Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thankful for Pope Francis

I was thinking about Pope Francis as I worked on tomorrow's dinner. We have an abundance of food and will waste more tomorrow than some families will have altogether. One need not be part of the top 2% to be carelessly wasteful. Our national abundance has made us all complacent. 

I heard some anti-Obamacare political type quoted about how tough it will be for any Republican to run against an opponent after 2017 because the new law will by then have become such an embedded part of the economy. In the words of one Conservative, once they get to the sugar people will not want to give it up.

They are right, you know, because the subsidies to pay for health care insurance go way past the poverty level. Tax help is available all the way to 400% of the federal poverty level. This is unprecedented in my memory. Four times the poverty is still not the same as "rich" but it still falls short of what many would consider "middle class." That's what happens when the national wealth distribution looks like a wine glass instead of an iced tea glass.

Wealth distribution in America

We know that globally the rich have the lions share of wealth, but even the WORLD'S wealth distribution is not as extreme as what we have in America.

Wealth distribution for the world.

The US has a truly skewed distribution, with most of the country getting by on crumbs, and a significant number actually having negative net worth -- NO wealth at all -- and in debt to boot. At least the poorest of the poor in the developing world can't get further behind than utter destitution. With the creation of debt, America has succeeded in getting poor people to mortgage not only what is needed for today's essentials, but all that is forthcoming for years, sometimes generations yet to come.

Our Conservative friends would be better served if they followed the advice of Pope Francis and found ways to lift those at four hundred times poverty out of the income range so that subsidies to get healthcare would not be necessary. As Bernie Sanders says, wages should be enough to lift people out of poverty rather than trapping them in poverty.

Pope Francis gets it. He really does. 

And since he has been so forthcoming about what he believes, I am starting to worry about his safety. The rich and powerful may not like his saying stuff like he does, but I really don't think any of them would be a danger to the Pope's safety. But there is a large and growing sub-set of extremists further down the economic scale who are not that circumspect. Those are the crazy ones I worry about. And as long as this man is Pope, we must hope and pray for his safety. Jesus was killed for less. And he's behaving a lot like Jesus.

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