An observation for Mr. Novak on Pope Francis and “trickle-down” in EG 54

An observation for Mr. Novak on Pope Francis and “trickle-down” in EG 54

Posted on 9 December 2013 by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

I note that Michael Novak has tackled the issue of the Pope’s comment on economics in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium. He had an interview with National Review.

Alas, I think Mr. Novak got a couple things wrong.

In a summary/commentary on the long interview (I haven’t reviewed the whole thing yet) Novak says:

“Note first that “trickle-down” nowhere appears in the original Spanish, as it would have done if the pope had meant to invoke the battle-cry of the American Democrats against the American Republicans … Only those hostile to capitalism and Reagan’s successful reforms, and to the policies of Republicans in general after the downward mobility of the Carter years, use the derisive expression “trickle-down,” intended to caricature what actually happened under Reagan, namely, dramatic upward mobility. “


First, we assume, reasonably, that Spanish was the language Francis worked in the most. I have little doubt that others worked on the draft of the Exhortation, and that probably parts of it were written in Italian (maybe even in German!). But parts of it were also certainly composed in Spanish (consider whom Francis tasked on the Gang of Eight Committee).

So, the phrase “trickle-down” does appear in the Spanish in the Spanish form of the phrase. HERE

54. En este contexto, algunos todavía defienden las teorías del «derrame», que suponen que todo crecimiento económico, favorecido por la libertad de mercado, logra provocar por sí mismo mayor equidad e inclusión social en el mundo.

“Las teorías del «derrame»”. That’s “trickle-down” economics.

Anyway, I am glad that Novak has joined the conversation. It is good to keep the ideas kicking around.

Diverging a bit…the real problem with the way that the sentence is translated into English rests on the distortion of the phrase “por sí mismo” into “inevitably” rather than “by itself”.

In the (distorted) English translation the Pope’s criticism seems to land heavily on people who back “trickle-down” economics (which is already a loaded term used by liberals to denigrate a more free-market model). But the Pope really seems to be criticizing, in Spanish, those who think that the “trickle-down” approach (and yes, that term is a distortion) can help the poor on its own or by itself, that is, without people as individuals taking personal responsibility to help the poor. People in business have to act morally and responsibly, with an eye on their neighbor, and not just sit back and say that “A free market will eventually help all those poor people all by itself“, thus exoneration them of any personal obligation to do their part.

That, I think, is what the Pope is saying. It is less a criticism of the free-market (though he clearly isn’t a great fan after his limited personal experience in the disaster that is Argentina) than it is of people who think that a “system” alone will take care of the poor without personal involvement.

So, if I understand the Holy Father correctly, I entirely agree with that first part of EG 54, so long as it is properly translated. I add that I think a free market is, in fact, the best way to help the poor rise from poverty. Socialism, Communism… no. And before some liberal nut suggests that I am for a free-market wholly unfettered by laws, rules, government, …. no. That’s just stupid. It could also be mendacious (a liberal tactic). There must be basic rule of law and regulation so that people can work together with clarity and trust each other in transactions and have recourse when there are disputes or misunderstandings or when people with bad will don’t fulfill their part. At the same time, no economic system, free or not, will function in an acceptable way if the people involved don’t share good values. I think they should be religious values and virtues (let’s just say it… Catholic).

That said, even when those values are absent, a free market is probably the worst system we could adopt…. except for all the others.

via Fr. Z's Blog | Once named: What Does The Prayer Really Say? – Commentary on Catholic issues & slavishly accurate liturgical translations – by Fr. John Zuhlsdorf o{]:¬).

Too Early? WSU?

I saw Gov Huckabee on Fox saying he would CONSIDER running in 2016 but he added a caveat.It was too early and the elections are TWO years away.Does he have a point? Are we jumping on the bandwagon a little too early?
That aside,we need to make sure we get the Dems out of Congress in 2014.Regardless of who runs or doesn’t run in 2016 this has to be a top priority.If we can’t win that then the 2016 race isn’t going to matter a whole lot.In fact if we don’t get GOP control in 2014 it’s not a good sign.
Like to hear your thoughts. Or maybe the Gov is wrong.Maybe we do need to get a 2 yr head start on the pres race.
Anyone else vote for Gov Huckabee back when? I voted for him in the primary over the  RNC coronation of McCain-then McCain in the general. I voted Herman Cain in the following primary-and Romney in the general. The motto was ABO.Anybody

I still like Governor Huckabee immensely.Great background.Three people i would actually vote for are Allen West-goes without saying. Huckabee. And believe it or not Romney.Why? He should have won this time.Obama won by fraud,deceit and outright lying.No,Mitt was not that bad a choice.
Now the RNC is trying to crown Chris Christie.Now there IS a really bad choice.I will not vote for him.PERIOD.This time around the motto is ABC.He stabbed Romney in the back and helped us get stuck with Obama.IMHO he planned that to set himself up after O’s term.Sounds nutz? Think about it for a min.

America will not reject abortion until…

it sees abortion.That includes the pain and suffering of the women that they keep silent.Share this link from Priests for Life.There is a wealth of information re abortion as well as agencies to contact to help women heal from abortion.

Out of sight,out of mind.It’s why Kermit Gosnell got away with murder as long as he did.People don’t have to face the reality of what abortion is and what it does.We all go about our business as if nothing is going on.Now let America see what they call a good choice:

Monday is the Day!! HHS hearing in Court

A message from Fr Frank Pavone of Preists for Life re their day in court Monday Dec 9 against the HHS Mandate. I rec’d the message directly in my inbox and am willing to share it here:

Monday’s the day!

A judge in federal court in Washington DC will hear arguments in our Priests for Life lawsuit against ObamaCare’s abortion mandate (the “HHS mandate”) on Monday morning, December 9!


Storm heaven with your prayers.  Pray for the judge hearing our case.  Pray for the attorneys arguing our case.  Ask the Holy Spirit to fill them with His wisdom and prudence.

We need your unconditional support more now than ever before.

After more than two years, we’re finally having our day in court!  Remember, Priests for Life was one of the very first organizations to sue the Obama Administration over this mandate, back in February, 2012.

Now we expect to be among the first not-for-profit religious groups to get a ruling on the merits of the case.

I will be there in the courtroom, as will our Executive Director, Janet Morana, and our fulltime associate Dr. Alveda King.  The three of us are individual plaintiffs in this case, along with Priests for Life itself as an organization.

So much is riding on this case.

And there’s a hard deadline, too.

On January 1, only a few weeks from today, the mandate goes into effect for Priests for Life.

If we don’t comply, and if we are not protected by the courts, we will be fined $100 per employee per day!

That’s why we must win in court … or face the very real possibility of the end of religious freedom in America!

That’s not an exaggeration.

But whatever happens Monday, this much is clear:

Court protection or not, daily fines or not, I have already told our insurance company that we will continue providing
insurance to our employees, but will not comply with the Obama mandate.

We will obey God rather than men!

The Obama administration wants to use the might and power of the federal government to force you and me and all Americans to violate our consciences and take a direct and active role in the killing of our unborn brothers and sisters.

That is a direct attack on our First Amendment right to freedom of religion.

This is unconscionable!

It is no less than tyranny.

And that’s why our lawsuit is so important and why Monday is such a critical day for our nation.

Remember, in going after the HHS abortion-mandate of ObamaCare, we are up against the full might and power of the federal government. President Obama and his pro-abortion allies have spared no expense to have our lawsuit thrown out of court. And they have the entire U.S. treasury at their disposal. They’ve held nothing back in their unbridled attempt to compel us to bow before the state.

In contrast, Priests for Life has only the financial resources which you and pro-life champions like you so lovingly and so generously provide.
If you are able PLS make an emergency contribution to Priests for Life’s Legal Fund so that we can sustain this important lawsuit!

Help us win a PERMANENT INJUNCTION against the tyranny of the ObamaCare abortion mandate.

Thank you. And may God bless you.