Showing posts with label Government. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Government. Show all posts

Monday, September 7, 2015


California Gov. Jerry Brown wants over three billion dollars in new taxes, including a $65 tax on every vehicle, plus increases in gasoline and diesel excise taxes. The money will go to paying for transportation needs that he ignored in his recent budget.

Once again, Brown has decided that the 42 Republican legislators in the State Capitol are chumps.
This week, Brown’s office circulated his latest proposal to fund transportation infrastructure–after both the State Senate and State Assembly Republican Caucuses have been unequivocal that raising taxes on Californians is off of the table.
Gov. Brown Proposes $65 Fee On Drivers As Part Of $3.6 Billion Plan To Fix Highways
CBS San Francisco
Within hours of the release of the Governor’s wish-list for legal plunder, Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen (R-Modesto) released a statement saying that “the Administration’s ideas call for more than doubling the vehicle registration fees and raising the price of fuel on all Californians–we disagree and think Californians have paid enough.”
State Senate Republican Leader Jean Fuller (R-Bakersfield) issued a joint release with Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber), Vice Chairman of the Budget Committee, in which Nielsen spoke to the proposed taxes:
The Governor’s solution to fixing our roads and highways cannot be to raise taxes. We are already paying enough. What are they doing with the taxes Californians have been paying at the pumps? Most Californians drive over 10,000 miles each year; an increase of six cents per gallon for gas, eleven cents per gallon for diesel and paying an additional $65 in car taxes per vehicle is an enormous burden on California’s working families least able to pay them.
Apparently Governor Brown thinks that Republicans are “posturing,” and not serious about drawing a line in the sand against higher taxes.
The Governor wants Republican legislators to forget that it was just two-and-a-half months ago that he signed the largest budget in state history, coming in at nearly $160 billion dollars. This partisan budget was negotiated between Brown and Democrat leaders, without any meaningful input taken from Republicans. Since a budget requires only a simple majority vote, no Republican votes were needed.
Despite billions of dollars in unanticipated tax revenues, and rosy forecasts for the year, the new budget “shorted” needed transportation funding. This was done with premeditation on the Governor’s part, given that as soon as he signed the budget, he then called for a special session of the legislature to raise taxes to fill the politically manufactured transportation funding deficit.
Clearly, again, Brown’s thinking is that Republican legislators are just lacking in intelligence, at even a basic level.
Republicans spent the 2013-2014 legislative term in the super-minority in the Capitol. They had very, very little power. What little leverage they did have was only due to serial corruption by Democrats in the State Senate, with three of them not voting for much of the term (one of the three was convicted on multiple felonies, the other two await trial, but have since termed out).
The 2014 campaign by Republicans to climb out of the super-minority, and regain relevance in the State Capitol, was largely centered around an explicit theme that if the GOP could pick up seats, they could stop tax increases from being passed in the legislature. Perhaps if they were taking a shot at being the majority party in the Capitol, there would have been a more robust and broad campaign theme. But climbing back to over a third in each caucus was about being able to mount an effective defense: no new taxes.
Right now is when Republican legislators are showing their worth, and demonstrating their resolve. This is the moment when they are showing countless volunteers, donors and supporters that elections do matter, and that united together Republicans can protect California taxpayers.
Ironically, the Governor’s ongoing insistence that taxes be hiked by billions of dollars gives Republican legislators a chance to demonstrate that they have the courage of their convictions.
The sad reality is that this kind of high-stakes kabuki with Republicans has a tremendous downside for the State of California, which is that despite the fact that taxpayers are sending record funds to state government, Democrats simply won’t spend any of that money on the basic brick-and-mortar building of roads.
If the Governor was truly interested in making California a better place, instead of abusing Republicans, he should actually listen to them. While some solid Republican ideas were incorporated into the Governor’s latest proposals, largely rejected were a lot of great and creative proposals put forward by the GOP caucuses to fund transportation infrastructure using existing tax revenues.
Maybe, just maybe, if Capitol Democrats will absorb the fact that car taxes, gas taxes, income taxes, property taxes, tobacco taxes, and oil severance taxes (to name a few of those proposed) are not going to happen, the last week of the legislative session could be used productively to prioritize some existing revenue for roads, highways and bridges.

Jon Fleischman is the Politics Editor of Breitbart California. A longtime participant, observer and chronicler of California politics, Jon is also the publisher His column appears weekly on this page. You can reach Jon at

Sunday, August 30, 2015

The Data Destroyers

Government fears accountability above all. 

A few weeks ago, the California education department did a peculiar thing: It scrubbed historical data about standardized-test scores from its public DataQuest website. This being a government agency, it immediately began to lie to the public about why it had done this.

California law forbids using comparisons between different tests to set policy or evaluate programs. This makes sense: If last year 40 percent of students received 85th-percentile ratings on a standardized test and then this year 70 percent of students received 85th-percentile ratings on a different standardized test, it is likely that the radical difference is in the test, not in students’ performance. 

The law, however, says not one word about making historical test-score data available to the public or suppressing that data. Naturally, California then cooked up a new lie: The data hadn’t been deleted at all, the education department said, simply moved to another part of the website. That might be technically true, inasmuch as the data was no longer available on the section of the website where — get this — historical data about test scores is published; the department says it was still made available to researchers. 

That’s one definition of public service: making it more difficult for citizens to access information about their government, obstructing informed democracy, and being a general pain in the Trump. RELATED: The Obama Administration’s Newly Political Approach to FOIAs All that was really required was an asterisk. California is changing its standardized-testing practices to bring itself into alignment with Common Core standards. 

The results from the new tests will not be comparable to the old ones on a point-by-point basis. What actually seems to have happened here is that the California department of education was worried that the old data and the new data would be used to make invalid comparisons. Which is to say, the people who run California’s schools have put forward the self-indicting thesis that Californians are too stupid to understand the issue. They should know.

Friday, August 21, 2015

[VIDEO] High-level federal employees used work Internet systems to join Ashley Madison

Hundreds of U.S. government employees -- including some with sensitive jobs in the White House, Congress and law enforcement agencies -- used Internet connections in their federal offices to access and pay membership fees to the cheating website Ashley Madison, The Associated Press has learned.
The AP traced many of the accounts exposed by hackers back to federal workers. They included at least two assistant U.S. attorneys; an information technology administrator in the Executive Office of the President; a division chief, an investigator and a trial attorney in the Justice Department; a government hacker at the Homeland Security Department and another DHS employee who indicated he worked on a U.S. counterterrorism response team.
Few actually paid for their services with their government email accounts. But AP traced their government Internet connections -- logged by the website over five years -- and reviewed their credit-card transactions to identify them. They included workers at more than two dozen Obama administration agencies, including the departments of State, Defense, Justice, Energy, Treasury, Transportation and Homeland Security. Others came from House or Senate computer networks.
The AP is not naming the government subscribers it found because they are not elected officials or accused of a crime.
Hackers this week released detailed records on millions of people registered with the website one month after the break-in at Ashley Madison's parent company, Toronto-based Avid Life Media Inc. The website -- whose slogan is, "Life is short. Have an affair" -- is marketed to facilitate extramarital affairs.
Many federal customers appeared to use non-government email addresses with handles such as "sexlessmarriage," "soontobesingle" or "latinlovers." Some Justice Department employees appeared to use pre-paid credit cards to help preserve their anonymity but connected to the service from their office computers.
"I was doing some things I shouldn't have been doing," a Justice Department investigator told the AP. Asked about the threat of blackmail, the investigator said if prompted he would reveal his actions to his family and employer to prevent it. "I've worked too hard all my life to be a victim of blackmail. That wouldn't happen," he said. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was deeply embarrassed and not authorized by the government to speak to reporters using his name.
The AP's analysis also found hundreds of transactions associated with Department of Defense networks, either at the Pentagon or from armed services connections elsewhere.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter confirmed the Pentagon was looking into the list of people who used military email addresses. Adultery can be a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

[VIDEO] Donald Trump: ‘I Pay as Little as Possible’ Because ‘I Hate the Way Our Government Spends Our Taxes’

( - GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump told CBS’s “Face the Nation” that he tries to pay as little taxes as possible, not just because he’s a businessman, but because he doesn’t like what the U.S. does with the taxpayers’ money.

“I have said this many times, so it is not exactly breaking news. I pay as little as possible. I fight like hell to pay as little as possible, for two reasons. Number one, I am a businessman, and that's the way you are supposed to do it, and you put the money back in your company and employees and all of that, but the other reason is that I hate the way our government spends our taxes,” said Trump when asked what percentage of income he pays in taxes.

“I hate the way they waste our money, trillions and trillions of dollars of waste and abuse, and I hate it,” said Trump.

According to Trump’s campaign, his personal fortune is set at $10 billion, and his annual income is estimated to be $362 million.

“I will be probably the first candidate in the history of politics within this country to say, I try and -- like every -- by the way, like every single taxpayer out there, I try to pay as little tax as possible, and, again, one of the big reasons is, I hate what our country does with the money that we pay,” he added.

Trump told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson that he might release his tax returns around the time that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton releases her e-mails.

“I may tie it to a release of Hillary's e-mails. I may very well do that,” Trump said. “Now, I have a very big company. They all said I wouldn't release my financials, and then I released them, and they were far bigger than anybody thought. They said I wouldn't release them because his company may be or his success may be -- isn't as big.

“Well, it turned out that it is far bigger, and I released them, and we will see what I am going to do with tax returns. I have no major problem with it, but I may tie them to a release of Hillary's e- mails,” he added.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

John Boehner Says California's Drought Is Obama's Fault. He's Almost Right

We should be pointing fingers at California lawmakers—not the president.

Thank you, John Boehner, for flagging an underrated feature of California’s ongoing water crisis: The government deserves blame.

Well, that’s not exactly what the Republican House Speaker and Ohio Congressman said on Facebook earlier this week. Beneath a photograph of a sign promoting water conservation in Arcadia, California, Boehner (or, at least, Boehner’s social-media minion) railed against what he called “President Obama’s man-made water shortage in the West”:

Though this is also the man who said mere months ago that he is “not qualified to debate the science over climate change,” Boehner has a point when he emphasizes managing water resources “in a way that actually makes sense” over “liberal environmentalists’ backwards priorities” —i.e., reducing water use for landscaping and (gasp!) letting lawns go brown.

Allow me to explain: Water conservation by individual people and localities, no doubt, is an important part of managing California’s worst-on-record drought. But even more important is getting state and local water management policies right, since all relevant research implies this drought will hardly be the state’s (or the country’s) last.

Groundwater is California’s most important reserve in times of drought, and it is essential to farmers, many of whom rely on deep wells to irrigate crops. Yet before Governor Jerry Brown signed the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act into law last fall, California had effectively zero rules on the books about pumping groundwater. And in practice, it still doesn’t; that groundwater act won’t really go into effect for decades to come.
So, even though the state’s surface is literally uncoiling like a spring due to severe groundwater loss, and even though some small-town residents have no water coming out their taps for the very same reason, Californians can still stick new straws into the big ol’ milkshake glass. It’s about as serious a tragedy of the commons as they come. If state lawmakers had chosen to act decades ago, or if local water districts actually kept track of how much groundwater farmers and homeowners are pumping, California’s bind would be far less serious.

Though Boehner references in his Facebook post a bill that essentially pins blame for the drought on federal environmental policies, Obama is not at fault for any of this. (And, for what it’s worth, that bill is unlikely to go anywhere, as similar efforts have failed to pass the Senate.)

But lawmakers at the state and local levels do deserve some blame. There’s lots of water in California; it’s just not nearly as well managed as it needs to be. There’s plenty of room for policy reform, including tighter, smarter groundwater management, encouraging conservation-based pricing schemes for residents, and creating a more effective water market to promote agricultural conservation.

On this one, Mr. Boehner, I tip my hat to you.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

[COMMENTARY] What the Role of ‘We the People’ Is

“We the People.” We’ve heard that phrase so often it’s easy to overlook its significance. But as we mark our nation’s birthday, we should take a moment to ask ourselves: What is the role of the people?
Our nation is unique because of its universal founding principles. At the heart of these principles is the belief that people are free by nature and possess inherent rights. The use each one of us makes of these rights will naturally be different, and the outcomes of those choices will naturally differ, too. But the choice remains ours.
Freedom is thus inextricably bound up with living our lives as we see fit. This is self-government in the truest sense of the term. We the people need not slavishly defer to experts. We can be trusted to govern ourselves.
That is why government must remain limited: The people have given it only limited powers, as described in the Constitution. When we allow government to take more than we have given it, our choices become meaningless. At worst, unlimited government is tyrannical; at best, it imposes a dull uniformity that crushes true diversity and saps the independent spirit of the people.
The founders strove to create a government that couldn’t be dominated by a single faction. That faction might be a minority or a majority. But no matter its size, it would inevitably seek to promote its own narrow interests at the expense of the liberties of the people.
One purpose of the Constitution’s checks and balances—one reason it divides and limits power—is to restrain the ambition of the powerful and promote “the general welfare.”
Yet as the federal government has grown over the past century, its business has increasingly become taking from Paul to benefit Peter, then borrowing from Peter to pay off Paul. What supporters of big government call the general welfare is merely the artful distribution of favors to particular factions.
The federal government is not supposed to be the most important institution in America. In securing the general welfare, it’s supposed to do only those things that are provided for in the Constitution.
It must, for example, provide for the common defense and regulate our relations with foreign nations. It must respect our right to enjoy the fruits of our labor by taxing lightly, and defend the freedom of the marketplace by ensuring the rule of law. And it must remember that the family and religion are where we learn virtue, and that without virtue, government cannot be both limited and free.
As John Adams stated: “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” In the United States, government requires not merely the consent of the governed. It rests ultimately on the ability of the people to govern themselves. Thus, the first role—the first duty—of the people is to ensure that they remain virtuous and free.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Judge Orders Government to Return $167,000 Seized From Motorhome Driver Visiting His Girlfriend

A federal judge in Nevada has ordered the government to return $167,000 that was seized from a man driving his motorhome on a highway two years ago. The man, Straughn Gorman, was traveling to visit his girlfriend. He was never charged with a crime.
The seizure originally occurred in January 2013, when Gorman was driving his motorhome from Delaware to visit his girlfriend in Sacramento, Calif.
Police stopped Gorman not once, but twice, within 50 minutes while he drove west on Interstate 80, according to documents filed with the U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada.
In the first traffic stop, which occurred near Elko, Nev., a Nevada Highway Patrol trooper stopped the man for driving too slowly in the passing lane. Gorman refused to let the trooper search his vehicle, and the Nevada Highway Patrol officer allowed him to continue on without issuing any citations.
Less than an hour later, Gorman was stopped again by an Elko County Sheriff’s Office deputy, who the highway patrol trooper had arranged to pull Gorman over once more, court documents show. The deputy had a drug-sniffing dog with him, and a search of the motorhome was conducted.
In the two-minute video originally posted by the Las Vegas Review-Journal, the officer searched the vehicle, where he found $167,000 in cash stored in different places throughout the motorhome.
The officer told Gorman that the cash, his computer, cellphone and vehicle would all be seized under civil asset forfeiture laws.
Though the Elk County Sheriff’s deputy said the dog detected drugs in the motorhome, none were found, and Gorman was never charged with a crime.
Instead, he became another victim of civil asset forfeiture, a procedure that gives local, state and federal law enforcement the power to seize money and property if it’s suspected of being related to a crime.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Free Trade: Less Government Everywhere Means Cheaper Stuff Here (and Everywhere)

Seton Motley | Red State | RedState.comMore government means more expensive everything. Every second and penny spent paying government taxes and complying with government regulations – raises the prices of the goods and services people proffer.
And more government makes it more difficult to innovate – to create and improve goods and services. Innovation is delayed or outright prevented – because the time and money wasted on government could be much better spent developing the next great things.
More government also inflates the prices of everything trade. It ain’t free trade – if governments are involved.
Trade Wars” actually aren’t about trade – they are about government trade policy.
If peoples are trading freely, there isn’t a “War” – there’s commerce. The “Wars” only happen when governments get involved – placing tariffs, regulations and subsidies in the way of the flow.
It becomes a regulatory arms race. A government imposes another subsidy or tax. So several others in response impose new subsidies and taxes of their own. Lather, rinse, repeat.
A horrendous example of government policy Trade Wars – is all things farm.
(O)ur Farm Bill – which warps our market – has warped the world’s as well. (Franklin Delano Roosevelt) helped beget an eight-decade-long international regulatory arms race.
Other produce-producing nations saw our lattice-work panoply of tariffs and subsidies – and felt compelled to match them. And then exceed them….
So what we now have is a global lattice-work panoply of tariffs and subsidies. A thicket that grows ever thicker – as each next government tries to outdo the last.
How bad has it become? Just on the government money side?
  • All countries, both industrialized and developing, support their agriculture sectors, but use vastly divergent policy tools and combinations of tools. Most use guaranteed minimum prices and import tariffs to protect domestic producers.
  • Industrialized country governments are moving from price supports toward decoupled direct income payments.
  • Developing countries supplement their price support programs with input subsidies, which are excluded from calculations of the Aggregate Measure of Support (AMS) by the World Trade Organization (WTO), but are nonetheless trade distorting.
  • Developing countries’ tariff protection is higher than that of industrialized countries.
  • The use of sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) measures to restrict imports are more frequent among developing countries than in developed countries.
That’s a mess.

Saturday, May 30, 2015


Americans pride ourselves on being people who have a government. But these days, it more often seems as if we’ve got a government that has people.

And that government is even selecting who its people will be, having–within a generation–essentially imported a state’s worth of new people through immigration.
Since 1970, the number of “Hispanics of Mexican origin” in the U.S. has jumped from fewer than 1 million to more than 33 million. If all these Mexicans were a state, it would be the second largest in population in the country, trailing only California.
Did you vote to approve that immigration policy? Did anyone? In fact, the federal government allowed it to happen without any voter input. That’s by design.
In recent years, Congress has attempted to draft legislation to deal with illegal immigration. And while the controversial “Gang of Eight” bill passed the Senate in 2013, it died in the House after one of its authors withdrew his support. Immigration is a difficult topic, one that will require difficult discussions.
Instead, the Obama White House would prefer to short-circuit the political discussions.
“America cannot wait forever for them to act. That’s why today I am beginning a new effort to fix as much of our immigration system as I can on my own, without Congress,” President Obama warned last summer. After the November elections, he acted to grant amnesty to millions of illegals.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

We’re Paying More Than Ever for Government to Regulate Us

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., claims Americans are suffering from Stockholm syndrome, a condition in which hostages begin to have misplaced positive feelings toward their captors. The captors in this case are the federal regulators who impose some 2,400 new regulations each year, and the senator suggests Americans are not sufficiently wary of their resulting ill effects.
According to a recent report by economists Susan Dudley and Melinda Warren, the cost to taxpayers of writing and enforcing all this red tape is expected to top $62 billion in 2015, about 4.3 percent above 2014 levels. On top of this, the president has asked for a further increase of 5.3 percent for regulatory agencies in 2016. Since 2000, the budgets for these agencies have increased more than 75 percent. This is in addition to the broader economic costs of red tape.
The joint report finds total staff levels within regulatory agencies has increased almost every year since 2001 and now tops 280,000.
“Regulators Budget,” published by the George Washington University Regulatory Studies Center and the Weidenbaum Center on the Economy, Government, and Public Policy at Washington University in St. Louis, has tracked the total staffing and spending of federal regulatory agencies since 1977. The growth in spending on regulatory agencies is consistent with the growing level of new major regulations reported by The Heritage Foundationand the Government Accountability Office.
As the graph below demonstrates, as annual regulatory outlays grew between 2001 and 2014, the number of new major rules—those expected to cost $100 million or more—also tended to increase. Other guides for tracking regulation—the number of pages in the Federal Register and agency estimates of the cost of regulations—also have grown along with the regulatory outlays and the number of new major regulations during the past two administrations.
All signs point to more expensive regulations in the future, with more rules to be written. Growth is generally a goal of companies in the private sector, but federal regulators also aim to grow their power and influence over the private sector. Unlike growth in private-sector companies, which leads to the development of innovative products or services and the creation of new jobs, the growth of regulatory agencies often leads only to more red tape.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

[VIDEO] Moms: This Is What Your Government Expects of You

If you’re a mom of grown children, this is for you.
Did you know that the Obama administration and the state of Rhode Island are counting on you to nag your kids into signing up for Obamacare?
Good old-fashioned guilt and annoyance—that’s the ticket, apparently. But just giving your kids a call or sending them an email isn’t enough.
Rhode Island’s newest strategy is urging mothers to sign up for social networking and even online dating sites to send messages to their children.
The state’s Obamacare exchange has put together the “Nag Toolkit.” The website isn’t subtle. It says, “learn how to be where your kids are. And how to nag them mercilessly.”
If your child is on social networks and apps like Twitter, Snapchat, or Vine, the Nag Toolkit encourages you to get on there, too, and “Tweet ‘get health insurance’ @yourkids.” It sure is a lot of trouble to go to just to say that.
But the site goes even further by recommending that you, their mom—regardless of your own relationship status—create a profile on a dating site like OKCupid or Tinder. And then find your child’s dating profile and send him or her a message about health insurance.
Maybe what Rhode Island really wants is young people’s email addresses, though. Because after the tutorials, this message comes up: “If this all seems too confusing, give us your kid’s email address and we’ll do the nagging.”
If you’re not in Rhode Island, the Obama administration will bring in celebrities’ moms and the First Mom to nag your kids.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Energy-booming states continue to outshine energy-regressive states

The Federal Government released yesterday its monthly “Regional and State Employment and Unemployment” report of January. (The State numbers are released 4-6 weeks after the national numbers are out).
Here are some interesting numbers about January – the latest month available:
Icon for Post #93694– The unemployment rate in Texas (5.7%), Utah (3.9%), South Dakota (3.6%), and in North Dakota (2.6%) are well below January’s national UR of 6.6%, while the UR in Illinois (8.7%), California (8.1%), and New York (6.8%) are higher than the national average. A key issue that empowers the first half state over the second half is energy production: ND and TX have massively increased their production in recent years while NY and CA have both cut their natural gas and crude oil production since 2008.
– In terms of jobs, Texas added 778,600 jobs in the last five years starting with February 2009 (Obama’s first full month in office), while California produced 644K jobs in the same period. New York State came in a distant third with 270,500 added jobs. ND in this same period produced about 85K jobs. Remember: ND does not even have close to 1M people living there while NY has almost 20 million and CA almost 40 million!
- The 863,600 combined jobs created in two of the most energy-producing states (TX-ND), account for 24.3% of the net jobs created since Obama’s first full month in office. Meanwhile, NY and CA, two energy-regressive states with a combined population more than double of TXND, produced only 25.7% of the jobs over the same period.
Considering that the jobs data are based on surveys and rough estimates subject to endless revisions, it’s fair to say that job gains in NYCA are essentially the same as in TXND despite boasting 58M people to the 27M of TXND.
If only the people running GOP messaging had the brains to showcase those numbers during the 2012 election.
Democrats try to dismiss  these numbers by claiming that those jobs are low-paying. Putting aside the fact that by saying this, the Democrats are trashing a BIG percent of the Obama-era jobs, the fact is that of all the state that income to the bottom 5% fell since the recovery began, it dropped least in TX. Better yet, of the three states that income to this class actually rose, it did best in ND!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Williamson: The Government Isn’t Santa

featured-imgThere were three wise men, bearing gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Much has been written about the mystical connotations of those gifts, but it is rarely, if ever, asked: Where did they get them?

Presumably, Balthazar, Melchior, and Caspar were not engaged in gold mining, frankincense farming, or myrrh cultivation. They had other things to do, other stars to follow. For Christians, and for men of goodwill categorically, this is an important question: Feed my sheep, saith the Lord — okay: Feed ’em what? Some of the Apostles were said to have the gift of healing through the laying on of hands; those without such gifts still have an obligation to heal the sick (if the ACLU will allow it), which means building hospitals and clinics, equipping doctors and nurses, etc. With what?

If ye had but faith in the measure of a mustard seed . . . and if the mustard-seed approach does not work, and the mountains we command to be uprooted remain stubbornly in place, then we are back to the old-fashioned problems of human existence: scarcity and production. That is what is so maddening about Pope Francis’s recent apostolic exhortation — which is, as much as my fellow Catholics try to explain it away, a problematic document in many ways. The pope’s argument, fundamentally, is that we can have capitalism on the condition that we feed the poor. This is exactly backward: We can feed the poor if we have capitalism. To give away wealth presumes the existence of that wealth, whether it is an annual tithe or Jesus’ more radical stance of giving away all that one owns. Giving away all that you own does not do the poor an iota of good if you don’t have anything. You can’t spread the wealth without wealth.

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