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Evangelii gaudium 54 (“trickle-down economics”). Significant translation error...
WDTPRS ^ | 11/29/2013 | Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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.

Official English…

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”.

Let’s 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.  Let’s 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 isn’t 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.


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Full title: Evangelii gaudium 54 (“trickle-down economics”). Significant translation error changed meaning.

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?

English:

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.

1 posted on 11/29/2013 9:10:30 AM PST by markomalley
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To: markomalley
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.

Correcto!

2 posted on 11/29/2013 9:13:48 AM PST by Don Corleone ("Oil the gun..eat the cannoli. Take it to the Mattress.")
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To: markomalley

Excellent post — putting the truth out there.


3 posted on 11/29/2013 9:16:13 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: markomalley
Evangelii gaudium 54 (“trickle-down economics”). Significant translation error changed meaning.

Would the Ru'ach HaKodesh permit the "mistranslation" ??

And if "yes" then why ?

To what purpose ?

shalom b'SHEM Yah'shua HaMashiach
4 posted on 11/29/2013 9:22:21 AM PST by Uri’el-2012 (Psalm 119:174 I long for Your salvation, YHvH, Your teaching is my delight.)
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To: markomalley; zot; NYer; Interesting Times; Salvation

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.’


5 posted on 11/29/2013 9:31:18 AM PST by GreyFriar (Spearhead - 3rd Armored Division 75-78 & 83-87)
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To: markomalley

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.


6 posted on 11/29/2013 9:36:28 AM PST by Redmen4ever
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To: Redmen4ever
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.

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).

7 posted on 11/29/2013 9:50:43 AM PST by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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Comment #8 Removed by Moderator

To: GreyFriar
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.’

Very true. The present translators are spinning the Pope's words to push their own leftist agendas.

9 posted on 11/29/2013 10:06:01 AM PST by zot
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To: FredZarguna

“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.


10 posted on 11/29/2013 10:30:09 AM PST by Petrosius
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To: markomalley

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.


11 posted on 11/29/2013 11:02:02 AM PST by what's up
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To: Redmen4ever

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.


12 posted on 11/29/2013 11:11:41 AM PST by what's up
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To: markomalley
"intentional politicization"

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?

13 posted on 11/29/2013 11:41:52 AM PST by Rashputin (Jesus Christ doesn't evacuate His troops, He leads them to victory)
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To: markomalley
I got the memo about backing off the "culture wars" and the need to avoid constantly haranguing the world about the evils of abortion, sexual perversion, promiscuity etc., because apparently that causes the current generation to turn a deaf ear. Instead, we're supposed to promote the joy of the Gospel and the love of Jesus for all men who, once they've seen the light, will then see abortion for the evil that it is and the problem will then take care of itself. Isn't that how it goes? First bring people to Jesus? Have I got that 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?

14 posted on 11/29/2013 11:49:44 AM PST by marshmallow
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To: what's up

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.


15 posted on 11/29/2013 12:03:25 PM PST by Redmen4ever
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To: UriÂ’el-2012
"Would the Ru'ach HaKodesh permit the "mistranslation" ?"

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.

16 posted on 11/29/2013 12:14:33 PM PST by Mrs. Don-o ("Acquire the Holy Spirit, and thousands around you will be saved. " - St. Seraphim of Sarov)
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To: Petrosius
You are straining at a gnat to swallow a camel.

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.

17 posted on 11/29/2013 12:45:25 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: marshmallow
First of all, I very much doubt anyone from anywhere in South America or Asia has people with Food Stamps, free cell phones and service, automobiles, game machines, and big screen LCD TVs, within their reach in mind when they use the word "poverty".

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.

JMHO

18 posted on 11/29/2013 1:00:26 PM PST by Rashputin (Jesus Christ doesn't evacuate His troops, He leads them to victory)
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To: markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; Berlin_Freeper; SumProVita; narses; bboop; SevenofNine; ...

Ping!


19 posted on 11/29/2013 1:23:49 PM PST by NYer ("The wise man is the one who can save his soul. - St. Nimatullah Al-Hardini)
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To: FredZarguna
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.)

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.

20 posted on 11/29/2013 1:23:56 PM PST by Petrosius
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To: markomalley

Very good!

Another related offering:

http://www.thecatholicthing.org/columns/2013/tea-party-catholics.html

Religious freedom and economic freedom are linked. ;-)


21 posted on 11/29/2013 3:06:44 PM PST by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo....Sum Pro Vita - Modified Descartes)
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To: markomalley

Also, here are two worthwhile videos and the link to both:

1. Rev. Robert A. Sirico Comments on the Economic Views of Pope Francis in ‘Evangelii Gaudium’

2. PovertyCure trailer

http://blog.acton.org/archives/63186-video-rev-robert-sirico-responds-pope-francis-economic-views-evangelii-gaudium.html


22 posted on 11/29/2013 3:11:37 PM PST by SumProVita (Cogito, ergo....Sum Pro Vita - Modified Descartes)
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To: Petrosius
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.

Apparently you did not read my post, and I'm not sure you've read EG 54 in any language. As I made clear, the meaning of one specific Spanish word (in or out of a particular idiom) is entirely irrelevant when the rest of the document makes quite plain that the intention was derogatory.

Or do you think there are also alternative definitions for the characterizations of "crude" and "naive" regarding those who believe in free markets?

As for the rest of your rebuttal: completely pointless. Of course I am only talking about the part of the document that discusses economics.

23 posted on 11/29/2013 4:13:25 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: Don Corleone; markomalley

My Spanish isn’t that good, but I was prompted to look up the presumed original of the second sentence in 280 (the only mention in subsidiarity in the whole work), and I am fairly certain it was botched pretty badly. The Spanish, near as I can tell, is coherent and consistent with past teaching—the English is arguably neither.

There also looks to be another problem—I think that Spanish is more prone to use exaggeration to make a point—which, if read in context, is not at all confusing. Translated into English, not so good. And to use too many infinitives to communicate is not to employ standard English.

On the flip side, there are some quotations that show just how good a prose artist Aquinas was—translated into English through the Spanish he is clearer than the translator is capable of making the Pope without an intervening language.

In fairness to whomever is translating, no one has ever been called to translate Papal documents from Spanish to English before, or likely from anything other than Latin into English without a Papal proofreading. So long as everyone was operating from Latin, one knew what to expect. At least, contrary to my first thought, Reggie Foster can’t be blamed (the leading English speaking Latinist in Rome is also a Maoist).


24 posted on 11/29/2013 4:18:48 PM PST by Hieronymus ( (It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. --G.K. Chesterton))
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To: FredZarguna
Evangelii gaudium in its entirety calls for government interventions on behalf of the disadvantaged …

As I made clear, the meaning of one specific Spanish word (in or out of a particular idiom) is entirely irrelevant when the rest of the document makes quite plain that the intention was derogatory.

Of course I am only talking about the part of the document that discusses economics.

Which is it, the document "in its entirety" and "the rest of the document" or "only the part that discusses economics"?

The document is about evangelization not economics. You are falling into the trap of the media spinning it to mean something else. Yes, I too am uncomfortable, about some of what he says about economics (assuming the translation is accurate, which I admit is possible) but let us not make more out of it than we should. The document is about evangelization.

25 posted on 11/29/2013 4:55:45 PM PST by Petrosius
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To: FredZarguna

The document is long, (Hopelessly) complex, and nuanced. Did you pick up on him knocking welfare—twice?

Welfare projects, which meet certain urgent needs, should be considered merely temporary responses. (202)

Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded. (204)

Deficit spending is also knocked in paragraph 54.


26 posted on 11/29/2013 5:26:56 PM PST by Hieronymus ( (It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. --G.K. Chesterton))
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To: Petrosius
You are still picking nits in order to defend something indefensible, and in any case your understanding of logic is faulty. The words contained in EG 54 are a proper subset of the entire document. What is written about economics is a subset of EG 54. Therefore, what is said about economics in the entire document is not different from what is said in EG 54.

It works like this A ⊂ B ⊂ C implies what is said in A about a topic is also said in C. If C is about something more, but all of what is written about economics is entirely in A, than the entirety of what is said in A on that subject is not different than the entirety of what is said in C on that subject.

Get it?

What is said is entirely within the standard (and incorrect) understanding of economics promulgated by the Society of Jesus. I am happy to see that it would make your uncomfortable; it should.

27 posted on 11/29/2013 5:28:19 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: Hieronymus
it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income,

Neither complex, nor nuanced.

Game. Set. Match.

Goodbye.

28 posted on 11/29/2013 5:30:30 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: FredZarguna
Nice try but subset ≠ entire. If you were limit your critique to para. 54 and recognize that this is only incidental to the message of the entire document we might actually be able to come to an agreement.
29 posted on 11/29/2013 5:37:14 PM PST by Petrosius
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To: FredZarguna

He makes a distinction between welfare (handouts) and income. He believes that in many situations welfare needs to be diminished and income increased. He holds that situations that do not do this are not long-term solutions, and a program of prosperity that involves putting more people on welfare so that the remainder may have a higher income is not a good thing.

Do you prefer the government making decisions, and creating mechanisms and processes that lead to people with no income but surviving on welfare?


30 posted on 11/29/2013 5:47:07 PM PST by Hieronymus ( (It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged. --G.K. Chesterton))
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To: Petrosius

Where else in the document does he talk about economics?


31 posted on 11/29/2013 6:51:35 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: Hieronymus
You are not reading what he actually wrote, because you don't want to believe it.

"it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income,"

Who makes the decisions? Who creates the programmes? And what are the mechanisms and processes specifically geared toward a "better distribution of income?"

In case you still have doubts about the socialism inherent in his message, he specifically eschews

"attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force [sic]"

So might well have Pius X written of the disappearing workforce in the buggy whip trade, or the disappearing workforce created by Henry Ford's massive use of component/assembly design. Never mind that such a "disappearance" made motor vehicles accessible to the middle class, while hand-made cars had been nothing more than a rich man's toy. [And never mind that Marx, Engels, and Lenin wrote often of the same sort of nonsense.]

Reduction in force is part of the way capitalism works.

Period.

It gives rise to better efficiencies, cheaper products with higher quality, and new ideas and technologies as the money once wasted on protecting an obsolete methodology is freed to fund creativity. The remedy for a lost job is a new job, and the remedy to socialist claptrap is to reject it and stop making excuses for it.

Had the Pope merely wanted to make a point about the virtue of charity against the backdrop of amoral free market economics, he need not have spoken derisively about "trickle down economics" (there is no such thing) nor described those who believe in free economies as the best vehicle for compassionate treatment of the disadvantaged as "crude" and "naive." You can't pick and choose what's in here so that you can ignore the parts of the message you don't like. It says what it says.

32 posted on 11/29/2013 7:11:59 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: markomalley
Should Pope Francis have used the term subsidiarity rather than "trickle down"?

Actually, subsidiarity means trickle up.

Problems -- start to solve them within your family, then your local church, local organizations, local community, then up to the county level, and up to the state level, and finally to a federal level.

Some of these threads explain it much better than I am doing.

Repeat After Me: Subsidiarity & Solidarity
Subsidiarity and Human Dignity
Does the USCCB Understand Subsidiarity?
[CATHOLIC CAUCUS] The Principle of Subsidiarity
[CATHOLIC/ORTHODOX CAUCUS] Subsidiarity Over Social Justice
What is the USCCB’s problem with subsidiarity?
Subsidiarity: Where Justice and Freedom Coexist
Health reform still full of thorny problems for Catholics (Vasa comes out for subsidiarity)
What You [Catholics] Need to Know: Subsidiarity, [Catholic/Orthodox Caucus]
Catholic Word of the Day: SUBSIDIARITY, 06-11-09

33 posted on 11/29/2013 7:53:36 PM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: Don Corleone

Wonder who is in charge? Someone like Father Reese?


34 posted on 11/29/2013 10:39:23 PM PST by RobbyS (quotes)
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To: FredZarguna

You are falling into the same trap. Not all business decisions are driven by the need to meet competition. Sometimes it is just to follow blindly the lead of some executive with a bad idea, such as the now departed chief executive of Penny’s. And from Ricardo onwards, many businessmen have been guilty of a mindset not unlike that of the “enclosing landlords” familiar to Thomas More, that treats human beings as expendable. As a critique of the social effects of capitalism, socialism has always had something truthful to say. It is only as a viable alternative, that socialism falls down, because it always concentrates power more than the worst plutocracy and will never yield control in the face of the most abject failures.


35 posted on 11/29/2013 11:01:00 PM PST by RobbyS (quotes)
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To: RobbyS
Not falling into any trap; it's the Pope who's fallen into the trap, and it's hilarious watching people attempt to make excuses for his economic "philosophy."

As for socialist Utopian "Saint" Sir Thomas Moore, well, he would certainly know about the expendability of human beings, wouldn't he? Or do you think the man who tortured and burned human beings alive was all sweetness and light, like the fictional character in Robert Bolt's play?

As a critique of the social effects of capitalism, socialism has always had something truthful to say.

Its critique -- like the Pope's -- is nonsense, laying the problems of the poor at the feet of free markets. The problem of poverty has been widely studied. Many of the people classified as "poor" in this country are poor by their own choices, and capitalism has exactly nothing to do with it. The Church, like socialists, has always known indigent people nursing fantasy resentments are an easy mark for demagogues and they have gone at advancing them with great gusto. For the genuinely poor, there is charity and guess which economic system produces (overwhelmingly) the most of that? It sure as hell isn't the "system" with "something truthful" to say.

36 posted on 11/29/2013 11:29:15 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: Salvation
Should Pope Francis have used the term subsidiarity rather than "trickle down"?

He didn't really use "trickle down" -- he used the word "spillage" (teorías del « derrame » = theories of "spillage")

I would imagine that it roughly tries to capture the same topic.

And, no, I actually think he used it correctly.

Imagine if you had employers who:

What would they do? I would submit that they would pay these people the minimum they possibly could...regardless of how much value each person brings to the value chain.

As Christians, we would want to pay people justly (See S.Th. II-II-61-2) in the proportion to which they contribute to the production of products / services delivered by our company. Without that fundamental Christian ethic built into our psyche, we would strictly follow the laws of supply and demand.

As far as I understand, the theory of supply-side economics impacts labor rates in the following way: when there is reduced taxation and regulation placed upon industry, that industry will increase production. As industry increases production, there is an increased demand. That requires both a) increased requirements for plant/equipment (thus requiring production to produce that plant/equipment) and b) increased requirements for labor to operate that plant/equipment. As there is an increase in demand on a stable labor force, the prices for that labor will increase.

In "developing" countries, there is still a vast surplus of labor. Therefore, prices for that labor are still depressed. The question that follows (at least in my mind) is when a condition of "scarcity" will start to exist, thus allowing the prices to rise.

As I said above, as Christians, we would want to pay people justly (St. Thomas Aquinas talked about distributive justice being accomplished by distributing common goods (in this case, revenues) according to the "geometric mean" ...). With Christian ethics, we know to do that as "the right thing" to do. Without Christian ethics, people would only do so when "forced" by economic pressures.


Frankly, what concerns me with this document is the emphasis on "inequality" rather than on justice. For example: "Inequality is the root of social ills." (§202)

This seems to be in contradiction to much of the Papal Magesterium.

A review of previous papal issuances shows the following:

Sorry for the massive post, but I don't want to make some sort of claim without providing adequate proof to back it up.

And let me emphasize that I am not making any sort of accusation here nor am I drawing a conclusion...I am simply pointing out something that is concerning to me at this juncture.

37 posted on 11/30/2013 4:35:57 AM PST by markomalley (Nothing emboldens the wicked so greatly as the lack of courage on the part of the good -- Leo XIII)
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To: markomalley
Thanks for a thoughtful post. Place-marking for later.

A thoughtful discussion of this is... refreshing.

38 posted on 11/30/2013 4:40:10 AM PST by St_Thomas_Aquinas ( Isaiah 22:22, Matthew 16:19, Revelation 3:7)
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To: markomalley

IDK how “por so mismo” could be translated as “inevitably” in the first place.


39 posted on 11/30/2013 6:49:35 AM PST by ottbmare (the OTTB mare, now a proud Marine Mom)
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To: markomalley

I think this post (37) could be its own thread. Great research!


40 posted on 11/30/2013 9:47:02 AM PST by Salvation ("With God all things are possible." Matthew 19:26)
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To: FredZarguna

It is nonsense to speak of “free” markets,” There are only “markets.” Go back to Smith and read what he said, remembering that he was not an “economist” but a moral philosopher, and “The Wealth of Nations,” does not, as “Kapital ” does, reduce the tangible things of life to numerical abstractions. He is simply not even an empiricist. In his world the “shop,” a group of human beings trying to produce objects for sale, is what is economically most important.

You seem obsessed with the word “socialist.” The thing was even invented until the 1820, To use it to apply to anything before that time, is to create an anachronism, a distortion. Like using the world “liberal” to speak of a Whig like Burke, or even a radical like Paine. More was not a socialist but he was the king’s minister. In life he was both like the man in Bolt’s play and a very different person. It is a work of fiction, just as any biology is inevitably a work of fiction.

But yes, the problems of the poor can be “laid at the feet of the markets because markets are indifferent to poverty. They don’t exist to end poverty. The merchant worries about the poverty of himself and his family. If he only worries about himself and his family, he is a bad man. If he associates with men who cares nothing about others, then we have to ask, what kind of person is he?


41 posted on 11/30/2013 8:59:00 PM PST by RobbyS (quotes)
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To: RobbyS
Your reply is so thoroughly senseless I have no idea even where to begin.

It is nonsense to speak of "free" markets there are only "markets."

This is arrant nonsense of the kind we would expect from someone trying to defend the popes "economic" theories. Of course there are unregulated markets: the underground economy has many of diverse kinds, and of course, there are varying levels of regulation in other markets. To claim that the stock market is "just a market" of the same type that the black market in food stamps is "just a market" of exactly the same kind in order to defend the vacuity of this (non)idea is throwing the baby out with the baptismal water. It's an infantile understanding of why we have characterizations and classifications to begin with. What you have said is as silly as saying, their are no sauropods and therapods. There are only dinosaurs.

No.

Additionally, please go argue with "not an economist" Adam Smith if you like, and trouble me no further. I am not defending or advancing (or even talking about) Smith and have never brought up his name.

But yes, the problems of the poor can be “laid at the feet of the markets" because markets are indifferent to poverty.

The fact that you believe such a preposterous bit of claptrap is a full and complete explanation of why you think the pope has said something sensible in this regard. It's like saying, "But yes, the problem of death by electrocution can be laid at the feet of electricity." No, the problem can be laid at the feet of negligence, misadventure, and myriad causes, but electricity itself is completely indifferent to these results. It's also indifferent to the fact that the advent of modern technologies using electricity saves the lives of millions of people every year, and provides an improved standard of living to billions.

[As a matter of fact, I could just as easily claim "But yes, the problems of the poor can be “laid at the feet of God" because God is indifferent to poverty. Any material objection to His indifference you raise is on the part of indirect agencies. But again, that is also true of the ancillary benefits of markets as well.]

Now, if you want to argue that markets regulated by leftists [of whatever stripe, before, during and after 1820] have produced positive results as a consequence of the money stolen from the people participating in them, then we have something to talk about -- and you would be WRONG.

Wherever there is a con game, there are con men. In a free market, the con men outside of the transactions conducted are not allowed to expropriate money for their own benefit, while (always falsely) claiming they are doing this for the "benefit of the poor."

Finally, the fact that a term was not invented until a time certain does not mean it had no advocates or prototypes before that time. Indeed, quoting from More:

"In Utopia, where there is no private property, everyone is seriously concerned with pursuing the public welfare."

I'll let anyone following this conversation answer for themselves what More was describing. You have your ideas, and I have mine.

42 posted on 12/01/2013 1:16:06 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: FredZarguna

I think I said that the stock market is not a “free” market. That indeed, the idea of “unregulated” markets is historically impossible. Just try to have a garage sale on a regular basis and you will have a hint of how long the original markets remained unregulated. Markets can exist as a matter or law or custom, but one or the other must regulate what happens, and both law and custom require enforcement.

As to poverty, poverty is always relative and not a matter than “markets” can cure. Indeed, markets are as indifferent to this thing called “poverty,” as an electric chair is to the crime committed by the person in the chair. But going to Smith, he was not at all indifferent to such a thing, and he would indeed have been amazed by the socialist claim that a government, the same force that made it hard for a family shop to thrive could somehow effect something called social justice , or for that matter, a banking system or a marketing system, could somehow achieve a just social order.

Yet the latter claim is often made that “capitalism,” inevitably leads to political liberty and that the two feed on one another. But capitalism is a bit like modern science. It can serve a kaiser as well as a parliament; a politburo as well as a city council. That China has done so well by engaging in the world “market,” and has produced a “trickle down” system not very different from our own system, show make is pause about claiming so much for it.

Finally, More. More has no more to do with socialism as we understand it, than Harrington has with the modern Republican Party.


43 posted on 12/01/2013 2:07:31 PM PST by RobbyS (quotes)
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To: RobbyS
I think I said that the stock market is not a “free” market.

Free Republic offers you the ability to reread your posts. You wrote no such thing.

That indeed, the idea of “unregulated” markets is historically impossible

Not in the least bit true. There are trillions of transactions in truly free markets every day. Perhaps you have never been to a market in an ethnic neighborhood, or outside of the USA. I encourage you to get out more.

In any event, your garage sale analogy is not even true. My neighbor has been carrying on a garage sale twice per year every year since she moved in next door 30 years ago. She has never been visited by the authorities, nor paid for a permit, nor agreed to any regulations whatsoever, not even the implied warranties in the UCC.

As for the pathetically lame claim that her sale is "regulated by custom?" Bwaaaahhhhhaaaaaahhhhhhhaaaaaaaaaaa! Keep digging. That is not what's meant by regulation in either law or economics.

As to poverty, poverty is always relative and not a matter than “markets” can cure.

Thanks for demolishing your own bizarre "argument" about laying poverty "at the feet of markets." It was unnecessary, as I had already done so.

But going to Smith, he was not at all indifferent to such a thing,

You keep going to Smith as if I had invoked him as an authority (or as if he was one.) I have not, and warned you in the previous post that your efforts to engage Smith were futile. He is not on either end of this conversation.

Yet the latter claim is often made that “capitalism,” inevitably leads to political liberty and that the two feed on one another.

Von Hayek estabishles why this is so. You should read him, and I hope you will read him more carefully than Smith.

But capitalism is a bit like modern science.

Nope, not in the least.

One requires the freedom of individuals to interact economically. It cannot really exist without liberty. The other is nothing more or less than a systematic discipline for the investigation of the material world. It demonstrably existed in the Socialist hell of the Soviet Union, where, contrary to your nonsensical assertions, economic liberty could not.

It can serve a kaiser as well as a parliament; a politburo as well as a city council.

No. It cannot. This preposterously inane.

The fact the you believe this reveals you to be as ignorant as the Bishop of Rome, and the Jesuit "economists" whose "theories" he apes. These fools have done incalculable damage in the Third World, and if the pope's defenders on these threads are any indication, have been surprisingly effective in propagating their nonsense here as well.

I would urge you to actually read von Hayek. He demolishes your simple-minded notions about economic liberty in only a few pages. Socialism always results in tyranny, because command economies ultimately don't command markets, or even money. They command people. And the systems in which you (and the pope) believe are nothing more than what PJ O'Rourke has correctly described as "socialism by the drink." Cheers! Drink deeply, then slither off to one of the left-wing forums which espouse these disgusting ideas.

That China has done so well by engaging in the world “market,” and has produced a “trickle down” system not very different from our own system, show make is pause about claiming so much for it.

It would indeed be alarming if any of what you posted in the last paragraph were true.

Fortunately, like EG 54 and the rest of your postings, it is rubbish.

First, China participates in many global and local markets (no need for the quotes, they are markets, indeed.) Its citizens do not. The only entity which freely engages in world markets is China, Inc. Its citizens have no such participation.

Second, The US doesn't have a "trickle down" system. "Trickle down" is a derogatory Leftist description of Supply-side economics, and the real theory doesn't involve any "trickling down." The fact that the pope chose to use this loaded phrase indicates clearly on what side of the economic divide his sympathies lie. But more importantly, it is, like the description of a unicorn or the Gift of Constantine, a description written upon a lie.

There is no trickle down in China, either. China is effectively a hybrid economy, whose successful economic applications are in an advanced (technologically, that is) state of fascism. It's growth will not persist forever, because you cannot build crony economies beyond a certain point; only the anointed are free actors. Their slaves are left to drag the system down.

China's growth for the most part has occurred because the system they have abandoned (and the one in which you and the pope evidently believe) is even worse. You can pretend otherwise, but your use of the words "trickle down" and your disparaging description of your own country as somehow comparable to China betray your real sensibilities clearly enough.

44 posted on 12/02/2013 2:11:59 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: FredZarguna

China serves as a reminder that even a radically authoritarian state can have a “capitalist,” system, or one that fits into the context of the World Market. I fail to see how the “parallel” you speak of is much different from the arrangement between Bush Administration and the banking system, except, of course the lack of pretense by the Government. Is this not like the” progressivism,” that TR and Wilson fostered? Of course Singapore is a better example.


45 posted on 12/02/2013 8:56:19 PM PST by RobbyS (quotes)
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To: RobbyS
China serves as a reminder that even a radically authoritarian state can have a “capitalist,” system, or one that fits into the context of the World Market.

You are confused.

There's a difference between a country which trades on a market with limited regulations and a country that has a capitalist system. In the latter, its citizens trade on the market, and the country does not trade -- because in a free economic system the government participates only in governance per se and does not meddle where it does not belong.

46 posted on 12/03/2013 4:04:26 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: FredZarguna

What you have in mind is a logical construct, rather than the actual thing. What the Chinese have created is “ capitalism,” and the forms of government matter less than the general process, whether it fits into the whole system of world trade. How much personal freedom exists in a country seems relative so long as it doesn’t affect that process.


47 posted on 12/03/2013 8:21:27 PM PST by RobbyS (quotes)
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To: RobbyS
What you have in mind is a logical construct, rather than the actual thing.

No. This is your problem, not mine. You believe that if trade in world markets is available to a country, its citizens enjoy access to those markets, and hence at least one dimension of "freedom." This is true only to the extent that they all enjoy full access.

What the Chinese have created is “ capitalism,” and the forms of government matter less than the general process, whether it fits into the whole system of world trade.

No. Again, you are trying to wedge everything into your argument that "everything is capitalism." But the ability of a government or a handful of its preferred citizens or corporations to trade is not the same thing as capitalism.

How much personal freedom exists in a country seems relative so long as it doesn’t affect that process.

This is the place you'd like to arrive at, because you want now to conclude that the pope has said something brilliant: China is a slave state, therefore, government control of an economy is not a bad thing -- see how well China is doing?

But China is not doing as well in relative terms as it might be if it were free (economically and politically.) China has many structural problems and its growth is self-limiting, because internally there is little economic or personal liberty in China.

I might just as easily say the following (which has many more elements of truth and sense than your arguments have):

"Christianity in general and the Roman Church in particular had done less to improve the plight of the poor after many centuries than urbanization and the first and second industrial revolutions did in the span of a few decades."

"For those foolish enough to believe that this was a result of the benign influence of religion and morality, the truth is we saw great advances in national wealth in neo-pagan fascist states in the early to mid-20th century, and in the atheist states of the Soviet Union."

"Anyone wishing to argue that this was the result of a residual influence of Christianity in the West will need to contend with the atheist state of China, where Christianity played no significant role whatsoever, but urbanization, industrialization, and technology lifted hundreds of millions from poverty in less than 40 years."

Now we must go back and ask you -- and the pope -- if the expansion of access of some of China's markets without any real change in government programs for 'the poor' produced these results, and if the same results came about in the West, also without any real change in government programs for 'the poor,' until we entered a post-industrial era [an era in which they are now stagnating, by the way] why would capitalists be the least bit interested in your advice on economic matters?

The answer is: we would not be interested, and we are not interested. The Church has not helped the poor. The Mosques have not helped the poor. And certainly the Hindu and Buddhist Temples have never helped the poor. But capitalism has.

Maybe capitalists should dispense spiritual advice to you and to the pope. We certainly could not say anything with less historical or practical validity than what he -- and his benighted order -- have had to say about economics.

48 posted on 12/03/2013 9:04:35 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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To: FredZarguna

I think you have confused our constitutional system, a system in which capitalism thrives, with capitalism itself.


49 posted on 12/04/2013 8:05:25 AM PST by RobbyS (quotes)
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To: RobbyS
Our constitutional system does not really admit of any other kind of economic practice. With regards to the [Capital C] Constitution, a government with limited, specifically enumerated powers in which the both the regulation of commerce and the power to tax were narrowly very circumscribed is a design made for economic liberty and unsuitable to any other. Add to that a (small C) constitution of case law and a common law tradition which respected the inviolability of contracts and the sanctity of private property, and you pretty much have enshrined the whole idea of capitalism in both the Constitution and the constitution of the United States.

Papists (and other mystics) take note: our economic decline -- including the economic decline of the working and middle classes -- began in the 1930's, just when we began to impose the very "processes" and "structures" that the pope is calling for more of. The poor have been able to live off of the depreciation of a wealthy nation for 80 years, but the time is now upon us when the very plans, structures, and processes that the pope thinks are such grand ideas, instituted during America's "progressive" era, will mean widespread misery for the poor.

A broke country doesn't take care of the indigent very well.

It goes without saying that he'll never realize what caused the misery, any more than will you or his other blind followers.

50 posted on 12/04/2013 6:48:09 PM PST by FredZarguna (The sequel, thoroughly pointless, derivative, and boring was like all James Cameron "films.")
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