Pope Francis, FDR, and Dante Weigh in on the Gap Between the Rich and Poor


Wall Street is booming again. Setting records every few days.  Wealth is being created on an enormous  scale.  But the market's high tide is not lifting all boats.

The gap between the rich and poor in America keeps widening.  The 400 most wealthy Americans own more productive capital than the bottom 150 million Americans combined. The wealth of one family alone, the Waltons of Walmart, exceeds the net worth of the bottom 40% of their fellow citizens.  It is quite clear that the flow of wealth down the national pipeline has been reduced to the weakest of trickles.

It is the same throughout the world.  The rich are getting richer. The poor poorer.

Last year in his  World Day of Peace address, Pope Francis denounced a culture of greed where the haves dine lavishly and where the have-nots must be content with the crumbs.

I thought of these stark realities while I came across two passages I read this past week.

One I found in, of all places, the "Puzzle Island"  of The Tribune's Sunday "Life + Style" section.  It was a quote from President Franklin D. Roosevelt  in the Quote-Acrostic.

"The test of progress is not whether we add more to those who already have much but whether we provide enough for those who have little. If civilization is to survive , we must share the wealth in peace."

The other passage I came across in the wonderful book "Reading Dante: From Here to Eternity" by Prue Shaw.

"Dante is as 'engaged' a political writer as there has ever been, and as brave a one....Dante wanted a better world for the poor and the powerless, whose lives are made wretched by the greed and corruption of the powerful, and by the endemic warfare and civic unrest entailed by their ruthless pursuit of personal ambition. His calling to account of those responsible for this sorry state of the world---religious and secular leaders who fail in their duties because of naked self-interest and greed---is as powerful a political statement as any ever penned. The underlying aspiration is always clear: peace, so that human beings can lead productive and fulflilling lives; justice, so that the wrongdoers are punished."








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  • Is there an audit on whether Catholic Charities is doing what the Pope says? Or the Mormon tithe, for that matter?

  • The wealth of Wall Street is an illusion, a bubble that will burst, leaving most of the high flyers wanting to take a dive off the tallest building. Now, what has caused this bubble? Simple, the Federal Reserve, at the behest of the government. It is not Wal-Mart that controls interest rates, not Apple and not BP. The Federal Reserve is starving old folks at the pleasure of President Obama and his Wall Street Banker friends, by maintaining an artificially low cost of borrowing. When this ends badly -- and it will end badly-- it will make the Great Recession and Great Depression seem like Happy Days.

    The Gap between the rich and poor can only be slowed by wealth generated on Main Street, and the regulatory choke on business, plus taxes, plus a 2.9 contraction in the economy guarantee a further descent into misery that cannot be fixed by taking the Walton fortune of the Gates fortune or old hairy ears Buffett fortune. Those would be thin spreads to everybody and a one time shot.

    Jesus did not call on Caesar to end poverty; rather he pointed out that one should give up what one has and follow him.

    This means, comfortable bloggers, with pensions, should individually forsake their modest fortunes, with the exception of a small stipend to live on, and give to the poor in Jesus' name.

    So, we can expect that Dear Quark will be divesting and seeking shelter on the land where he can find it? No, I am guessing not.

  • In reply to Richard Davis:

    Richard's post bore a lot of truth, but hard truth's are often ignored.

    "The underlying aspiration is always clear: peace, so that human beings can lead productive and fulflilling lives; justice, so that the wrongdoers are punished."

    The middle class is experiencing the exact opposite, so why would the bottom citizens even want to climb there. Better to sell your vote for trade, which unfortunately continuous that pipeline of wealth to those 400 families.

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