Skip to comments.Evangelii gaudium 54 (“trickle-down economics”). Significant translation error...
Posted on 11/29/2013 9:10:30 AM PST by markomalley
I have mentioned that people have raised translation problems with the new Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium. I posted under another entry about problems with par. 54, which in the English translation mentions trickle-down economics.
Since that other post delved into more things the discussion there has been interesting I thought it useful to pull out of EG 54 just the first part.
Let us assume that the original composition was Spanish:
54. En este contexto, algunos todavía defienden las teorías del «derrame», que suponen que todo crecimiento económico, favorecido por la libertad de mercado, logra provocar por sí mismo mayor equidad e inclusión social en el mundo.
In this context, 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.
Over at the other post a commentator pointed out that the official English rendering of EG 54 makes Spanish por si mismo into inevitably, but that it really means by itself.
Lets swap in the by itself and read it again.
In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories ["trickle down economics"] which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will by itself succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world.
There is a big difference between inevitably and by itself!
There are uses of mismo that have to do with time, such as ahora mismo (right now). This is not one of those.
I think we can stipulate that las teorías del «derrame» is an adequate expression for English trickle down economics. We can drill, I suppose, into who generally uses the phrase trickle down. Some will say that only critics use the phrase. Lets leave that aside. Also, I am not convinced that justice and inclusiveness does justice to equidad e inclusión social. Equidad is not justice.
But the real point here is that in EG 54 the author says that trickle down economics cannot by itself produce the desired result.
That is, of course, correct.
No economic plan will solve the problems of the poor by itself. Economic plans must be carried out by people who have good, solid morals and values.
I submit that these morals and values must be rooted in religion.
Bottom line: Whoever did the English translation of EG 54 did Pope Francis and the watching world a grave disservice and caused confusion. The use of inevitably for por si mismo changes the meaning of the key phrase in a significant way. The confusion will be difficult to rectify.
The Pope is not so much condemning a specific approach to helping the poor, though I think it is fair to assume that he isnt a fan of trickle-down economics. What he is really going after is the notion that markets, plans, schemes, theories, what have you, can be relied on to help the poor by themselves, that is, without our personal engagement and choice to take responsibility actually to help the poor in concrete ways.
Actually, this doesn't surprise me so much.
Does anybody remember the Bruhaha that was stirred up with Benedict XVI's Caritas in Veritate §67?
67. In the face of the unrelenting growth of global interdependence, there is a strongly felt need, even in the midst of a global recession, for a reform of the United Nations Organization, and likewise of economic institutions and international finance, so that the concept of the family of nations can acquire real teeth.
Versus the German:
67. Gegenüber der unaufhaltsamen Zunahme weltweiter gegenseitiger Abhängigkeit wird gerade auch bei einer ebenso weltweit anzutreffenden Rezession stark die Dringlichkeit einer Reform sowohl der Organisation der Vereinten Nationen als auch der internationalen Wirtschafts- und Finanzgestaltung empfunden, damit dem Konzept einer Familie der Nationen reale und konkrete Form gegeben werden kann.
"Material and concrete form" is a whole lot different than "acquire real teeth".
(btw, if anybody was interested, the Latin was ut familiae Nationum notio re efficiatur)
Anyway, the point is that the English translation staff there needs to be shown the door. These mistakes (or intentional politicization) happen far too often.
Excellent post — putting the truth out there.
And if "yes" then why ? To what purpose ?
Would the Ru'ach HaKodesh permit the "mistranslation" ?? shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
And if "yes" then why ?
To what purpose ?
I agree, the Vatican needs to get a new set of translators and/or proof readers who are familiar with both American and British English languages, whom can check for those potential ‘land mines.’
I have been very critical of the exhortation. But, I can say that this proposed translation makes sense.
Will free-market economics by itself result in everyone being better off materially and better off in the sense of being included in the human family?
Free-market economics by itself will result in A LARGE MAJORITY being better off materially and better off in the sense of being included in the human family. But, what about children, those enfeebled by old age, those who suffer from serious illness or accident, and those who are lonely and despairing?
(Granted, some of these we can handle with insurance; e.g., pensions, life insurance, unemployment insurance, and health insurance.)
Furthermore, free-market economics ENABLES us, in charity, to generously provide for those among not entirely able to provide for themselves.
But, we ALSO need CHRISTIAN LOVE to act on the opportunity provided by free-market economics to provide the material support that some need. EVEN MORE THAN THIS, only Christian love can reach out to the lonely and those who are despairing with the Gospel message of hope.
I would also say that true poverty has little to do with the material standard of living provided by free-market economics. People can be, and all through history, were poor by the standards of the advanced economies of the world of today; and, yet, many were happy. What is most important is that those who are able to work find work through which they can serve others, so that they have rightfully earned their place in society; and, that they enter the family of mankind on the basis of free association.
Yes, because of our ignorance and selfishness, it is a good thing that we have a free-market economy. But, it would be a better thing - whatever is the economic system - that we put our trust in God and that we love one another.
This is the point right there. Without a Christian ethos, then that's when one ends up with "unfettered Capitalism" (what I call "Ferengi economics" -- my inner Trekkie is showing). But as you say, the free market is the only system that allows us to truly practice "Christian economics." Christian economics is simply impossible under a socialist scheme, as one will inevitably end up worshiping a false God (the State).
Very true. The present translators are spinning the Pope's words to push their own leftist agendas.
“Trickle down” economics is indeed a derogatory term in English. I do not know if “derrame” in Spanish does. Given that it is a term that is used to describe an American idea that was translated into Spanish, most likely by the media, it may not. Note that I am not denying that it does, I am just saying that we should be avoid a rush to judgment. I would like to hear from some native Spanish speakers on this point, if possible from South America if not from Argentina itself. Just like English, terms in Spanish can take on different meanings in different places.
In this age of socialist governments the pope should stay away completely from bashing trickle down in any way. It is the main vehicle through which the poor are helped which is what he claims he wants to do. He should be promoting trickle down enthusiastically.
I am surprised you wouldn’t think children, the old and the ill wouldn’t be better off with a free market system. With more prosperity from a free market system comes more practical charity. With manipulated markets comes less.
That would be my guess given the fact that this mistranslation completely buried several of the liberal agenda items being smacked down by Francis and his championing of a someone the liberals loathe as having the correct view of V II.
Don't worry, though, Conservatives aren't sheep who are easily and instantly manipulated by the media hitting a few hot buttons. Right?
Why is it that this maxim apparently doesn't also apply to economic theory, poverty, inequality, etc? Why the constant haranguing about "injustice against the poor", the suffering of the unemployed etc? Why the deluge of homilies and essays which hammer the economic priorities of developed nations? Yes, I know they're awry and I know that the poor are suffering and often exploited.
I'm simply puzzled at the apparently different approach to that recommended for the "culture wars" involving life issues, sexuality and traditional morality. Pope Francis raises the cause of the poor on an almost daily basis. It's an issue on which he constantly preaches and he apparently has no fear that we'll get fed up of listening to him and tune him out as he claims the world has done over the abortion issue, for instance.
If I'm paying attention correctly, we're supposed to ease up on the "culture wars" but put the pedal to the metal on the "poverty wars", instead.
What am I missing?
I agree with you. Pope Francis says people won’t automatically be decent and treat their children well, etc. I would agree the connection isn’t automatic; but, I think there is more of a tendency with a free-market economy than with a socialist economy.
Let A = production with a free-market economy and B = production with some other kind of economy; A is greater than B.
Let X = generosity of people in a free-market economy and Y = generosity of people in some other kind of economy. X is greater than Y.
SO, both because of greater productivity and greater generosity, the vulnerable will be better off.
I’m just saying that X is a volitional and, hence, virtuous act; not an automatic act.
BTW this goes for honesty and law-abiding (not being a criminal) and maybe other virtues. But, I have statistics to back up generosity, honesty and law-abiding.
That's a question that goes all the way back to Genesis. That is, not just why would Our Lord the Holy Spirit permit mistranslations, but why would he permit pride, anger, lust, envy, gluttony, avarice, sloth --- why would He permit sin error, or ignorance at all?
The necessary theodicy includes some consideration of man's free will.
The context of the sentence makes clear that the usage is derogatory, whatever it may literally be, since it completely misapprehends the meaning of supply-side economics.
If you want to continue to excuse this deprecation by focusing on the narrowness of the context, you won't get off so easy. Evangelii gaudium in its entirety calls for government interventions on behalf of the disadvantaged, as if these interventions have some efficacy more potent than the power of free markets (which is all supply side economics ultimately proposes.) They don't.
So in both the immediate context and the larger context of Evangelii gaudium the criticism still obtains. The most direct interpretation of the exhortation is that it's a standard piece of Jesuit economics, which has been so destructive in its applications throughout the world.
Government interventions, however well intentioned are ultimately damaging, and ironically most so for the poor, since they have the fewest means by which to avoid their nefarious application and typically the least education and information to understand how and why they've been harmed. Indeed, the appeal to demagoguery is well understood to be most effective against these classes. The Left understands this quite well. The Pope should, too. Apparently he does not.
Americans, however, think they're the target of anything the Pope has to say about economics because the US media knows exactly how to trigger anti-Catholic sentiment in this country. Anti-Catholic sentiment that was revived by generations of liberals misrepresenting and fighting against Catholic teaching while pretending to be "good Catholics" themselves.
The really sad part is how many people who should know better swallow the media agenda as soon as it's wrapped up in some anti-Catholic red meat. Unless the Pope is changing longstanding Church teaching with regard to Socialism I take what he has to say with regard to the poor with a grain of salt because this country already has in place safeguards against the sort of Victorian England Capitalism and mining town dictators "excessive Capitalism" describes.
I have relatives who worked the mines in W VA and Kentucky, I know what "good Christians" who control companies will do to their fellow man when there are no restraints on Capitalism as well as I know that organized labor more often than not dissolves into extortion when "good Christian" workers decide the free market they love doesn't apply to their contract and their job.
IMHO, you can't believe in Christ and back off of telling it like it is about, "the evils of abortion, sexual perversion, promiscuity etc.,", but people sure as Hell could back off of the "it's all about me" game every time any Bishop or Pope uses the word "poverty" or "Capitalism".
That the much vaunted free market system has been blatently manipulated to efficiently ship millions of jobs out of this country and still a great many people refuse to admit there's any such thing as "extreme Capitalism" when a Bishop, Cardinal, or Pope uses the term makes me think we need a more CLEAR statements on where and how Catholic teaching on anti-Socialism, subsidiarity, Capitalism, and limits on the State, should fit together instead of fewer random feel good statements on economics.
Not so! Whatever the meaning of EG 54, it is tangential to the entire document. The document is 288 paragraphs long; only eight deal with the economy. The message of Evangelii gaudium is the need to evangelize. As to EG 54 itself, you may indeed be right but unless you are a native speaker of Spanish and know the usage "derrame" in Argentina I would caution you to be a bit more humble in your accusations. I will wait for the comments of such native speakers to know the truth.