FRONT ROYAL, VA — Rush Limbaugh is mad as Hell and he’s not gonna take it anymore.
But he’s not shooting at his usual targets.
Of all things, Rush is mad at the Pope. Pope Francis, the new guy on the block who, for all we know, might be even more popular than Rush.
Megadittos, Papa Francesco!
It all started last week when Pope Francis published Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), an “Apostolic Exhortation” that commemorates the end of the Year of Faith, which ended with the First Sunday of Advent this week.
In the 50,000 word document encouraging Catholics to carry the Gospel to the four corners of the earth, Pope Francis devoted a few paragraphs to the economy.
Everybody’s talking about it. So, on the day before Thanksgiving, Rush launched.
You know, the pope, Pope Francis — this is astounding — has issued an official papal proclamation, and it’s sad. … [He] attacked unfettered capitalism as ‘a new tyranny’ and beseeched global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality…
This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope. Unfettered capitalism? That doesn’t exist anywhere. Unfettered capitalism is a liberal socialist phrase to describe the United States.
Rush has a point. Robert Nisbet once observed that in 1913, the year he was born, the only contact that the average U.S. citizen had with the federal government was the Post Office.
Economist Harry Veryser, in his masterful It Didn’t Have to Be That Way (ISI Books, 328 pages, 2013) agrees: 1913 was a pivotal year. “Before World War I,” he writes, the U.S. government “based its public policy on so-called classical economic theories about money and trade. Almost all economic theory was committed to free markets and private property.” But that quickly changed, as reality-based economic policy quickly gave way to revered abstractions and government power — their constant companion.
In brief, writes Veryser, for the last hundred years several generations of self-appointed whiz kids allied with a bunch of liberal politicians to manipulate the political economy, causing the “boom and bust cycle” and making the 1913 dollar worth one penny today.
Washington: America’s Crony Capital
This perversion of the market has spawned today’s “Crony Capitalism.” Perhaps that’s what the Pope is condemning, and well he should. After all, Crony Capitalism is closer to corporate fascism (with a small “f”) than to what is left of the free market.
The bipartisan Washington Hot Tub is little different from its cousin in the Pope’s hometown in Argentina. There, according to the left-wing Spanish newspaper El País, Guillermo Moreno, the Argentine Minister of Commerce, resigned last month after having falsified the official economic data of the country — for the past six years.
There’s a Catholic app for that. It’s called “Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.”
Such fraud is nothing new. Right here at home, the government routinely fudges economic figures to serve its own ends. Meanwhile, the Federal Reserve’s quiet counterfeiting destroys savings and the value of the dollar, hurting children, the old, and the poor the most.
Hurting everybody but the Crony Capitalists.
In Crony Capitalism, a tax cheat from the corrupt banking community managed to become Obama’s Treasury Secretary, and then left to make a million dollars a month at a well-connected crony hedge fund.
By the way, Evangelii Gaudium condemns “the idolatry of money” and “the powerful [who] feed on the powerless.”
A perfect fit for the Cronies.
“The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits,” the pope adds — which captures the cold heart of Crony Capitalism pretty well.
From what the Rubble can tell, Rush Limbaugh hates this kind of corruption as much as Pope Francis does — but only so long as it’s the Democrats doing it.
Rush, didn’t you get the memo? The GOP top brass is splashing right alongside those Democrats in the Beltway Trough!
It reminds me of Stan Evans’s observation long ago: “Conservatives coming to Washington know that it’s a sewer. The trouble is, they wind up treating it like a hot tub.”
The success of the Cronies is summed up succinctly in the Rubble’s favorite headline this week, from the Washington Post:“Wave of New Wealth Transforms D.C.”
Well, it’s impoverished the rest of the country, but as Bill Clinton used to say, “Hey, so what?”
That’s Crony Capitalism in a nutshell. As for us, the Rubble is with the pope. Empty the hot tub — but remember, you can only pull the plug from the outside.
Viva il Papa!
Corruption Breeds Perversion
Of course, the Pope also recognizes that the pornography industry, headquartered in Hollywood with satellites everywhere, operates unfettered in what one might call the “free market.”
He’s right. America’s judges have decided that even obscenity is “speech.”
So now hard-core is part of America’s “Common Core.”
But pornography is not unique to Capitalism, Crony or otherwise.
Pornography and sex trafficking thrive throughout the Third World, in the former Soviet Union, and in the “People’s Paradise” of still-Communist China.
America’s bishops voted last month to develop a program to deal with the plague of pornography. It’s often the number-one sin that priests deal with in Confession.
Good for the bishops — but Limbaugh has another problem with them. He thinks the hierarchy has been hoodwinked by a bunch of socialists.
In March 2012, a year before Pope Francis was elected, Rush blasted the HHS Contraceptive Mandate that many Catholic bishops and institutions have also vigorously opposed.
In the midst of the brouhaha, he broadcast a very intriguing segment that will sound familiar to intrepid Rubblers:
The reason the Catholic Church (all the way back to the days of FDR) got roped into the liberal socialist agenda is that they became convinced that welfare was charity, and churches are big on charity. And they thought that it would sound good for them to support massive government wealth-transfer programs, welfare program s, under the guise that it was charity. So the Catholic Church and its hierarchy in this country slowly but surely migrated to socialism, in terms of its political preferences. [source: Rushlimbaugh.com]
Here the non-Catholic Limbaugh put his finger on a tradition in the American Church that few Catholics know about (actually, it began with Cardinal Gibbons and Woodrow Wilson, but that’s another story).
The Catholic Church has promoted “the notion that liberalism is charity, under the notion that welfare is charity,” Limbaugh continued. “Well, it isn’t. Welfare is the willful absconding of money owned by others and giving it to other people for your benefit, not theirs. Liberals give money to people wanting a payback. The payback is the vote.
Liberals are not giving people money to increase their lifestyles or improve their lifestyles. It doesn’t happen, does it? The poor are still poor. The homeless are still homeless. Despite all these great liberal programs, the numbers, the percentages never change.”
Limbaugh aggressively questions the motives of liberals — something bishops rarely do, although they liberally (ahem) assail conservatives as greedy, bigoted, and other stuff like that.
For Limbaugh, liberals push the welfare state so they can “create as many people as possible who refuse to help themselves because they don’t have to anymore.”
The result isn’t charity — which means “love,” after all.
“It’s insidious,” he writes. “It destroys people’s humanity and their dignity. It takes away their ambition, their desires and gives them a life of squalor, under the guise of big-heartedness and charity.”
From Rush’s point of view, perhaps Pope Francis should be criticizing not only the Crony Capitalists, but also some of his own bishops who are supporting the welfare-state programs that hurt the poor while they keep the Crony Capitalists in power.
Here’s a question that our bishops rarely ask: Does the welfare state work?
The Rubble notes with an arched eyebrow that Lyndon Johnson, in his 1964 book, My Hope for America, predicted that his Great Society programs would end poverty in America well before the end of the twentieth century.
No, socialism doesn’t work.
Well, now what? Will Pope Francis defend true economic freedom? Or does he have in mind a “Third Way”?