Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Vatican Supports Occupy Goals

Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace Support OWS Goals
On October 24 the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace released a document blaming the world's economic troubles on "economic liberalism that spurns rules and controls" directly contravening decades of conservative political dogma requiring ever more deregulation and lower corporate taxes. The Council finds fallacious the notion that “what is useful for the individual leads to the good of the community” (an indictment of trickle-down economics) and calls instead for “a spirit of solidarity that transcends personal utility.” This declaration puts the Vatican in fair alignment with the Occupy movement. It also puts Panderbear in the awkward position of agreeing with the Vatican for perhaps the first time in his life.

Panderbear hardly need point out that fictitious persons, ie. corporations, cannot possibly "transcend personal utility." Nothing in the charter or nature of a corporation admits of anything other than the goal of producing profits for shareholders, not to mention lining the pockets of corporate officers. Maximizing a corporation's personal utility means maximizing profits. If that requires buying, er, lobbying pandering politicians for fewer regulations and more favorable tax treatment, then that's what a corporation will do. Corporations aren't evil any more than a gun is evil. They are tools that we must wield with care. Corporations can only transcend the profit motive if external constraints, regulations and taxes, require them to do so.

Raw capitalism has sharp elbows. The Vatican has avoided a mistake that many on the political right make - accepting the infallibility of capitalism and the free market as an article of faith. As with any religion there is no scientific evidence to support the view that unregulated free markets are inherently benevolent. Without controls corporations become the monopolistic trusts that President Teddy Roosevelt famously busted. We've been down this road. We performed this experiment a hundred years ago and found that under-regulation and under-taxation of corporations leads to concentration of wealth, degradation of the environment, economic boom-and-bust, and social instability. Been there. Done that. Amen.

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