|Thursday, May 19th A.D. 2010
Pope Saint Peter Celestine
A large number of professors at the Catholic University of America and other Catholic institutions addressed a letter to the Speaker of the House complaining that the recent budget compromise violates Catholic social doctrine by cutting programs for the poor. We may ask, to what degree are taxpayers morally required to assist the poor? and to what degree are these academics justified in singling out Mr. Boehner for criticism
If anything, the budget “compromise” was an utterly inadequate attempt to return these United States to fiscal responsibility, and will hurt the poor at least as much as those of greater means. First of all the budget was not cut relative to previous years' levels—it just wasn't increased as much as initially proposed. The “bipartisan compromise” to avert “shutting down the government” raised the annual deficit from last year's $1.29 trillion to $1.58 trillion for fiscal 2011. That is less than the $1.65 trillion Obama wanted to raise it, but it is still a move in the wrong direction. The most “radical” budget cutting plan is Senator Rand Paul's bid to cut $300 billion in spending in 2011, but it would “reduce” the deficit so as to add only a “paltry” trillion dollars or so to our current $14.6 trillion national debt. Remember that a trillion is a thousand billion—cutting millions is insignificant, and even billions make little impact, trillions of dollars in cuts are needed. Worse, the government does not keep books like normal people, businesses, and corporations are required to—a lot of liabilities are kept “off the books”—our outstanding unfunded liabilities for social security, medicare, medicaid, and prescription drugs are estimated to be somewhere between another $40 trillion and $100 trillion. Most of those liabilities are for benefits which people have paid for in taxes, but which taxes the government has already spent on other things.
The letter from the professors starts with the usual Modernist cant about how good it is to dialogue (the Speaker will be giving the commencement address at CUA's upcoming graduation):
It is good for Catholic universities to host and engage the thoughts of powerful public figures, even Catholics such as yourself who fail to recognize (whether out of a lack of awareness or dissent) important aspects of Catholic teaching.
If, indeed, Mr. Boehner were someone who failed to recognize the teachings of the Church, he would have no business addressing the University or any other Catholic school. But the reverse is more accurately the case—Boehner has a first class record on pro-life issues, while Catholic academia has generally descended into morally degenerate Socialism, with a consequent loss of regard for human rights to life and property. It is the highest degree of Chutzpah to lecture Boehner in this way while giving a free pass to many far more liberal “Catholic” politicians with consistent anti-Catholic voting records.
The professors continue:
From the apostles to the present, the Magisterium of the Church has insisted that those in power are morally obliged to preference the needs of the poor. Your record in support of legislation to address the desperate needs of the poor is among the worst in Congress.
Wrong again! Our Lord and His Church have never demanded that anyone steal from the rich to give to the poor. Such “transfers” damage the productive capacity of the nation and have to be paid for by society. Charity is supposed to come from the surplus of productive people, not from borrowing—not from astronomical debt. The $50 to $115 trillion worth of debt mentioned above are evidence that a substantial theft has already taken place—about $33,000 from every man, woman, and child in the nation—those liabilities will be paid back by our children, grandchildren, and great-grands, with substantial interest.
Or the government can just print the money. But such printing (counterfeiting, really) only devalues the money already in circulation. Inflation generally harms the poor far more than the rich—the poor man's $100 now buys only $50 worth of goods, but the rich man's $1,000,000 still buys $500,000 worth of goods—and the rich tend to receive the new money before the poor, while it is still worth something.
Or the government can just raise taxes on the “rich”—probably the professors' favorite option. “Soak the rich” is a popular Modernist slogan. But, who are the rich, and how much are they already paying, and what effect will tax increases on these folks have on the poor? Well, it turns out that the top 50% of taxpayers are those making more than about $33,000 a year, and that these taxpayers already pay over 97% of the entire tax bill! $33,000 is not a princely sum—certainly inadequate to support the numerous small businesses who employ many of our middle and lower class workers, and which would have to close their doors and lay off their employees if further taxed. Taxing the wealthy decreases national production, leaving fewer goods to redistribute. Big favor to the poor!
The professors seem oblivious to the damage government programs do to poor families every year—some of which is quantifiable in dollars while some is not. Consider the loss of self esteem and self reliance, the families broken up in order to be eligible for payments, the crime bred from idleness, the distortion of reality caused by public education, the encouragement to contraception and abortion and the inducement to vote for Socialist and anti-life candidates.
The “Catholic” professors ought to consider that the Church used to provide a significant portion of all institutional charity. That was before Modernism emptied the convents and the seminaries, and “Catholic” religious sought more “socially relevant” vocations.
The professors do suggest “eliminating unnecessary military spending, and addressing the long term costs of health insurance and retirement programs fairly.” Boehner might not agree with the first, but it is difficult to understand why we have troops in over a hundred foreign countries and spend as much as the rest of the world put together on what is euphemistically called “defense.” But he is not the only one guilty of perpetuating a warfare economy—both major political parties have been doing that for many decades. The professors fail to understand that skyrocketing medical and retirement costs are the result of too much government and not too little. Inflation and socialized medicine are products of government, not free enterprise.
In penance (and for education) the professors need to read Tom Woods, The Church and the Market: A Catholic Defense of the Free Economy. Indeed, everyone should read it!
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