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The Difference Between Wealth and Profit









By Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall
December 8, 2013


It is obvious when reading the pre-Thanksgiving comments of Pope Francis I, that the words of President Ronald W. Reagan stuck in the new Pope’s mind as he notes the failed “trickle down” theories of the former President. The Pope attributes “trickle down” to capitalism and thus because it did not work it must be the fault of capitalism.

The question, of course, is: Did Reagan’s policies fail? Or did a corrupt political environment prevent them from being properly implemented?

The Pope said: “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. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system.”

So sayeth Pope Francis I of the Holy Mother Church. No liberal Marxist will disagree with such a statement… and a few who call themselves conservative (but are really just liberal Republicans) will agree, too.

Actually, the assumption that economic growth that is encouraged by a free market inevitably brings about greater justice and inclusiveness was tested through American history until the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913. And this nation thrived under that system! The capitalist free market system created the most dynamic economy in world history, Pope Francis. Surely you are not a student of economic history if you are making such broadly inaccurate statements. The American capitalist economy you denigrate provided more jobs to Europe’s poor than any phenomenon in world history.

The Pope continues: “Exclusion ultimately has to do with what it means to be part of the society in which we live; those excluded are no longer society’s underside or its fringes or its disenfranchised – they are no longer even a part of it. The excluded are not the ‘exploited’ but the outcast, the ‘leftovers’.” He cries out against “a throw away culture,” and what he termed “an invisible and almost virtual” economic tyranny.

Francis disavows income inequality around the world. The United States – where levels of income inequality are at record levels – make clear that the wealthy are into recovery mode from the financial crisis of 2007 but the lower and middle classes still struggle. Pope Francis takes the moral high ground with his concern about the poor and income inequality around the world. His suggested solutions and his rejection of capitalism as a solution, however, are in error. One of the problems in the Pope’s decision that capitalism is the problem and that “trickle down” doesn’t work is an over-simplified view of wealth versus profit. Perhaps an article I wrote on that subject will help in better defining the two.

The primary issue the Pope avoids when speaking of income and poverty inequality in America vs the rest of the world is that the poor in America have lifestyles equivalent to the upper middle classes in his Argentinian home (where his socialist philosophies dominate) and American poverty is the equivalent of the middle class lifestyles of Europe. I wrote about this and gave statistics verifying it in a World Net Daily article.

Since the economies of South America (with rare exception) and Europe are socialist based – where income redistribution is part of daily political life – and, until recently and at the hands of the Obama Administration, has been minimized in America – what Pope Francis I is saying doesn’t make sense.

The Pope’s logic equates to this:

1. I want to help the poor. (I have no doubt that is what Pope Francis wants to do.)
2. I think the best way to do that is to redistribute the wealth from the rich to the poor.
3. In all economies where such a philosophy has been employed, all that has been achieved is to reduce the quality of life of the middle class causing them to become poor.

The Pope is largely correct in his statements lamenting poverty, the discomforts and indignities of it, and the reasons for it. There are few Americans who would argue that our political system has totally corrupted the economic system in this country. And yet, the following Papal statement makes one question how serious Francis is about solving the problem: “I beg the Lord to grant us more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, the people, the lives of the poor.”

This request for more politicians who are genuinely disturbed by the state of society, of the people, and the lives of the poor is, I am sure, honestly made. It is certainly indicative that His Holiness strongly believes in miracles because it would take the hand of God to remove from office all of those politicians in America (and around the world – including Argentina) whose hands in the cookie jar have caused and supported the poverty against which he rails. Politicians who redistribute wealth have one concern: an increase in their personal net worth. There are a few exceptions, but they are rare.

The corruption of politicians worldwide has caused the current economic crisis and continues to rob from the poor and give to the rich in a Reverse Robin Hood manner. The politicians of the world consider the poor to be collateral damage as they pad the monetary gains resulting from legislation that produces bridges to nowhere in Alaska and money to Senator Diane Feinstein’s husband for a non-existent high-speed rail project in California. They view the rest of us as collateral damage, too. Please, Your Eminence! Pray for no more politicians who are concerned for the poor! We will all be starving if your prayers are answered!

“A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules… To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which has taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits.”

You are absolutely correct, Pope Francis. It knows no limits. But how can you in one thought pray the Lord for good politicians concerned with the poor, and in another thought in the same document reveal your awareness that the thirst for power and possessions knows no limits? The most powerful place in the world where the thirst for power and possessions is even greater than beyond the gates of hell is in the political arena. The second place would be at multi-national companies – and they are not part of the capitalist philosophy described by Adam Smith when he defined capitalism in his book Wealth of Nations. Multi-national companies have loyalty only to the cheapest world labor pool they can find to produce their products. They are the ones who want to keep the poor – well, poor, so surely you cannot speak of them as the saving grace that can give meaning and purpose to the lives of the poor.

Specifically what is this newborn tyranny of which you speak? Is it capitalism? I think not for the obvious reason that capitalism as created by the philosophy of Adam Smith does not exist in the world today. Thus, today’s economic problems cannot result from capitalism.

Rather, greed so great that the political faction of global politicians willing to sell their national sovereignty to enrich themselves is this “new tyranny.” And who are the parents of this new tyranny? Its mother is the laziness of the people whose freedoms are being stolen daily (too busy to be bothered with learning about the economic system that determines their well being and doing what is necessary to protect it from corruption – it’s boring, after all). The father of this tyranny is the international lack of a moral compass.

Who or what bears responsibility for the moral health of nations and the people who populate them? The churches that should be educating the populace about the importance of freedom and the only economic philosophy that supports it: Capitalism!

Pope Francis I says: “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.” The Pope went on to ask, “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?”

Who can disagree with that statement? Most Americans would agree with His Holiness that the mainstream media is nothing more than a group of prostitutes who sell their access to the public. They print what they are paid to print and it is very wrong. That is not the fault of capitalism; rather, we are back to the lack of a moral compass within the media.

However, since we are speaking of the Ten Commandments, I wish I could ask Pope Francis about the total violation of one of God’s Commandments by the Liberation theology he supports. “Thou shalt not covet.”

To covet is for a person to willingly take from someone that which he or she has earned for his or her own benefit. The fact that the Pope suggests politicians via taxation should forcibly remove the funds from one entity to give to another suggest that “Thou shalt not steal” is also being violated. The only Commandment on which God placed more emphasis than any of the other nine was that His people should love Him first and foremost and without reservation. He did not suggest that killing someone was a greater sin than coveting the possessions of others or that killing someone was a greater sin than stealing.

I pray the Pope will give more serious thought to his opinions on these very important issues. I pray he will look at the American economy before NAFTA was forced on the American people and industrial jobs were quickly shipped to cheap labor pools around the world so multi-national companies could profit from the work of the poor the Pope says he wants to champion.

Pope Francis said: “First of all, we need to be sure that we understand the meaning of the words we read… the most important goal is to discover its principal message, the message which gives structure and unity to the text.”

Pray that the Pope will study the meaning of the word “capitalism” before demeaning it and assuming what is, in reality, “debtism.” World economies today represent a system of “debtism,” not “capitalism.” The system of debtism is that about which Pope Francis should add his powerful voice to eliminate it from the world. Too, it would set a good example if the Church released some of its wealth to help fight the problem of poverty. To suggest others give up what they have worked hard to earn but continue to sit on the wealth of the Church smacks a bit of hypocrisy. As I recall, the only thing that angered Jesus Christ was the hypocrisy of the money changers on the steps of the Temple.

Hopefully, the Pope will become more familiar with the meaning of capitalism before declaring it responsible for world tyranny. It is the prostitution of capitalism and the corruption of those who have prostituted it that are responsible for unending poverty, not capitalism.

Another of the Ten Commandments tells us to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are told to love God above all else. What is love?

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1. Is it love to give someone a fish and make them dependent upon being given the fish for sustenance? Or is it love to teach someone to fish? Capitalism does the latter.
2. Is it love to support the laziness of someone who chooses not to work? What if God is teaching a lesson by making one of His children understand the need for a purpose in life?
3. Is it love for government to provide unwed mothers more and more income for having more unwed babies? No wonder we have so many fatherless children!
4. Is it love to use the force of government to take from one person that which he or she has worked hard to earn so it can be given to another? Is that the new definition of charity?
5. If individuals are to be given no choice as to their charitable giving, why did God give us a world where everything is choice? We choose good or evil, faith or lack of it, etc. Doesn’t the redistribution of wealth oppose the world of choice in all things granted us by our Creator?

It would be a horrible mistake to remove the best means of providing jobs and purpose and love of neighbor be destroyed… capitalism. It holds the answer. It is not the problem. For part one click below.

Click here for part -----> 1, 2,

� 2013 Marilyn M. Barnewall - All Rights Reserved

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Marilyn MacGruder Barnewall began her career in 1956 as a journalist with the Wyoming Eagle in Cheyenne. During her 20 years (plus) as a banker and bank consultant, she wrote extensively for The American Banker, Bank Marketing Magazine, Trust Marketing Magazine, was U.S. Consulting Editor for Private Banker International (London/Dublin), and other major banking industry publications. She has written seven non-fiction books about banking and taught private banking at Colorado University for the American Bankers Association. She has authored seven banking books, one dog book, and two works of fiction (about banking, of course). She has served on numerous Boards in her community.

Barnewall is the former editor of The National Peace Officer Magazine and as a journalist has written guest editorials for the Denver Post, Rocky Mountain News and Newsweek, among others. On the Internet, she has written for News With Views, World Net Daily, Canada Free Press, Christian Business Daily, Business Reform, and others. She has been quoted in Time, Forbes, Wall Street Journal and other national and international publications. She can be found in Who's Who in America, Who's Who of American Women, Who's Who in Finance and Business, and Who's Who in the World.

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The primary issue the Pope avoids when speaking of income and poverty inequality in America vs the rest of the world is that the poor in America have lifestyles equivalent to the upper middle classes in his Argentinian home (where his socialist philosophies dominate) and American poverty is the equivalent of the middle class lifestyles of Europe.