segunda-feira, 24 de outubro de 2011

Vaticano e a Crise Financeira

O Vaticano soltou hoje um documento sobre a crise financeira que se alastra desde 2008. Primeiro, deve-se lembrar que é um documento do Conselho Pontifício para Justiça e Paz, não é um documento do Papa, não faz parte do magistério da Igreja. Há muitos aspectos a considerar, posteriormente eu vou analisar mais de perto, mas fiquei satisfeito com o que vi inicialmente. Serve como uma boa crítica aos que são católicos, mas defendem abordagens da escola austríaca de economia (extremo liberalismo e individualismo), como Thomas Woods Jr. Eu apenas tenho muita dificuldade desse negócio de governo mundial para qualquer coisa, por isso tendo a discordar quando o documento do Vaticano ressalta a necessidade disto. A gente já sabe no que dá isso, basta ver a ONU, o FMI e o Banco Mundial, todos completamente ineficientes.

Mas pelo menos o Vaticano ressalta a liberdade dos países para aderir a esta suposta autoridade mundial e diz quais devem ser a base da autoridade: caridade e verdade. Isto é utópico, mas reforça a necessiade de ética na economia.

O documento se chama Towards Reforming the International Financial and Monetary Systems in the Context of Global Public Authority.  

Gosto quando o texto ressalta a necessiadade de ética na economia, isto leva-nos ao Distributismo.

Ressalto as seguintes partes do texto:

Regulations and controls, imperfect though they may be, already often exist at the national and regional levels; whereas on the international level, it is hard to apply and consolidate such controls and rules.

The inequalities and distortions of capitalist development are often an expression not only of economic liberalism but also of utilitarian thinking: that is, theoretical and practical approaches according to which what is useful for the individual leads to the good of the community. This saying has a core of truth, but it cannot be ignored that individual utility – even where it is legitimate – does not always favour the common good. In many cases a spirit of solidarity is called for that transcends personal utility for the good of the community.


However, to interpret the current new social question lucidly, we must avoid the error – itself a product of neo-liberal thinking – that would consider all the problems that need tackling to be exclusively of a technical nature. In such a guise, they evade the needed discernment and ethical evaluation. In this context Benedict XVI's encyclical warns about the dangers of the technocracy ideology: that is, of making technology absolute, which “tends to prevent people from recognizing anything that cannot be explained in terms of matter alone” and minimizing the value of the choices made by the concrete human individual who works in the economic-financial system by reducing them to mere technical variables. Being closed to a “beyond” in the sense of something more than technology, not only makes it impossible to find adequate solutions to the problems, but it impoverishes the principal victims of the crisis more and more from the material standpoint. 

Sobre a Autoridade Mundial:

This is a complex and delicate process. A supranational Authority of this kind should have a realistic structure and be set up gradually. It should be favourable to the existence of efficient and effective monetary and financial systems; that is, free and stable markets overseen by a suitable legal framework, well-functioning in support of sustainable development and social progress of all, and inspired by the values of charity and truth. It is a matter of an Authority with a global reach that cannot be imposed by force, coercion or violence, but should be the outcome of a free and shared agreement and a reflection of the permanent and historic needs of the world common good. It ought to arise from a process of progressive maturation of consciences and freedoms as well as the awareness of growing responsibilities. Consequently, reciprocal trust, autonomy and participation cannot be overlooked as if they were superfluous elements. The consent should involve an ever greater number of countries that adhere with conviction, through a sincere dialogue that values the minority opinions rather than marginalizing them. So the world Authority should consistently involve all peoples in a collaboration in which they are called to contribute, bringing to it the heritage of their virtues and their civilizations.

domingo, 23 de outubro de 2011

12 Passos para Distributismo

Eu ainda estou estudando Distributismo (também chamado Distributivismo), eu acho uma grande idéia que está presente bem antes do que se supõe (pensa-se que começou com a encíclica Rerum Novarum, mas pode-se encontrar pensamentos Distributista bem mais antigos), mas que precisa de aprimoramentos, para avançar nos dias de competição e desespero de hoje.

Os 12 pontos abaixo da American Chesterton Society resumem um pouco o pensar Distributista (acho que faltou ressaltar um pouco mais a importância de que todos tenham propriedade, mas entendo que está incluso em pelo menos dois pontos) e levanta também muitos questionamentos. Vamos ao texto de Nancy Carpentier.

Adapted from an editorial that ran in our December, 2009 issue:

Gilbert Magazine is inspired to give its readers a gift: a way to detoxify from Capitalism. In favor of what? Distributism, of course. Like that other “concept” found difficult and thus left untried, Distributism is often grossly misunderstood. Over the years, we have received letters claiming it is “foolish,” “impractical,” “backward,” and “unlikely”—strange words to describe the only economic scheme that functions for everyone and that can be sustained over time. Nothing but Distributism, we retort, is more likely to survive the current financial mess we find ourselves in—will enough of us realize it in time, and return to sanity? Toward this end we present the Twelve-Step Program for Distributism, a primer for the reluctant and a refresher course to help our readers kick the Capitalism habit.

Step One. Begin by thinking like a Distributist. A little-known but powerful idea called subsidiarity states that larger entities like states and federal authorities should not assume rights and responsibilities proper to smaller entities, especially the family. The principle works both ways, of course—a thirteen-year-old boy must not presume to switch around signs for the local county roads; neither should the county be permitted to determine whether the boy goes to bed without his supper for the prank. What are the undue influences in your own home? Act to remove these, and fight to keep them out.

Step Two. Look at your possessions. Which do you own and which own you? Possessions that give nothing and drain your checkbook are worse than worthless; get rid of them. Consider possessions as resources, and you will see them in a new light. One person stopped tossing cardboard, kitchen scraps, and old potting soil; he now mixes these with composting worms and grows vegetables and fruits no money can buy. All on his apartment balcony.

Step Three. A billboard appearing nationally displays several small infants with the caption: “Children, our greatest resource.” We cannot say it better. Married? Have a child. Have one? Have another. Find your joy in love of God and family. You’ll never regret it.

Step Four. Stop working for your boss. No, we’re not suggesting you quit your job—ready cash is a resource, after all. Rather, put your job and your boss in their proper place, after the family. Many people work long years for perks that, if they ever come, fail to satisfy. Awards won’t console you on your deathbed.

Step Five. Married? Get your wife fired. Many couples have no idea what a working wife and mother costs the family. Never mind the childcare; how many times a week do you eat out or buy take-home, not because you want to (or even have the money), but simply because mom and dad are exhausted and the kids are screaming? Is your freezer stuffed with “convenience foods”? Did you buy a boat that sits in the backyard ten months out of the year because “Suzy’s working and we can afford it”?

Step Six. Are you thriving, or just surviving? Ever run to the store for something only to discover its twin on the shelf when you got home? Can’t find clean socks? You’ve got a management problem. See Steps Two and Five.

Step Seven. Still working on Sunday when you don’t have to? Even God knew when to quit. Genuine recreation fixes friendships, saves marriages, and restores the soul—play is a serious matter; we can’t live without it.

Step Eight. Resurrect the fine old art of bartering. Yes, the government hates anything that can’t be taxed. But most barters have to do with the rare odd jobs we can’t do ourselves, like fixing a broken eave board on a second-story roof; your neighbor has the equipment; why should you buy them for a one-time job? Especially when he needs a new rotor cap for his old Ford and you have the part.

Step Nine. Learn to feed yourself. The price of food at the grocer’s is increasing out of all proportion to what it’s worth—shipping and packaging costs are responsible. Fresh vegetables are easy to grow in a small garden space or even under fluorescent shop lights. Take up hunting and fishing; study the art of foraging. And when you buy, make it local.

Step Ten. Children learn more by osmosis and less by lecture. Help them do the work proper to them by not stooping to do it yourself. Triumph through struggle is the mother of self-esteem.
Step Eleven. Do you home school or send your children to private school? Attend a local school board meeting anyway, and learn how your tax money is spent. Find out what’s happening at city hall, and hold elected officials accountable. You needn’t run for office—a boar in the ointment is worth at least one in the mayor’s chair.

Step Twelve. Tell a neighbor about Distributism. Tell another one. And another. Once upon a time we were all Distributists, for Distributism is nothing more than the economy of the family. It is, we must repeat, the only system that works. Sustainable business practices and agriculture, holistic management, the return of stay-at-home mothering: these are not mere escapism from a world that is falling down around us. They are attempts to restore something we had and must have again if we are to survive. Best of all, Distributism is free.

Um Católico de Auschwitz e sua Namorada


Este blog começou depois que visitei Auschwitz. E hoje li uma linda história de amor e honra sobre um católico que foi preso em Auschwitz acusado de ser resistente e que acabou salvando uma moça judia por quem se apaixonou no campo de concentração. Ele morreu hoje. Que Deus tenha Jerzy Bielicki (foto acima),  e sua namorada, Cyla Cybulska, que morreu em 2002. Eles passaram 39 anos sem se ver depois que fugiram de Auschwitz. Abaixo a história deles,

The young Catholic man spirited his Jewish girlfriend out of Auschwitz in 1944, saving her life. Yet it took 39 years for them to see each other again.

Jerzy Bielecki, a German-speaking Polish inmate at the same Nazi death camp, lived to age 90 and died peacefully in his sleep Thursday at his home in Nowy Targ in southern Poland, his daughter, Alicja Januchowski said Saturday.

Januchowski, a New Yorker, spoke to The Associated Press from Nowy Targ, where she had been with her ailing father.

The Yad Vashem Institute in Jerusalem awarded Bielecki the Righteous Among the Nations title in 1985 for saving the girlfriend, Cyla Cybulska. It all happened in July 1944, when the 23-year-old Bielecki used his relatively privileged position in Auschwitz to orchestrate a daring escape for both of them.

Bielecki was 19 when the Germans seized him on the false suspicion he was a resistance fighter, and brought him to Auschwitz in April 1940 in the first transport of inmates, all Poles. He was given number 243.

Cybulska, her parents, two brothers and a younger sister were rounded up in January 1943 in the Lomza ghetto in northern Poland and taken to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Her parents and sister were immediately killed in the gas chambers, but she and her brothers were sent to work.

By September, 22-year-old Cybulska was the only one left alive, with inmate number 29558 tattooed on her left forearm.

They met and their love blossomed, making Bielecki determined to find a way to escape.

From a fellow Polish inmate working at a uniform warehouse, Bielecki secretly got a complete SS uniform and a pass. Then dressed as SS officer, he pretended he was taking a Jewish inmate out of the camp for interrogation. He led Cybulska to a side gate, where a sleepy SS-man let them go through.

The fear of being gunned down himself reverberated through his first steps of freedom.

“I felt pain in my backbone, where I was expecting to be shot,” Bielecki told the AP in an interview in 2010.

For more than a week they hid in the fields during the day and marched during the night, until they reached the house of Bielecki’s uncle. There, they were separated, as the family wanted Bielecki back home in Krakow, and Cybulska was sent to hide with a farm family.

They failed to meet back up after the war.

Bielecki stayed in Poland and settled in Nowy Targ, where he raised a family and worked as the director of a school for bus and car mechanics. Cybulska married a Jewish man, David Zacharowitz, with whom she went to Sweden and then to New York.

Sheer chance allowed them to meet again. While talking with her Polish cleaning woman in 1982, Cybulska related her Auschwitz escape story.

The woman, stunned, said she had heard Bielecki tell the same story on Polish TV. She then helped Cybulska find Bielecki in Poland.

In the summer of 1983, they met at the Krakow airport. He brought 39 red roses, one for each year they had spent apart.

Cybulska died in New York in 2002.

Bielecki is survived by his wife, two daughters, four grandchildren and a great-grandson. A Catholic funeral Mass and burial are to be held in Nowy Targ on Monday.

(Agradeço ao blog The Deacon's Bench pela história)

quarta-feira, 12 de outubro de 2011

Panfleto Distributivista para os Manifestantes de Nova Iorque

Aqui você pode ler um texto de Richard Aleman sobre a distribuição do panfleto que vai abaixo.  

Não concordo com 100% do que ele diz, acho que ele não poderia colocar em pé de igualdade o Tea Party (muito melhor nas suas idéias e muito mais cristão) com os manifestantes de Nova Iorque. Estes manifestantes não têm posição clara, são financiados por sindicatos ou ONGs escusas, e há vários vídeos bastantes pertubadores deles (como uns em que eles pregam sexo com animais). Em suma, Aleman cometeu um erro ao igualá-los ao Tea Party.

Mas acho realmente que o distributivismo tem a melhor alternativa e o melhor mestre: Jesus Cristo. E louvo a distribuição dos panfletos.

Além disso, não acho que seja uma questão de socialismo é big government, e capitalismo é big business. Para mim, os dois sistemas sempre juntam os dois. Apesar de haver grandes diferenças entre capitalismo e socialismo e ter inúmeras razões para se preferir capitalismo.

"Dê a Cesar o que é de César..."

Ótimo texto do Padre Ryan Erlenbush sobre a passagem Mt 22:15-21. Na qual Jesus, quando lhe perguntado se deve-se pagar impostos ao Império Romano, pede que olhem para a imagem que há na moeda. É a imagem de César, então deve-se dar a César o que é dele. O Homem é a imagem de Deus, então...

Vejam texto abaixo que está originalmente no site The New Theological Movement.

Money in the imagem of Caesar, and Man in the Image of God.

29th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Matthew 22:15-21

Then they handed him the Roman coin. He said to them, “Whose image is this and whose inscription?” They replied, “Caesar’s.”

The disciples of the Pharisees and the Herodians sought to trap our Savior by asking him the question of the tax – Is it lawful to pay the tax to Caesar? In response to this, the good Jesus points out that the image of Caesar is on the coin – but that we are to render to God what is God’s.

As the Fathers of the Church read this passage, they recognize that the coin is made with the image of Caesar, but man is made in the image of God. 

It will be well for us to consider the historical debate among the Jews which set the stage for the question of taxation. We will then consider the manner in which man is in the image of his Creator.

The debate about taxation, from Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide

Is it lawful to pay the census tax to Caesar or not?

The occasion of this question being propounded to Christ, was as follows. About this time one Judas, of Galilee, had taught that it was not lawful for the Jews to be in subjection to the Romans, and pay them taxes. Now Christ and the Apostles were regarded as Galilæans; and the Jews professed to look upon them as upholders of this teaching of Judas the Galilæan, as being their countryman. And for this reason they frequently repudiated this error of theirs. Hear S. Jerome (in cap. 3, ad Tit. ver. I), “I think,” says he, “this precept was given by the Apostle, because at that time the teaching of Judas the Galilæan was still in vogue, and had many followers. Among their other tenets, they held it probable that, according to the law, no one ought to be called lord, except God only; and that those who paid tithes to the Temple ought not to render tribute to Cæsar. This sect increased to so great an extent as to influence a great part of the Pharisees as well as the rest of the people, so that they referred this question about the lawfulness of paying tribute to Cæsar to our Lord, who answered prudently and cautiously, Render, &c. S. Paul’s teaching is in agreement with this answer, in that he bids believers be in subjection to princes and powers.” (Cornelius Cornelii, On Matthew)

Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar.

As though He said, “Since ye, O ye Jews, are now subject to Cæsar, and use his coins, do ye not so much give as render or restore (reddite) to him the denarius which is due to him as tribute. But spiritual things, that is to say, worship and piety, give ye (date) to God. For this God exacts as what is rightly His due. So shall it come to pass that ye will offend neither against God nor Cæsar.”

Observe: that Christ is here unwilling to enter into the question whether the Jews were justly or unjustly subjects and tributaries of the Romans. For this was a doubtful question. For prima facie, the negative, that they were not justly subject, would seem the more correct. For Pompey, who first reduced the Jews under the Roman yoke, was only called in by Hyrcanus and Aristobulus, the grandsons of Simon the high priest, to decide between them which of the two was to succeed to the Jewish sovereignty and high-priesthood. By what right then did Pompey pass them over, and transfer the sovereign power over Judea to the Romans? […] And yet, if we examine what happened more carefully, we shall perceive that the contrary proposition is the more probable, namely, that Pompey seized upon Judea by the right of a just war. […] Hyrcanus being unable to keep it by himself, delivered it to Pompey, with the consent of the elders and nobles of the Jews, who preferred to be subject to the Romans rather than to Hyrcanus and Aristobulus. For they saw that without the Romans, the Jewish state would be annihilated by schisms and seditions. See the relation in Josephus (lib. 24, c. 5, &c.).

Lastly, prescription was on the side of the Romans, for they had been in peaceful possession of Judea for about a hundred years, with at least the tacit assent of the Jewish people. And without doubt the position of the possessor is the stronger. Wherefore, if the Pharisees wished to deprive the Romans of this possession, the onus probandi lay upon them of showing that they had acquired it unjustly. Since they were not able to do this, the Romans rightly retained possession. […] Christ therefore, in this place, does not choose to enter into the question whether the Roman dominion over Judea, and their imposition of tribute, was just or unjust: but He takes for granted that, as a matter of fact, that which was strengthened and confirmed by the various titles specified above was just. […]

Christ answers, on the contrary, that it was not an injury to God and the faith, nor an indignity to a faithful nation, if the people of God were subject to Cæsar, a Gentile; and that the Jews themselves might both profitably and honourably obey both God and a Gentile prince, if they would but render to both their due; and if they would do this with prudence, so as to arouse against them neither God nor Cæsar, and so destroy their whole nation, as they did not long afterwards. For it is better to pay money than to lose life and everything.

Money in the image of Caesar, man in the image of God

Fr. Cornelius a’ Lapide offers several important quotations from the Church Fathers:

S. Hilary says, “We are bound to render unto God the things of God, our body, soul, and will; for the coin of Cæsar is in gold, in which his image is engraven; but God’s coin is man, in whom is the image of God. Give your money then to Cæsar, but keep for God the consciousness of your innocence.” And S. Augustine says, “To God must be given Christian love, to kings human fear.” And S. Bernard, or whoever was the author of the book on the Lord’s Passion, says (cap. 3), “Render unto Cæsar the penny which has Cæsar’s image; render unto God the soul which He created after His own image and likeness, and ye shall be righteous.”

The coins of the day were engraved with the image of Caesar, and this proved that they belong to his dominion and authority; but the soul is made in the image of God. Therefore, when our Savior states that we are to render to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to give to God what belongs to God, he signifies that we must give our soul (that is, especially, our intellect and will) to almighty God.

As St. John of the Cross stated so well: “One human thought is worth more than the whole world; therefore God alone is worthy of it.” (Sayings of Light and Love)

How man is in God’s image

St. Thomas Aquinas, summarizing the tradition, tells us that man is in the image of God principally according to his soul. The soul of man, with both intellect and will, has been created in God’s image.

Still, even the body contains something of the image of God – St. Thomas points out that the manner in which the soul is in the whole body and gives life to the body signifies something of the way in which God is present in all creation and holds all things in being.

Still, it is most especially insofar as the soul has the faculties of the intellect and will that it is in the image of God. Indeed, here we recognize even something of an analogy of the greatest mystery of all: The Most Holy Trinity.

After the manner in which the soul has an intellect and a will, so too there is generation and spiration in God. The Son proceeds from the Father as thought in the soul, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son as willing from the soul through the intellect.

Consider your dignity, oh man! You have been made in the image of the Almighty!
Why then waste your intellect and will on those things which fade away? God alone remains.

terça-feira, 11 de outubro de 2011

Economistas Têm Alguma Utilidade?

Interessante texto de John Kay, no Financial Times, de agosto deste ano, mas só agora li. Não vou reproduzir todo o texto, pois o FT pede que isto não seja feito, uma vez que cobra para acessar os artigos, mas aqui vão algumas partes importantes. Clique no título para acessar texto completo.

Financial Times - August 25, 2011

The reputation of economists, never high, has been a casualty of the global crisis. Ever since the world’s financial system teetered on the abyss following the collapse of Lehman Brothers three years ago next month, critics from Queen Elizabeth II downwards have posed one uncomfortable yet highly pertinent question: are economists of any use at all?

If you ask why economists persist in making predictions despite these difficulties, the answer is that few do. Yet that still leaves a vocal minority who have responded cynically to the insatiable public demand for forecasts. Mostly they are employed in the financial sector – for their entertainment value rather than their advice. Economists often make unrealistic assumptions but so do physicists, and for good reasons. Physicists will describe motion on frictionless plains or gravity in a world without air resistance. Not because anyone believes that the world is frictionless and airless, but because it is too difficult to study everything at once. A simplifying model eliminates confounding factors and focuses on a particular issue of interest. This is as legitimate a method in economics as in physics.

Since there are easy responses to these common criticisms of bad predictions and unrealistic assumptions, attacks on the profession are ignored by professional academic economists, who complain that the critics do not understand what economists really do. But if the critics did understand what economists really do, public criticism might be more severe yet.

The two branches of economics most relevant to the recent crisis are macroeconomics and financial economics. Macroeconomics deals with growth and business cycles. Its dominant paradigm is known as “dynamic stochastic general equilibrium” (thankfully abbreviated to DSGE) – a complex model structure that seeks to incorporate, in a single framework, time, risk and the need to take account of the behaviour of many different companies and households.

A close relationship exists between these three theories. But the account of recent events given by proponents of these models was comprehensively false. They proclaimed stability where there was impending crisis, and market efficiency where there was gross asset mispricing.

In his presidential lecture to the American Economic Association in 2003, Robert Lucas of the University of Chicago, the Nobel prizewinning doyen of modern macroeconomics, claimed that “macroeconomics has succeeded: its central problem of depression prevention has been solved”. Prof Lucas based his assertion on the institutional innovations noted by Mr Greenspan and the IMF authors, and the deeper theoretical insights that he and his colleagues claimed to have derived from models based on DSGE and the capital asset pricing model.


Another line of attack would discard altogether the idea that the economic world can be described by any universal model in which all key relationships are predetermined. Economic behaviour is influenced by technologies and cultures, which evolve in ways that are certainly not random but that cannot be fully, or perhaps at all, described by the kinds of variables and equations with which economists are familiar. The future is radically uncertain and models, when employed, must be context specific.

But you would not nowadays be able to publish similar work in a good economics journal. You would be told that your model was theoretically inadequate – it lacked rigour, failed to demonstrate consistency. To be “ad hoc” is a cardinal sin. Rigour and consistency are the two most powerful words in economics today.

. . .

Consistency and rigour are features of a deductive approach, which draws conclusions from a group of axioms – and whose empirical relevance depends entirely on the universal validity of the axioms. The only descriptions that fully meet the requirements of consistency and rigour are completely artificial worlds, such as the “plug-and-play” environments of DSGE – or the Grand Theft Auto computer game.

For many people, deductive reasoning is the mark of science: induction – in which the argument is derived from the subject matter – is the characteristic method of history or literary criticism. But this is an artificial, exaggerated distinction. Scientific progress – not just in applied subjects such as engineering and medicine but also in more theoretical subjects including physics – is frequently the result of observation that something does work, which runs far ahead of any understanding of why it works.

Not within the economics profession. There, deductive reasoning based on logical inference from a specific set of a priori deductions is “exactly the right way to do things”. What is absurd is not the use of the deductive method but the claim to exclusivity made for it. This debate is not simply about mathematics versus poetry. Deductive reasoning necessarily draws on mathematics and formal logic: inductive reasoning, based on experience and above all careful observation, will often make use of statistics and mathematics.

The writer, an FT columnist, is a visiting professor at the London School of Economics and a fellow of St John’s College, Oxford

domingo, 2 de outubro de 2011

Não é a Economia, Estúpido!

Excelente texto de Bruce Walker no site American Thinker que mostra que o que realmente importa para um país são os valores e não a economia.

It Is Not the Economy, Stupid

By Bruce Walker

Watching the Republican debates, listening to the droning of our dreary presidential flop, reading what wise pundits on the right as well as the left say, one might assume that economics was the standard of all policy and politics.  Twenty years ago, when Bill Clinton ran for president, his mantra was clear: "It's the economy, stupid!"

I pray that we do not surrender to the damnable vice of utter materialism.  If we do, nothing can save us.  America is a rich nation which is being drained and hobbled by those who hate it with unbridled venom.  "God damn America!" Obama's preacher screeched.  All over the world and all over our nation, grotesque little monsters frown and sneer at our country.

They hate us, but they do not hate our wealth, nor do they particularly hate how wealth is divided in our nation (every nation, without exception, has its "upper ten percent," its "super-rich" and its "very poor.")  We think that the attack on America is based upon economics because those who hate us spout class warfare all the time.  But that is simply another lie told by those who think lying is fine.
Modern life, particularly in America and modern industrialized societies, is pure luxury compared with any other era of human history.  Our biggest health problem is obesity, yet because the left cannot discard the hopelessly silly notion of rampant hunger in America, one is likely to find in the same leftist screed a condemnation of our heartless indifference to childhood hunger and a call for fat poor kids to exercise more.

Look at the object of consumer consumption today.  Software, particularly computer gaming, takes up a huge chunk of discretionary spending.  Cable television is stuffed like a pig with venal, vaporous, and vicious programming.  The coronation of all forms of celebrity leads us into countless cul-de-sacs of despair as Casey Anthony is vetted for a career in pornography.

There are places where real need is desperate, particularly in Africa, but the cause of hardship is not economic.  Rather, it is political.  Leaders cannot have their subjects affluent.  These wretches must, instead, be forced into corrals of poverty.  All the trillions of dollars of aid which America and Europe have given to these nations have not helped the poor.

Why would anyone want his own people poor?  Why do leftists here create phantasms like global warming and demand holy altars to worship dirt?  Why do they ignore the ghastly deconstruction of wholesome youth, which is the sole aim of state-controlled education and culture?  It has nothing to do with money or with markets or with any other aspect of conventional economics.

Reach back to Orwell and to C.S. Lewis, writing more than sixty years ago, and grasp what these prescient men saw then.  In 1984, there was grinding poverty for nearly all, but a modicum of affluence for members of the Inner Party.  Orwell leaves no doubt that the societal poverty is a central policy of the Inner Party.  Obsessed with simple survival, the slaves of Oceania have no room for any greater existence.  If manna fell from Heaven, the Inner Party would gather it all up and burn it.  Orwell describes a secular Hell.

C.S. Lewis describes a spiritual Hell.  In The Great Divorce, Lewis shows us a society in which anyone can create anything he wishes just by wishing.  Although the reader can see their utterly hopeless and accursed existence, these subjects of godless afterlife do not know that they are in Hell.

Stuff cannot give us purpose or peace.  Any society which focuses on "stuff" will end up, whether as rich as Beverly Hills or as poor as Havana, worshipping false gods and living horrible lives.  When Republicans say that "jobs" is the only real issue, when Republicans seem to believe that prenatal infanticide, snickering defamation of Judeo-Christian faith, or flaying of family in the torture chambers of leftism is a distraction, let us hope that they do not mean it.

Obama and his orcs view life as a soulless struggle for stuff without a Great Watchman who judges those who lie and steal and bully in pursuit of some invented "noble" goal.  This is entirely and eternally wrong: life is the pursuit of truth, of love, of honor, and of liberty.  America was created not for purposes of comfort or money.  It was created so that each of us could seek, unmolested by public needs, a private path to what is right. 

It is the left which rewrote our history to make the Founding Fathers ciphers in some vast battle between capitalism and socialism.  In 1938, Dorothy Thompson, the first journalist to be expelled from Nazi Germany, wrote a small book which explains how history professors were teaching students to interpret history from the standpoint of materialism, as if the Constitution should be read wholly in the life of the economic status of the men who framed it, with the presumption that they were incapable of disinterested thinking.  Thompson warns that this will shrink human life to sterile economic analysis of life1.

The war we fight involves jobs, money, taxes, and other elements of economics -- and it is perfectly proper to make arguments in favor of ordered liberty -- but the heart of our battle to defend our way of life would not end if next year we found a way to synthetically create all we might want without any effort beyond our wishing for it.  Peel back the thin and translucent layer of stuff and find a vastly deeper and more vital conflict between men who would be gods or druids to empty nature-worship and people who have immortal souls and know the infinite importance of that truth.  It is not the economy, stupid.