A Few Thoughts on Ryan & the Catholic Church

Normally, I prefer not to comment on the traditional political discourse, mostly because these days, politicians are all the same. The two parties ultimately serve the same “Washington Consensus,” that is, corporate interests who in turn control the money power. Political personalities like Obama and Romney only look radically different because they argue very intensely and passionately about a few very minor issues. This creates the illusion of a varied debate, but it’s a discussion that only goes from “A to B.”

The Ryan pick has about as much impact on your life as what I had for lunch. Still, there is value in looking at his past budget proposals, which have been as shoddy and disingenuous as the “Obamacare” law he often criticizes. His insistence that he has the “courage to tell you the truth” is laughable when examined critically. 

The most obvious flaw in the Ryan proposal is the assumption that GDP will continue to grow at a very healthy and completely unrealistic 5 percent per year for the decades. No recessions, no crisis points, just boom times as far as they eye can see. As a point of comparison, last year’s GDP growth was only 1.8 percent and required $1.3 trillion in deficit spending to achieve! The Congressional Budget Office and the Obama administration make similar projections, anything to give their half-hearted measures more credibility than they deserve.

Click to enlarge.Healthcare, the government’s biggest fiscal problem, is currently adding about $850 billion to the deficit this year, a stunning amount that is expected to double by 2020. Ryan’s solution is more cost shifting in the form of vouchers, a plan he promises will not affect current beneficiaries, but this does nothing to address growing cost. The only way to reduce cost is to eliminate the pricing cartel of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industry.

In essence, the reforms necessary would require dismantling the corporate state. This is an impossible task for the establishment, and so the fraud goes on. Austerity measures proposed by Ryan and the Obama administration may delay the reckoning, but will do nothing to prevent it. Meanwhile, as the crisis looms, it will become easier and easier to encourage people to give up even the most basic government services, all in support of a debt the elite know can never be paid. The collapse will eventually happen anyway, but not before the corporate state has had a chance to scour the last remnants of American prosperity.

Which leads me to the Catholic Church, which has recently taken it upon itself to criticize Ryan’s proposals. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops recently noted, “a just spending bill cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor and vulnerable persons.” They insist instead that we aught to cut military spending, raise taxes, and deal with long term cost increases.

It sounds reasonable and measured, but they are decidedly vague when addressing specific numbers, even though we know exactly how much needs to be cut. Their plan is about as well thought out as those put forth by the establishment.

I suppose we can’t be too hard on the Church for failing to understand simple math, but their modest posturing in the face of evil is insulting. They claim to be a moral institution, a gadfly on the national consciousness that views power with suspicion and demands justice for the oppressed, but they fall into the same traps as other “liberal” institutions. They are completely incapable of thinking independently about the real numbers.

Their moderate tone of reasoned appeal betrays their bias favoring a corrupt elite. Instead of condemning the fraud with a vitriol that comes naturally to those who understand evil, these wannabe power players fake concern. No one who understands the extent of this corruption can comment without regularly using terms like traitor, puppet, liar and oligarch.

Their failure to challenge the status quo is nothing new to us Catholics, who’ve been forced to observe thousands of homilies (sermons) on the nature of the Holy Spirit or letting God into our lives, but never, ever challenges the individual to do something in constructive defiance to power.

The passivity of the Church stands in stark contrast to Jesus himself, who was a true antagonist. In the Bible, Jesus says, ”Do you suppose that I am here to bring peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” His plan is to force people to address the injustices which are so prevalent in society. The Bible continues:

“He said again to the crowds, ‘When you see a cloud looming up in the west you say at once that rain is coming, and so it does. And when the wind is from the south you say it’s going to be hot, and it is.

Hypocrites! You know how to interpret the face of the earth and the sky. How is it you do not know how to interpret these times?”

Indeed, the writing is on the wall, and yet the Church does nothing. Their silence is an embarrassment for those of us who still care about the Church as a vehicle for justice. Perhaps they fear that a greater condemnation would jeopardize their tax exempt status. If so, then they are even more damned than I thought.

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