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Ann Barnhardt: Frontrunning Francis w/ Peter Schiff

I'm a big Schiff fan. And while I listen to what Ann Barnhardt has to say, my reactions are on both ends of the spectrum. Some things she says I strongly disagree with. For other things, I think she's a valuable resource to listen to. That's not to imply that what she wrote below is something I agree with. I'm just posting it as an item of interest:

Frontrunning Francis w/ Peter Schiff (Seriously) 1
Posted by Ann Barnhardt - June 21, ARSH 2013 5:17 AM MST

Yeah, it is pretty sad that the Pope has to be rhetorically frontrun, but, as I have been saying since literally day one of the Franciscan pontificate, a South American Jesuit who isn't terribly intelligent and who is also in love with the idea of his own dazzling, dazzling "humility" is a disaster, and when one sees a disaster coming, one prepares as much as one can.

Hence this repost about the First Beatitude, which Pope Francis clearly does not understand but is using as the foundation of his whole schtick as the "Leader of the Diocesan Community of Rome".

If I'm not mistaken, he has already said that his first Encyclical will be titled "Blessed Are the Poor", which in and of itself is problematic. The First Beatitude is NOT "Blessed are the poor" full stop. The First Beatitude is "Blessed are the poor IN SPIRIT." Big, big, big, enormous, hugantic difference. Oh, but you know that a not-too-bright South American Jesuit with Liberation Theology / Marxist leanings would conveniently leave off the modifying prepositional phrase "in spirit". Well, let's frontrun that and really get our heads around the First Beatitude and the true poverty that Our Blessed Lord is referencing therein.

This post was originally from December 22, ARSH 2011. I had shut down Barnhardt Capital Management a month before and was interviewed by Peter Schiff on his radio show. That video is below. By the way, this was the first interview in which I publicly stated that Jon Corzine had committed a capital crime that merited execution. That is at the 15:05 mark. Mr. Schiff's physical response in the video pretty much sums up where we are as a civilization. Anyway, that's the backstory. Off we go:

Bravo to the many folks who picked up on exactly the remark by Mr. Schiff that will be the subject of tonight’s essay. You all will TOTALLY get this – you’re already most of the way there. We just need to flesh it out a bit.

And seeing the multitudes, He went up into a mountain, and when He was set down, His disciples came unto Him. And opening His mouth, He taught them, saying: Blessed are the poor in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Matthew 5: 1-3

The First Beatitude is another grossly misread and misunderstood verse, with the misunderstanding being a recent phenomenon, spurred by a conscientious perversion of the meaning of the verse by Marxist infiltrators beginning in the 20th century.

Most people read this verse and see the words “blessed” and “poor” and think that Jesus is saying that poor people are morally superior to rich people. You can see why Marxists jumped all over this verse. They have twisted it into a class warfare battle cry. Other people see the words “blessed” and “poor” and also the prepositional modifier “in spirit”, have no idea what to make of it, glaze over, start thinking about football or Zumba class, and just smile and nod like the Stepford Christo-zombies that they are.

I’m a huge fan of punctuation. Especially properly-utilized apostrophes. But I’m also a fan of ellipses and the humble comma.

(“Let’s eat Grandma!” or, “Let’s eat, Grandma!”

I think that we can understand the First Beatitude with far more ease if we slip a set of ellipses in between the subject, “the poor”, and the prepositional phrase, “in spirit.” Thus:

Blessed are the poor . . . in spirit.

Does that help? Our Lord isn’t saying that poor people are by definition morally superior to rich people. Not at all. What He is saying is that a person who is detached from their wealth and is willing to “push their chips all-in”, to use a poker metaphor, is truly blessed. So, given this, ANYONE within the wealth spectrum, rich or poor, can possess this virtue. This also means that anyone within the wealth spectrum can LACK this virtue. There are two separate classifications that we need to address and combine in order to understand this dynamic: poor in spirit and poor in fact, and their antipodes, rich in spirit and rich in fact. If we form a matrix of these characteristics, there are four possible output combinations. Let’s go through each.

Poor in spirit and poor in fact:

This is a person who does not have any great wealth, but is also content and still maintains a spirit of generosity and gratitude. This condition is exemplified by the parable of the Widow’s mite in Mark 12: 41-44. The poor widow gave the smallest tithe, but it was greater than the tithes of the rich because, “she of her want cast in all she had, even her whole living.” The widow was detached even from what little she had, even though on a percentage basis it far, far exceeded what the rich tithed. The widow was both poor in fact, and poor in spirit.

Rich in spirit and poor in fact:

This is the person who lives beyond their means and is preoccupied with the APPEARANCE and ACQUISITION of wealth. (Cough, cough. Ring any bells? Ahem.) This is the person who leverages himself out the gazoo so that he can have the 4000 square foot house and the luxury car . . . even though he only makes $65k per year. This would also be the welfare denizen who scoffs at honest work and lives off of the government, but has a 55” LCD TV and PlayStation, and has multi-thousand dollar hair extensions and intricately manicured fingernails. No. Way. Girl. I did NOT just go there. Oh yes I did.

Frontrunning Francis w/ Peter Schiff (Seriously) 2
Posted by Ann Barnhardt - June 21, ARSH 2013 5:17 AM MST
Rich in spirit, rich in fact:

This is the rich person who is very much attached to their wealth, and places the preservation of their wealth as their top priority. And as so many of you picked up on in the Peter Schiff interview below, this is Mr. Schiff’s failing. If you scroll down and fast-forward the video to the 15:43 mark, here is the exchange that utterly exemplifies this condition:

Schiff: Let me ask you, your call for a strike, what exactly does that entail? If people wanted to follow what you’re saying, how would we have a strike? What would people do?

Ann: Close all of your securities accounts, bring all of your money home and stop trading all markets: futures, stocks, everything. Man up, act like you’ve got a pair and shut it down.

Schiff: Well, that would put me out of business. I mean, if all of my customers would close down their . . . .


And there you have it. Peter Schiff, like almost everyone else in our culture, can’t fully acknowledge the objective reality of what is happening, and thus can not respond in a fully virtuous way because he is, first and foremost, attached to his wealth and simply can not bring himself to push his wealth “all-in” in service to justice and truth. If we take him at his word in the video clip above, he will not tell his clients that they are at risk, recommend that they liquidate, or shut down his firm because he is attached to and has defined himself by his firm and the wealth that it generates for him.

Now please understand the distinction here: Mr. Schiff’s firm and the wealth it has amassed Mr. Schiff is not necessarily a bad thing in and of itself – no more so than my firm and the wealth that it generated for me over the years was “bad”. Not only are these things not necessarily bad, they actually have the potential to be good! What IS bad is the inordinate ATTACHMENT and unwillingness to LAY DOWN that “good thing” in service to a GREATER GOOD, which in this case is justice and truth. I was willing to lay my “good thing” down because I understood the First Beatitude and the promise of Christ that in laying down my “good thing” I might later inherit a far better thing, namely a wee little corner of the Kingdom of Heaven. As a trained arbitrageur, I recognize a good swap when I see it. Wink.

This is what Christ meant when He said, “And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of heaven. And when they had heard this, the disciples wondered very much, saying: Who then can be saved? And Jesus beholding, said to them: With men this is impossible: but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19: 24-27

Our Lord isn’t saying that the rich are intrinsically evil purely because they are rich. That is what the Marxists want you to believe. He is saying that it is EXTREMELY difficult for wealthy people to maintain DETACHMENT from their wealth, and the richer people become, the more attached they tend to be to their wealth. But He goes on to say that there is hope! All things are possible through Him! Let’s all pray that Peter Schiff, and all wealthy people of good will, by the power of the Holy Spirit, are able to detach themselves from their wealth and shove that camel through that needle, because IT CAN BE DONE.

Poor in spirit, rich in fact:

Very simply, this is a person who is at any level of financial comfort above “poor” who is willing to push their wealth “all-in” if that is what is required to follow Christ fully. (The truly blessed then learn that The Van Down By The River not only isn't so bad, it can be the best thing ever. But that requires a huge leap of faith. Trust me, I know.)

And that, ladies and gents, is how Peter Schiff, with an assist by the Holy Spirit, taught you all about the First Beatitude. The Lord truly does move and work in mysterious ways.

(I think maybe Mr. Schiff is the guy in the lower-left with his head down in his hand. "Oh, what He's saying is HAAAAARD.")