Monday, July 6, 2015

Gravity Payments and the Middle Class

In April, Dan Price, the CEO of a company called Gravity Payments a made big news splash by implementing a wage policy that dramatically reduced his own salary while dramatically raising the salaries of many of his employees. Price’s goal is to phase in a company-wide $70,000 “minimum wage.” At the time of the change, the company employed 120 people. As ABC News reported on April 14, 2015:

Dan Price, 30, announced this week that any employee at his company, Gravity Payments, making less than $70,000 annually will receive a $5,000-per-year raise or be paid a minimum of $50,000, whichever is greater. The aim: By December 2017, everyone will earn $70,000 or more.

To facilitate this change, Price said his salary will decrease to $70,000 from about $1 million until or unless the company's profits are greater than last year's approximately $2.2 million.

"My salary wasn't $1 million because I need that much to live, but that's what it would cost to replace me as a CEO," Price told ABC News. "I think CEO pay is way out of whack. It ended up impacting me, because I want the company to be sustainable even if something happens to me. Temporarily, I’m going down to the minimum until the company gets back to where it was."

In response to the New Jersey Star-Ledger’s 4/16/15 editorial Who will be the next CEO to embrace a salary cut?, which concerned Gravity Payments’ new policy, a correspondent with the screen name gyre posted these comments:

Dan Price is an unusual CEO, but we've seen other CEO's over the years go down his same path. I'm talking about the CEO's of Ben and Jerry's and the CEO of Malden Mills as prime examples of business owners who have figured out how to create a middle class in America. So many people who comment on are unable to grasp that the disparity between the rich and poor is a CHOICE that people make. Any economic system is a human invention. It can be modeled any way that the wealthy people choose. And, ultimately the poor, working poor, and middle class will make their own choice about the system that has been created for them; not necessarily because they want to, but because they have to. Well done, Dan Price.

Price’s scheme included cutting his own salary from $1 million to the same $70,000 as his other employees.

I left this reply to gyre:

I strongly and respectfully disagree. The “middle class” is not a welfare class of people whose well-being depends on favors from wealthy businessmen or nanny government. The hallmark of the middle class is self-reliance, not parasitism. The middle class is the product of economic freedom, which is a product of political freedom. Every individual, if left free, has it within his power to raise himself up economically by making himself more valuable productively in order to entice employers to pay more for his services—or to start his own business, become an employer, and strive for business success and great wealth. There are two types of “disparity between the rich and poor,” and we must distinguish between the two: Disparity resulting from economic/political freedom, and disparity resulting from statism. The first is moral and to be celebrated, the second is corrupt.

As to Price’s new wage policy: Is it practical to remove the incentive for individual employees to increase their income by improving their personal productive contribution? It’s doubtful, and I wouldn’t entrust my savings in the stock of a company that had this egalitarian type of compensation policy. How well can a company function if each person is tied to the same level of income, no matter what? Ask yourself how you’d feel if your extra effort and superior ability gets you no more than the co-worker next to you who exerts only minimal effort. I think profit-sharing and merit-based raises is a better way to give employees a chance to share in the company’s fortunes, without destroying the incentives that the company needs to thrive. Be that as it may, if Price’s company thrives, more power to it. It may work for a small company, where everyone knows everyone else. But if the policy fails, the company and its employees take the consequences, and its customers go elsewhere. Price is not modeling an “economic system.” Nor is he forcing anything on anyone. Nobody “has to” stay with his (or any) company. He’s just modeling his own company. That is the way a proper economic “system” should work.


[At the time I wrote this, I was under the impression that Price’s scheme required everyone to make the same money. But it seems that some pay disparity will still occur at Gravity Payments. But that is irrelevant to the subject of this post.]

There is a touch of mysticism in gyre’s comment. He speaks of “the wealthy people” as a single, organic entity, as the communists thought of the “proletariat”; the Nazi’s of the “aryan race”; or the welfare statist’s of “the poor’ and now the “middle class.” But there are only individual people, of varying degrees of wealth, each of whom exerts control over his own life.

It’s true that those in charge of the government can impose an economic system (actually, a political system) on all others, and that when that happens its always people comprised of some of that society’s richest individuals doing the imposing. For example, we have a mixed economy; a mixture of freedom and government controls. A mixed economy is imposed by means of the imposition of government controls. In a mixed economy, people who get rich by cronyism (government favoritism) rise alongside people who get rich by production and trade. But a “system” can only be imposed under statism, not a republic constitutionally restricted to protecting individual rights.

A free market system, which is the inevitable consequence of a constitutional republic, is not a really “system” at all, in the sense of something controlled by some elite. A free market is a type of societal organization “controlled” by the commulative choices of all individual participants in their use of trade as a means of pursuing their own personal goals. Another name for this type of “control” is the law of supply and demand, or simply “the market.” But since nothing is imposed by government on people who don’t violate others’ rights, there is no system being imposed by anyone, since no individual can impose his will on others. The only type of association open to all individuals is voluntary trade. The only type of “control” anyone can exert is over his own decisionmaking, which constitutes his own piece of the market.

But gyre implies that, if you want to make $70,000 a year, but no one is willing to pay you more than $48,000, you are a helpless victim of some all-powerful entity. In gyre’s mind, “the wealthy people” have somehow managed to impose on you a “system” in which you can only get $48,000.

From Middle Class to Welfare Class

Friday, July 3, 2015

July 4, 1776: Words that Will Never Be Erased

“It is in this context—from the perspective of the bloody millennia of mankind's history—that I want you to look at the birth of a miracle: the United States of America. If it is ever proper for men to kneel, we should kneel when we read the Declaration of Independence."Ayn Rand

The Fourth of July is a national holiday that, to me, stands far above all of the others. It represents the greatest political achievement in world history. More than that, the birth of the United States of America represents a towering and unprecedented philosophical achievement. America, born of the Enlightenment, is the first nation founded on the principle that man the individual has a fundamental, inalienable right to his own life, and that government’s responsibility is to protect that right…that the people act by right, while the government acts by permission.

When, in the course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the laws of nature and of nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. That to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed. That whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness.

So opened the document signed by a small band of revolutionary intellectual activists leading a fledgling nation fighting against the most powerful Empire in world history. Above are the most radical words ever written as the foundation for a nation. For the first time in human history, a government was to be the servant of the people, by conscious design and on principle. “The people” were understood to be, not a collective, but a collection of sovereign individuals recognized as possessing unalienable individual rights to his own life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness. America was the triumph of reason, which was understood to be a faculty of the individual. The government would now be charged with the task of protecting every individual’s freedom to act on his own sovereign, reasoning mind … as a matter of unalienable right.

The birth of America was the culmination of Mankind’s long tortuous philosophical journey that began with Aristotle, and continued through his rebirth via Aquinas, the Renaissance, the Age of Reason, and the Enlightenment. Tribalism was to be swept into the dustbin of history, along with “The Divine Right of Kings” and all manner of omnipotent ruler. Men would be set free from the forcible domination of other men.

The signers of the Declaration of Independence, America’s Founding Fathers, were almost violent in their radicalism. Standing up against the tide of history, with only the winds of the ideas of John Locke and the Enlightenment thinkers at their backs, this unique group of intellectuals took action. Indeed, the ideological violence of the ideas to which they pledged their lives, fortunes, and sacred honor turned to armed rebellion. The rest, as is said, is history.

America’s Founding was flawed in many respects - the failure to eradicate the ancient evil of slavery being the most obvious and most egregious. The anti-slavery forces simply did not have the strength to defeat that vampire, and so slavery had to be accepted into the young nation. But the moral groundwork had been laid – that all men are created equal – and the fate of the slave states was sealed. 89 years after the signing of the Declaration, America’s Founding ideals caught up with the slave states. Some have pointed to America’s early acceptance of slavery as proof of its basic depravity. In fact, the defeat of slavery represented one of America’s finest hours, and a testament to the formidable power of its ideals. America’s Founding was the most monumental political achievement in world history.

America is currently backsliding from its Founding ideals. As America goes, so will go the world. But, the words of July 4, 1776, have been written, and will never be erased. Proof of the power and viability of individual liberty is written across the brief span of the past 237 years. The ideas of reason, egoism, and capitalism have been unleashed. The philosophical foundation for an American rebirth has been laid by a Twentieth Century philosopher/novelist whom I call America's Last Founding Father, and the final rout of statism is tantalizingly close.

“And for the support of this declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor.”

By making that pledge, those great men of 1776 declared that they would accept no substitute for the ideals in which they believed. Against widespread skepticism in the New World, and ridicule and scorn across England, they laid it all on the line for those ideals. They would succeed or perish. That utterly uncompromising stand gave us the United States of America. The least we could do is pledge to uphold those principles, to roll back the compromises that are undermining them, and to accept no substitute.

Happy Birthday America.

Atlas Shrugged: America’s Second Declaration of Independence—Onkar Ghate

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Who Should Be the First Woman on American Money?: An Update

The U.S. Treasury Department is considering a redesign of the $10 dollar bill. Last year I wrote about a poll asking who should be the first woman on an American dollar bill, and argued that Ayn Rand should be that woman.

Recently, the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialized about the redesign in This woman is money. But so is Hamilton. The Star-Ledger’s choice was Ida B. Wells. The editors reasons:

Born into slavery, she became one of America's first investigative women journalists -- a pioneer in the kind of reporting that holds the powerful to account, and is critical to democracy and justice.

Wells was an internationally respected leader in the anti-lynching movement, who exposed not only the evils of white mob violence, but the true motivations and sociology behind it. She went case by case, documenting proof that lynchings were actually a means of controlling and punishing blacks who competed with whites economically -- not revenge for criminal acts like rape, as perpetrators claimed.

It's a truth that still resonates today. Look at the unemployed Charleston shooter, who used that same bogus claim to frame himself as a victim: "You rape our women. And you're taking over our country. And you have to go," he reportedly told members of an African-American church, before unleashing a hail of bullets on them.

Wells used her reporting to advance the civil rights movement and get other white nations to shame Americans for lynching. She also advocated for the right of women to vote.

Wells sounds like a worthy candidate.

I submitted my choice in my comments:

There are many women deserving of the honor of being the first woman on American money. My suggestion is Ayn Rand.

Rand epitomized the American Dream; a penniless immigrant who emigrated to America to escape tyranny, and achieved great success as a philosopher/novelist whose philosophy of reason and individualism provides crucial foundational support for America’s Founding ideals but also a practical guide to personal living and fulfillment.

Granted, there are many great female achievers and contributors to the development of America. But one aspect of Rand sets her apart from other worthy contenders—her treatise honoring money. Rand identified the essential goodness and indispensable value of money to a culture of justice and peaceful coexistence. Consider a few excerpts from her tribute to money:

Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. . . .

Those pieces of paper . . . are a token of honor–your claim upon the energy of the men who produce. Your wallet is your statement of hope that somewhere in the world around you there are men who will not default on that moral principle which is the root of money. . . .

But money is only a tool. It will take you wherever you wish, but it will not replace you as the driver. It will give you the means for the satisfaction of your desires, but it will not provide you with desires. . . .

Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values, if he’s evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek. Money will not buy intelligence for the fool, or admiration for the coward, or respect for the incompetent.

Money will always remain an effect and refuse to replace you as the cause. Money is the product of virtue, but it will not give you virtue and it will not redeem your vices.

Rand has already been honored on a U.S postage stamp, in part because, as an avid stamp collector, she highly valued stamps. Lifewise, in part because she highly valued money—which, in a direct challenge to the Bible, she considered to be the root of all good—Rand deserves to be on the short list of final contenders. It’s long past time to honor a woman on our money. Who better to be the first woman on American money than the woman who explicitly identified the connection between “a country of money” and “a country of reason, justice, freedom, production, achievement” and argued that America embodied both ideals?


As of this writing, Ayn Rand leads in the poll with 46%.

Related Reading:

Money vs. Wealth: Which is the Cart, and Which is the Horse? Ask Gilligan

Monday, June 29, 2015

What King V. Burwell was Really About—Hint: It Wasn’t the Subsidies

With ObamaCare subsidies being upheld by the Supreme Court, it’s worth noting just what the case, known as King vs. Burwell, was really all about.

Back in March, the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialized Paying attention, Supreme Court? Then leave Obamacare alone. The Star-Ledger explains the issue:

The short version: The U.S. government, through, funds policies bought on a federal exchange in the 37 states that did not set up their own marketplace. But the law includes a line that stipulates subsidies should be provided in any exchange "established by the State." Those four words suggest that coverage purchased through in the federal marketplace is not eligible for a subsidy.

The Star-Ledger’s argument, in essence, was that the Supreme Court should uphold the subsidies, because those “four of the 11.5 million words in the law are merely a drafting error.” Instead of judging the case based on a clear, objective understanding of the words in the law, the Star-Ledger argued, the Supreme Court should take a pragmatic approach. The law “works,” the Star-Ledger says, so it should be upheld.

I left these comments:

“The shame of it is that the law works better than anyone has a right to expect.”

ObamaCare is a rights-violating, authoritarian program. Like all forms of authoritarianism, you can always find people for whom the law “works”—i.e., profiteer on the injustice done to others. ObamaCare certainly can be said to “work” for those receiving ObamaCare subsidies, as Soviet communism “worked” for those lucky enough to belong to The Party.

But this lawsuit is about something much deeper and much more important to the future of America and our liberties than ObamaCare technicalities. That’s because those 4 words—“established by the State”—are not mere technicalities: They are the law, as established by the Obama Democrats themselves.  

For a much more honest understanding of what’s at stake in this ruling, check out David Catron at The American Spectator. Catron says it much better than I can. So I’ll quote him rather than paraphrase. In "King v. Burwell Is Much Bigger Than Obamacare,” Catron writes that “The Supreme Court is about to decide whether we are a nation of laws or men.” After citing John Adams—America is “a nation of laws and not of men”—Catron wrote:

[T]he President conducts himself in a manner utterly inconsistent with republican principles and his constitutional oath. Obama obviously believes the law is what he says it is, a delusion evidently shared by his party and the press. He behaves as if he possesses the power to unilaterally change laws and create new ones merely because the opposition party actually opposes his agenda. Adams characterized such behavior as that of “a despot, bound by no law or limitation but his own will; it is a stretch of tyranny beyond absolute monarchy.”

This is, at its core, what King v. Burwell is about. It has nothing do with any “plot to kill health care,” as the New York Times recently put it. Nor does it involve a surreptitious conspiracy to reinvigorate the “states’ rights” movement, as it was described last week in Politico. It isn’t even an attack on Obamacare, though a ruling in favor of David M. King and his fellow plaintiffs would obviously have a profound effect on the future of the “reform” law. It is rather an attempt to prevent the President from doing further violence to the Constitution.

Specifically, it is about the separation of powers doctrine.

Every American should be concerned about separation of powers. If Obama wanted the law changed, he should have gone back to Congress. Unfortunately, Leftist ObamaCare dogmatists aren’t concerned about the rule of law, individual rights, or justice—just power.

Related Reading:

Is ObamaCare "Working"?

Saturday, June 27, 2015

After Charleston, We Need a Dialogue on Individualism

Speaking in response to the Charleston Massacre perpetrated by a raving racist, President Obama used the “N-word” in an interview, which got some people flustered. Writing about this controversy, the New Jersey Star-Ledger editorialized, National dialogue on race is much bigger than Obama's N-word. The editors wrote:

President Obama took on the incendiary subject of racial justice on the Marc Maron podcast Monday, even using the N-word to illustrate the most important lessons arising from the Charleston massacre.

The reaction from those who can best benefit from these lessons, however, makes you wonder whether he's wasting his breath.

The context couldn't have been more clear: "Racism: We're not cured of it," Obama told Maron. "It's not just a matter of it not being polite to say 'n----r' in public – that's not the measure of whether racism still exists or not. It's not just a matter of overt discrimination. Societies don't overnight erase everything that happened 2-to-300 years earlier."

The overarching point was that alarming disparities still exist in America today – in the form of segregated schools, housing discrimination, and the deprivation of civil liberties and economic opportunity – and that they can be traced to the injustice passed down from the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

The Star-Ledger also cited what it called “an alarming succession of divisive incidents”:

Trayvon Martin. Ferguson. Eric Garner. Freddie Gray. Charleston.

All of them drew the nation's attention to a racial injustice that is endemic, yet there's still a sizable population that would just as soon dismiss them as anomalies.

I left these comments:

“The overarching point was that alarming disparities still exist in America today – in the form of segregated schools, housing discrimination, and the deprivation of civil liberties and economic opportunity – and that they can be traced to the injustice passed down from the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.”

Where does racial segregation exist in America today? Not in the schools, where children are segregated by neighborhood, but not race. Not in housing: Where are the laws dividing neighborhoods by race? Where are people legally denied civil liberties or economic opportunity based on race? “Disparity” doesn’t prove racism. The fact is, the very act of taking a racial headcount in a neighborhood or school in order to uncover statistical disparities is racist, which in turn encourages racism by encouraging people to think in terms of race, not individual character.

Exploiting the Charleston massacre to begin a so-called “national dialogue on race” is to elevate a mentally deranged collectivist ideologue to a status that is a grave injustice to the victims and to the fundamental principle of America. There’s no escaping the fact that lumping people together according to race fits the very definition of racism. Putting race at the forefront of a national dialogue won’t accomplish the goal of racial harmony, because the only antidote to racism, and only path toward peaceful coexistence in a racially diverse culture, is individualism.

Racism is a subset of collectivism. Collectivism holds that the group—society, the tribe, the economic class, the race, etc.—is the fundamental focus of moral concern. Therefor an individual must be judged primarily according to his group identity—in this case, his race. Dylann Roof didn’t shoot his victims because he rationally judged them to be individually bad, but because he irrationally judged the racial group they belonged to as bad.

Individualism holds that the individual, regardless of his accidental, unchosen group characteristics, is the fundamental focus of moral concern. Therefor, every individual must be judged on the content of his character—his chosen actions, values, and ideas—rather than the color of his skin. This is how we should judge others. An individualist could never do what Roof did, because an individualist sees individuals, not the group as morally separate from the individuals who comprise it.

Racism has been subsiding in America for generations, and today is at the lowest point in my lifetime. The fact that any remark or action that can be construed as racist or even racially offensive brings instant, widespread public rebuke, is proof of that. In a nation in which interracial marriage is socially acceptable; in which the utterance of the N-word incites disgust; in which a mixed race president is twice elected: Yes, racist acts such as Freddie Gray and Charleston are anomalies. This, despite the Left’s continuous efforts to keep the “dialogue on race” going.

But, for many on the Left, that’s the point. The Left is ideologically collectivist. They divide people into racial groups, scour the statistics looking for disparities, and then use the statistical disparities to find racism where it doesn’t exist. Why? To expand the power of the government to regulate and redistribute in order to equalize groups in the name of “racial justice.” The group, in other words, is the Left’s focus of moral concern. In this fundamental ideological sense, the Left is on the same collectivist page as Roof. Talk about “a politics that breeds division": That’s the Left’s modus operandi. Modern racism is less a holdover from slavery and Jim Crow and more an ongoing legacy of the Left.

We don’t need a dialogue centered on race. We’ll never be completely “cured” of racism as long as race continues to be “the issue.” We need a dialogue on individualism. We must learn to view our fellow human beings as individuals rather than as members of black, white, yellow, brown, or red tribes. You’ll never get rid of “institutional discrimination” by institutionalizing racial identity.

But since the Left so desperately wants this dialogue—Very well, I’ll accommodate. My contribution to the “national dialogue on race” can be summed up thusly: Race doesn’t matter. To the extent people understand that, racism and racial discrimination have no chance. Individualism and collectivism are mutually exclusive—and that’s the basic choice.

Related Reading:

Individualism vs. Collectivism: Our Future, Our Choice—Craig Biddle for The Objective Standard

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Pope Francis: Prosperity, Liberty, and Climate Change are the Common Enemy

Pope Francis released his anticipated climate change encyclical, titled LAUDATO SI’—"ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME.”

I have not read the pope’s encyclical in its entirety, but I have skimmed it. It’s not primarily about climate change. The New Jersey Star-Ledger, despite the heading of it editorial—The Pope stands up to climate change deniers—also seems to have grasped this, and zeroes in on Francis’s essential message. The editors write:

Just because scientists have won the argument on climate change doesn't mean they can inspire people to do anything about it.

This is where Pope Francis comes in. With an encyclical, the highly-anticipated papal letter he released yesterday, he is adding his moral authority to this debate, and refocusing it where it should be: on poverty.

Because at its heart, climate action isn't about the earth. It's about the fate of human beings on earth. It's about how we treat our most vulnerable.

The Pope reminds us that the people who will suffer the most from global warming are the very ones who have little or nothing to do with it.

His admonishments were clearly directed at high-consuming countries like the United States, which bear the bulk of the blame for world's carbon pollution.

The Star-Ledger had a few other noteworthy comments. For one, it repeated Francis’ description of the Earth as “an immense pile of filth.” "At the bottom of the pile" are the world’s poor, especially poor children, who, the Star-Ledger paraphrases,  “are the ones who will shoulder the brunt of extreme weather caused by our greedy, materialistic consumption” which brought on the extreme weather:

And this is the future for those born in developing countries, which are the least able to cope with severe storms and changing weather patterns. Because it will only get worse.

In Africa, the United Nations warns that rain-fed agricultural production, which millions depend on for sustenance, could be cut in half. This will likely be followed by the desperate migration of "climate refugees," forced to invade new territories for fertile land, sparking tensions and violent wars.

If you doubt the connection the Star-Ledger observes between climate change and a broader agenda in the papal letter, read Part VI. THE COMMON DESTINATION OF GOODS of the encyclical (from which I quote below). I left these comments:

“. . . refocusing [the debate] where it should be: on poverty.

“Because at its heart, climate action isn't about the earth. It's about the fate of human beings on earth. It's about how we treat our most vulnerable.”

The Star-Ledger points to the link between climate change and the Church’s long-standing statist global ambitions and hatred of prosperity.

The Catholic Church, through a long line of papal encyclicals, has been waging a protracted war on liberty, free market capitalism, and the individualistic pursuit of happiness, the pre-conditions of prosperity. Pope Francis goes one step further: He ingeniously connects prosperity, liberty, and climate change together into a common enemy. Francis has recognized that climate change is a perfect vehicle to exploit for the purpose of waging the Church’s anti-capitalist crusade, which includes a call for a global statist regime of economic control and redistribution of wealth. From Pope Paul VI’s condemnation of “surplus goods” to Francis’ condemnation of “unsustainable consumption,” the Church’s antipathy to human prosperity and flourishing much above the poverty level of basic need—to be satisfied by global socialism—shines through the Church’s rhetoric.

The April 2015 declaration of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, “Climate Change and the Common Good”—the preamble to the encyclical—is unequivocal: “Market forces alone . . . cannot solve the intertwined crises of poverty, exclusion, and the environment.” “Present economic systems have been accompanied by the development of unacceptable gaps between the rich and the poor, the latter still lacking access to most of the scientific and technical benefits that we have developed in the industrial world.” To solve these alleged problems, the Declaration calls for “a reallocation of the benefits and burdens that accompany humanity’s activities both within nations and between nations.” Since free markets “allocate” benefits and burdens according to voluntary trade and mutual consent among producers, the only way to reallocate is by force through a global statist regime of economic control and redistribution of wealth. This is not a new position for the Church, but a reiteration of a long-standing goal. Half a century ago, Pope Paul VI attacked free market capitalism and its foundation of individual rights and limited rights-protecting government in a call for global collectivization. In his 1967 encyclical “POPULORUM PROGRESSIO,” Paul wrote:

"God intended the earth and everything in it for the use of all human beings and peoples. Thus, under the leadership of justice and in the company of charity, created goods should flow fairly to all." (20)

All other rights, whatever they may be, including the rights of property and free trade, are to be subordinated to this principle.

It is for the public authorities to establish and lay down the desired goals, the plans to be followed, and the methods to be used in fulfilling them. . .

Since goods can only flow fairly when rights of property and free trade are protected, Paul obviously means to facilitate a “fair” flow of goods by rolling over property rights and free trade by governmental force.

Likewise, in his new encyclical “LAUDATO SI’,” Francis advances “the principle of the subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, and thus the right of everyone to their use” based on “a social [i.e., state] mortgage on all private property, in order that goods may serve the general purpose.” Both popes advance the basic premises of socialist statism. Add in a hefty dose of climate change and a slap at income inequality—today’s hot Leftist causes—and Francis’ encyclical echoes Pope Paul VI. For the Church as for the Left, Global warming is just a convenient tool for advancing its long-standing goal of totalitarian world socialism.

If the Church were really concerned with alleviating poverty and the poor’s susceptibility to climate danger, it would advocate for the poor the same social conditions—fossil fuel-driven industrial advancement and its cause, free market capitalism—now enjoyed to a substantial degree by the developed and, increasingly, by the developing world. Wealthier nations are so much better able to cope with climate dangers, without conflict, because of relatively free trade powered by fossil fuels, which enables the mass flow of goods, including food, from areas of plenty to areas afflicted by temporary restrictions on production, such as droughts. No need for “climate refugees” to fight like animals over finite resources when freedom to innovate, expand production, and trade can solve the problem peacefully, civilly, and mutually beneficially to all. Instead, the Church calls for restrictions on the social conditions and the energy source most responsible for making wealthier nations safer and less vulnerable to climate dangers. The Church would rather spread the misery than the safety—a “vow of poverty” for the entire world.

Why attack prosperity and its means?

Don’t be gulled by Francis’ description of today’s Earth as “an immense pile of filth” generated by our “unsustainable consumption” due to fossil fuel use. As energy expert Alex Epstein observes, if Pope Clement XI (1700-21) could visit today's world, he’d find an Earth that is immensely cleaner and healthier than the world of 300 years ago.

And don’t try to counter the Pope’s (or the Star-Ledger’s) dogma that fossil fuels have made our climate more dangerous with facts such as that extreme-weather and climate-related deaths have dropped 98% over the past century—the very era of global warming. Far from making life on our planet harder, fossil fuel-driven industrial prosperity has made us safer than ever before. Fossil fuels have enabled us to take a dangerous natural environment and make it much more human life friendly.

Such inconvenient facts will fall on deaf ears. The pope’s handwringing over climate change is just window dressing. His real target, in solidarity with previous popes, is prosperity. Again: Why? Poverty and misery are the foundation of modern Catholicism. “Ministering to the poor” is central to the Catholic Church’s purpose for being—and its power. Where would the Church be if poverty continues to give way to capitalistic, fossil-fueled prosperity worldwide? The Church has a vested interest in poverty. No more poverty, no more Mother Teresas. The Pope’s encyclical is saturated with concern for the world’s needy. But need—man’s natural state—can be satisfied essentially in only one of two ways; produce or drain the productive. Instead of advocating policies that lead to greater production to solve the problems of the needy, Francis seeks to drain the productive. So the Church will continue to fight tooth and nail to “protect” the poor—from fossil-fueled capitalist prosperity—even as it pushes to confiscate the “surplus” created by that fossil-fueled capitalist prosperity. The contradiction is obvious. Can an institution as venerable as the Catholic Church be so dumb as not to see the contradiction that destroying the prosperous can not possibly solve poverty? Or is destroying the prosperous the point? Some wonder why Francis would drag the Church into the global warming quagmire. But given the Church’s fundamental worship of and dependence on poverty and misery, the Pope’s encyclical makes perfect sense.

Related Reading:

Pope Francis’s Embrace of Anti-Fossil Fuel Agenda Follows From Church’s Anti-Capitalism