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The Pope Condemns the Idolatry of Money. The Pope is Right.

The Moral Law does not take a backseat to economics. It is the foundation of any free economic system, just as virtue is the foundation of any well ordered political system. Whether you adhere to that moral law or not you cannot expect those who do to put their morality on hold in the economic domain, on whatever level.

Every actor within the economic system, anywhere, on whatever level, acts as an individual and is responsible to his own conscience for whether he acts morally or immorally, or exploits a person or people unjustly for profit, in a given situation.

Whether the individual is acting entirely as a free agent or carrying out responsibilities for an institution, all economic activity involves the choices of individuals and their priorities. What behavior is morally acceptable or not is not for me to say, but we all know where the line is whether we follow it or not.

It is important not to confuse laws of economic behavior, which may or may not be valid theoretically or scientifically, with the moral strictures of a religious point of view and the governance of one's own behavior in accord with it or in violation of it.

The Pope is the head of a religious community that upholds moral standards for every individual, whether acting purely for themselves or as representatives of an institution and carrying out its chartered purpose. If that behavior is immoral, the individual is failing to uphold that standard.

Whether you accept that standard or not, that is the standard for the body of believers the Pope speaks to. And he will use his influence to promote that behavior and the shape of world policy, in the same way he will stand up and oppose wars and injustice in Syria or Palestine.

Saying "I work for a corporation, the purpose of which is to create profit for shareholders" is not an excuse for engaging in immoral behavior that leads people into harm. Even if it makes economic sense.

Dumping toxic securitized assets off on pensions made perfect economic sense, as did writing the bad loans in the first place, for those economic actors who did it at that moment. Getting away with poisoning people through harmful food makes great profits for executives and shareholders at some companies.

It may make economic sense for the bottom line of a company to do plenty of immoral things that would violate the imperatives of the body the Pope speaks for. What may be legal economic activity, often impossible to spot or regulate, can be the subject of moral constraint if people indeed behave morally.

Hate to be the bearer of bad news, but no economic or political system can ever be designed to provide an incentive structure that will stop the emergence of fraud and corruption, and the use of coercion in their service, if the desire is there in the hearts of the powerful.

It is not a matter of education or understanding, it is a matter of a desire for the power, the wealth, the status, the Ego reward that comes from exploiting others with power, be it economic or political power.

Laws could not stop such behavior, nor punish it after the fact, where morality could have prevented it. No economic system will ever be free from fraud and evil if the people which compose its body have unrestrained greed in their hearts, and are willing to do evil.

It is a little silly to imagine people could adopt unrestrained greed and willingness to do harm to others, on the economic plane, and not have the same morality and attitude when it comes to using the state to advance their economic interests. To think they can take every advantage economically, while abstaining from taking everything they can get by coercive means.

The whole libertarian idea depends at bottom on moral behavior, since it demands people do not use the state or empower the state for their own purposes against others, even when they can.

The state may be the arm of coercion, but it is private individuals and private interests which use their influence and wealth, often legitimately obtained, to empower the apparatus of the state. To enrich themselves further. To increase their share. To give them more power over others. To protect their ill gotten gains, to bail out their friends, to exploit people all around the world economically. To squeeze money out of loans even if it means starving an economy and hungry kids.

Nothing will stop the wealthy and powerful from using the inherent possibility of force in the nature of human society, against others to exploit or harm them. You can decapitate the state but 3 heads will grow back where there was one, if the will for it to exist is there.

It is false to try to separate components of morality into purely coercive and purely non coercive compartments. If someone is willing to act truly immorally without coercion, they are of a state of character and spiritual condition that will make them jump at the first chance to benefit from coercion.

If the powerful want to act immorally in a private capacity, why not also with the aid of the state? If they have the wealth and influence, they will be able to do so. Why not do it?

If people are unable to separate moral life from economic theory, that it their problem and not the Pope's.

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It is difficult for me to understand

how anyone can praise the Pope ( any Pope ) or the city state of the Vatican.

"The Pope is the head of a religious community that upholds MORAL standards for every individual, whether acting purely for themselves or as representatives of an institution and carrying out its chartered purpose."

The city state of the Vatican, the Catholic church, any Pope, the clergy is the most heinous organization in the world. You obviously do not know the history if what I copied and pasted above.

I was brought up Roman Catholic and unfortunately I did not learn until years later what a corrupt and immoral institution - the MOST corrupt and immoral - is was and is to this day.

Please, do some research other than where you have been.

Ron Paul is My President

It seems clear to me that Christians are called to charity

and warned from greed.

But the paramount question is, is political action charity?

If I give to the poor, that is charity. If I do not, that is sin. But if I advocate for the Government to take from you and give to others, is that charity? I don't think so.

Charity is by definition giving of yourself. It is not stealing from one whom you have judged and found guilty of "greed", and giving to another whom you have determined more worthy.

We cannot be compelled to be charitable, by definition. And the "greater good" argument has always been used to advance tyranny and oppression.

Nobody here is arguing that we

should rob Peter to pay Paul. We are simply acknowledging that a person can follow the nonaggression principle and still be uncharitable, and that the person who does so is acting immorally in this particular way.

Note that violations of the non aggression principle are in themselves highly uncharitable acts. They violate the tenets of the Golden Rule, in that people who commit them are not extending treatment to others as they would have others do to themselves.

I think that is exactly what I was trying to say.

I think you said it better.

I am not Catholic, and am

opposed to the very idea of a church controlled by imperfect humans claiming to have the authority of God. However, the point you make about worshiping money, making a god out of it, is well taken. And I agree, in this case the Pope is right. People can support the concept of a free market without worshiping a money god. In fact, our current system of socialism/fascism for the rich is based on covetousness. If people worshiped God and the blessings of liberty he gave us, there would be no incentive for supporting tyranny.

peaceful immorality?

It is false to try to separate components of morality into purely coercive and purely non coercive compartments. If someone is willing to act truly immorally without coercion, they are of a state of character and spiritual condition that will make them jump at the first chance to benefit from coercion.

Can you give me an example where someone acts immorally and not violating the non-aggression principle?

Walking past a drowning

Walking past a drowning person and not helping them. Got any other softballs? (That was a perfect example, me being a dick.)
Someone asked me the same question a few months back and I gave about 10 answers off top of my head.

Being highly uncharitable can be

perfectly consistent with the non-aggression principle. However, I, and many others on this site consider being uncharitable to be immoral.

x replied to wrong comment.

x replied to wrong comment.

Very excellent post

"Laws could not stop such behavior, nor punish it after the fact, where morality could have prevented it. No economic system will ever be free from fraud and evil if the people which compose its body have unrestrained greed in their hearts, and are willing to do evil."

Yes. This is how religion influences the state. Not directly, but through the morals of the individuals.

drunken dople


Aaron Russo, Nikola Tesla, Ron Paul, I'm jus' sayin'

all roads lead to rome

this is Aester egg.(4 references IPS to a most deep/shollow(&pedantic)warren,discuss

Aaron Russo, Nikola Tesla, Ron Paul, I'm jus' sayin'

This is one of the most beautifully written statements ever.

We should expect a fair days pay for a fair days work. Although many people want to get paid, they just don't want to work. Many don't want to pay people enough to buy food, clothing and shelter, yet demand greater productivity.

Thanks for posting this message. You wrote what I believe the Pope was trying to get across with his speech. Perhaps the Church has found a leader which will take it on a path towards healing much of the harm that is happening in today's world.

So much of this is the result of Government coercion.

Wages are depressed by struggling economies. We see that everywhere today. If I am fearful that I may lose my job because opportunity is so limited, my employer is empowered and I am weakened. If opportunity abounds, that forces my employer to compete for me by paying a competitive wage.

While the moral argument is critical at the individual level, we can never rely on a culture of charity to result iN "fairness". Fairness comes from opportunity. Opportunity comes from competition. Competition comes from freedom.

We are seeing the result of Government style fairness; the progressive drop in take home pay and purchasing power, the high unemployment and disability, sluggish growth and record food stamp usage. It is not as if even more Government coercion will achieve some sweet spot of economic growth, suddenly resulting in widespread prosperity. More Government means more poverty. Why? Because it retards growth.

If Government action could produce fairness. then 17 trillion in debt and trillion dollar deficit should have produced Shangri-la.

And I think that is the intent... the destruction of the economy. It is all in the name of a collective charity which leads to poverty.

The Pope should endorse economic freedom, while arguing that charity is the individuals road to salvation. Maybe that is what he is doing. I don't know.


I concur and this is the morality of libertarianism. There is no such thing as " business ethics" seperate from ethics.

ethics are to business(in our current paradigm)...

are what trust/caring/concern where to Sexy Sadie, her attackers and the pin-ball machine.Okay re intro:business ethics are good for me=good or I will exchange my humanity for a seat(or promises or visions of)at the table.It has been my experience the quick test to see if u have a seat or a promise. Is your family name on the Mayflour's manifest? No? It has been said(Re:gambling). If you can't spot the "mark" @ the table, you are it!

Aaron Russo, Nikola Tesla, Ron Paul, I'm jus' sayin'

Who am I to judge what interest rate to charge?

My Bible says you shall not charge interest on a loan. It also says there shall be a Jubilee Year every 50 years where all debts are forgiven, such as the national debt. It would be nice if the Pope said something out of the Bible instead of the central banker playbook for a change.

I'm reading this while listening to this...


Defeat the panda-industrial complex

I am dusk icon. anagram me.

Very well written

An accurate assessment of how power can always take over government if there's incentive to do so. Unfortunately for the ancaps, it's not just government that's subject to this coercion. The powerful can just as easily take over the media, the militias, a critical mine, some minor market commodity with global implications... They're all susceptible.

The old adage that it takes government intervention to create or maintain a monopoly completely discounts the possibility of a fair and honest monopoly existing and then being turned on us.

For me, the solution is to remove that incentive in the first place.

How do u remove the?


Aaron Russo, Nikola Tesla, Ron Paul, I'm jus' sayin'

That's easy

You make everyone more equal. Or in other words, you return the wealth back to the people that the banks have stolen.

frisky: "And how do we stop the banks from robbing us? (Since we haven't been successful at ending the fed yet.)"

That's also easy. We boycott anything that has to do with interest, indirect stock ownership and 'renting' of goods or services (where purchase is financially more sound.)

"And how do we do that?"

We create or support companies that follow a few simple rules:

They offer lasting products for fair prices.
They pay their employees the majority of the revenue after materials costs.
They operate in the black with no (or decreasing) debt.
They aren't based on the perpetual growth or perpetual increasing profit model.
They don't drive excess commercialism by market manipulation or 'push sales'.

So where does this leave

The Vatican?
the Vatican sits on some of the most valuable real estate in the world, a private State, It's wealth is almost incalculable, and carefully nurtured to grow with investments in Global Companies....the very ones that Christ himself raged against in the Temple, Gods House.
Isn't The Vatican Gods House for Catholics?
Much of the Vaticans wealth is through its trove of stolen treasures, acquired through centuries of murder and bloodshed, breaking the Fundamental Commandments given by God, Thou shalt not steal, murder nor covet.

oh knock it off. you have to

oh knock it off. you have to be very financially illiterate to think the vatican is worth more than a below average mid cap corporation. (with over a billion nominal members). leave your prejudices at the door. thnx.


I'm not against Catholic people, nor the Catholic faith, but I question the leadership and direction of the Vatican. Or are we not allowed to question the people who "lead and guide" us?

I fear the Pope is pandering.

The Church should persuade people towards the truth, not mold the truth to the tastes of people.

It could be that he is just not a very good communicator. Benedict was scholar and was very precise in the language he used. This Pope is a bit more of a street preacher.

A lot of these statements are just confused, which is a real problem.

I personally do not question his holiness. But I fear he will find that he is inadvertently weakening the Church, while accomplishing very little in the way of growing the flock.

you seemed mad that a

you seemed mad that a religious institution with a billion members owned some real estate and had a capital value smaller than middleby corp, a leader in food service equipment. http://finance.yahoo.com/q?s=MIDD

maybe you would rather own it for yourself. i guess i don't understand your anger. sounds like personal bigotry or envy.

Why does it have to be personal?

Bigotry? Envy? That simply doesn't come into it.
The Catholic Church bases itself on the Word of God, but the Vatican doesn't practice what it preaches.
As for names and dates, learn up about the horror of the Crusades, or the Massacre of Bartholomew's Eve.
Read the blood thirsty history of the Borgia Pope....but somehow I don't think you are interested in learning.

deacon's picture

You are wasting your time

on bill3,he just wants to make fun,and joke around
save your energy on ones who really care to learn

If we deny truth before your very eyes,then the rest of what we have to say,is of little consequence

the crusades? europe fought

the crusades? europe fought for centuries against islamic encroachment. you're trying to put me in the position of defending every act of every person ever involved in Christianity. but i am just defending the integrity of the institution, including the catholic church as its oldest standard bearer. if the standard was to defend every individual, no institution is safe, including Christianity as such.

you're putting yourself in the same indefensible position by making that the standard. do you think any other organization surviving two thousand years could be free of having its hands in politics, secular affairs, property? the corruption inherent in any human society?

don't be a fool. you're only seeing one side of things. by singling out the "vatican" for special evil, ignoring all its good, you're revealing your own narrowness and bigotry. if you weren't coming from a prejudiced perspective, you'd have a more balanced view.

you just don't realize that it is bigotry because its a form traditional and long acceptable in whatever cultural backwater you spring from.


I do make a stand against the Vatican.

But I don't make a stand for the people who have given their all in the name of Christ, the people who walk the walk and talk the talk...they are true heroes.
And like I said...you don't want to learn.