Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Hey USCCB! The Flock Doesn't Need Ayn Rand Economics

I can't begin to estimate how many of my fellow co workers need this solution to unexpected expenses--and we take care of the least of the least.


50% of Americans Couldn't Come Up with $2,000

By Caitlin Dickson May 23, 2011
Nearly half of Americans are living in a state of "financial fragility," a new paper by the National Bureau of Economic Research reveals. To determine this statistic, researchers from the George Washington School of Business, Princeton University, and Harvard Business School asked survey participants whether they would be able to come up with $2,000 for an "unexpected expense in the next month." 22.2 percent predicted they would be "probably unable" and 27.9 percent said they'd certainly be unable to foot the unplanned bill. The hypothetical cost "reflects the order of magnitude of the cost of an unanticipated major car repair, a large co-payment on a medical expense, legal expenses, or a home repair." But, it was the participants' method of coping that really determined their fragility:
Taken together with those who would pawn their possessions, sell their home, or take out a payday loan, 25.7% of respondents who were asked about coping methods (equal to 18.6% of all respondents) would come up with the funds for an emergency by resorting to what might be seen as extreme measures,” the authors write. “Along with the 27.9% of respondents who report that they could certainly not cope with an emergency, this suggests that approximately 46.5% of all respondents are living very close to the financial edge.


The first thing one has to take into consideration with these statistics is they do not reflect how many of these respondents were heads of households.  If you add in dependents, this figure is way beyond 50% of the American population.  This is the single most illustrative, if devastating, statistic I have seen yet which adequately describes the true economic situation for the average person in the United States.  There are a whole bunch of well educated folks in this number.  The very kind of folks who are routinely called 'liberal elitists'.  There are also a whole bunch of people who call those folks 'liberal elitists' who are in the same sinking boat.  It's time they all got together and realized they share the same boat.

As far as American Catholicism goes, it's time laity realized way too many of our bishops don't get any of this because they don't spend near enough time with the folks in the pew who can't come up with $2000 for  a medical co payment--much less the same amount for the latest cathedral building project.  I understand it's way more fun to play with the people who can pay for your latest Cathedral project, but a bishop's mandate is to serve the people who can't make the medical co payment.  When bishops get in bed with Ayn Rand inspired economic 'morality' they are not walking the same walk their original Apostolic models walked.  They can keep telling us they are, but we know better.  In case bishops haven't noticed, laity can read The Acts of the Apostles as well as they can. 

Between what Bishop Finn has just admitted too, on top of what Cardinal Rigali has admitted too, added to what Archbishop Dolan has written Congressman Ryan, I have completely lost any faith in the body politic of American bishops to ever act like their Apostolic predecessors.  The USCCB can no longer expect to cover all their other indiscretions with the abortion diaper.  It just ain't gonna stretch.  The stench is too strong.  I hope and pray 2012 is the last election Americans have to put up with the leadership of the Republican Catholic church and their self serving sucking up to the totally unrepresentative top 2%.


  1. Fabulous piece, Colleen.

    I would like to see the pro-life groups picketing the Payday Loans shops. A Harvard study shows 62% of American personal bankruptcies were due to medical expenses and that 72% of those filers had insurance.


    In a discussion of usury on Catholic Answers the author compares the church's "Development of Doctrine" to its teachings on abortion.


    Usury keeps millions in debt slavery, or debt bondage. In Canada a parliamentary inquiry found that payday loan companies typically lend $280 for 17 days at an annual interest rate of $1,242%.



  2. Can't remember where I found this...

    "St. Petersburg in revolt gave us Vladimir Nabokov, Isaiah Berlin and Ayn Rand. The first was a novelist, the second a philosopher. The third was neither but thought she was both."

  3. You could save tens of thousands by encouraging the poor not to have children they can't afford.

  4. If the poor wait until they can afford children, they will never have them. Is this what the church now teaches about marriage?

  5. I was hoping more people might comment on this topic. What does it say about the American Dream? What happened to the idea of the middle class? Ayn Rand was no saint.

    @Mary H
    Economists argue that, among other reasons, more children are born to the poor because they have a net economic value to the family. Toddlers can attend to chickens and do useful work on a farm. Children can make an economic contribution. This is not so in more wealthy societies. Ironically the poor in developing countries are more able to afford children. However with education, opportunity and improved economic status women all over the world have fewer children. Another important factor is life expectancy. When many children die in their first five years from starvation and disease parents have more children to ensure some will survive to adulthood. The USA has a relatively high infant mortality rate because of the inequity of economic and health opportunity among its poor.

    Dr. Hans Rosling discusses reducing child mortality in a short video here:


    Colleen notes the USCCB's admiration and support for certain economic policies and the effects of those policies. The Princes of the church really do want to move the USA back in history from democracy to a time of feudalism. Their place is assured for they are the "First Estate".

    Make no mistake. When most Americans are in such perilous financial position they are in danger of becoming modern slaves. The examples being $400 short on payday puts one in the jaws of the legal loan sharks. At 1,242% annual interest it is almost inevitable that one will become a debt slave.


  6. p2p I think the reasons Americans can't compute these numbers is because one is just as entrained in the idea of the American dream as one is entrained in the ideas of Catholicism. It's really really hard to give up on either dream when your childhood has been immersed in the rhetoric. It's just as difficult to come to the conclusion the "American dream' is an illusion as it is to come the the conclusion many of the doctrines of the Church are an illusion. I think this is why our many in our younger generations are essentially cynics when it come to both dreams.

    It might also help to explain why some of the younger generations have adopted the attitudes of montanist Catholicism, or Ayn Rand economics. It's a sort of 'the dream might be dead for most people but not for me'. I'm special.

  7. @ Colleen,

    Why do some think revelation only took place in the past?

    We create our future. Choose your guide well.

  8. I suppose it's because the past is the past and it's much safer to live in a fantasy about the past than it is to have hope in an undefined future.

    But of course, real creation can only be accomplished in the present. A point I beginning to think the Vatican understands, and that's why they want us all living in the past. It's much safer for them.