican leaders of those days could say was: "Let them eat cake." What would have happened if that reactionary domination had continued through all these hard years?

    Starting in 1911, a Democratic leadership came into power, and with it a new philosophy of government...We were all joined in a common cause. We did not look on government as something apart from the people. We thought of it as something to be used by the people for their own good.

    New factory legislation setting up decent standards of safety and sanitation; limitation of the working hours of women in industry; a workmen's compensation law; a one-day-rest-in-seven law; a full train-crew law; a direct-primary law—these laws and many more were passed which were then called radical and alien to our form of government. Would you or any other Americans call them radical or alien today?

    ...Out of the strains and stresses of these years we have come to see that the true conservative is the man who has a real concern for injustices and takes thought against the day of reckoning. The true conservative seeks to protect the system of private property and free enterprise by correcting such injustices and inequalities as arise from it. The most serious threat to our institutions comes from those who refuse to face the need for change. Liberalism becomes the protection for the far-sighted conservative....Wise and prudent men- intelligent conservatives—have long known that in a changing world worthy institutions can be conserved only by adjusting them to the changing time. In the words of the great essayist, "The voice of great events is proclaiming to us. Reform if you would preserve." I am that kind of conservative because I am that kind of liberal.

    You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can't fool all of the people all of the time ~ Pres. Lincoln's warning for Romney

    by AuroraDawn on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 01:49:52 PM PDT

  •  Caritas in Veritate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    papahaha, rmabelis

    I know a lot of people aren't big fans of the current pope, but even he has put some major emphasis on this.  One of three encyclicals the current pope has issued is devoted to it, Caritas in Veritate, which translates as Charity in Truth.  The document also has a subtitle: ON INTEGRAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT IN CHARITY AND TRUTH.

    Keep in mind, much of the current conservative movement, apparentlly under the influence of Ayn Rand, seems to have rejected Charity.  As such, much of the Republican party today seems to be at odds with key parts of Caritas in Veritate.

    For example:

    6. “Caritas in veritate” is the principle around which the Church's social doctrine turns, a principle that takes on practical form in the criteria that govern moral action. I would like to consider two of these in particular, of special relevance to the commitment to development in an increasingly globalized society: justice and the common good.

    First of all, justice. Ubi societas, ibi ius: every society draws up its own system of justice. Charity goes beyond justice, because to love is to give, to offer what is “mine” to the other; but it never lacks justice, which prompts us to give the other what is “his”, what is due to him by reason of his being or his acting. I cannot “give” what is mine to the other, without first giving him what pertains to him in justice. If we love others with charity, then first of all we are just towards them. Not only is justice not extraneous to charity, not only is it not an alternative or parallel path to charity: justice is inseparable from charity[1], and intrinsic to it. Justice is the primary way of charity or, in Paul VI's words, “the minimum measure” of it[2], an integral part of the love “in deed and in truth” (1 Jn 3:18), to which Saint John exhorts us. On the one hand, charity demands justice: recognition and respect for the legitimate rights of individuals and peoples. It strives to build the earthly city according to law and justice. On the other hand, charity transcends justice and completes it in the logic of giving and forgiving[3]. The earthly city is promoted not merely by relationships of rights and duties, but to an even greater and more fundamental extent by relationships of gratuitousness, mercy and communion. Charity always manifests God's love in human relationships as well, it gives theological and salvific value to all commitment for justice in the world.

    7. Another important consideration is the common good. To love someone is to desire that person's good and to take effective steps to secure it. Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good. It is the good of “all of us”, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society[4]. It is a good that is sought not for its own sake, but for the people who belong to the social community and who can only really and effectively pursue their good within it. To desire the common good and strive towards it is a requirement of justice and charity. To take a stand for the common good is on the one hand to be solicitous for, and on the other hand to avail oneself of, that complex of institutions that give structure to the life of society, juridically, civilly, politically and culturally, making it the pólis, or “city”. The more we strive to secure a common good corresponding to the real needs of our neighbours, the more effectively we love them. Every Christian is called to practise this charity, in a manner corresponding to his vocation and according to the degree of influence he wields in the pólis. This is the institutional path — we might also call it the political path — of charity, no less excellent and effective than the kind of charity which encounters the neighbour directly, outside the institutional mediation of the pólis. When animated by charity, commitment to the common good has greater worth than a merely secular and political stand would have. Like all commitment to justice, it has a place within the testimony of divine charity that paves the way for eternity through temporal action.

    Also, especially:
    36. Economic activity cannot solve all social problems through the simple application of commercial logic. This needs to be directed towards the pursuit of the common good, for which the political community in particular must also take responsibility. Therefore, it must be borne in mind that grave imbalances are produced when economic action, conceived merely as an engine for wealth creation, is detached from political action, conceived as a means for pursuing justice through redistribution.
  •  Thank you for this diary (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rmabelis, Dirtandiron

    I hope you don't mind that I am sharing it on Catholic Democrats, my facebook page, my Saints and politics facebook page....and if I find one, I will share it on a catholic republicans page

    Give your heart a real workout! Love your enemies!

    by moonbatlulu on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 02:31:04 PM PDT

  •  I've always wondered why Republicans, especially (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dirtandiron, Calamity Jean

    middle and lower-income Republicans, aren't bothered by redistribution intended to move move money from the middle and lower income workers to the highest income Americans. It DOES work both ways, and injecting taxpayer money at the top is redistribution, too.

    Eliminate tax breaks that stimulate the offshoring of jobs.

    by RJDixon74135 on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 02:38:15 PM PDT

  •  Good diary, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    rmabelis, Dirtandiron, quarkstomper

    but you forgot to mention several key advocates of distributism. In England, Hillaire Belloc and G.K. Chesterton were the first, if I remember correctly, to take the moral dimensions of distributism and place them within a political and economic framework. Chesterton coined the simple slogan "Three acres and a cow."

    In America, Dorothy Day was an important supporter and included it within her Catholic Worker movement.

  •  No civilization works without redistribution (0+ / 0-)

    This is it what makes humans different from animals. I even wonder if animal or insect societies with different roles redistribute. What Mitt Romney says is complete nonsense. Well, the good thing about this election is that we are having this debate and again and again his arguments are not even human, certainly not American. Bring it on Mitt! Thus far, anything you say just reinforces that you are a f- a-. I don't understand how any human can vote for you. Yes, a stark choice indeed!

  •  All the same... (0+ / 0-)

    I don't usually think in these terms (I don't like how liberals have, essentially out of fear, abandoned the word "liberal", validating the right-wing's treatment of it), but rather than "redistribution of wealth", I'd refer to "ensuring just [or "fair"] distribution of wealth".  The idea is that instead of framing it as a new pattern, it frames things as a matter of making things the way they should've been in the first place.  (It still won't work with right-wingers, who probably read "The Scouring of the Shire" and figured J.R.R. Tolkien was dumping on the very idea of fair distribution, but you won't be able to reach most of them anyway.)

    The '60s were simply an attempt to get the 21st Century started early....Well, what are we waiting for? There's no deadline on a dream!

    by Panurge on Sat Sep 22, 2012 at 10:12:52 PM PDT

  •  Editing and Corrupting (0+ / 0-)

    The Obama statement is again blatantly edited; keep listening and his "redistribution" is meant to enable small business and economic growth. (Yes, we all build the infrastructure that makes  business work.)

    I've been reading a little history about the New Testament. Earliest is actually Paul to the Corinthians, where he very clearly tells the first Christians (only about 2000 total!) that they have the obligation to make sure no one in their community suffers from poverty. They didn't live in communes or share everything, but they did have the world's first social safety net.

    Where did that religion go? Can't real Christians sue the guys who stole their religion?

  •  Tipped and Rec'd (0+ / 0-)

    I am not religious. I did attend Baptist services as required by my parents before they stopped forcing me. The only people that are Christ-like Christians in my opinion, are some of the progressive Catholics (mostly women), UU's, UCC's etc. It is NEVER the hard line fundies.

    -7.5 -7.28, A carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond.-Don Van Vliet

    by Blueslide on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 05:35:58 AM PDT

  •  Collectivism+Redistribution="Fascism" (0+ / 0-)

    Whenever some starts with that twaddle I say "OK, well then clearly the Catholic Church is Fascism, and so are the Girl Scouts. "

    There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

    by bernardpliers on Sun Sep 23, 2012 at 05:44:16 AM PDT

  •  The bishops need to speak out against... (0+ / 0-)

    Romney's makers/takers philosophy.

    Whatever the shortcomings of catholicism, the teachings on social responsibility are in direct opposition to Romney/Ryan's disdain for the poor.

  •  I would take this whole (0+ / 0-)

    "distributive justice" thing a lot more seriously if Aquinas and the "good Catholic doctrine" crowd would have called for the tearing down of the Vatican (summer palace included) and the sale and re-distribution of the vast wealth of the Church gathered over the hundreds of years of the plunder of Europe and other parts of the world.  I always find it amusing when the Pope criticizes "materialism" on the part of the people while wearing gold and jewel encrusted clothing.

    Maybe the Church should put the nuns in charge. At least most of them seem to actually live the concept.

    Just food for thought......

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