Tuesday, December 2, 2014

The Road To A Francis Christmas: Compassion vs. Capitalism or Compassion vs Koch?

With Pope Francis I dedicating much of his reign to compassion to the poor, it's no wonder that much of America's Right have balked. Paul Ryan called Francis' concept of capitalism "naive" and Rush Limbaugh has denigrated the Vatican and its attack on "unfettered capitalism." John Stossel once held a symposium of sorts on the "good" of greed, in which he gave the analogy of a cake with only a small part cut for the lower classes - "why not just make another cake?" But Francis countered:

Now the Koch brothers have entered the fray, with one Washington Post OpEd piece (John and Carol Saeman) insisting that the Koch brothers love the poor as much as Francis (!!):

Patricia Miller, Religion Dispatches:

It’s through their association with Freedom Partners that the Saemans have become aware of the Koch brothers’ “deep concern for the least fortunate,” which they express by supporting organizations that “bear the common mission of advancing free enterprise and free societies.” The Saemans write that “promoting limited government alongside the Kochs is an important part of heeding Pope Francis’s call to love and serve the poor.” This despite Francis’ unequivocal statements almost exactly a year ago in opposition to the “free enterprise” ideology.

Of course, the Saemans resurrect the "tough love"/"bootstraps" kind of ideology as the REAL compassion, while scrapping all safety nets and welfare programs.

How very, very compassionate.

And how very, very wrong. The Saemans, it's worth noting, are financial contributors to the Freedom Partners Chamber of Commerce:

Freedom Partners gave grants worth a total of $236 million to conservative organizations including Tea Party groups like the Tea Party Patriotsand organizations which opposed the Affordable Care Act prior to the 2012 election. A majority of Freedom Partners board is made up of long time employees of the Koch brothers.[6][7][8] In 2012, Freedom Partners made a grant of $115 million to the Center to Protect Patient Rights.

Getting Compassion Right

The truest form of compassion was given in the parable of the Good Samaritan: he did not judge the battered Jew, nor did he tell him that he, and not big government, was the answer. The Good Samaritan just did what was necessary for the Jew to live - to survive. Had he been passing by a Jewish beggar in the road, he would have seen to his food, shelter and clothing. He would not have told him to go out and get a job. 

Francis is scaring people like the Koch brothers simply because he is getting compassion right and people are beginning to question the Koch ideology. And along with the Koch ideology comes the "prosperity gospel" preachers, Christian Right churches assailing "social justice" and a horde of Paul Ryans, Rush Limbaughs, John Stossels, Sean Hannitys, Ann Coulters who praise capitalism as the savior of mankind. 

When will the message hit?

Of course, Francis’ message of compassion will take time: although Black Friday wasn’t as “black” as usual, that doesn’t mean that the American public has chosen to put more of its wealth into worthy causes. Ads for the “perfect” gift will still blare until late Christmas Eve and the kettles of Salvation Army will not see any jump in donations. 

But the Koch pitch of "just as compassionate as Francis" is showing some serious re-branding which may trickle down to some worthwhile agencies. Not the way Francis would like, but progress just the same.

The road to Christmas is going to be very interesting this year. 

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