If there's anything that sends the wealthy into paroxysms of panic, it's the phrase "re-distribution of wealth" as in conjures up images of evil commies storming gated communities in order to steal the money of the "wealth makers" to give to the undeserving dark skinned "takers." Recently, in speaking before the UN, Pope Francis called for "legitimate redistribution of economic benefits" a phrase which journalists turned into the scary "redistribution of wealth." The Pope's speech, predictably, elicited negative reactions from rich, conservative Catholic Sean Hannity and Fox's uber Catholic VP John Moody who admonished the Pope to "stick to making suggestions for how to voluntarily reduce economic inequality and leave tax policy to the politicians." Predictably, Fox's one true priest, Fr. Jonathan Morris was tasked with assuaging Fox viewers that Pope Francis has not gone all Alinsky!
The first part of last Sunday's weekly Fr. Morris Fox & Friends segment was either a propaganda fail or what appears to be a now standard sleight of hand in which Morris strays from Fox doctrine only to return to the standard talking points. Clayton Morris wanted the audience "to imagine" turning on the TV and discovering OMG a channel OMG "dedicated to atheists." As the chyron read "Godless TV," Anna Kooiman reported that OMG, "a New Jersey atheist group is doing just that." Clayton Morris explained that the channel will only be available through the internet via a Roku device which means that, contrary to his earlier statement, you won't find this evil channel by "turning on the TV!" Surprisingly, Fr. Morris didn't have a problem with the channel, although he thought it would be "boring." The chyrons reinforced the false suggestion that the program will be on television: "Summer of Atheism, Atheist TV Set to Launch This Summer" and "Atheist TV Arrives."
Poster boy for rich Christian privilege, Tucker Carlson, asked Fr. Morris about the Pope's recent statement about "redistribution of wealth." The chyron scolded the Pope with the chyron, presented as a double entendre: "Pope's 'Poor' Message: Francis Asks Governments To Redistribute Wealth." Carlson quoted from the Pope's message. Morris, who had a very high position in the wealthy and corrupt Legion of Christ which pandered to the rich, immediately launched into agitprop mode:
"We very clearly jump to the Pope is saying redistribution of wealth, go redistribute money that the rich have made and give it to the poor. He didn't say that, he never even used the term redistribution of wealth, what he said was that legitimate, meaning not illegitimate like not taking money from the rich to give to the poor, the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits."
In providing a Fox translation of the Pope's words,. he spoke about how "unjust" it is that China, a rich country, doesn't "provide opportunity for personal development." He cited "the economic benefit of education in civil society" and used the Nigerian situation as an example. Fr. Morris became animated as he continued the agitprop: "Therefore, the suggestion that the Pope is a Marxist because he's thinking about these people, I think it's wrong, just a bad reading of it." Of course Fr. Morris mention that the beloved Rush Limbaugh has accused the Pope of being a Marxist!
Kooiman accused liberals of being hypocrites for supporting the Pope when he speaks about social issues while criticizing him for his abortion and sex before marriage stance. (While conservative support him on abortion but, as we see here, not so much on economic policy.) This was the cue for Fr. Morris to cite the Pope's view, articulated in the UN address, on abortion. Morris criticized conservatives for misrepresenting the Pope's words with a "superficial" reading.
The gospel according to Fr. Morris. Thanks be to Roger Ailes!
Correction: Anna Kooiman's name was incorrectly spelled as "Ana."
Under Francis, fat-cat clerics drunk on power are back in the parishes and their terms of reference are being written by priests with a truly pastoralist mindset who replaced them in key positions. There’s a delightful, side-splitting spoof (written by irreverent clerics, it seems) on the reactions of the former “have’s” of power and wealth within the Church. I’ve only seen it once and am trying to get my hands on a copy.
While I would like Pope Francis to do more on women’s issues (reproduction rights, priesthood, etc.) I do understand why he’s established economic and power as the priority issues. Encouragingly, he’s also been recommending a more inclusive (aka Christ-like) approach to issues like divorce and gay-ness. As of last month, divorced/remarried and gay Catholics are not to be denied access to the Sacrements but rather treated like children of God. In his own words: “Who am I to deny access to the Sacrements to anybody? God will decide who was worthy and who was not.” That’s got a lot of hatred-spouting so-called Christians choking in their own bile but the cheering by ordinary Catholics prevents them from protesting too much.
Personally, I share the delight of ordinary Catholics at what he’s been doing and trust that he will eventually get around to issues related to women’s role in Church and society. Admittedly, my glee as I witness the squirming and sqealing within the world of the bigots and haters who used to dominate the Church is not very Christ-like. But, then, agnosticism (aka “wait and see”) is my belief system and, as Gandhi said (paraphrasing, as I’m too lazy to google it): "I like the teachings of your Christ, but not so much your Christians. Pope Francis is trying to make the Church walk its own talk and that doesn’t go down very well with the holier-than-thou Cafeteria Catholics be they within the Church or on Fox.
The phrase redistribution of wealth seems to be conflated with a wealth tax such as that discussed by Thomas Piketty, author of “Capital in the Twenty-First Century".
Pope Francis is not endorsing any political solution and is simply condemning the failure of governments to have any workable means of providing a family with a life-sustaining share of wealth and work. The trickle-down economic theories have never worked for those at the extremes of the economy and that is why some government intervention is needed.
The real scare may come from the realization that a wealth tax might be a better way to tax workers if it offers a low income tax rate (i.e. 8%) to those who choose it and a high income tax rate (i.e. 26%) to those who do not want to pay a tax on their accumulated wealth. Those with low net wealth (including those with student loans, large mortgages or credit card debt) could elect a wealth tax that requires little (or nothing) of them. The benefit of a very low income tax rate (and no payroll taxes) would increase consumer spending and encourage employment.