Tuesday, February 17, 2009
Solving the Problem of Poverty
There is no solution to poverty; and anyone who claims to have a solution is just running for a political office. The Catholic Church has a way of handling it but does not have a way of eliminating poverty.
Christ, Himself, said, "The poor you will always have with you." St. Augustine explains that God made the poor man poor, and the rich man rich (though all rich men think they made themselves rich). He made the poor man poor because that's the best way for him to go to heaven -- by bearing his poverty. He made the rich man rich because that' the only way he can go to heaven, by generously giving to the poor. This is clearly shown in the parable of Lazarus and Dives.
The poor man needs only his poverty to save his soul. The rich man needs the poor to be saved. Note that in the mentioned parable the poor did not need the rich to be saved; but the rich needed the poor to be saved. The reason Dives went to hell is because he did not take advantage of the presence of Lazarus and use his riches to save his soul. If poverty is abolished, the rich man has no way by which to save his soul; if he had other ways of being saved, God would not have made him rich.
Now, how should the rich and poor relate to one another?
The Catholic Church has no stand on slavery. During the age of slavery , the Church was silent. However, the Church, as in the case of St. Paul, commanded the slaves to obey and respect their masters while with the same breath telling the masters to love their slaves. With such teachings, soon, the masters gave their beloved and obedient slaves their freedom and the slaves remained faithful and loyal friends of their former masters. That was the end of slavery. It only returned when Europe turned Protestant. Slavery returned with a vengeance.
The Church never condemned riches while praising poverty. She taught the poor to be contented with what they have, never to steal, never to go on strike or attend demonstrations. While with the same breath telling the rich to give generously to the poor, not only once a year, but continuously. The result is, as St. Paul described, the poor were never in want and the rich did not have too much in excess. Now that is a Catholic Society. But who will tell the poor not to go on strike and tell the rich to give more generously? No one. And herein lies the problem. Outside the Christian solution, there is no other solution. It is said that the solutions of the Catholic Church were not tried and found wanting. They were never tried. As it is turning out, we are a Catholic nation with a Protestant, Calvinistic social and economic setup.
The Catholic ethic would never make a nation into an economic giant. Pope Leo XIII had delineated the Catholic option in his Panis Humanus, the just wage. This concept can never make any businessman or nation very rich because a big portion of the profits goes to the poor workers. While the poor are contented because their needs are met.
Nations in Europe, who adopted economic systems close to the Catholic system, are labeled backward, like Spain, Ireland and even Italy; while thoroughly Protestant economies, like Switzerland, the Scandinavians, Germany, Britain and the United States are very progressive. The state of the Philippines being the only Catholic nation in the Far East is similar. She is behind Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong. But Catholic nations are catching up in that they are becoming Protestant in their economic outlook wherein the poor is neglected that profits may grow and business capital increase. When Catholic businessmen become un-Catholic, the poor in turn would become un-Catholic by going on strike.
Our present economic system was pioneered by the anti-Catholic Huguenots in France. The Calvinists actively fostered it. The Catholic nations of Europe rejected it and remained "backward." Calvinism works on the concept of keeping the workers fed enough to work well but poor enough to need the job. It is a form of slavery of the poor by men who have power just because they have wealth. They control the poor by arbitrarily depriving them of their livelihood. They enslave the poor because of their power to deprive the poor of food from their table and a roof over their heads. In a true Catholic state, no citizen is at the mercy of a mere possessor of wealth.
This Calvinistic economic system, wherewith man is used for the accumulation of wealth, is antagonistic to the Catholic Spirit. The Church has nothing against one possessing some machineries or stores for a living; it even respects the rights of man to acquire property. We are taking notice to the way an economy is handled.
It is, therefore, un-Catholic to say to the poor: it is your right to fight the rich merely because they are rich and in order to make yourselves less poor...which is the foundation of all revolutions. You can only say: I have the right to prevent the conditions of my life from becoming inhuman...which is the rationale for strikes. But neither can happen in a Catholic situation. It can happen in all other situations.
The problem in most economies is its origin, the Protestant ethic. The solution can only come from a Catholic ethic. The problem is due to a denial of Catholicism; the solution is an affirmation of Catholicism.
CONCLUSION: When the Catholic Church solved the problem of slavery, the slaves remained slaves and the masters remained masters. But because of Christian charity, the slaves were not treated as slaves but as part of the family and the masters did not behave arrogantly. The same applies with the poor and the rich. In a Christian society, the poor remain poor but are never lacking in their needs; while the rich remain rich, but not so rich because of their charity towards the poor.
But with the disappearance of Catholic ethics even in Catholic countries, slavery is coming back like a tide. It is all over. There is absolutely no charity between rich and poor, in fact, in the whole of society. The world economy is moving towards the re-establishment of a servile state, a new age of paganism...wherein man presumes to solve the problems of life with a non-existent future economic program...a power God never gave mankind.
The Catholic solution repeated so often through history and lastly enunciated by Pope Leo XIII is the only appropriate response to the problem of poverty. Only in a truly Catholic state can man live freely with a measure of joy and free from penury. We must solve this by starting from the beginning. But maybe its too late.