EG 54: The Trickle-Down Faucet is Empty

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdalenePope Francis, in Evangelii Gaudium, asks for evidence. Is there any to be given?

54. In this context, some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.

Still waiting. After thirty-some years, this is the stumbling block that would trip up any trickle-down advocate.

To sustain a lifestyle which excludes others, or to sustain enthusiasm for that selfish ideal, a globalization of indifference has developed. Almost without being aware of it, we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own. The culture of prosperity deadens us; we are thrilled if the market offers us something new to purchase; and in the meantime all those lives stunted for lack of opportunity seem a mere spectacle; they fail to move us.

No economic evidence, and what appears to be an accurate and insightful diagnosis of a lack of compassion in modern culture. It’s really no wonder that many religious conservatives are tied up on knots over this. Consciences have been pricked, and the virtuous recognize in numbers that their alliance with indifferent narcissists and opportunists is not on solid moral ground.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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