The United States has come to resemble those iconic westerns in which cattle barons rule. Time's Person of the Year is the new preacher in town and the cattle barons are nervous.
December 12, 2013

The cattle barons are nervous and getting reckless.

The United States (and much of the world) has come to resemble those iconic westerns with a Wild West economy in which cattle barons rule, politicians and lawmen are on their payrolls, and struggling settlers are either compliant or prey.

But after the 2008 crash and bailout on Wall Street, one after another Occupy, the Consumer Protection Bureau, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Moral Mondays and now Pope Francis have put the cattle barons on notice that their grip on power is weakening.

All this is giving the "tin pans," sheepherders, and dirt farmers some dangerous ideas. Complicating matters, Time magazine just named the preacher Person of the Year.The cattle barons can't exactly shut up Francis by offering to build him a shiny, new church. So their henchmen must attempt to show the townsfolk just who is boss.

Take on the preacher who leads the largest religious denomination in America? Big mistake.

1 Timothy 6 (RSV)
Teach and urge these duties. 3 If any one teaches otherwise and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching which accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit, he knows nothing; he has a morbid craving for controversy and for disputes about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, base suspicions, 5 and wrangling among men who are depraved in mind and bereft of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.

We've been warned about such men. But the cattle barons are so immersed in their beliefs that like deaf vampires they can neither see themselves in the mirror nor hear themselves any more. They can with straight faces argue for taking food out of the mouths of children, that if you feed them they'll just breed, that capitalism is perfect, and that it is “immature and ignorant” to suggest the American dream is not "God’s reward for America’s faithfulness, the spoils of which are readily available to anyone who works hard enough to receive them,“ and that the reason the poor Jesus so loved are unworthy of help because they are shiftless, lazy, imprudent, extravagant, negligent, impractical, and inefficient.

Adam Shaw writing for Fox News hurled the ultimate insult at Pope Francis, that he is the Catholic Church’s Obama. He accused the pope of being "painfully misguided on economics," of apologizing for the Catholic Church, and being "passive and not offending anyone’s sensibilities." Shaw himself is clearly offended, calling Francis' emphasis on the poor "vacuous." Stuart Varney of Fox Business News doesn't want to talk about people starving on minimum wage. He wants to consider something more important: the economic impacts of paying working people enough to feed themselves. Glenn Beck warns that the pope is a Marxist, and received recognition from Time because "progressives are fascist." Suggesting that feeding hungry children is bad if they have drug-addicted parents, Bill O'Reilly asked, “What’s my financial responsibility to their children?” 

What is on display here is a cultural sickness among an elite who view the world through the eyes of money, through the all-seeing eye atop the pyramid on the back of the $1 bill. Every political argument comes down to money (or the power it buys) and how financial concerns trump human needs.

You saw the sickness on display in the response to Pope Francis' exhortation in which he criticized a capitalism that leaves people behind, and "a deified market [as] the only rule." Wall St. and its acolytes rushed to its defense with barely contained contempt and the fierce-eyed zeal of fundamentalists defending biblical literalism against the theory of evolution. They truly believe they are talking about economics and political philosophy, but for them money has become a religion.

Their minds are corrupt. Of course, they cannot see it. To them their views seem normal, rational, reinforced by everyone in their social circles. The rest of us respond to them as Group Captain Lionel Mandrake did upon hearing the very serious Gen. Jack T. Ripper riff on fluoridation.

2 Timothy 3 (RSV)
2 For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy,3 inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, fierce, haters of good, 4 treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 holding the form of religion but denying the power of it. ... 8 As Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of corrupt mind and counterfeit faith;

Where's the place where Moses warned about moral hazard?

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