Story 1: Watermelon President Obama and Pope Francis — Green on The Outside and Red On The Inside — Neither Is An Authority On Science, Economics, Or Democides — Cosmic or Social Justice Is Using Coercion and Force To Steal — Leads To Democide and Genocide — Videos
I cannot accept your canon that we are to judge Pope and King unlike other men, with a favourable presumption that they did no wrong. If there is any presumption it is the other way, against the holders of power, increasing as the power increases. Historic responsibility has to make up for the want of legal responsibility. Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you superadd the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority. There is no worse heresy than that the office sanctifies the holder of it.
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Pope Francis has created political controversy, both inside and outside the Catholic Church, by blaming capitalism for many of the problems of the poor. We can no doubt expect more of the same during his visit to the United States.
Pope Francis is part of a larger trend of the rise of the political left among Catholic intellectuals. He is, in a sense, the culmination of that trend.
There has long been a political left among Catholics, as among other Americans. Often they were part of the pragmatic left, as in the many old Irish-run, big city political machines that dispensed benefits to the poor in exchange for their votes, as somewhat romantically depicted in the movie classic, “The Last Hurrah.”
But there has also been a more ideological left. Where the Communists had their official newspaper, “The Daily Worker,” there was also “The Catholic Worker” published by Dorothy Day.
A landmark in the evolution of the ideological left among Catholics was a publication in the 1980s, by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, titled “Pastoral Letter on Catholic Social Teaching and the U.S. Economy.”
Although this publication was said to be based on Catholic teachings, one of its principal contributors, Archbishop Rembert Weakland, said: “I think we should be up front and say that really we took this from the Enlightenment era.”
The specifics of the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter reflect far more of the secular Enlightenment of the 18th century than of Catholic traditions. Archbishop Weakland admitted that such an Enlightenment figure as Thomas Paine “is now coming back through a strange channel.”
Strange indeed. Paine rejected the teachings of “any church that I know of,” including “the Roman church.” He said: “My own mind is my own church.” Nor was Paine unusual among the leading figures of the 18th century Enlightenment.
To base social or moral principles on the philosophy of the 18th century Enlightenment, and then call the result “Catholic teachings” suggests something like bait-and-switch advertising.
But, putting aside religious or philosophical questions, we have more than two centuries of historical evidence of what has actually happened as the ideas of people like those Enlightenment figures were put into practice in the real world — beginning with the French Revolution and its disastrous aftermath.
Both the authors of the Bishops’ Pastoral Letter in the 1980s, and Pope Francis today, blithely throw around the phrase “the poor,” and blame poverty on what other people are doing or not doing to or for “the poor.”
Any serious look at the history of human beings over the millennia shows that the species began in poverty. It is not poverty, but prosperity, that needs explaining. Poverty is automatic, but prosperity requires many things — none of which is equally distributed around the world or even within a given society.
Geographic settings are radically different, both among nations and within nations. So are demographic differences, with some nations and groups having a median age over 40 and others having a median age under 20. This means that some groups have several times as much adult work experience as others.
Cultures are also radically different in many ways.
As distinguished economic historian David S. Landes put it, “The world has never been a level playing field.” But which has a better track record of helping the less fortunate — fighting for a bigger slice of the economic pie, or producing a bigger pie?
In 1900, only 3 percent of American homes had electric lights but more than 99 percent had them before the end of the century. Infant mortality rates were 165 per thousand in 1900 and 7 per thousand by 1997. By 2001, most Americans living below the official poverty line had central air conditioning, a motor vehicle, cable television with multiple TV sets, and other amenities.
A scholar specializing in the study of Latin America said that the official poverty level in the United States is the upper middle class in Mexico. The much criticized market economy of the United States has done far more for the poor than the ideology of the left.
Pope Francis’ own native Argentina was once among the leading economies of the world, before it was ruined by the kind of ideological notions he is now promoting around the world.
Pope Francis embodies sanctity but comes trailing clouds of sanctimony. With a convert’s indiscriminate zeal, he embraces ideas impeccably fashionable, demonstrably false and deeply reactionary. They would devastate the poor on whose behalf he purports to speak — if his policy prescriptions were not as implausible as his social diagnoses are shrill.
Supporters of Francis have bought newspaper and broadcast advertisements to disseminate some of his woolly sentiments that have the intellectual tone of fortune cookies. One example: “People occasionally forgive, but nature never does.” The Vatican’s majesty does not disguise the vacuity of this. Is Francis intimating that environmental damage is irreversible? He neglects what technology has accomplished regarding London’s air (see Page 1 of Dickens’s “Bleak House”) and other matters.
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And the Earth is becoming “an immense pile of filth”? Hyperbole is a predictable precursor of yet anotherU.N. Climate Change Conference — the 21st since 1995. Fortunately, rhetorical exhibitionism increases as its effectiveness diminishes. In his June encyclical and elsewhere, Francis lectures about our responsibilities, but neglects the duty to be as intelligent as one can be.This man who says “the Church does not presume to settle scientific questions” proceeds as though everything about which he declaims is settled, from imperiled plankton to air conditioning being among humanity’s “harmful habits.” The church that thought it was settled science that Galileo was heretical should be attentive to all evidence.
The saint who is Francis’s namesake supposedly lived in sweet harmony with nature. For most of mankind, however, nature has been, and remains, scarcity, disease and natural — note the adjective — disasters. Our flourishing requires affordable, abundant energy for the production of everything from food to pharmaceuticals. Poverty has probably decreased more in the past two centuries than in the preceding three millennia because of industrialization powered by fossil fuels. Only economic growth has ever produced broad amelioration of poverty, and since growth began in the late 18th century, it has depended on such fuels.
Matt Ridley, author of “The Rational Optimist,” notes that coal supplanting wood fuel reversed deforestation, and that “fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food.” The capitalist commerce that Francis disdains is the reason the portion of the planet’s population living in “absolute poverty” ($1.25 a day) declined from 53 percent to 17 percent in three decades after 1981. Even in low-income countries, writes economist Indur Goklany, life expectancy increased from between 25 to 30 years in 1900 to 62 years today. Sixty-three percent of fibers are synthetic and derived from fossil fuels; of the rest, 79 percent come from cotton, which requires synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. “Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides derived from fossil fuels,” he says, “are responsible for at least 60 percent of today’s global food supply.” Without fossil fuels, he says, global cropland would have to increase at least 150 percent — equal to the combined land areas of South America and the European Union — to meet current food demands.
Francis grew up around the rancid political culture of Peronist populism, the sterile redistributionism that has reduced his Argentina from the world’s 14th highest per-capita gross domestic product in 1900 to 63rd today. Francis’s agenda for the planet — “global regulatory norms” — would globalize Argentina’s downward mobility.
As the world spurns his church’s teachings about abortion, contraception, divorce, same-sex marriage and other matters, Francis jauntily makes his church congruent with the secular religion of “sustainability.” Because this is hostile to growth, it fits Francis’s seeming sympathy for medieval stasis, when his church ruled the roost, economic growth was essentially nonexistent and life expectancy was around 30.
Francis’s fact-free flamboyance reduces him to a shepherd whose selectively reverent flock, genuflecting only at green altars, is tiny relative to the publicity it receives from media otherwise disdainful of his church. Secular people with anti-Catholic agendas drain his prestige, a dwindling asset, into promotion of policies inimical to the most vulnerable people and unrelated to what once was the papacy’s very different salvific mission.
He stands against modernity, rationality, science and, ultimately, the spontaneous creativity of open societies in which people and their desires are not problems but precious resources. Americans cannot simultaneously honor him and celebrate their nation’s premises.
Obama’s welcoming speech to Pope Francis, and the pope’s reply
President Barack Obama’s remarks came first Wednesday morning at the White House. Pope Francis’ own comments are below the president’s.
Good morning! What a beautiful day the Lord has made! Holy Father, on behalf of Michelle and myself, welcome to the White House. Our backyard is not typically this crowded – but the size and spirit of today’s gathering is just a small reflection of the deep devotion of some 70 million American Catholics . . . and the way your message of love and hope has inspired so many people, across our nation and around the world. On behalf of the American people, it is my great honor and privilege to welcome you to the United States of America.
Today, we mark many firsts. Your Holiness, you have been celebrated as the first pope from the Americas. This is your first visit to the United States. And you are also the first pontiff to share an encyclical through a Twitter account.
Holy Father, your visit not only allows me, in some small way, to reciprocate the extraordinary hospitality you extended to me at the Vatican last year. It also reveals how much all Americans, from every background and of every faith, value the role that the Catholic Church plays in strengthening America. From my time working in impoverished neighborhoods with the Catholic Church in Chicago to my travels as president, I’ve seen firsthand how, every day, Catholic communities, priests, nuns and laity feed the hungry, heal the sick, shelter the homeless, educate our children and fortify the faith that sustains so many.
What is true in America is true around the world. From the busy streets of Buenos Aires to remote villages in Kenya, Catholic organizations serve the poor, minister to prisoners, build schools and homes, and operate orphanages and hospitals. And just as the Church has stood with those struggling to break the chains of poverty, it has given voice and hope to those seeking to break the chains of violence and oppression.
And yet, I believe the excitement around your visit must be attributed not only to your role as pope, but to your unique qualities as a person. In your humility, your embrace of simplicity, the gentleness of your words and the generosity of your spirit, we see a living example of Jesus’ teachings, a leader whose moral authority comes not just through words but also through deeds.
You call on all of us, Catholic and non-Catholic alike, to put the “least of these” at the center of our concern. You remind us that in the eyes of God our measure as individuals, and as societies, is not determined by wealth or power or station or celebrity, but by how well we hew to Scripture’s call to lift up the poor and the marginalized, to stand up for justice and against inequality, and to ensure that every human being is able to live in dignity – because we are all made in the image of God.
You remind us that “the Lord’s most powerful message” is mercy. That means welcoming the stranger with empathy and a truly open heart – from the refugee who flees war-torn lands to the immigrant who leaves home in search of a better life. It means showing compassion and love for the marginalized and the outcast, those who have suffered and those who seek redemption.
You remind us of the costs of war, particularly on the powerless and defenseless, and urge us toward the imperative of peace. Holy Father, we are grateful for your invaluable support of our new beginning with the Cuban people, which holds out the promise of better relations between our countries, greater cooperation across our hemisphere and a better life for the Cuban people. We thank you for your passionate voice against the deadly conflicts that ravage the lives of so many men, women and children; and your call for nations to resist the sirens of war and resolve disputes through diplomacy.
You remind us that people are only truly free when they can practice their faith freely. Here in the United States, we cherish religious liberty. Yet around the world at this very moment, children of God, including Christians, are targeted and even killed because of their faith. Believers are prevented from gathering at their places of worship. The faithful are imprisoned. Churches are destroyed. So we stand with you in defense of religious freedom and interfaith dialogue, knowing that people everywhere must be able to live out their faith free from fear and intimidation.
And, Holy Father, you remind us that we have a sacred obligation to protect our planet – God’s magnificent gift to us. We support your call to all world leaders to support the communities most vulnerable to a changing climate and to come together to preserve our precious world for future generations.
Your Holiness, in your words and deeds, you set a profound moral example. And in these gentle but firm reminders of our obligations to God and to one another, you are shaking us out of complacency. All of us may, at times, experience discomfort when we contemplate the distance between how we lead our daily lives and what we know to be true and right. But I believe such discomfort is a blessing, for it points to something better. You shake our conscience from slumber; you call on us to rejoice in Good News, and give us confidence that we can come together, in humility and service, and pursue a world that is more loving, more just, and more free. Here at home and around the world, may our generation heed your call to “never remain on the sidelines of this march of living hope!”
For that great gift of hope, Holy Father, we thank you, and welcome you, with joy and gratitude, to the United States of America.
Good morning. Mr. President, I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of the all Americans. As a son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families.
I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue in which I hope to listen to and share many of the hopes and dreams of the American people. During my visit, I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the eighth World Meeting of Families to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this critical moment in the history of our civilization.
Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of goodwill, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and the right to religious liberty. That freedom reminds one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.
Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to our future generation. When it comes to the care of our common home, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the change needed to bring about a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change.
Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded, which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities, our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Rev. Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note, and now is the time to honor it.
We know by faith that the Creator does not abandon us; He never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity has the ability to work together in building our common home. As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home.
Mr. President, the efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom.
I would like all men and women of goodwill in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.
Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America.
I am deeply grateful for your welcome in the name of all Americans. As the son of an immigrant family, I am happy to be a guest in this country, which was largely built by such families. I look forward to these days of encounter and dialogue, in which I hope to listen to, and share, many of the hopes and dreams of the American people.
During my visit I will have the honor of addressing Congress, where I hope, as a brother of this country, to offer words of encouragement to those called to guide the nation’s political future in fidelity to its founding principles. I will also travel to Philadelphia for the Eighth World Meeting of Families, to celebrate and support the institutions of marriage and the family at this, a critical moment in the history of our civilization.
Mr. President, together with their fellow citizens, American Catholics are committed to building a society which is truly tolerant and inclusive, to safeguarding the rights of individuals and communities, and to rejecting every form of unjust discrimination. With countless other people of good will, they are likewise concerned that efforts to build a just and wisely ordered society respect their deepest concerns and their right to religious liberty. That freedom remains one of America’s most precious possessions. And, as my brothers, the United States Bishops, have reminded us, all are called to be vigilant, precisely as good citizens, to preserve and defend that freedom from everything that would threaten or compromise it.
Mr. President, I find it encouraging that you are proposing an initiative for reducing air pollution. Accepting the urgency, it seems clear to me also that climate change is a problem which can no longer be left to a future generation. When it comes to the care of our “common home”, we are living at a critical moment of history. We still have time to make the changes needed to bring about “a sustainable and integral development, for we know that things can change” (Laudato Si’, 13). Such change demands on our part a serious and responsible recognition not only of the kind of world we may be leaving to our children, but also to the millions of people living under a system which has overlooked them. Our common home has been part of this group of the excluded which cries out to heaven and which today powerfully strikes our homes, our cities and our societies. To use a telling phrase of the Reverend Martin Luther King, we can say that we have defaulted on a promissory note and now is the time to honor it.
We know by faith that “the Creator does not abandon us; he never forsakes his loving plan or repents of having created us. Humanity still has the ability to work together in building our common home” (Laudato Si’, 13). As Christians inspired by this certainty, we wish to commit ourselves to the conscious and responsible care of our common home. The efforts which were recently made to mend broken relationships and to open new doors to cooperation within our human family represent positive steps along the path of reconciliation, justice and freedom. I would like all men and women of good will in this great nation to support the efforts of the international community to protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development, so that our brothers and sisters everywhere may know the blessings of peace and prosperity which God wills for all his children.
Mr. President, once again I thank you for your welcome, and I look forward to these days in your country. God bless America!
Obama to Bask in Pope’s Aura, But Francis Wants Economic Justice
When Pope Francis meets Barack Obama at the White House on Wednesday, the president will bask in his guest’s moral authority and iconic popularity. But the first pontiff from Latin America is likely to exploit those assets to pressure his host on U.S. global economic leadership.
On Francis’s first full day in the country, Obama and as many as 15,000 guests will welcome him on the South Lawn of the White House. For the president, it’s an opportunity to showcase the pope’s support for his initiatives on income inequality, immigration and climate change.
“These are issues that are going to define our future, and the pope I think is providing an incredible sense of motivation that they can and must be addressed,” Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said in a conference call with reporters. “The pope’s voice could not be more timely and important.”
Contentious issues involving Church doctrine on the family — such as abortion rights and contraception coverage — will be swept under the carpet of the Oval Office. But the pope, who called for “a poor Church for the poor” on his election, is expected to elevate his concern for the downtrodden and the excluded for a global audience.
“There are points of tension, and the role of the U.S. as a world leader in economic justice is certainly going to be an issue — how much the U.S. is doing will be on the pope’s mind,” said veteran Vatican watcher John Thavis, author of The Vatican Prophecies. “The U.S. is in a position to drive some of these discussions, and the pope would like to see some leadership.”
At the White House on Wednesday morning, crowds began gathering well before sunrise to clear the security checkpoints before assembling on the South Lawn. A group of drummers banged on their instruments near the Treasury Department, and a man with a bullhorn disrupted the quiet near Lafayette Square on the north side of the White House complex.
Lines for those holding tickets to the White House ceremony grew after the gates opened at 5 a.m. Yellow and white Vatican flags were flying alongside U.S. flags around the White House ready for Francis’s arrival.
The political heft of the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics will be underscored by crowds that security officials expect to be comparable to a presidential inauguration. Some 150,000 people may congregate on the route of his “popemobile” along the National Mall. Much of downtown Washington will be closed to traffic.
Francis faces a balancing act in crafting his message for the extraordinary pulpit that his first visit to the U.S. affords. He will be the first pope to address Congress, on Thursday, and then speaks to the United Nations General Assembly on Friday. He must tailor his criticisms of capitalism’s excesses for a country in which the philosophy is nearly a faith.
“He will make it clear that he is not attacking capitalism as an economic theory, but the way it plays out in the real world — he sees masses of people excluded from the benefits of capitalism, and I think he will say that greed cannot be a motivator in human society,” Thavis said.
In one small symbol, Francis chose a humble Fiat 500L to travel from Joint Base Andrews outside Washington, where his plane landed, to the Vatican envoy’s residence in the city. The compact car was dwarfed in his motorcade by the Secret Service’s hulking sport utility vehicles.
The Argentine pope’s priorities are reflected even in his choice of language. At the White House, he will deliver the first speech of his visit in English. But 14 of the 18 speeches scheduled in the country will be in his native Spanish.
“He’s more comfortable that way,” his spokesman, Father Federico Lombardi, said at a briefing last week. He’s also better able to reach the nation’s largest immigrant group in the language, a top item on his agenda.
It’s also in Spanish that Francis will celebrate his first Mass in the U.S. on Wednesday, and canonize a saint on U.S. soil for the first time, Hispanic missionary Junipero Serra.
Persuading the Hierarchy
Earlier in the day, Francis will speak to approximately 300 U.S. Catholic bishops at a prayer service at St. Matthew’s Cathedral, known to many Americans as the site of President John F. Kennedy’s funeral Mass.
Those remarks are significant, as it is the church’s U.S. hierarchy that is responsible for follow-through on Francis’s priorities through Sunday sermons, religious education programs, Catholic school curricula and parish activities, said Father Tom Reese, a Jesuit priest and a senior analyst for the National Catholic Reporter.
“The bishops in the United States over the past 10 years have tended to focus on abortion, gay marriage and this religious freedom issue. He wants them to move in a different direction,” Reese said. “He’s not going to succeed unless the rest of the church gets behind him, particularly the bishops and the priests.”
Pope Francis and President Obama have both dedicated their lives to helping the less fortunate, and that commonality will be central to their meeting Wednesday during the pope’s first visit to the United States, a White House spokesman said hours before Obama left to greet the pontiff as he landed at Andrews Air Force Base Tuesday afternoon.
“[B]oth men have talked, quite publicly, about their commitment to social justice,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in previewing their Oval Office meeting scheduled for Wednesday morning. “And both men have dedicated their, not just their careers, but their lives, to that effort.”
“Certainly the kind of commitment that we’ve seen from Pope Francis is unique and singular,” Earnest allowed “but I think the values that both men live out have some common ground.”
Earnest talked about how Obama turned down high-paying jobs upon graduating law school to instead work in Chicago’s poor South Side, and how Francis is known for advocating on behalf of impoverished communities in his home country of Argentina before ascending through the Roman Catholic Church’s ranks.
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“And you know, the president actually worked quite closely with other Catholics in that community, and the president has talked about that quite a bit … this has been a value that has animated the president’s career choices since he was a young man.”
Earnest said Francis’s story is similar.
“[P]rior to rising through the leadership ranks of the Catholic Church … Pope Francis earned a reputation in Latin America [as being someone] willing to roll up his sleeves” to help the less fortunate, “particularly those who were economically destitute,” Earnest said.
Earnest said many in the administration are looking forward to greeting Francis because they feel they are working toward the same goals.
They’re “animated by the same kinds of values that animate the pope,” Earnest said about White House staffers. “And I think that’s why the opportunity to have Pope Francis, somebody who shares those values, here in this building tomorrow, makes for a really special day.”
A crowd of 15,000 is expected to welcome Francis at a ceremony on the White House lawn Wednesday morning.
According to press reports, several hundred people were on hand at Maryland’s Andrews Air Force Base to watch “Shepherd One” land and cheer the pope as he deplaned.
“We love Francis, yes we do,” people reportedly chanted. “We love Francis, how about you?”
In addition to Obama, First Lady Michelle, Vice President Joe Biden his wife Jill, and their extended families, nearly 20 other dignitaries were on hand at Andrews, including all of the Washington and Baltimore areas’ Catholic bishops.
“Ho, ho, hey, hey, welcome to the USA,” the larger crowd chanted, welcoming Francis on his first trip ever to the United States.
Pope Francis’ chartered plane from Cuba touched down at Andrews Air Force Base in Maryland, where President Barack Obama and his wife and daughters paid him the rare honor of meeting him at the bottom of the stairs on the red-carpeted tarmac. Presidents usually make important visitors come to them at the White House.
Emerging from the aircraft to loud cheers from a crowd of hundreds, the smiling 78-year-old pontiff removed his skullcap in the windy weather and made his way down the steps in his white robes.
He was welcomed by a military honor guard, chanting schoolchildren, politicians, and Roman Catholic clerics in black robes with vivid sashes of scarlet and purple. Joe Biden, the nation’s first Catholic vice president, and his wife were among those who greeted him.
Eschewing a limousine, the pope climbed into the back of a little Fiat sandwiched between huge black SUVs. He promptly rolled down the windows, enabling the cheering, whooping crowds to see him as his motorcade took him to the Vatican diplomatic mission in Washington, where he will stay while in the nation’s capital.
The choice of car was in keeping with his simple habits and his stand against consumerism. His decision to roll down the windows reflected his penchant for trying to connect to ordinary people despite the tight security around him.
During his six-day, three-city visit to the U.S., the pope will meet with the president on Wednesday, address Congress on Thursday, speak at the United Nations in New York on Friday and take part in a Vatican-sponsored conference on the family in Philadelphia over the weekend.
The Argentine known as the “slum pope” for ministering to the downtrodden in his native Buenos Aires is expected to urge America to take better care of the environment and the poor and return to its founding ideals of religious liberty and open arms toward immigrants.
During the flight, Francis defended himself against conservative criticism that his condemnation of trickle-down economics makes him a communist.
“I am certain that I have never said anything beyond what is in the social doctrine of the church,” he said. He said some may have misinterpreted his writings in a way that makes him sound “a little bit more left-leaning,” but he said that’s wrong.
Joking about doubts in some quarters over whether he is truly Catholic, he said, “If I have to recite the Creed, I’m ready.”
Francis is the fourth pope ever to visit the United States.
Francis’ enormous popularity, propensity for wading into crowds and insistence on using an open-sided Jeep rather than a bulletproof popemobile have complicated things for U.S. law enforcement, which has mounted one of the biggest security operations in American history to keep him safe.
The measures are unprecedented for a papal trip and could make it nearly impossible for many ordinary Americans to get anywhere close to Francis.
For all the attention likely to be paid to Francis’ speeches, including the first address from a pope to Congress, his more personal gestures — visiting with immigrants, prisoners and the homeless — could yield some of the most memorable images of the trip.
“What the pope does in the United States will be more important than what he says,” said Mat Schmalz, a religious studies professor at Holy Cross college in Worcester, Massachusetts. “There are a lot of things he will say about capitalism and about wealth inequality, but many Americans and politicians have already made up their minds on these issues. What I would look for is a particular gesture, an unscripted act, that will move people.”
In Cuba, Francis basked in the adulation of Cubans grateful to him for brokering the re-establishment of diplomatic relations between the U.S. and the communist island.
On the plane, though, he told reporters he will not use his speech to Congress to call specifically for the U.S. to lift the Cold War-era trade embargo against Cuba.
He arrives at a moment of bitter infighting across the country over gay rights, immigration, abortion and race relations — issues that are always simmering in the U.S. but have boiled over in the heat of a presidential campaign.
Santeria practitioners undergo a brief fit of spirit-induced convulsions during a ceremony to attrac …
Capitol Hill is consumed by disputes over abortion and federal funding for Planned Parenthood after hidden-camera videos showed its officials talking about the organization’s practice of sending tissue from aborted fetuses to medical researchers. While Francis has staunchly upheld church teaching against abortion, he has recently allowed ordinary priests, and not just bishops, to absolve women of the sin.
Francis’ visit comes three months after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, putting U.S. bishops on the defensive and sharply dividing Americans over how much they should accommodate religious objectors. The pope has strongly upheld church teaching against same-sex marriage but adopted a welcoming tone toward gays themselves, saying, “Who am I to judge?” when asked about a supposedly gay priest.
Americans are also wrestling anew with issues of racism. A series of deaths in recent years of unarmed black men at the hands of law enforcement has intensified debate over the American criminal justice system. Francis will see that system up close when he meets with inmates at a Pennsylvania prison.
U.S. bishops, meanwhile, expect Francis will issue a strong call for immigration reform, a subject that has heated up with hardline anti-immigrant rhetoric from some of the Republican presidential candidates, especially Donald Trump.
Francis, the first Latin American pope, will be sending a powerful message on that front by delivering the vast majority of his speeches in his native Spanish.
“Our presidential candidates have been using immigrants as a wedge issue,” Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski said. “It’s our hope that the visit of Pope Francis will change this narrative.”
Francis’ most eagerly watched speech will be his address to Congress. Republicans and many conservative Catholics have bristled at his indictment of the excesses of capitalism that he says impoverish people and risk turning the Earth into an “immense pile of filth.” Many conservatives have likewise rejected his call for urgent action against global warming.
Nevertheless, Francis enjoys popularity ratings in the U.S. that would be the envy of any world leader. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted last week found 63 percent of Catholics have a favorable view of him, and nearly 8 in 10 approve the direction he is taking the church.
Just how far Francis presses his agenda in Washington is the big question.
Paul Vallely, author of “Pope Francis, The Struggle for the Soul of Catholicism,” predicted both “warmth” and “some finger-wagging” from the pope.
“He won’t necessarily confront people head-on,” Vallely said, “but he’ll change the priorities.”
Pope Francis visits U.S. amid legal challenges to religious freedom
By Dave Boyer –
Pope Francis is arriving in the U.S. at a time when the faithful are facing broad challenges in court over the limits of religious liberty.
From the administration’s contraception mandate under Obamacare to the fallout from the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage, church-affiliated institutions and individuals are confronting litigation to compel them to carry out policies contrary to their religious beliefs.
Some observers say the pope, with whom President Obama claims to hold a special relationship, shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to speak out in defense of religious liberty in the U.S.
“This is the time, right now,” said Joseph Prud’homme, director of the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College in Chestertown, Maryland. “I think it’s an opportunity for the pope to speak clearly about the right of religious liberty in this country.”
From his behind-the-scenes role in brokering the restoration of diplomatic ties between Cuba and the U.S. to his issuing of an encyclical on the environment in June calling for renewable-fuel subsidies and energy efficiency, Francis has appeared to many to be on the same page with much of Mr. Obama’s agenda.
“He has established a considerable bridge with the secular left with his encyclical on the environment,” Mr. Prud’homme said. “And using that kind of bridge, he needs to now walk across it and say very clearly that the right of religious freedom needs to be guaranteed and the right of individuals to follow their conscience needs to be protected.”
Francis addressed the issue of his ideological leanings Tuesday on the plane from Cuba, saying that while some glosses on his writings and words may have created a view that he is “a little bit more left-leaning,” such narratives are wrong.
“I am certain that I have never said anything beyond what is in the social doctrine of the church,” he asserted, referring to more than 120 years of church criticism of the excesses of capitalism, repeated in various ways by every pope since Leo XIII’s encyclical Rerum Novarum.
White House aides said the president’s meeting with the pope in the Oval Office on Wednesday will focus on their shared values and won’t address policy specifics.
“Their focus in the context of this meeting will not be about politics, not about specific policies, but rather about the kinds of values that both men have dedicated their lives to championing,” said White House press secretary Josh Earnest. “There is no plan or strategy that’s been put in place to try to stage an event that will advance anybody’s political agenda.”
Mr. Earnest, addressing the Islamic State’s persecution of Christians in Syria and Iraq, said one of the values that Mr. Obama shares with Pope Francis “is a commitment to religious liberty — standing up for the rights of religious minorities around the world.”
“That has long been a value that President Obama has prioritized,” he said.
Whether or not it was timed to coincide with the pope’s arrival, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell gave a speech Tuesday at Howard University’s College of Medicine on progress made under the Affordable Care Act.
The Supreme Court is increasingly likely to take up one or more challenges to the Obamacare contraception mandate. A panel of the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Louis ruled last week that forcing two Missouri organizations to offer contraceptive coverage to employees — even indirectly — would violate the groups’ religious freedoms.
Every other appeals court to consider the issue has ruled in opposition to the 8th Circuit, and the Supreme Court usually steps in to resolve such splits. The other courts have said the administration has done enough to accommodate the objections of religiously affiliated nonprofit organizations such as universities, hospitals and charities.
The Becket Fund’s petitions to the high court involve the Little Sisters of the Poor and Houston Baptist University, both of which are challenging the mandate on religious grounds. The court is expected to decide in October whether to hear one or more of the cases.
“I think it’s unlikely that the court would refuse to address the issue, which is affecting hundreds if not thousands of religious organizations across the country,” Mr. Baxter said.
“The administration shouldn’t be picking and choosing between religious organizations. The bishops who run the dioceses around the country have been exempted from the mandate, there’s no reason why the nuns, like Little Sisters of the Poor, or other religious organizations shouldn’t also be exempt,” he said.
The stone tablets, as opposed to the commandments inscribed on them, are called לוחות הברית: Luchot HaBrit, meaning “the tablets of the covenant”.
Passages in Exodus and Deuteronomy
The biblical narrative of the revelation at Sinai begins in Exodus 19 after the arrival of the children of Israel at Mount Sinai (also called Horeb). on the morning of the third day of their encampment, “there were thunders and lightnings, and a thick cloud upon the mount, and the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud”, and the people assembled at the base of the mount. After “the LORD came down upon mount Sinai”, Moses went up briefly and returned and prepared the people, and then in Exodus 20 “God spoke” to all the people the words of the covenant, “even ten commandments” as it is written.
The people were afraid to hear more and moved “afar off”, and Moses responded with “Fear not.” Nevertheless, he drew near the “thick darkness” where “the presence of the Lord” was to hear the additional statutes and “judgments”, (Exodus 21–23) all which he “wrote” in the “book of the covenant“ which he read to the people the next morning, and they agreed to be obedient and do all that the LORD had said. Moses escorted a select group consisting of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and “seventy of the elders of Israel” to a location on the mount where they worshipped “afar off” and they “saw the God of Israel” above a “paved work” like clear sapphire stone. (Exodus 24:1–11)
And the LORD said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tablets of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. 13 And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God.
The mount was covered by the cloud for six days, and on the seventh day Moses went into the midst of the cloud and was “in the mount forty days and forty nights.” (Exodus 24:16–18) And Moses said, “the LORD delivered unto me two tablets of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORDspake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.” (Deuteronomy 9:10) Before the full forty days expired, the children of Israel collectively decided that something happened to Moses, and compelled Aaron to fashion a golden calf, and he “built an altar before it” (Ex.32:1–5) and the people “worshipped” the calf. (Ex.32:6–8)
After the full forty days, Moses and Joshua came down from the mountain with the tablets of stone: “And it came to pass, as soon as he came nigh unto the camp, that he saw the calf, and the dancing: and Moses’ anger waxed hot, and he cast the tablets out of his hands, and brake them beneath the mount.” (Ex.32:19) After the events in chapters 32 and 33, the LORD told Moses, “Hew thee two tablets of stone like unto the first: and I will write upon these tablets the words that were in the first tablets, which thou brakest.” (Ex.34:1) “And he wrote on the tablets, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.” (Deuteronomy 10:4)
According to Jewish tradition, Exodus 20:1–17 constitutes God’s first recitation and inscription of the ten commandments on the two tablets, which Moses broke in anger with his rebellious nation, and were later rewritten on replacement stones and placed in the ark of the covenant; and Deuteronomy 5:4–20 consists of God’s re-telling of the Ten Commandments to the younger generation who were to enter the Promised Land. The passages in Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 contain more than ten imperative statements, totalling 14 or 15 in all.
Traditions for numbering
Different religious traditions divide the seventeen verses of Exodus 20:1–17 and their parallels at Deuteronomy 5:4–21 into ten “commandments” or “sayings” in different ways, shown in the table below. Some suggest that the number ten is a choice to aid memorization rather than a matter of theology.
S: Septuagint, generally followed by Orthodox Christians.
P: Philo, same as the Septuagint, but with the prohibitions on killing and adultery reversed.
T: Jewish Talmud, makes the “prologue” the first “saying” or “matter” and combines the prohibition on worshiping deities other than Yahweh with the prohibition on idolatry.
A: Augustine follows the Talmud in combining verses 3–6, but omits the prologue as a commandment and divides the prohibition on coveting in two and following the word order of Deuteronomy 5:21 rather than Exodus 20:17.
L: Lutherans follow Luther’s Large Catechism, which follows Augustine but omits the prohibition of images and uses the word order of Exodus 20:17 rather than Deuteronomy 5:21 for the ninth and tenth commandments.
All scripture quotes above are from the King James Version. Click on verses at top of columns for other versions.
The Ten Commandments concern matters of fundamental importance in both Judaism and Christianity: the greatest obligation (to worship only God), the greatest injury to a person (murder), the greatest injury to family bonds (adultery), the greatest injury to commerce and law (bearing false witness), the greatest inter-generational obligation (honor to parents), the greatest obligation to community (truthfulness), the greatest injury to moveable property (theft).
The Ten Commandments are written with room for varying interpretation, reflecting their role as a summary of fundamental principles. They are not as explicit or detailed as rules or many other biblical laws and commandments, because they provide guiding principles that apply universally, across changing circumstances. They do not specify punishments for their violation. Their precise import must be worked out in each separate situation.
The Bible indicates the special status of the Ten Commandments among all other Old Testament laws in several ways. They have a uniquely terse style. Of all the biblical laws and commandments, the Ten Commandments alone were “written with the finger of God” (Exodus 31:18). And lastly, the stone tablets were placed in the Ark of the Covenant (Exodus 25:21).
In Judaism, the Ten Commandments provide God’s universal and timeless standard of right and wrong, unlike the other 613 commandments in the Torah, which include, for example, various duties and ceremonies such as the kashrut dietary laws and now unobservable rituals to be performed by priests in the Holy Temple. They form the basis of Jewish law. Jewish tradition considers the Ten Commandments the theological basis for the rest of the commandments; a number of works (starting with Rabbi Saadia Gaon) have made groupings of the commandments according to their links with the Ten Commandments.
The traditional Rabbinical Jewish belief is that the observance of these commandments and the other mitzvot are required solely of the Jewish people, and that the laws incumbent on humanity in general are outlined in the seven Noahide laws (several of which overlap with the Ten Commandments). In the era of the Sanhedrintransgressing any one of six of the Ten Commandments theoretically carried the death penalty, the exceptions being the First Commandment, honoring your father and mother, saying God’s name in vain, and coveting, though this was rarely enforced due to a large number of stringent evidentiary requirements imposed by theoral law.
The arrangement of the commandments on the two tablets is interpreted in different ways in the classical Jewish tradition. Rabbi Hanina ben Gamaliel says that each tablet contained five commandments, “but the Sages say ten on one tablet and ten on the other”, that is, that the tablets were duplicates. This can be compared to diplomatic treaties of Ancient Egypt, in which a copy was made for each party.
According to the Talmud, the compendium of traditional Rabbinic Jewish law, tradition, and interpretation, one interpretation of the biblical verse “the tablets were written on both their sides”, is that the carving went through the full thickness of the tablets, yet was miraculously legible from both sides.
Use in Jewish ritual
The Ten Commandments on a glass plate
During the period of the Second Temple, the Ten Commandments were recited daily. The Mishnah records that in the Temple, it was the practice to recite them every day before the reading of the Shema Yisrael (as preserved, for example, in the Nash Papyrus, a Hebrew manuscript fragment from 150–100 BCE found in Egypt, containing a version of the ten commandments and the beginning of the Shema); but that this practice was abolished in the synagogues so as not to give ammunition to heretics who claimed that they were the only important part of Jewish law, or to dispute a claim by early Christians that only the Ten Commandments were handed down at Mount Sinai rather than the whole Torah.
In later centuries, rabbis continued to omit the Ten Commandments from daily liturgy in order to prevent a confusion among Jews that they are only bound by the Ten Commandments, and not also by many other biblical and talmudic laws, such as the requirement to observe holy days other than the sabbath.
Today, the Ten Commandments are heard in the synagogue three times a year: as they come up during the readings of Exodus and Deuteronomy, and during the festival of Shavuot. The Exodus version is read in parashat Yitro around late January–February, and on the festival of Shavuot, and the Deuteronomy version in parashat Va’etchanan in August–September. In some traditions, worshipers rise for the reading of the Ten Commandments to highlight their special significance though many rabbis, including Maimonides, have opposed this custom since one may come to think that the Ten Commandments are more important than the rest of the Mitzvot.
In printed Chumashim, as well as in those in manuscript form, the Ten Commandments carry two sets of cantillation marks. The ta’am ‘elyon (upper accentuation), which makes each Commandment into a separate verse, is used for public Torah reading, while the ta’am tachton (lower accentuation), which divides the text into verses of more even length, is used for private reading or study. The verse numbering in Jewish Bibles follows the ta’am tachton. In Jewish Bibles the references to the Ten Commandments are therefore Exodus 20:2–14 and Deuteronomy 5:6–18.
The Samaritan Pentateuch varies in the Ten Commandments passages, both in that the Samaritan Deuteronomical version of the passage is much closer to that in Exodus, and in that Samaritans count as nine commandments what others count as ten. The Samaritan tenth commandment is on the sanctity of Mount Gerizim.
The text of the Samaritan tenth commandment follows:
And it shall come to pass when the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land of the Canaanites whither thou goest to take possession of it, thou shalt erect unto thee large stones, and thou shalt cover them with lime, and thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this Law, and it shall come to pass when ye cross the Jordan, ye shall erect these stones which I command thee upon Mount Gerizim, and thou shalt build there an altar unto the Lord thy God, an altar of stones, and thou shalt not lift upon them iron, of perfect stones shalt thou build thine altar, and thou shalt bring upon it burnt offerings to the Lord thy God, and thou shalt sacrifice peace offerings, and thou shalt eat there and rejoice before the Lord thy God. That mountain is on the other side of the Jordan at the end of the road towards the going down of the sun in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arabah facing Gilgal close by Elon Moreh facing Shechem.
Christians believe that the Ten Commandments have divine authority and continue to be valid, though they have different interpretations and uses of them.Through most of Christian history, the decalogue has been considered a summary of God’s law and standard of behavior, and has been central to Christian life, piety, and worship.
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good Master, what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. He saith unto him, Which? Jesus said, Thou shalt do no murder, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Honour thy father and thy mother: and, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
Romans 13:8 Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law.
9 For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet; and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.
10 Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
In Roman Catholicism, Jesus freed Christians from Jewish religious law, but not from their obligation to keep the Ten Commandments. They are to the moral order what the creation story is to the natural order.
The Eastern Orthodox Church holds its moral truths to be chiefly contained in the Ten Commandments. A confession begins with the Confessor reciting the Ten Commandments and asking the penitent which of them he has broken.
Even after rejecting the Roman Catholic moral theology, giving more importance to biblical law in order to better hear and be moved by the gospel, early Protestant theologians still took the Ten Commandments to be the starting point of Christian moral life. Different versions of Christianity have varied in how they have translated the bare principles into the specifics that make up a full Christian ethic. Where Catholicism emphasizes taking action to fulfill the Ten Commandments, Protestantism uses the Ten Commandments for two purposes: to outline the Christian life to each person, and to make each person realize, through their failure to live that life, that they lack the ability to do it on their own.
A Christian school in India displays the Ten Commandments
The Lutheran division of the commandments follows the one established by St. Augustine, following the then current synagogue scribal division. The first three commandments govern the relationship between God and humans, the fourth through eighth govern public relationships between people, and the last two govern private thoughts. See Luther’s Small Catechism and Large Catechism.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
One Mormon fundamentalist faction, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Strangite), offers a unique version of the Ten Commandments that is not found in any other religious tradition—including other Latter Day Saint churches. In his Book of the Law of the Lord, which Strangite founder James J. Strangclaimed to be the long-lost Plates of Laban described in the Book of Mormon, Strang offers a commandment which no other version of the Ten Commandments has: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself,” (which appears in the Hebrew Bible in Leviticus 19:18 and five times in the New Testament). In his “Note on the Decalogue,” Strang asserted that no other version of the Decalogue contains more than nine commandments. He equally speculated that his fourth commandment was lost perhaps as early as Josephus‘ time (circa 37-100 AD). Strang’s version of the Decalogue (together with the rest of his teaching) are rejected by the mainline LDS Church, together with all other non-Strangite Mormon factions.
“Say: “Come, I will rehearse what Allah hath (really) prohibited you from”: Join not anything with Him; be good to your parents; kill not your children on a plea of want;- We provide sustenance for you and for them;- come not nigh to indecent deeds. Whether open or secret; take not life, which Allah hath made sacred, except by way of justice and law: thus doth He command you, that ye may learn wisdom. And come not nigh to the orphan’s property, except to improve it, until he attain the age of full strength; give measure and weight with (full) justice;- no burden do We place on any soul, but that which it can bear;- whenever ye speak, speak justly, even if a near relative is concerned; and fulfill the Covenant of Allah. thus doth He command you, that ye may remember.”
Another Chapter of The Qur’an also includes a version of the Ten Commandments in Al-Isra According to Hazrat Abdullah Ibn Abbas °the verses of Chapter 17Al-Isra are the Quranic version of the ten CommandmentsCommandment 1Verse 22 “Set not up with Allah any other ilah (god), (O man)!”Commandment 2Verse 23 “And your Lord has decreed that you worship none but Him. And that you be dutiful to your parents. If one of them or both of them attain old age in your life, say not to them a word of disrespect, nor shout at them but address them in terms of honour.” Verse 24 “And lower unto them the wing of submission and humility through mercy, and say: “My Lord! Bestow on them Your Mercy as they did bring me up when I was small.”Commandment 3Verse 26 “And give to the kindred his due and to the Miskin (poor) and to the wayfarer. But spend not wastefully (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift .”Commandment 4Verse 29“And let not your hand be tied (like a miser) to your neck, nor stretch it forth to its utmost reach (like a spendthrift), so that you become blameworthy and in severe poverty.”Commandment 5Verse 31 “And kill not your children for fear of poverty. We provide for them and for you. Surely, the killing of them is a great sin.”Commandment 6 Verse 32 “And come not near to the unlawful sexual intercourse.”Commandment 7Verse 33 “And do not kill anyone which Allah has forbidden, except for a just cause.”Commandment 8Verse 34 “And come not near to the orphan’s property except to improve it, until he attains the age of full strength.”Commandment 9Verse 35 “And give full measure when you measure, and weigh with a balance that is straight.”Commandment 10Verse 36“And follow not (O man i.e., say not, or do not or witness not, etc.) that of which you have no knowledge (e.g. one’s saying: “I have seen,” while in fact he has not seen, or “I have heard,” while he has not heard). Verily! The hearing, and the sight, and the heart, of each of those you will be questioned (by Allah).”
Until the 2nd and 3rd century, Christians kept the Jewish Sabbath, which occurs from Friday night to Saturday night each week. Observing the Sabbath on Sunday, the day of resurrection, gradually became the dominant Christian practice from the Jewish-Roman wars onward. Before then, Christianity was predominantly still a Jewish sect. The Church’s general repudiation of Jewish practices during this period is apparent in the Council of Laodicea (4th Century AD) where Canons 37–38 state: “It is not lawful to receive portions sent from the feasts of Jews or heretics, nor to feast together with them” and “It is not lawful to receive unleavened bread from the Jews, nor to be partakers of their impiety”.
Canon 29 of the Laodicean council specifically refers to the sabbath: “Christians must not judaize by resting on the [Jewish] Sabbath, but must work on that day, rather honoring the Lord’s Day; and, if they can, resting then as Christians. But if any shall be found to be judaizers, let them be anathema (excommunicated) from Christ.”
Significant voices among academic theologians (such as German Old Testament scholar Albrecht Alt: Das Verbot des Diebstahls im Dekalog (1953)) suggest that commandment “you shall not steal” was originally intended against stealing people—against abductions and slavery, in agreement with the Talmudic interpretation of the statement as “you shall not kidnap” (Sanhedrin 86a).
In Christianity’s earliest centuries, some Christians had informally adorned their homes and places of worship with images of Christ and the saints, while some thought it inappropriate. No church council had ruled on whether such practices constituted idolatry. The controversy reached crisis level in the 8th century, during the period of iconoclasm: the smashing of icons.
In 726, Emperor Leo III ordered all images removed from all churches; in 730, a council forbade veneration of images, citing the Second Commandment; in 787, theSeventh Ecumenical Council reversed the preceding rulings, condemning iconoclasm and sanctioning the veneration of images; in 815, Leo V called yet another council, which reinstated iconoclasm; in 843, Empress Theodora again reinstated veneration of icons. This mostly settled the matter until the Protestant Reformation, when John Calvin declared that the ruling of the Seventh Ecumenical Council “emanated from Satan”. Protestant iconoclasts at this time destroyed statues, pictures, stained glass, and artistic masterpieces.
The Eastern Orthodox Church celebrates Theodora’s restoration of the icons every year on the First Sunday of Great Lent. Eastern Orthodox tradition teaches that while images of God, the Father, remain prohibited, depictions of Jesus as the incarnation of God as a visible human are permissible. To emphasize the theological importance of the incarnation, the Orthodox Church encourages the use of icons in church and private devotions, but prefers a two-dimensional depiction as a reminder of this theological aspect. Icons depict the spiritual dimension of their subject rather than attempting a naturalistic portrayal. In modern use (usually as a result of Roman Catholic influence), more naturalistic images and images of the Father, however, also appear occasionally in Orthodox churches, but statues, i.e. three-dimensional depictions, continue to be banned.
The Roman Catholic Church holds that one may build and use “likenesses”, as long as the object is not worshipped. Many Roman Catholic Churches and services feature images; some feature statues. For Roman Catholics, this practice is understood as fulfilling the Second Commandment, as they understand that these images are not being worshipped.
For Jews and Muslims, veneration violates the Second Commandment. Jews and Muslims read this commandment as prohibiting the use of idols and images in any way. For this reason, Jewish Temples and Islamic Mosques do not have pictures of God, saints or prophets.
Some Protestants will picture Jesus in his human form, while refusing to make any image of God or Jesus in Heaven.
Originally this commandment forbade male Israelites to have sexual intercourse with the wife of another Israelite, though Israelite men were not forbidden to have sexual intercourse with the slaves belonging to their own household. Sexual intercourse between an Israelite man, even if he was married, and an unmarried or unbetrothed woman was not considered as adultery. This concept of adultery stems from the economic aspect of Israelite marriage, as adultery constituted a violation of the husband’s exclusive right to his wife, whereas the wife, as the husband’s possession, had no such right.
Critical historical analysis
Critical scholarship is divided over its interpretation of the ten commandment texts.
In Julius Wellhausen‘s classic documentary hypothesis of the formation of the Pentateuch (see JEDP), first published in 1878, Exodus 20-23 and 34 were composed by the J or Jahwist writer and “might be regarded as the document which formed the starting point of the religious history of Israel.” Deuteronomy 5 then reflects King Josiah’s attempt to link the document produced by his court to the older Mosaic tradition.
In a 2002 analysis of the history of this position, Bernard M. Levinson argued that this reconstruction assumes a Christian perspective, and dates back to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe‘s polemic against Judaism, which asserted that religions evolve from the more ritualistic to the more ethical. Goethe thus argued that the Ten Commandments revealed to Moses at Mt. Sinai would have emphasized rituals, and that the “ethical” Decalogue Christians recite in their own churches was composed at a later date, when Israelite prophets had begun to prophesy the coming of the messiah, Jesus Christ. Levinson points out that there is no evidence, internal to the Hebrew Bible or in external sources, to support this conjecture. He concludes that its vogue among later critical historians represents the persistence of this polemic that the supersession of Judaism by Christianity is part of a longer history of progress from the ritualistic to the ethical.
By the 1930s, historians who accepted the basic premises of multiple authorship had come to reject the idea of an orderly evolution of Israelite religion. Critics instead began to suppose that law and ritual could be of equal importance, while taking different form, at different times. This means that there is no longer any a priori reason to believe that Exodus 20:2–17 and Exodus 34:10–28 were composed during different stages of Israelite history. For example, critical historian John Bright also dates the Jahwist texts to the tenth century BCE, but believes that they express a theology that “had already been normalized in the period of the Judges” (i.e., of the tribal alliance). He concurs about the importance of the decalogue as “a central feature in the covenant that brought together Israel into being as a people” but views the parallels between Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5, along with other evidence, as reason to believe that it is relatively close to its original form and Mosaic in origin.
According to John Bright, however, there is an important distinction between the Decalogue and the “book of the covenant” (Exodus 21-23 and 34:10–24). The Decalogue, he argues, was modeled on the suzerainty treaties of the Hittites (and other Mesopotamian Empires), that is, represents the relationship between God and Israel as a relationship between king and vassal, and enacts that bond.
“The prologue of the Hittite treaty reminds his vassals of his benevolent acts.. (compare with Exodus 20:2 “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery”). The Hittite treaty also stipulated the obligations imposed by the ruler on his vassals, which included a prohibition of relations with peoples outside the empire, or enmity between those within.” (Exodus 20:3: “You shall have no other gods before Me”). Viewed as a treaty rather than a law code, its purpose is not so much to regulate human affairs as to define the scope of the king’s power.
Julius Morgenstern argued that Exodus 34 is distinct from the Jahwist document, identifying it with king Asa’s reforms in 899 BCE. Bright, however, believes that like the Decalogue this text has its origins in the time of the tribal alliance. The book of the covenant, he notes, bears a greater similarity to Mesopotamian law codes (e.g. the Code of Hammurabi which was inscribed on a stone stele). He argues that the function of this “book” is to move from the realm of treaty to the realm of law: “The Book of the Covenant (Ex., chs. 21 to 23; cf. ch. 34), which is no official state law, but a description of normative Israelite judicial procedure in the days of the Judges, is the best example of this process.” According to Bright, then, this body of law too predates the monarchy.
Hilton J. Blik writes that the phrasing in the Decalogue’s instructions suggests that it was conceived in a mainly polytheistic milieu, evident especially in the formulation of “no-other-gods-before-me” commandment.
If the Ten Commandments are based on Hittite forms that would date it somewhere between the 14th-12th century BCE. Archaeologists Israel Finkelstein andNeil Asher Silberman argue that “the astonishing composition came together … in the seventh century BCE”. Critical scholar Yehezkel Kaufmann (1960) dates the oral form of the covenant to the time of Josiah. An even later date (after 586 BCE) is suggested by David H. Aaron.
Some proponents of the Documentary hypothesis have argued that the biblical text in Exodus 34:28 identifies a different list as the ten commandments, that of Exodus 34:11–27. Since this passage does not prohibit murder, adultery, theft, etc., but instead deals with the proper worship of Yahweh, some scholars call it the “Ritual Decalogue“, and disambiguate the ten commandments of traditional understanding as the “Ethical Decalogue”.
According to these scholars the Bible includes multiple versions of events. On the basis of many points of analysis including linguistic it is shown as a patchwork of sources sometimes with bridging comments by the editor (Redactor) but otherwise left intact from the original, frequently side by side.
Richard Elliott Friedman argues that the Ten Commandments at Exodus 20:1–17 “does not appear to belong to any of the major sources. It is likely to be an independent document, which was inserted here by the Redactor.” In his view, the Covenant Code follows that version of the Ten Commandments in the northern Israel E narrative. In the J narrative in Exodus 34 the editor of the combined story known as the Redactor (or RJE), adds in an explanation that these are a replacement for the earlier tablets which were shattered. “In the combined JE text, it would be awkward to picture God just commanding Moses to make some tablets, as if there were no history to this matter, so RJE adds the explanation that these are a replacement for the earlier tablets that were shattered.”
He writes that Exodus 34:14–26 is the J text of the Ten Commandments: “The first two commandments and the sabbath commandment have parallels in the other versions of the Ten Commandments. (Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5). … The other seven commandments here are completely different.” He suggests that differences in the J and E versions of the Ten Commandments story are a result of power struggles in the priesthood. The writer has Moses smash the tablets “because this raised doubts about the Judah’s central religious shrine”.
According to Kaufmann, the Decalogue and the book of the covenant represent two ways of manifesting God’s presence in Israel: the Ten Commandments taking the archaic and material form of stone tablets kept in the ark of the covenant, while the book of the covenant took oral form to be recited to the people.
United States debate over display on public property
European Protestants replaced some visual art in their churches with plaques of the Ten Commandments after the Reformation. In England, such “Decalogue boards” also represented the English monarch’s emphasis on rule of royal law within the churches. In the United States, images of Moses and the tablets of the Decalogue also claim biblical roots to U.S. law (as on the pediment of the Supreme Court building in Washington). Images of the Ten Commandments, then, have long been contested symbols for the relationship of religion to national law.
In the 1950s and 1960s, the Fraternal Order of Eagles placed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of Ten Commandments displays in courthouses and school rooms, including many stone monuments on courthouse property. Because displaying the commandments can reflect a sectarian position if they are numbered (see above), the Eagles developed an ecumenical version that omitted the numbers, as on the monument at the Texas capitol (shown here). Hundreds of monuments were also placed by directorCecil B. DeMille as a publicity stunt to promote his 1956 filmThe Ten Commandments. Placing the plaques and monuments to the Ten Commandments in and around government buildings was another expression of mid-twentieth century U.S. civil religion, along with adding the phrase “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance.
By the beginning of the twenty-first century in the U.S., however, Decalogue monuments and plaques in government spaces had become a legal battleground between religious as well as political liberals and conservatives. Organizations such as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Americans United for Separation of Church and State launched lawsuits challenging the posting of the ten commandments in public buildings. The ACLU has been supported by a number of religious groups (such as the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the American Jewish Congress), both because they do not want government to be issuing religious doctrine and because they feel strongly that the commandments are inherently religious. Many commentators see this issue as part of a widerculture war between liberal and conservative elements in American society. In response to the perceived attacks on traditional society, other legal organizations, such as the Liberty Counsel, have risen to advocate the conservative interpretation. Many Christian conservatives have taken the banning of officially sanctioned prayer from public schools by the U.S. Supreme Court as a threat to the expression of religion in public life. In response, they have successfully lobbied many state and local governments to display the ten commandments in public buildings.
Those who oppose the posting of the ten commandments on public property argue that it violates the establishment clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. In contrast, groups like the Fraternal Order of Eagles who support the public display of the ten commandments claim that the commandments are not necessarily religious but represent the moral and legal foundation of society, and are appropriate to be displayed as a historical source of present-day legal codes. Also, some argue like Judge Roy Moore that prohibiting the public practice of religion is a violation of the first amendment’s guarantee offreedom of religion.
U.S. courts have often ruled against displays of the Ten Commandments on government property. They conclude that the ten commandments are derived from Judeo-Christian religions, to the exclusion of others: the statement “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” excludes non-monotheistic religions like Hinduism, for example. Whether the Constitution prohibits the posting of the commandments or not, there are additional political and civil rights issues regarding the posting of what is construed as religious doctrine. Excluding religions that have not accepted the ten commandments creates the appearance of impropriety. The courts have been more accepting, however, of displays that place the Ten Commandments in a broader historical context of the development of law.
One result of these legal cases has been that proponents of displaying the Ten Commandments have sometimes surrounded them with other historical texts to portray them as historical, rather than religious. Another result has been that other religious organizations have tried to put monuments to their laws on public lands. For example, an organization calledSummum has won court cases against municipalities in Utah for refusing to allow the group to erect a monument of Summum aphorisms next to the ten commandments. The cases were won on the grounds that Summum’s right to freedom of speech was denied and the governments had engaged in discrimination. Instead of allowing Summum to erect its monument, the local governments chose to remove their ten commandments.
Maat, 42 confessions, ‘ The negative confession ‘ (1500 BCE) of Papyrus of Ani, also known as The declaration of innocence before the Gods of the tribunal from The book of going forth by day, also Book of the dead
The Communist Manifesto (originally Manifesto of the Communist Party) is an 1848 political pamphlet by German philosophers Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. Commissioned by the Communist League and originally published in London (in the German language as Manifest der kommunistischen Partei) just as the revolutions of 1848 began to erupt, the Manifesto was later recognised as one of the world’s most influential political manuscripts. It presents an analytical approach to the class struggle (historical and present) and the problems of capitalism and the capitalist mode of production, rather than a prediction of communism’s potential future forms.
The Communist Manifesto summarises Marx and Engels’ theories about the nature of society and politics, that in their own words, “The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. It also briefly features their ideas for how the capitalist society of the time would eventually be replaced by socialism, and then finally communism.
A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism.
— Opening sentence
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, authors of the Manifesto
The Communist Manifesto is divided into a preamble and four sections, the last of these a short conclusion.
The introduction begins by proclaiming “A spectre is haunting Europe—the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre”. Pointing out that parties everywhere—including those in government and those in the opposition—have flung the “branding reproach of communism” at each other, the authors infer from this that the powers-that-be acknowledge communism to be a power in itself. Subsequently, the introduction exhorts Communists to openly publish their views and aims, to “meet this nursery tale of the spectre of communism with a manifesto of the party itself”.
Bourgeois and Proletarians
The first section of the Manifesto, “Bourgeois and Proletarians”, elucidates the materialist conception of history, that “the history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles”. Societies have always taken the form of an oppressed majority living under the thumb of an oppressive minority. In capitalism, the industrial working class, or proletariat, engage in class struggle against the owners of the means of production, thebourgeoisie. As before, this struggle will end in a revolution that restructures society, or the “common ruin of the contending classes”. The bourgeoisie, through the “constant revolutionising of production [and] uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions” have emerged as the supreme class in society, displacing all the old powers of feudalism. The bourgeoisie constantly exploits the proletariat for its labour power, creating profit for themselves accumulating capital. However, by doing so the bourgeoisie “are its own grave-diggers”; the proletariat inevitably will become conscious of their own potential and rise to power through revolution, overthrowing the bourgeoisie.
Proletarians and Communists
“Proletarians and Communists”, the second section, starts by stating the relationship of conscious communists to the rest of the working class. The communists’ party will not oppose other working-class parties, but unlike them, it will express the general will and defend the common interests of the world’s proletariat as a whole, independent of all nationalities. The section goes on to defend communism from various objections, such as the claim that communists advocate “free love“, and the claim that people will not perform labour in a communist society because they have no incentive to work. The section ends by outlining a set of short-term demands—among them a progressive income tax; abolition of inheritances; free public education etc.—the implementation of which would be a precursor to a stateless and classless society. List of short-term demands, also known as the ten planks:
1. Abolition of private property and the application of all rents of land to public purposes.
4. Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels.
5. Centralisation of credit in the hands of the state, by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly.
6. Centralisation of the means of communications and transportation in the hands of the State.
7. Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the state, the bringing into cultivation of waste lands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan.
8. Equal liability of all to labor. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture.
9. Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries, gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of population over the country.
10. Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labor in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production.
Socialists and Communist Literature
The third section, “Socialist and Communist Literature”, distinguishes communism from other socialist doctrines prevalent at the time—these being broadly categorised as Reactionary Socialism; Conservative or Bourgeois Socialism; and Critical-Utopian Socialism and Communism. While the degree of reproach toward rival perspectives varies, all are dismissed for advocating reformism and failing to recognise the pre-eminent revolutionary role of the working class. “Position of the Communists in Relation to the Various Opposition Parties”, the concluding section of the Manifesto, briefly discusses the communist position on struggles in specific countries in the mid-nineteenth century such as France, Switzerland, Poland, and Germany, this last being “on the eve of a bourgeois revolution”, and predicts that a world revolution will soon follow. It ends by declaring an alliance with the social democrats, boldly supporting other communist revolutions, and calling for united international proletarian action.
Only surviving page from the first draft of the Manifesto, handwritten by Marx
Friedrich Engels has often been credited with composing the first drafts which led to the Communist Manifesto. In July 1847, Engels was elected into the Communist League, where he was assigned to draw up a catechism. This became the Draft of a Communist Confession of Faith. It contained almost two dozen questions that expressed the ideas of both Engels and Karl Marx at the time. In October 1847, Engels composed his second draft for the League, The Principles of Communism (which went unpublished until 1914). Once commissioned by the Communist League, Marx combined these drafts with Engels’ 1844 work The Condition of the Working Class in England to write the Communist Manifesto.
Although the names of both Engels and Marx appear on the title page alongside the “persistent assumption of joint-authorship”, Engels, in the preface to the 1883 German edition of the Manifesto, said it was “essentially Marx’s work” and that “the basic thought… belongs solely and exclusively to Marx.” Engels wrote after Marx’s death:
I cannot deny that both before and during my forty years’ collaboration with Marx I had a certain independent share in laying the foundations of the theory, but the greater part of its leading basic principles belongs to Marx … Marx was a genius; we others were at best talented. Without him the theory would not be by far what it is today. It therefore rightly bears his name.
Despite Engels’s modesty in this quotation, he made major contributions to the Manifesto, starting with the suggestion to abandon “the form of a catechism and entitle it the Communist Manifesto.” Moreover, Engels joined Marx in Brussels for the writing of the Manifesto. There is no evidence of what his contributions to the final writing were, but the Manifesto bears the stamp of Marx’s more rhetorical writing style. Nevertheless, it seems clear that Engels’s contributions justify his name’s appearance on the title page after Marx’s.
In late February 1848, the Manifesto was anonymously published by the Workers’ Educational Association (Communistischer Arbeiterbildungsverein) at 46 Liverpool Street in the City of London. Written in German, the 23-page pamphlet was titled Manifest der kommunistischen Partei and had a dark-green cover. It was reprinted thrice and serialised in the Deutsche Londoner Zeitung, a newspaper for German émigrés. On 4 March, one day after the serialisation in theZeitung began, Marx was expelled by Belgian police. Two weeks later, around 20 March, a thousand copies of the Manifestoreached Paris, and from there to Germany in early April. In April–May the text was corrected for printing and punctuation mistakes; Marx and Engels would use this 30-page version as the basis for future editions of the Manifesto.
Although the Manifesto ’s prelude announced that it was “to be published in the English, French, German, Italian, Flemish and Danish languages”, the initial printings were only in German. Polish and Danish translations soon followed the German original in London, and by the end of 1848, a Swedish translation was published with a new title—The Voice of Communism: Declaration of the Communist Party. In June–November 1850 the Manifesto of the Communist Party was published in English for the first time when George Julian Harney serialised Helen Macfarlane‘s translation in his Chartist magazine The Red Republican. (“A frightful hobgoblin stalks throughout Europe”, her version begins, “We are haunted by a ghost, the ghost of Communism…”) For her translation, the Lancashire-based Macfarlane probably consulted Engels, whose own English translation had been abandoned half way. Harney’s introduction revealed the Manifesto ’s hitherto-anonymous authors’ identities for the first time.
Immediately after the Cologne Communist Trial of late 1852, the Communist League disbanded itself.
Soon after the Manifesto was published, Paris erupted in revolution to overthrow King Louis Philippe. The Manifesto played no role in this; a French translation was not published in Paris until just before the working-class June Days Uprising was crushed. Its influence in the Europe-wide revolutions of 1848 was restricted to Germany, where the Cologne-based Communist League and its newspaper Neue Rheinische Zeitung, edited by Marx, played an important role. Within a year of its establishment, in May 1849, the Zeitung was suppressed; Marx was expelled from Germany and had to seek lifelong refuge in London. In 1851, members of the Communist League’s central board were arrested by the Prussian police. At theirtrial in Cologne 18 months later in late 1852 they were sentenced to 3–6 years’ imprisonment. For Engels, the revolution was “forced into the background by the reaction that began with the defeat of the Paris workers in June 1848, and was finally excommunicated ‘by law’ in the conviction of the Cologne Communists in November 1852”.
After the defeat of the 1848 revolutions the Manifesto fell into obscurity, where it remained throughout the 1850s and 1860s. Hobsbawm says that by November 1850 the Manifesto “had become sufficiently scarce for Marx to think it worth reprinting section III … in the last issue of his [short-lived] London magazine”. Over the next two decades only a few new editions were published; these include a Russian translation by Mikhail Bakunin in Geneva c. 1863 and a 1866 edition in Berlin—the first time the Manifesto was published in Germany. According to Hobsbawm, “By the middle 1860s virtually nothing that Marx had written in the past was any longer in print.”
In the early 1870s, the Manifesto and its authors experienced a revival in fortunes. Hobsbawm identifies three reasons for this. The first is the leadership role Marx played in the International Workingmen’s Association (aka the First International). Secondly, Marx also came into much prominence among socialists—and equal notoriety among the authorities—for his support of the Paris Commune of 1871, elucidated in The Civil War in France. Lastly, and perhaps most significantly in the popularisation of the Manifesto, was the treason trial of German Social Democratic Party (SPD) leaders. During the trial prosecutors read the Manifesto out loud as evidence; this meant that the pamphlet could legally be published in Germany. Thus in 1872 Marx and Engels rushed out a new German-language edition, writing a preface that identified that several portions that became outdated in the quarter century since its original publication. This edition was also the first time the title was shortened to The Communist Manifesto (Das Kommunistische Manifest), and it became the bedrock the authors based future editions upon. Between 1871 and 1873, the Manifesto was published in over nine editions in six languages; in 1872 it was published in the United States for the first time, serialised in Woodhull & Claflin’s Weekly of New York City. However, by the mid 1870s the Communist Manifesto remained Marx and Engels’ only work to be even moderately well-known.
Over the next forty years, as social-democratic parties rose across Europe and parts of the world, so did the publication of the Manifesto alongside them, in hundreds of editions in thirty languages. Marx and Engels wrote a new preface for the 1882 Russian edition, translated by Georgi Plekhanov in Geneva (but later attributed to “the heroic Vera Zasulich” by Engels). In it they wondered if Russia could directly become a communist society, or if she would become capitalist first like other European countries. After Marx’s death in 1883, Engels alone provided the prefaces for five editions between 1888 and 1893. Among these is the 1888 English edition, translated by Samuel Moore and approved by Engels, who also provided notes throughout the text. It has been the standard English-language edition ever since.
The principle region of its influence, in terms of editions published, was in the “central belt of Europe”, from Russia in the east to France in the west. In comparison, the pamphlet had little impact on politics in southwest and southeast Europe, and moderate presence in the north. Outside Europe, Chinese and Japanese translations were published, as were Spanish editions in Latin America. This uneven geographical spread in the Manifesto ’s popularity reflected the development of socialist movements in a particular region as well as the popularity of Marxist variety of socialism there. There wasn’t always a strong correlation between a social-democratic party’s strength and the Manifesto ’s popularity in that country. For instance, the German SPD printed only a few thousand copies of the Communist Manifesto every year, but a few hundred thousand copies of the Erfurt Programme. Further, the mass-based social-democratic parties of the Second Internationaldid not require their rank and file to be well-versed in theory; Marxist works such as the Manifesto or Capital were read primarily by party theoreticians. On the other hand, small, dedicated militant parties and Marxist sects in the West took pride in knowing the theory; Hobsbawm says “This was the milieu in which ‘the clearness of a comrade could be gauged invariably from the number of earmarks on his Manifesto'”.
The Bolshevik (1920) by Boris Kustodiev.Following the 1917 Bolshevik takeover of Russia Marx/Engels classics like theCommunist Manifesto were distributed far and wide.
Therefore the widespread dissemination of Marx and Engels’ works became an important policy objective; backed by a sovereign state, the CPSU had relatively inexhaustible resources for this purpose. Works by Marx, Engels and Lenin were published on a very large scale, and cheap editions of their works were available in several languages across the world. These publications were either shorter writings or they were compendia such as the various editions of Marx and Engels’Selected Works, or their Collected Works. This affected the destiny of the Manifesto in several ways. Firstly, in terms of circulation; in 1932 the American and British Communist Parties printed several hundred thousand copies of a cheap edition for “probably the largest mass edition ever issued in English”. Secondly the work entered political-science syllabi in universities, which would only expand after the Second World War. For its centenary in 1948, its publication was no longer the exclusive domain of Marxists and academicians; general publishers too printed theManifesto in large numbers. “In short, it was no longer only a classic Marxist document,” Hobsbawm noted, “it had become a political classic tout court.”
Even after the collapse of Marxism-Leninism in the 1990s, the Communist Manifesto remains ubiquitous; Hobsbawm says that “In states without censorship, almost certainly anyone within reach of a good bookshop, and certainly anyone within reach of a good library, not to mention the internet, can have access to it.” The 150th anniversary once again brought a deluge of attention in the press and the academia, as well as new editions of the book fronted by introductions to the text by academics. One of these, The Communist Manifesto: A Modern Edition by Verso, was touted by a critic in the London Review of Books as being a “stylish red-ribboned edition of the work. It is designed as a sweet keepsake, an exquisite collector’s item. In Manhattan, a prominent Fifth Avenue store put copies of this choice new edition in the hands of shop-window mannequins, displayed in come-hither poses and fashionable décolletage.”
Soviet Union stamp commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Manifesto
A number of 21st-century writers have commented on the Communist Manifesto ’s continuing relevance. Academic John Raines in 2002 noted that “In our day this Capitalist Revolution has reached the farthest corners of the earth. The tool of money has produced the miracle of the new global market and the ubiquitous shopping mall. Read The Communist Manifesto, written more than one hundred and fifty years ago, and you will discover that Marx foresaw it all.” In 2003, the English Marxist Chris Harman stated:
There is still a compulsive quality to its prose as it provides insight after insight into the society in which we live, where it comes from and where its going to. It is still able to explain, as mainstream economists and sociologists cannot, today’s world of recurrent wars and repeated economic crisis, of hunger for hundreds of millions on the one hand and ‘overproduction’ on the other. There are passages that could have come from the most recent writings on globalisation.
However, not all scholars have praised it. Revisionist Marxist and reformist socialist Eduard Bernstein distinguished between “immature” early Marxism—as exemplified by the Communist Manifesto written by Marx and Engels in their youth—that he opposed for its violent Blanquist tendencies, and later “mature” Marxism that he supported. This latter form refers to Marx in his later life acknowledging that socialism could be achieved through peaceful means through legislative reform in democratic societies. Bernstein declared that the massive and homogeneous working-class claimed in the Communist Manifesto did not exist, and that contrary to claims of a proletarian majority emerging, the middle-class was growing under capitalism and not disappearing as Marx had claimed. Bernstein noted that the working-class was not homogeneous but heterogeneous, with divisions and factions within it, including socialist and non-socialist trade unions. Marx himself, later in his life, acknowledged that the middle-class was not disappearing, in his work Theories of Surplus Value (1863). The obscurity of the later work means that Marx’s acknowledgement of this error is not well known.
George Boyer described the Manifesto as “very much a period piece, a document of what was called the ‘hungry’ 1840s.”
Many have drawn attention to the passage in the Manifesto that seems to sneer at the stupidity of the rustic: “The bourgeoisie … draws all nations … into civilisation … It has created enormous cities … and thus rescued a considerable part of the population from the idiocy [sic!] of rural life”. As Eric Hobsbawm noted, however:
[W]hile there is no doubt that Marx at this time shared the usual townsman’s contempt for, as well as ignorance of, the peasant milieu, the actual and analytically more interesting German phrase (“dem Idiotismus des Landlebens entrissen”) referred not to “stupidity” but to “the narrow horizons”, or “the isolation from the wider society” in which people in the countryside lived. It echoed the original meaning of the Greek term idiotes from which the current meaning of “idiot” or “idiocy” is derived, namely “a person concerned only with his own private affairs and not with those of the wider community”. In the course of the decades since the 1840s, and in movements whose members, unlike Marx, were not classically educated, the original sense was lost and was misread.
Wikisource has original text related to this article:
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Trump’s party loyalty pledge ends one GOP problem, brings others
By Robert CostaSeptember 3
Donald Trump on Thursday signed a loyalty pledge to the Republican Party — and, with that, the renegade candidate became a little less of a renegade and a party establishment unsure of what to do with the bedeviling front-runner brought him more fully into its embrace.
The document the GOP presidential front-runner signed promises that he will support the Republican nominee in next year’s general election, effectively ruling out a third-party or independent run.
“I will be totally pledging my allegiance to the Republican Party and the conservative principles for which it stands,” Trump said at an event at Trump Tower in New York, surrounded by backers holding “TRUMP” posters next to the skyscraper’s steep elevators. He held up the single sheet of paper with his name scribbled in thick black marker. “We will go out and fight hard, and we will win. We will win,” he said.
The bustling scene, attended by a crowd of reporters and television cameras, was more political theater than the marking of a formal pact, since Trump is under no legal obligation to abide by the political document.
But the promise, which Trump has long avoided making, does bring him closer to a party whose rank-and-file activists he has thrilled this summer and whose leadership has at times viewed his rapid ascent with alarm — especially the prospect of an outside bid that could siphon away votes from the eventual Republican standard-bearer.
By bringing Trump more fully within the party’s tent, Republicans gain reassurance about his intentions — and court possible fallout for working closely with the unpredictable and sharp-tongued billionaire, who has angered Hispanic leaders with his controversial comments on illegal immigration.
Trump made his announcement at an afternoon news conference after meeting with the loyalty statement’s author, Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus, whose relationship with the mogul has been cordial but delicate since Trump entered the 2016 race.
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What Makes Donald Run?
by VICTOR DAVIS HANSON September 1, 2015
He’s giving fed-up Republicans something other candidates are not.
Donald Trump has at least three things going for him. One, the mood of the country remains foul and fed-up — and volatile to the point that conventional wisdom is hardly reliable. Two, Trump has turned invective and narcissism into an art form, and his simplistic putdowns seem to garner ever more attention even as they become more monotonous and banal — largely because they are directed at a despised media elite. Three, the Democratic party is in worse shape than the Republican party. Apparently Trump’s attacks can still safely be savored as long as the Democrats are imploding.
Trump’s successes have come about not because of a brilliant new Contract with America or because he is reassuringly conservative on the issues. His diehard supporters — and even those who would never confess that they derive a perverse and stealthy delight from watching him put down the New York/Washington political and journalistic elite — don’t care that just in the last decade he has flipped on all the issues. They apparently ignore the fact that Trump is often self-contradictory, as he wings his way through endless interviews and blustery press conferences.
What fuels his candidacy is attitude — in particular, disdain for those who undeservedly believe they warrant deference. Behind the bombast and the waving hands, he gives the impression of having contempt for the ruling class, of which he is so intimately a part. He winks at us as if to say, “I hang out with these people, and, trust me, they are even worse than you suspect.” His voice has the brash accents of the New York sidewalk, rather than a passive-aggressive Ivy League modulation. His narcissism is unlike Barack Obama’s serious sort (e.g., “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters. I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors. And I’ll tell you right now that I’m gonna think I’m a better political director than my political director”). Indeed, Trump’s egotism is a caricature of narcissism itself, in which the only adjectives are superlatives and the only measure of being “great” and “a winner” is net worth or celebrity. Yet somehow TRUMP plastered over everything does not bother people as much as Barack Obama’s faux-Greek columns, Latinate mottos, and promises to cool the cosmos.
After nearly seven years of Obama, the public is worn out by sanctimoniousness — by all the Professor Gates/Trayvon Martin/Ferguson lectures on race by an abject racialist, by all the sermons on climate change by a global jet-setter, by all the community-organizing banality by one who always has preferred the private school and the tony neighborhood, by all the us-versus-the-1-percent warfare by one who feels at home on the golf course only with celebrities and stock hounds. Given all that, the Republican base, at least for a few more weeks, wants someone to be unapologetically unacceptable — both to the liberal establishment that Obama ushered in, and to the wink-and-nod elite Republican opposition.
It is said that Trump appeals most to the pissed-off white man of yesteryear. Perhaps. But in the age of a multiracial United States it is more proper to say than he appeals to the infuriated targets of elite disdain, people who are tired of Democratic slurs about “tired old white men” — as the exempt white and (most of them) old Sanders, Biden, O’Malley, and Webb wait for a mature white woman to fade, while hoping that other old white men like Kerry, Gore, and Brown don’t wade in.
Trumpers are tired of a Republican establishment warning them — even if presciently so — that enforcement of federal immigration law is impossible because of the Latino vote, that even demanding a simple ID at the polling place may alienate the black vote, that stopping federal funding to the grotesque Planned Parenthood will lose the female vote, and that not rushing in to sanctify gay marriage will turn off gay voters. Rank-and-file Republicans are worn out from being lectured that no one can win without the Latino vote (10 percent of the electorate), the black vote (12 percent), and the Asian vote (5 percent ) — all on the premise that to speak in similar terms about getting a large chunk of the white vote (70 percent ) would be somehow racist. There is something Ajaxian, then — something of the Charge of the Light Brigade or the last scene in Breaker Morant — inherent in the Trump call to make America great again.
Telejournalists recycle the trite wisdom that with today’s electorate Trump must lose because he will not garner x percentages of y racial-block voters. They don’t have a clue that the Democratic party — in its worst shape since the 1920s — is in danger of nullifying such racial calculations by creating a white voting block not seen in the modern era. If it is true that Trump probably cannot win unless he takes somewhere around 62 percent of the white vote (depending on the particular state), it is also true that the next Democrat probably cannot win without 40 percent of it. Any of the Democrats is just as much in danger of not reaching 40 percent as Trump is of not reaching 62 percent.
Trump’s trademark is venom directed against the “elite.” But is not Trump a member of the elite himself? Yes, but that is the point. The public has less problem with the brash, take-no-prisoners plutocrat than with the current feuding Hatfields and McCoys of the Ivy League–trained stable, the Medici-like intermarriages between D.C./New York politicians and journalists, and the hip world of the metrosexual that serves up our entertainment and news.
So a public far larger than just the Tea Party was ready for a populist grandstander. And Trump so far has managed to make real outliers — non-establishment political mavericks like Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, Scott Walker, and Chris Christie, who were the choices of the Tea Party movements just a fortnight ago — look like Eric Cantor/Mitch McConnell company men. That such gifted conservative politicos are considered functionaries is abjectly unfair, but it is nonetheless the jaded perception so far of much of the Republican electorate.
Trump sized up a favorable landscape in 2015–16, and he grasped that the dissatisfaction arose from more than Obama’s profligate borrowing, amnesties, no-growth economic policies, lead-from-behind and reset foreign policies, and hands-up-don’t-shoot racial posturing. The populist furor was also fueled by style. Voters are tired of the DNA of professional politicians, the 24/7 politically correct equivocation, the “I take full responsibility” media pseudo-apology, and the Pajama Boy nasal snarkiness.
Trump has had the skills to turn the primary campaign so far into a war of raw emotion. He channels General George S. Patton — who practiced his facial expressions in front of the mirror and whose line about preferring to kill rather than die for your country Trump recalibrated in his tasteless attack on John McCain. Trump understands that an army really does not march just on its stomach, but is fueled by its emotions.
Recently I asked three quite different Americans — who, on ordinary calculations, should not like Trump — what they thought of him. The first s a local Mexican-American barber. He could offer no logical rationale for his enjoyment of the Trump candidacy other than that Trump is a “jefe” — a big man who gets things done by any means necessary, a crew boss to the world. I sensed that there was also an embarrassed weariness with illegal immigration.
We talk of Latino voters as hating Trump, and some may. But some Latinos are at Ground Zero of illegal immigration. Whereas their elite leaders see profit in millions of Mexicans trekking into the United States, the less well connected see only their local emergency rooms overwhelmed, their jails full, their social services breaking under the influx, and their schools turned into remediation in both English and Spanish.
Another person I quizzed about Trump is a seasoned, though cynical, PhD. His take? Trump is Maximus, and the primary campaign is his arena: We are all thumbs-up/thumbs-down spectators who enjoy the blood sport.
This man plans to jump ship, but not until Trump’s ship is capsizing and there is a nice raft alongside.
The third is a middle-aged professional woman, nominally a Democrat, whose attitude can be summed up as “touché.” The reactive Trump is quite savvy in his selected feuds with supposed untouchables, whom the public occasionally would like to see touched. John McCain started that attacks on Trump, and previously had waved the bloody shirt a bit too much; Megyn Kelly is a bit more than a fine professional journalist and capable legal scholar, at least in the way she dresses and preps for the camera; and Jorge Ramos is a hipper version of an obnoxious Howard Dean, snickering and bloviating ad nauseam. Trump, then, is leveling the playing field for the exhausted TV viewer. His welcome attacks turn our attention away from his own considerable liabilities — as long as he can continue to select objects and methodologies of attack that entertain.
All the above is no reason to become enthusiastic about Trump, but no reason to turn him off quite yet either.
Then there is Trump himself. Any businessman who can become or even remain a billionaire in today’s climate in any field other than banking, trading, or insuring is necessarily talented. Most stars cannot sustain a TV reality show for more than a year or two, much less 14 — proof that Trump has both acting talent and entertainment savvy. It is easy to mock Trump’s hair and sprayed-on tan, but at 69 he seems healthier and more robust to the eye than many who are ten years younger. We forget his age: If he were elected in 2016, he would be the oldest president to be inaugurated and the first since Dwight Eisenhower (whose prior politics likewise were murky) to be elected to the presidency without having held political office before. The supposedly far more seasoned, and slightly younger, Hillary Clinton in comparison comes across as inept, crabby, sarcastic, and a decade older. In other words, in terms of the political assets of our wired age — money, media savvy, celebrity, showmanship, looks, and vigor — Trump is a fit for the times.
For a few weeks longer, Republicans can safely enjoy Trump even as pundits and politicos gnash their teeth in terror that his no-brakes locomotive has too much momentum to be sidetracked. But remember that, so far, the front-running Trump is not fearing an indictment, avoiding reporters, calling his political rivals terrorists, or evoking the Holocaust through references to boxcars — and the alternatives, like Rubio, Walker, Carson, Fiorina, and Kasich, are not socialists unregistered in the Republican party. Mitt Romney, John McCain, and Bob Dole are not waiting in the wings. So Trump can snort and rampage through the china shop, because much of the merchandise is still tottering on the shelf. In the Democrats’ case, the shards are already on the floor.
If Trump brings catharsis for the smoldering anger of the base, if the other candidates appropriate some of Trump’s slash-and-burn style but accompany it with a coherent agenda, if Trump gratuitously slurs yet another race/class/gender icon and confirms he is more a bully than a truth-teller, and if Hillary’s legal problems disappear, then Trump may go back to The Apprentice. But for a while longer that still seems a lot of ifs.
— NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Savior Generals.
The move is viewed as an attempt to force the front-runner’s hand after his refusal to rule out a third-party bid.
The GOP is taking its most aggressive step yet to force Donald Trump’s hand.
The Republican National Committee on Wednesday privately reached out to GOP presidential candidates to ask whether they’d be willing to sign a pledge stating they would not run as an independent candidate in the event they fail to win the Republican nomination in 2016.
The move is an implicit challenge to Trump, who pointedly refused to rule out a third-party run during the first GOP debate. He was the only candidate who declined.
The language of the draft pledge speaks directly to the issue vexing Republicans – the possibility that the billionaire could choose to wage a third party bid if he fails to win the GOP nomination, a prospect that could seriously damage the GOP’s prospects of reclaiming the White House. Tapping into deep anti-establishment animosity among the conservative grassroots, Trump has surged to the lead of the deepest presidential field in recent memory. If Trump were to pull just a fraction of the vote as an independent, write-in or third party candidate, it could be enough to sink the eventual Republican nominee.
“I [name] affirm that if I do not win the 2016 Republican nomination for president of the United States I will endorse the 2016 Republican presidential nominee regardless of who it is,” the pledge reads. “I further pledge that I will not seek to run as an independent or write-in candidate nor will I seek or accept the nomination for president of any other party.”
At least two campaigns reported Wednesday that they received a call from Katie Walsh, RNC chief of staff, asking if they would be willing to sign such a pledge.
An RNC spokeswoman, Allison Moore, declined to comment. The Trump campaign did not respond to a request for comment.
Trump and RNC chairman Reince Priebus are slated to meet in New York City on Thursday, a Trump spokeswoman confirmed. The two are also expected to appear at a press conference.
The relationship between the RNC and Trump has been fraught with tension since Trump joined the race this summer. Trump’s incendiary remarks about Mexicans and immigration have alarmed top Republicans who fear it will further alienate the fast-growing demographic and embarrass the party, leading Priebus to reach out to the billionaire in an attempt to convince him to tone down his rhetoric. But Trump turned the tables on Priebus and gave a contradictory account, insisting that the RNC chairman merely acknowledged that he had “hit a nerve” with the electorate.
Since then, with the billionaire mogul dominating the race for the party’s nomination, Republicans have taken a wary approach. Priebus virtually went dark on Trump following the real estate mogul’s pushback, declining to further fuel the discussion with public remarks. (Scheduled to make a post-debate appearance on CBS Face the Nation, Priebus abruptly pulled out after it became clear that the story of the weekend was Trump’s diatribe against Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly.)
At first, the only candidates willing to confront Trump in a concerted fashion were those who did so out of a desperate need to remain relevant – the class of Trump antagonists largely consisted of the candidates struggling to make it into the Aug. 6 primetime debate. Since then, though, as rival campaigns became more convinced that Trump’s candidacy was more than a passing comet and destined to last through the early-voting states, more candidates have shown a willingness to criticize him.
In recent days, Jeb Bush has tangled frequently with Trump, responding to the businessman’s harsh attacks on him.
Other elements of the Republican Party have reckoned with Trump’s candidacy through ballot access requirements also designed to force Trump to play by party rules. GOP leaders in Virginia and North Carolina discussed implementing a new requirement for candidates to qualify for their primary ballots: that they pledge to support the Republican presidential nominee — and not run as a third-party candidate — in the general election.
Last week, the South Carolina Republican Party announced that candidates who want to qualify for the state’s primary ballot must sign a loyalty oath by Sept. 30. Candidates were asked to state that they “generally believe in and intend to support the nominees and platform of the Republican Party in the November 8, 2016 general election.”
Trump has said that he is still weighing whether to agree to the South Carolina pledge.
Story 1: 94 Million Americans Not In Labor Force, Labor Participation Rate Stuck At 62.6% A 38 Year Low, Unemployment Rate Declines To 5.1% –8 Million Unemployed — Fed Will Increase Federal Funds Target Rate to .5% In September — Three Years Late As Usual — Call It Clueless PHDs Lag — Videos
U.S. Stocks Suffer Heavy Losses After Mixed Jobs Report
August Jobs Report Provides Mixed Message
US Economy Riding 66 Month Job Growth Streak
What to Watch Friday: Labor Department Releases August Jobs Report
Peter Schiff: U.S. problems are ‘homegrown’, China is not the problem
Peter Schiff: The U.S. Dollar is very overvalued and the dollar is a bubble
The labor force participation rate stayed stuck at 62.6 percent, a 38-year low, for a third straight month in August, the Labor Department reported on Friday. (AP File Photo)
(CNSNews.com) – A record 94,031,000 Americans were not in the American labor force last month — 261,000 more than July — and the labor force participation rate stayed stuck at 62.6 percent, a 38-year low, for a third straight month in August, the Labor Department reported on Friday, as the nation heads into the Labor Day weekend.
The number of Americans not in the labor force has continued to rise, partly because of retiring baby-boomers and fewer workers entering the workforce.
In August, according to BLS, the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population, consisting of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached 251,096,000. Of those, 157,065,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.
The 157,065,000 who participated in the labor force equaled only 62.6 percent of the 251,096,000 civilian noninstitutional population — the same as it was in July and June. Not since October 1977, when the participation rate dropped to 62.4, has the percentage been this low.
In January 1948 — the first year the data was recorded — 88.7 percent of men, aged 20 and older, were participating in the U.S. labor force. The rate first dipped below 80 percent in November 1975 (79.9%), spiraling steadily downward through August 2015, when 71.5 percent of men 20 and older were participating in the labor force.
It’s the opposite story for women 20 and older: In 1948, a time when one-earner incomes were generally sufficient to support the family, only 31 percent of women participated in the workforce. In May 1966, the rate climbed above 40 percent for the first time; it broke 50 percent in October 1978; and 60 percent in July 1996.
When Barack Obama took office in January 2009, 60.9 percent of women were particiating in the labor force, but after rising somewhat in that economically turbulent year, the particpation rate for women started heading down. Last month, it stood at 58.2 percent.
Other notes from Friday’s jobs report:
— In August, the economy added 173,000 jobs, and the uemmployment rate dropped a tenth of a point to 5.1 percent from 5.2 percent. Job gains occurred in health care and social assistance and in financial activities. Manufacturing and mining lost jobs.
— Among the major demographic groups, the unemployment rate for whites declined to 4.4 percent in August. The rates for adult men (4.7 percent), adult women (4.7 percent), teenagers (16.9 percent), blacks (9.5 percent), Asians (3.5 percent), and Hispanics (6.6 percent) showed little change in August.
— The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks or more) held at 2.2 million in August and accounted for 27.7 percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term unemployed is down by 779,000.
— The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) ticked up in August to 6,483,000, 158,000 more than the 6,325,000 recorded in July. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.
The economy added 173,000 jobs last month, fewer than expected, while the unemployment rate fell to 5.1% from 5.3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
We also got some wage growth, with average hourly earnings rising 0.3% month-over-month and 2.5% year-on-year.
The number of job gains in July was revised up to 245,000 from 215,000.
As we outlined earlier, this report was expected to hugely influence market expectations for whether the Federal Reserve will raise interest rates at its meeting later this month. A strong report was seen to support other data we’ve recently received that show the economy is advancing at a steady pace — probably steady enough to warrant the first rate increase in a decade.
In a speech just before the jobs report, Richmond Fed president Jeffrey Lacker said the labor market supported the case for raising rates sooner rather than later. But this report was unlikely to “materially alter the labor market picture or, for that matter, the monetary policy outlook.”
Also, even though inflation is still off the Fed’s 2% target, wage growth was expected to boost confidence that it is on its way there.
Other secondary labor-market indicators had pointed to strong gains in August, including initial jobless claims, and the employment components of ISM manufacturing indexes.
And it turns out, history repeated itself. Deutsche Bank’s Joe Lavorgna had noted that job gains in August had missed consensus forecasts in 21 out of the past 27 years. He had forecast a payroll print of 170,000, below consensus and closer to the actual print.
By industry, employment in mining and manufacturing declined, while education and health services added the most jobs for any industry, at 62,000.
Stocks fell after the jobs report, and Dow futures lost more than 200 points.
Here’s what Wall Street was expecting, via Bloomberg:
Nonfarm payrolls: +217,000
Unemployment rate: 5.2%
Average hourly earnings, month-over-month: +0.2%
Average hourly earnings, year-over-year: +2.1%
Average weekly hours worked: 34.5
FREDAt 5.1%, the unemployment rate is at the lowest level since April 2008.
Welcome to “Jobs Friday,” that ever-so-brief moment when the interests of Wall Street, Washington and Main Street are all aligned on one thing: jobs.
Friday’s report was even more significant than usual, since it’s the last one officials from the Federal Reserve will see before they meet later this month to debate a potential interest-rate hike. A rate increase, if and when it comes, would be the first for the U.S. since 2006.
When the numbers came in at 8:30 a.m. New York time, they potentially muddied the waters instead of providing clarity. The Bureau of Labor Statistics said nonfarm payrolls rose a seasonally adjusted 173,000, well short of the 220,000 predicted by economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal. But the unemployment rate fell to 5.1% from 5.3%, and some of the other underlying numbers painted a rosier picture.
Here at MoneyBeat HQ, we crunched the data, tracked the markets and compiled the commentary in real time. Here’s how it all went down.
Good morning, folks. This is a big one. It’s the last jobs report before Federal Reserve officials sit down for their crucial Sept. 16-17 meeting to debate a potential rate hike—the first for the U.S. since 2006.
The key question: Fed policy makers in July said they were looking for “some” further improvement in the labor market before raising rates. But how much improvement qualifies as “some?”
Employers have added on average 211,000 jobs a month this year and the jobless rate has dropped 0.4 percentage point. Will that be enough to seal the deal? We won’t definitively know the answer today. But the economists, strategist and traders who plan to pour over every detail of this data dump are certainly going to try to guess.
The debate won’t be settled
by Jon Hilsenrath
Fed officials have been struggling to come to a common view on whether to raise short-term rates for the first time in nearly a decade at its September policy meeting. A strong report will strengthen the hand of officials arguing to raise rates in September; a weak report will strengthen the hands of officials who want to keep them near zero. Whether weak, strong or right down the middle, the numbers are going to leave some questions unanswered and doubts in the air.
Economists on the fence
by Justin Lahart
In early August, 82% of economists in The Wall Street Journal’s monthly forecasting survey thought the Fed’s policy-setting committee would raise interest rates at its meeting Sept. 16 and 17. But financial-market turmoil over the past few weeks has altered those odds. Now, economists as a group are on the fence on whether the Fed moves—some say probably yes, others probably no, others give even chances.
What this means for liftoff
by Kristen Scholer
Market turbulence around the world the past two weeks has raised the bar for a September rate increase.
As we wrote about in Friday’s Morning MoneyBeat, the Fed has long said strength in the labor market is key to its decision to raise rates. And for several months, economists have expected the August Nonfarm Payrolls report to provide the final go ahead for the central bank.
But, amid market volatility and continued low inflation, the Fed has more to consider than just the jobs report.
Ugly market mood greets jobs report
by Paul Vigna
Well, this is unusual. Most of these Jobs Friday days sees stock market idling ahead of the report. Not today. Futures are down sharply, taking their cues from Europe and Asia.
U.K. stocks are down 1.6%, and every other major market is in the red, too. The CAC-40 and Dax are both off 2.1%. In Asia, Chinese marekts are still closed for the holiday, but everything else is down. The Nikkei is off 2.2%. The Kospi is down 1.5%, and India’s Sensex is down 2.2%.
U.S. futures are down sharply. S&P 500 futures are down 18.5, and Dow futures are down 167.
The yield on the U.S. 10-year Treasury note has fallen to 2.14%, and WTI crude is down 0.7% at $46.43.
Does the market even care about the jobs report? Well, of course it does, and this one particularly. But the market is also caught in the vise grip of a global convulsion. The selloff has its own momentum, and it may wash right over this jobs report, no matter what the numbers say.
The August report has fallen short of expectations in 21 of the last 27 years
by Cynthia Lin
Ahead of the report, some economists have been warning that the first read has a history of falling short of expectations — only to get revised higher in the two subsequent months. The problem for the Fed is that it won’t see those revisions before its meeting later this month.
As we detailed earlier this week, economists at Deutsche Bank found that the August report has fallen short of expectations in 21 of the last 27 years, missing by an average 61,000. The tendency for August figures to miss (or for economists to over-predict) has Deutsche Bank forecasting a net gain of 170,000 jobs for the month. That’s a fair amount less than the median estimate of 220,000 from economists surveyed by The Wall Street Journal.
Yet Wrightson ICAP found that August payrolls are the ones that get the biggest upward revisions. The final read that comes out two months later has been higher than the initial read in eight of the last nine Augusts – and by a not-insignificant amount of 66,000.
The perfect number
by Paul Vigna
You have to figure there’s some kind of number that would hit an equilibrium spot in terms of trader sentiment. Something weak enough to get the market thinking the Fed’s going to hold off, but not so weak that you have to start worrying about a global economic meltdown.
I’d reckon something around 150,000 might do it. Maybe a little higher.
Jobs’ weight in Fed’s decision on rates
by Kristen Scholer
The Fed has continuously said it will up interest rates when the data supports it. And it has placed more emphasis on the strength of the labor market versus other factors like inflation.
But now, as markets have become more volatile since the Fed last met in July and since the last employment report was released at the beginning of August, Steven Englander, global head of G10 foreign exchange strategy at Citigroup Inc., thinks payrolls hold less weight in the Fed’s decision.
“After the July FOMC, we thought that the Fed lift-off decision was 75% NFP [Nonfarm payrolls] and 25% everything else,” he said. “Now we would think that the September lift-off decision is 40% NFP and 60% everything else.”
A continuing concern for the Fed has been the slow rise in wages despite the consistent increase in the number of jobs. The July jobs report found that the rise in hourly pay of nonsupervisory employees has been slowing. In July, earnings were 1.84% higher than a year ago, down from a 2% annual increase in earnings recorded in May. Friday’s report could hint at whether this slowdown is a momentary blip or a sign of something more lasting.
People still on the sidelines
by David Harrison
In addition, many Americans who dropped out of the workforce in the aftermath of the recession have yet to make their way back. In July, 62.6% of those ages 16 and over were either working or looking for work, the lowest level since 1977. While some of that drop is due to the retirement of baby boomers, it’s clear many people are still sitting on the sidelines.
Hawkish Lacker speech coming in ahead of the jobs report
by Paul Vigna
As if the market didn’t have enough to contend with, there is a Fed speech ahead of the jobs report, and we can already tell you it won’t be taking September off the table.
Jeffrey Lacker, president of the Richmond Fed, is speaking at 8:10 a.m., in Richmond. He’s talking to the Retail Merchants Association. We haven’t seen the prepared remarks, but we don’t really need to. The title of the speech tells you everything you need to know: “The Case Against Further Delay.”
Now, Lacker is one of the Fed’s most hawkish officials to begin with, so the angle isn’t unexpected. Still, those will not be comforting headlines for the bulls.
Another thought on the “right” number
by Paul Vigna
Citi’s Steven Englander has also pondered the equilibrium number, and he pegs it a bit higher than I did: 175,000-200,000. “Strong enough to be regarded as firm by markets (post expected revision) but weak enough for them to delay liftoff.”
He breaks it down further:
… 175,000-200,000 – strong enough to be regarded as firm by markets (post expected revision) but weak enough maybe for them to delay liftoff- so USD falls in G3, but global asset markets maybe calmer.
Worst number for EM – very strong +230,000 with upward revisions – Sept back in picture and CNY depreciation tensions increase – good for USD in G3 as well but that is not the story.
Terrible number below 175,000 with downward revisions – certainly bad for USD within G3, but growth pessimism may take down all asset markets.
Pretty good but not great – 200,000-230,000 with modest revision – would normally be good enough for Fed to move but now is not ‘normally’ — would be USD positive in G3 and EM – could see some divergence between US asset markets (ok) and EM (not so okay).
Despite published consensus of 217,000, there is so much discussion of downward bias and upward revisions that above 200,000 should probably be considered upside surprise.
I’d add only that a big factor in arriving at the “right” number is trying to figure out just how much growth the Fed will need to see to satisfy it. I personally think the bar is pretty low, which is why I came up with a lower number.
Transmission of material in this release is embargoed until USDL-15-1697
8:30 a.m. (EDT) Friday, September 4, 2015
Household data: (202) 691-6378 * firstname.lastname@example.org * www.bls.gov/cps
Establishment data: (202) 691-6555 * email@example.com * www.bls.gov/ces
Media contact: (202) 691-5902 * PressOffice@bls.gov
THE EMPLOYMENT SITUATION -- AUGUST 2015
Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 173,000 in August, and the
unemployment rate edged down to 5.1 percent, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported today. Job gains occurred in health care and social assistance and in
financial activities. Manufacturing and mining lost jobs.
Household Survey Data
In August, the unemployment rate edged down to 5.1 percent, and the number of
unemployed persons edged down to 8.0 million. Over the year, the unemployment
rate and the number of unemployed persons were down by 1.0 percentage point
and 1.5 million, respectively. (See table A-1.)
Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rate for whites declined to
4.4 percent in August. The rates for adult men (4.7 percent), adult women
(4.7 percent), teenagers (16.9 percent), blacks (9.5 percent), Asians
(3.5 percent), and Hispanics (6.6 percent) showed little change in August.
(See tables A-1, A-2, and A-3.)
The number of persons unemployed for less than 5 weeks decreased by 393,000
to 2.1 million in August. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless
for 27 weeks or more) held at 2.2 million in August and accounted for 27.7
percent of the unemployed. Over the past 12 months, the number of long-term
unemployed is down by 779,000. (See table A-12.)
In August, the civilian labor force participation rate was 62.6 percent for
the third consecutive month. The employment-population ratio, at 59.4 percent,
was about unchanged in August and has shown little movement thus far this
year. (See table A-1.)
The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes
referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was little changed in August
at 6.5 million. These individuals, who would have preferred full-time
employment, were working part time because their hours had been cut back or
because they were unable to find a full-time job. (See table A-8.)
In August, 1.8 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force,
down by 329,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.)
These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available
for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They
were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in
the 4 weeks preceding the survey. (See table A-16.)
Among the marginally attached, there were 624,000 discouraged workers in
August, down by 151,000 from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally
adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work
because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.2
million persons marginally attached to the labor force in August had not
searched for work for reasons such as school attendance or family
responsibilities. (See table A-16.)
Establishment Survey Data
Total nonfarm payroll employment rose by 173,000 in August. Over the prior
12 months, employment growth had averaged 247,000 per month. In August, job
gains occurred in health care and social assistance and in financial
activities. Employment in manufacturing and mining declined. (See
Health care and social assistance added 56,000 jobs in August. Health care
employment increased by 41,000 over the month, with job growth occurring in
ambulatory health care services (+21,000) and hospitals (+16,000). Employment
rose by 16,000 in social assistance, which includes child day care services
and services for the elderly and disabled. Over the year, employment has
risen by 457,000 in health care and by 107,000 in social assistance.
In August, financial activities employment increased by 19,000, with job
gains in real estate (+8,000) and in securities, commodity contracts, and
investments (+5,000). Over the year, employment in financial activities has
grown by 170,000.
Employment in professional and business services continued to trend up in
August (+33,000) and has increased by 641,000 over the year.
Employment in food services and drinking places continued on an upward trend
in August (+26,000), in line with its average monthly gain of 31,000 over
the prior 12 months.
Manufacturing employment decreased by 17,000 in August, after changing little
in July (+12,000). Job losses occurred in a number of component industries,
including fabricated metal products and food manufacturing (-7,000 each).
These losses more than offset gains in motor vehicles and parts (+6,000) and
in miscellaneous durable goods manufacturing (+4,000). Thus far this year,
overall employment in manufacturing has shown little net change.
Employment in mining fell in August (-9,000), with losses concentrated in
support activities for mining (-7,000). Since reaching a peak in December 2014,
mining employment has declined by 90,000.
Employment in other major industries, including construction, wholesale
trade, retail trade, transportation and warehousing, and government,
showed little change over the month.
The average workweek for all employees on private nonfarm payrolls edged up
by 0.1 hour to 34.6 hours in August. The manufacturing workweek was unchanged
at 40.8 hours, and factory overtime edged down by 0.1 hour to 3.3 hours. The
average workweek for production and nonsupervisory employees on private
nonfarm payrolls was unchanged at 33.7 hours. (See tables B-2 and B-7.)
In August, average hourly earnings for all employees on private nonfarm
payrolls rose by 8 cents to $25.09, following a 6-cent gain in July. Hourly
earnings have risen by 2.2 percent over the year. Average hourly earnings
of private-sector production and nonsupervisory employees increased by 5
cents to $21.07 in August. (See tables B-3 and B-8.)
The change in total nonfarm payroll employment for June was revised from
+231,000 to +245,000, and the change for July was revised from +215,000 to
+245,000. With these revisions, employment gains in June and July combined
were 44,000 more than previously reported. Over the past 3 months, job
gains have averaged 221,000 per month.
The Employment Situation for September is scheduled to be released on
Friday, October 2, 2015, at 8:30 a.m. (EDT).
| 2015 CES Preliminary Benchmark Revision to be released |
| on September 17, 2015 |
| Each year, the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey estimates are |
| benchmarked to comprehensive counts of employment from the Quarterly |
| Census of Employment and Wages (QCEW) for the month of March. These counts |
| are derived from state unemployment insurance (UI) tax records that nearly |
| all employers are required to file. On September 17, 2015, at 10:00 a.m. |
| (EDT), the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) will release the preliminary |
| estimate of the upcoming annual benchmark revision to the establishment |
| survey employment series. This is the same day the First Quarter 2015 data |
| from the QCEW will be issued. Preliminary benchmark revisions for all |
| major industry sectors, as well as total nonfarm and total private levels, |
| will be available on the BLS website at |
| www.bls.gov/web/empsit/cesprelbmk.htm. |
| The final benchmark revision will be issued with the publication of the |
| January 2016 Employment Situation news release in February. |
Employment Situation Summary Table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted
Summary table A. Household data, seasonally adjusted
[Numbers in thousands]
Civilian noninstitutional population
Civilian labor force
Not in labor force
Total, 16 years and over
Adult men (20 years and over)
Adult women (20 years and over)
Teenagers (16 to 19 years)
Black or African American
Hispanic or Latino ethnicity
Total, 25 years and over
Less than a high school diploma
High school graduates, no college
Some college or associate degree
Bachelor’s degree and higher
Reason for unemployment
Job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs
Duration of unemployment
Less than 5 weeks
5 to 14 weeks
15 to 26 weeks
27 weeks and over
Employed persons at work part time
Part time for economic reasons
Slack work or business conditions
Could only find part-time work
Part time for noneconomic reasons
Persons not in the labor force (not seasonally adjusted)
Marginally attached to the labor force
– Over-the-month changes are not displayed for not seasonally adjusted data.
NOTE: Persons whose ethnicity is identified as Hispanic or Latino may be of any race. Detail for the seasonally adjusted data shown in this table will not necessarily add to totals because of the independent seasonal adjustment of the various series. Updated population controls are introduced annually with the release of January data.
Employment Situation Summary Table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted
ESTABLISHMENT DATA Summary table B. Establishment data, seasonally adjusted
Footnotes (1) Includes other industries, not shown separately. (2) Data relate to production employees in mining and logging and manufacturing, construction employees in construction, and nonsupervisory employees in the service-providing industries. (3) The indexes of aggregate weekly hours are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate hours by the corresponding annual average aggregate hours. (4) The indexes of aggregate weekly payrolls are calculated by dividing the current month’s estimates of aggregate weekly payrolls by the corresponding annual average aggregate weekly payrolls. (5) Figures are the percent of industries with employment increasing plus one-half of the industries with unchanged employment, where 50 percent indicates an equal balance between industries with increasing and decreasing employment. (p) Preliminary
NOTE: Data have been revised to reflect March 2014 benchmark levels and updated seasonal adjustment factors.
Story 1: Another Republican Party Sellout of American People — Trade Partnerships and Agreements Will Be Used To Change Immigration and Visa Policies Through Trade In Service Agreement (TISA) and Pacific Union — Videos
U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions: Trade Promotion Authority Legislation Is Not Good For Americans
.S. Senator Jeff Sessions, R., Alabama, on June 18, 2015, spoke on the senate floor to address his concerns on the Trade Promotion Authority legislation. He spoke at length and in a round about way said the legislation is seditious and treasonous.
Today, June 23, 2015, Sessions released the following statement after the passing of the TPA:
“Americans increasingly believe that their country isn’t serving its own citizens. They need look no further than a bipartisan vote of Congress that will transfer congressional power to the Executive Branch and, in turn, to a transnational Pacific Union and the global interests who will help write its rules.
The same routine plays out over and again. We are told a massive bill must be passed, all the business lobbyists and leaders tell us how grand it will be, but that it must be rushed through before the voters spoil the plan. As with Obamacare and the Gang of Eight, the politicians meet with the consultants to craft the talking points—not based on what the bill actually does, but what they hope people will believe it does. And when ordinary Americans who never asked for the plan, who don’t want the plan, who want no part of the plan, resist, they are scorned, mocked, and heaped with condescension.
Washington broke arms and heads to get that 60th vote—not one to spare—to impose on the American people a plan which imperils their jobs, wages, and control over their own affairs. It is remarkable that so much energy has been expended on advancing the things Americans oppose, and preventing the things Americans want.
For instance: thousands of loyal Americans have been laid off and forced to train the foreign workers brought in to fill their jobs—at Disney, at Southern California Edison, across the country. Does Washington rush to their defense? No, the politicians and the lobbyists rush to move legislation that would double or triple the very program responsible for replacing them.
This ‘econometarian’ ideology holds that if a company can increase its bottom line —whether by insourcing foreign workers or outsourcing production—then it’s always a win, never a downside.
President Obama, and allies in Congress, have won this fast-track vote. But, in exchange, they may find that they are losing something far greater: the trust of the American people. Americans have a fundamental, decent, and just demand: that the people they elect defend their interests. And every issue to come before us in the coming months will have to pass this test: does it strengthen, or weaken, the position of the everyday, loyal American citizen?”
TPA passes senate! (Traitors)
Victory for Obama as the Senate gives him the go ahead to negotiate Pacific Rim trade deal
ALERT: Senator Jeff Sessions Issues Dire Warning on TPP
McConnell Lauds the Advancement of Trade Promotion Authority
U.S. Senate Sells Out America!
Republican Senators Sell Out America!
Trade Promotion Authority
Senate advances fast-track trade bill for Obama
he Senate on Tuesday voted to advance President Obama’s trade agenda, approving a measure to end debate on fast-track authority.
The 60-37 motion sets up a vote on final passage on Wednesday. If the Senate approves fast-track or trade promotion authority (TPA), it would then be sent to Obama’s desk to become law.
Fast-track authority would allow Obama to send trade deals to Congress for up-or-down votes. The White House wants the authority to conclude negotiations on a sweeping trans-Pacific trade deal.
Thirteen Democrats backed fast-track in Tuesday’s vote, handing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) a major legislative victory. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) voted against the procedural motion.
The Democrats cast “yes” votes even though the trade package did not include a workers assistance program for people displaced by increased trade. The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program was a part of the last fast-track package approved by the Senate in May, but became a key part of opposition to the package among Democrats in the House.
To move fast-track forward, the White House and GOP leaders in both chambers decided to break TAA away from fast-track and to try to approve both in separate votes.
After the Senate votes Wednesday on final passage for fast-track, it will take a procedural vote on a package that includes TAA and trade preferences for African countries known as the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA).
McConnell has promised both bills, as well as a customs and enforcement bill favored by Democrats, will reach Obama’s desk by the end of the week.
“If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the President will have TPA, TAA and AGOA and Preferences on his desk — with Customs in the process of heading his way too,” he said on the floor.
The House has already passed fast-track but it must still vote on the package including TAA, which faces opposition from conservatives.
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) reiterated on Tuesday his pledge to vote again on TAA as soon as it clears the upper chamber.
“The House will consider TAA once it passes the Senate as part of a new trade preferences bill. And we are ready to go to conference on the customs bill. Our goal is to get TPA and TAA to the president’s desk this week and deliver this win for the American people,” he said in a statement.
The Senate vote to end a filibuster against fast-track appeared in doubt until the final moment as a group of pro-trade Democrats balked at McConnell’s decision to split it off from TAA, a move made necessary to circumvent opposition in the House.
Democratic Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Chris Coons (Del.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Jeanne Shaheen (N.H.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Patty Murray (Wash.) and Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) refused to say publicly how they would vote.
McConnell’s margin for error shrank further when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who is running for president, announced he would vote to block the bill, declaring in a Breitbart.com op-ed that it had “become enmeshed in corrupt Washington backroom dealmaking.”
Other Republican White House hopefuls, including Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, oppose fast-track.
Sen. Ron Wyden (Ore.), the senior Democrat on the Finance Committee, held talks with other pro-trade Democrats late into the evening Monday to address their concerns.
He delivered an impassioned speech in favor of the bill shortly before the vote, arguing that it would allow the United States to keep pace with China in the competition for Asian markets.
“This is our chance to set a new course. This is our chance to put in place higher standards in global trade on matters like labor rights and environmental protection, shine some real sunlight on trade agreements and ensure that our country writes the rules of the road,” he said.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who co-wrote the trade bill with Wyden, argued the vast majority of global economic growth will take place outside of the United States over the next decade.
“If our workers, farmers, ranchers and service providers are going to be able to compete in these growing markets, we must have open access to these markets and fair trade rules to boot,” he said on the floor.
Opponents led by Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown (Ohio) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.) warned fast-track would cost thousands of American jobs and allow multi-national companies to evade U.S. law.
Brown reproached his colleagues for voting to give Obama fast-track authority while having little idea of the shape of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade accord that will receive expedited consideration in Congress as a result.
“We’ve gotten the worst of both worlds because we’re voting on TPA and we haven’t been able to see what’s in TPP,” Brown said before the vote.
The AFL-CIO waged a fierce lobbying campaign against fast-track for months.
“It will do nothing to prevent repeating the mistakes of failed trade policies that have contributed to stagnating wages, increasing inequality and the closure of more than 60,000 factories since 2000,” the union wrote in a letter dated Monday.
Thomas J. Donohue, president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and other business leaders applauded the development.
“Today’s vote is an important step towards revitalizing our economy, creating more good American jobs, and reasserting our country’s global economic leadership,” Donohue said in a statement.
Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah), Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) missed the vote. McConnell said Corker would have voted “yes” if he had been present, while Brown noted that Lee and Menendez would have voted “no.”
SESSIONS WARNS TPA WOULD CREATE ‘PACIFIC UNION’ AKIN TO EUROPEAN UNION
by JEFF POOR 10 Jun 2015 1302
In a joint appearance on Sean Hannity’s radio show on Wednesday,
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
warned against the passage of the so-called Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) currently being considered by the Congress.Sessions argued it was more than just a framework for a process for the president of the United States to use in negotiating trade agreements, but instead was creating an economic union with wide-ranging powers.
“I’ve been there three times and I can tell you it is far more than a trade agreement,” he said. “It is a creating of an economic union. The congressional resource said it is a wide-ranging political and economic partnership that is created where the Sultan of Brunei gets one vote. The president of the United States gets one vote. Twelve countries – they have the ability to add other treaties and pass them. They have the ability to deal with climate issues, wage issues and environmental issues. There’s just no doubt about that.”
The junior Alabama senator went on to explain that he felt it was being kept secret because if the public were aware of this union, which he likened to the European Union, it would be stopped dead in its tracks.
“I think it’s because if the trade commission – if the international commission, the Pacific union that is being created here – were made public, it wouldn’t go anywhere. I just don’t think it has any chance – look, England found out after they joined the EU they can’t fox hunt anymore.”
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~Pope John Paul II – November 4, 1992
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How climate-change doubters lost a papal fight
By Anthony Faiola and Chris Mooney
Pope Francis was about to take a major step backing the science behind human-driven global warming, and Philippe de Larminat was determined to change his mind.
A French doubter who authored a book arguing that solar activity — not greenhouse gases — was driving global warming, de Larminat sought a spot at a climate summit in April sponsored by the Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences. Nobel laureates would be there. So would U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, U.S. economist Jeffrey Sachs and others calling for dramatic steps to curb carbon emissions.
After securing a high-level meeting at the Vatican, he was told that, space permitting, he could join. He bought a plane ticket from Paris to Rome. But five days before the April 28 summit, de Larminat said, he received an e-mail saying there was no space left. It came after other scientists — as well as the powerful Vatican bureaucrat in charge of the academy — insisted he had no business being there.
“They did not want to hear an off note,” de Larminat said.
The incident highlights how climate-change doubters tried and failed to alter the landmark papal document unveiled last week — one that saw the leader of 1 billion Catholics fuse faith and reason and come to the conclusion that “denial” is wrong.
Wearing a yellow raincoat, Pope Francis waves to the faithful as he arrives in Tacloban, Philippines, in January. (Wally Santana/AP)
It marked the latest blow for those seeking to stop the reform-minded train that has become Francis’s papacy. It is one that has reinvigorated liberal Catholics even as it has sowed the seeds of resentment and dissent inside and outside the Vatican’s ancient walls.
Yet the battle lost over climate change also suggests how hard it may be for critics to blunt the power of a man who has become something of a juggernaut in an institution where change tends to unfold over decades, even centuries. More than anything, to those who doubt the human impact of global warming, the position staked out by Francis in his papal document, known as an encyclical, means a major defeat.
“This was their Waterloo,” said Kert Davies, executive director of the Climate Investigations Center, who has been tracking climate-change deniers for years. “They wanted the encyclical not to happen. And it happened.”
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Papal advisers say Francis signaled his intent to draft a major document on the environment soon after assuming the throne of St. Peter in March 2013. His interest in the topic dates to his days as a bishop in Buenos Aires, where Francis, officials say, was struck by the effects of floods and unsanitary conditions on Argentine shantytowns known as “misery villages.”
In January, Francis officially announced his goal of drafting the encyclical — saying after an official visit to the Philippines that he wanted to make a “contribution” to the debate ahead of a major U.N. summit on climate change in Paris in December.
But several efforts by those skeptical of the scientific consensus on climate change to influence the document appear to have come considerably later — in April — and, maybe, too late.
In late April, the Chicago-based Heartland Institute, a free-market group that serves as a hub of skepticism regarding the science of human-caused global warming, sent a delegation to the Vatican. As a Heartland news release put it, they hoped “to inform Pope Francis of the truth about climate science: There is no global warming crisis!”
It was meant to coincide with the same April meeting that de Larminat was trying to attend. Heartland’s activists were not part of the invited contingent, either, Heartland communications director Jim Lakely said.
“It was a side event,” he said. “We were outside the walls of the Vatican. We were at a hotel — literally, I could throw a football into St. Peter’s Square.”
Seven scientists and other experts gave speeches at the Heartland event, raising doubts about various aspects of the scientific consensus on climate change, even as several also urged the pope not to take sides in the debate. It’s impossible to know how that influenced those in the Vatican working on the pope’s document — which one Vatican official said was at “an advanced stage.” But Lakely said his group did not see much of its argument reflected in the final document.
“We all want the poor to live better lives, but we just don’t think the solution to that is to restrict the use of fossil fuels, because we don’t think CO2 is causing a climate crisis,” Lakely said. “So if that’s our message in a sentence, that message was not reflected in the encyclical, so there you go.”
The father of conservative movement-building through direct mail, Richard A. Viguerie, issued a forceful denunciation of Francis, his encyclical and his priorities, calling the pope’s message on climate change “a confusing distraction that dilutes his great moral authority and leadership.”
Mr. Viguerie’s post does not address the substance of the encyclical; rather, it argues at length that the pope should not be writing about climate change “at a time when Catholics, indeed Christians of all denominations, are facing persecution” as well as “a host of moral and spiritual challenges”:
While the pope fiddles with one controversial political issue that is not at the core of spiritual matters, our spiritual culture is burning.
He goes on to assert that the Catholic clergy has “abandoned the teaching of morals” and “sees, hears, and knows few sins,” while “the liberals’ true agenda is to destroy religion” and, he says, the environmental movement has socialist roots.
Those who most fervently deny the scientific consensus on climate change have ridiculed Pope Francis. Steven Milloy, who regularly denounces climate scientists on his website and on Twitter, posted a series of strident messages after a draft of the encyclical leaked earlier this week. Mr. Milloy is linked to the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute and has also argued against the scientific studies that suggest that secondhand smoke causes cancer.
In recent Twitter posts, he called some of the leaked portions of the encyclical “adolescent, insipid, primitive, embarrassing,” as well as “a stumbling, bumbling PR disaster for Red Pope.”
Pope Francis, in Sweeping Encyclical, Calls for Swift Action on Climate Change
By JIM YARDLEY and LAURIE GOODSTEIN
Pope Francis on Thursday called for a radical transformation of politics, economics and individual lifestyles to confront environmental degradation and climate change, blending a biting critique of consumerism and irresponsible development with a plea for swift and unified global action.
The vision that Francis outlined in a 184-page papal encyclical is sweeping in ambition and scope: He describes relentless exploitation and destruction of the environment and says apathy, the reckless pursuit of profits, excessive faith in technology and political shortsightedness are to blame.
The most vulnerable victims, he declares, are the world’s poorest people, who are being dislocated and disregarded.
Francis, the first pope from the developing world, used the encyclical — titled “Laudato Si’,” or “Praise Be to You” — to highlight the crisis posed byclimate change. He places most of the blame on fossil fuels and human activity, while warning of an “unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequence for all of us” if corrective action is not taken swiftly. Developed, industrialized countries were mostly responsible, he says, and are obligated to help poorer nations confront the crisis.
“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” he writes. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”
The Vatican released the encyclical at noon on Thursday, three days after an Italian magazine posted a leaked draft online, to the fury of Vaticanofficials. The breach led to speculation that opponents of Francis in the Vatican wanted to embarrass him by undermining the release.
Even so, religious figures, environmentalists, scientists, executives and elected officials around the world awaited the official release, and scheduled news conferences or issued statements afterward. News media interest was enormous, in part because of Francis’ global popularity, but also because of the intriguing coalition he is proposing between faith and science.
“Humanity is faced with a crucial challenge that requires the development of adequate policies, which, moreover, are currently being discussed on the global agenda,” Cardinal Peter Turkson said at a news conference at the Vatican. “Certainly, ‘Laudato Si’ ’ can and must have an impact on important and urgent decisions to be made in this area.”
In his encyclical, read by a nun at the Vatican on Thursday, Francis focused on the harm climate change poses to the poor.CreditMax Rossi/Reuters
Francis has made it clear that he hopes the encyclical will influence energy and economic policy and stir a global movement. He calls on ordinary people to press politicians for change. Catholic bishops and priests around the world are expected to discuss the encyclical in services on Sunday. But Francis is also reaching for a wider audience, asking in the document “to address every person living on this planet.”
Even before the encyclical, the pope’s stance against environmental destruction and his demand for global action had already thrilled many scientists. Advocates of policies to combat climate change have said they hoped that Francis could lend a “moral dimension” to the debate.
“Within the scientific community, there is almost a code of honor that you will never transgress the red line between pure analysis and moral issues,” said Hans Joachim Schellnhuber, founder and chairman of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. “But we are now in a situation where we have to think about the consequences of our insight for society.”
Francis has been sharply criticized by those who question or deny the established science of human-caused climate change, and also by some conservative Roman Catholics, who see the encyclical as an attack on capitalism and as political meddling.
Governments are now developing domestic climate-change plans to prepare for aUnited Nations summit meeting on the issue in Paris in December. The meeting’s goal is to achieve a sweeping accord in which every nation would commit to new policies to limit greenhouse-gas emissions. Many governments have yet to present plans, including major emitters like Brazil, which has a large Catholic population. The encyclical is seen as an unsubtle nudge for action.
“It gives a lot of cover to political and economic leaders in those countries, as they make decisions on climate change policy,” said Timothy Wirth, vice chairman of the United Nations Foundation.
Catholic theologians say the overarching theme of the encyclical is “integral ecology,” which links care for the environment with a notion already well developed in Catholic teaching: that economic development, to be morally good and just, must take into account people’s need for things like freedom, education and meaningful work.
“The basic idea is, in order to love God, you have to love your fellow human beings, and you have to love and care for the rest of creation,” said Vincent Miller, who holds a chair in Catholic theology and culture at the University of Dayton, a Catholic college in Ohio. “It gives Francis a very traditional basis to argue for the inclusion of environmental concern at the center of Christian faith.”
Metropolitan of Pergamon John Zizioulas, left, and Cardinal Peter Turkson presented the 184-page papal encyclical on Thursday.CreditAndrew Medichini/Associated Press
He added: “Critics will say the church can’t teach policy, the church can’t teach politics. And Francis is saying, ‘No, these things are at the core of the church’s teaching.’ ”
Francis tapped a wide variety of sources in his encyclical, partly to underscore the universality of his message. He cites passages from his two papal predecessors, John Paul II and Benedict XVI, and draws prominently from a religious ally, Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople, leader of the Eastern Orthodox Church. He also cites a ninth-century Sufi mystic, Ali al-Khawas.
“This is not a correct interpretation of the Bible as understood by the Church,” Francis writes. The Bible teaches human beings to “till and keep” the garden of the world, he says. “ ‘Tilling’ refers to cultivating, plowing or working, while ‘keeping’ means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving.”
His most stinging rebuke is a broad critique of profit-seeking and the undue influence of technology on society. He praises achievements in medicine, science and engineering, but says that “our immense technological development has not been accompanied by a development in human responsibility, values and conscience.”
Central to Francis’ theme is the link between poverty and the planet’s fragility. The pope rejects the belief that technology and “current economics” will solve environmental problems, or “that the problems of global hunger and poverty will be resolved simply by market growth.”
“A huge indictment I see in this encyclical is that people have lost their sense of ultimate and proper goals of technology and economics,” said Christiana Z. Peppard, an assistant professor of theology, science and ethics at Fordham University in New York. “We are focused on short-term, consumerist patterns.”
Encyclicals are letters to the clergy and laity of the church that are considered authoritative. Catholics are expected to try to sincerely embrace their teachings. But more specific assertions in them can be categorized as “prudential judgments,” a phrase that some critics have invoked to reject Francis’ positions on issues like climate change or economic inequality.
Many conservatives will be pleased with the encyclical’s strong criticism of abortion, and its dismissal of arguments that population control can be an answer to poverty. However, Francis sharply criticizes the trading of carbon credits — a market-based system central to the European Union’s climate policy — and says it “may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”
Above all, Francis frames the encyclical as a call to action. He praises young people for being ready for change, and said “enforceable international agreements are urgently needed.” He cites Benedict in saying that advanced societies “must be prepared to encourage more sober lifestyles, while reducing their energy consumption and improving its efficiency.”
“All is not lost,” he writes. “Human beings, while capable of the worst, are also capable of rising above themselves, choosing again what is good, and making a new start.”
St. Francis of Assisi’s hymn Laudato Si’ spoke of “Brothers” Sun and Fire and “Sisters” Moon and Water, using these colorful phrases figuratively, as a way of praising God’s creation. These sentimental words so touched Pope Francis that he named his encyclical after this canticle (repeated in paragraph 87 of the Holy Father’s letter).
Neither Pope Francis nor St. Francis took the words literally, of course. Neither believed that fire was alive and could be talked to or reasoned with or, worse, worshiped. Strange, then, that a self-professed atheist and scientific advisor to the Vatican named Hans Schellnhuber appears to believe in a Mother Earth.
The Gaia Principle, first advanced by chemist James Lovelock (who has lately had second thoughts) and microbiologist Lynn Margulis in the 1970s, says that all life interacts with the Earth, and the Earth with all life, to form a giant self-regulating, living system.
This goes far beyond the fact that the Earth’s climate system has feedbacks, which are at the very center of the debate over climate change. In the Gaia Principle, Mother Earth is alive, and even, some think, aware in some ill-defined, mystical way. The Earth knows man and his activities and, frankly, isn’t too happy with him.
This is what we might call “scientific pantheism,” a kind that appeals to atheistic scientists. It is an updated version of the pagan belief that the universe itself is God, that the Earth is at least semi-divine — a real Brother Sun and Sister Water! Mother Earth is immanent in creation and not transcendent, like the Christian God.
What’s this have to do with Schellnhuber? In the 1999 Nature paper “‘Earth system’ analysis and the second Copernican revolution,” he said:
Ecosphere science is therefore coming of age, lending respectability to its romantic companion, Gaia theory, as pioneered by Lovelock and Margulis. This hotly debated ‘geophysiological’ approach to Earth-system analysis argues that the biosphere contributes in an almost cognizant way to self-regulating feedback mechanisms that have kept the Earth’s surface environment stable and habitable for life.
Geo-physiological, in case you missed it. Cognizant, in black and white. So dedicated is Schellnhuber to this belief that he says “the Gaia approach may even include the influence of biospheric activities on the Earth’s plate-tectonic processes.” Not the other way around, mind you, where continental drift and earthquakes effects life, but where life effects earthquakes.
Although effects such as the glaciations may still be interpreted as over-reactions to small disturbances — a kind of cathartic geophysiological fever — the main events, resulting in accelerated maturation by shock treatment, indicate that Gaia faces a powerful antagonist. Rampino has proposed personifying this opposition as Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction.
Mother Earth gets the flu and instead of white blood cells and a rise in temperature to fend off the infection, it sends white ice and a decrease in temperatures. How? Geophysiologically! I remind the reader that our author, writing in one of the world’s most prominent science journals, does not use these propositions metaphorically. He proposes them as actual mechanisms.
Schellnhuber echoes the theme of a cognizant, i.e. self-aware, planet in another (co-authored) 2004 paper in Nature 2004, “Climbing the co-evolution ladder,” suggesting again that mankind is an infection, saying that mankind “perturbs … the global ‘metabolism’” of the planet.
Schellnhuber, a one-time quantum physicist who turned his attention to Mother Earth late in his career, was also co-author of a 2009 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper “Imprecise probability assessment of tipping points in the climate system,” which asked select scientists their gut assessment about the arrival of various “tipping points.” Tipping points are a theme of Schellnhuber’s research (see inter aliathis and this).
Tipping points are supposed moments when some doom which might have been avoided if some action had been taken, is no longer possible to avoid and will arrive no matter what. Tipping points have come and gone in climate forecasts for decades now. The promised dooms never arrive but the false prophets never quit. Their intent is less to forecast than to induce something short of panic in order to plead for political intervention. When the old tipping point is past, theorists just change the date, issue new warnings and hope no one will notice.
One of the tipping points Schellnhuber asked about was the melting of the Greenland ice sheet, depending on what the temperature did. All of the selected experts (who answered the questions in 2004 and 2005) gave moderate (~15-25%) to quite high probabilities (50-80%) for this event to have occurred by 2015. The ice did not melt.
Schellnhuber presented more tipping points to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 2014 in the co-authored paper, “Climate-System Tipping Points and Extreme Weather Events.” In that paper, Schellnhuber has a “scientific” graph with Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Adam “flicking” a planet earth over a methane tipping point, such that the earth would roll down into a fiery pit labeled the “Warming Abyss.” Hell on earth.
The Problem of People
Schellnhuber is most famous for predicting that the “carrying capacity” of the earth is “below” 1 billion people. When confronted with this, he called those who quoted him “liars.” But he then repeated the same claim, saying, “All I said was that if we had unlimited global warming of eight degrees warming, maybe the carrying capacity of the earth would go down to just 1 billion, and then the discussion would be settled.” And he has often said that this temperature tipping point would be reached — unless “actions” were taken.
The man is suspicious of people. In that same interview he said, “If you want to reduce human population, there are wonderful means: Improve the education of girls and young women.” Since young women already know where babies come from, and since this knowledge tends neither to increase nor decrease population, the “education” he has in mind must be facts about how to avoid the consequences of sex. Austin Ruse discovered a 2009 talk in which Schellnhuber said the earth “will explode” due to resource depletion once the population reaches 9 billion, a number that the UN projects in 2050. Presumably he wants earth to avoid that fate, so he mustsupport the population control that Pope Francis so clearly repudiated in his encyclical.
Confirmation bias happens when a scientist manipulates an experiment so that he gets the outcome he hoped he would get. When Schellnhuber invites only believers in tipping-points-of-doom to characterize their guesses of this doom, his view that the doom is real will be confirmed. And when he publishes a paper that says, “Scientists say world is doomed” the public and politicians believe it. Scientists skeptical of the doom are dismissed because they are skeptics. This isn’t good science. It’s really bad religion, and a pagan one at that.
Global warming research is characterized by an insider’s club. If you believe, you’re in. If you doubt, you’re out. This is also so at the Pontifical Academies of Science where Schellnhuber was appointed by Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo. The bishop locked scientists with contrary views out of the process, scientists he has repeatedly dismissed as “funded by the oil industry.” Given this, how likely is it that the Holy Father was fully aware of the views of the chief scientist who advised him?
Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change
“…On June 2, as Congress debated global warming legislation that would raise energy costs to consumers by hundreds of billions of dollars, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) released an 880-page book challenging the scientific basis of concerns that global warming is either man-made or would have harmful effects.
In “Climate Change Reconsidered: The 2009 Report of the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC),” coauthors Dr. S. Fred Singer and Dr. Craig Idso and 35 contributors and reviewers present an authoritative and detailed rebuttal of the findings of the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), on which the Obama Administration and Democrats in Congress rely for their regulatory proposals.
The scholarship in this book demonstrates overwhelming scientific support for the position that the warming of the twentieth century was moderate and not unprecedented, that its impact on human health and wildlife was positive, and that carbon dioxide probably is not the driving factor behind climate change.
The authors cite thousands of peer-reviewed research papers and books that were ignored by the IPCC, plus additional scientific research that became available after the IPCC’s self-imposed deadline of May 2006.
The Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) is an international panel of nongovernment scientists and scholars who have come together to understand the causes and consequences of climate change. Because it is not a government agency, and because its members are not predisposed to believe climate change is caused by human greenhouse gas emissions, NIPCC is able to offer an independent “second opinion” of the evidence reviewed by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). …”
Story 1: American People’s Crisis of Confidence in Big Government And Out of Control Spending and Taxes — Abandoning Both Political Parties — The Coming Of A Third Independent Party — Toppling Two Party Tyranny — The Wealth Creators Will Lead The American Renaissance — Videos
Free Market Revolution -The Solution to what Ails America Today
The mission of the Financial Policy Council Inc. (FPC), a research think tank and educational institution, is to formulate and promote sound public policy based on the principles of free enterprise and wealth creation as envisioned by the ideals of the American Founding Fathers.
Our goal is to ensure that America, the land of opportunity where freedom and prosperity have flourished, is not derailed by poorly formulated and reactive economic, fiscal and tax policy. In addition, our goal is to retain and reclaim America’s leading role in the global economic community.
Dr. Yaron Brook | Why Be Selfish? | Full Length HD
G. Edward Griffin – The Collectivist Conspiracy
Confidence In Institutions – GBTV
Matt Welch Tackles Two Party Tyranny on Stossel
TAKE IT TO THE LIMITS: Milton Friedman on Libertarianism
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Gallup’s U.S. Economic Confidence Index registered at -9 for the week ending June 7, the sixth straight week the index has been at or below -5.
After climbing steadily during the fall of last year and registering positive scores from late December through mid-February, the U.S. Economic Confidence Index slipped to between -3 and -4 for most of March and April in Gallup’s weekly averages. The index dipped more at the start of May, reaching -9, and has remained near that level since.
Still, on a relative basis the recent weekly index readings are much higher than Gallup found for most weeks between January 2008 and November 2014, when the index ranged from -65 to -3.
Gallup’s Economic Confidence Index is the average of two components: Americans’ views of current economic conditions and their perceptions of whether the U.S. economy is getting better or getting worse. The theoretical maximum for the index is +100, if all Americans say the economy is excellent or good and getting better. The theoretical minimum is -100, if all Americans say the economy is poor and getting worse.
For the week ending June 7, 24% of Americans said the economy is excellent or good while 30% said it is poor, resulting in a current conditions score of -6. The economic outlook score of -12, the lowest score for this component since early May, is the result of 42% of Americans saying the economy is getting better and 54% saying it is getting worse.
Americans’ outlook has improved on a variety of economic measures, but their overall confidence in the U.S. economy is registering significantly lower values in the past several weeks than it did from late December to late April.
The recent erosion in confidence may be related to rising gas prices since the beginning of the year. The direction of gas prices in the months ahead could help predict the trajectory of economic confidence, as could other economic information consumers are likely to pick up on, including the monthly government jobs report — which for May was stronger than some analysts expected.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 1-7, 2015, on the Gallup U.S. Daily survey, with a random sample of 3,035 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±2 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Confidence in U.S. Institutions Still Below Historical Norms
by Jeffrey M. Jones
Only military, small business top historical averages
Military, small business highest-rated institutions overall
Confidence in organized religion, police at all-time lows
PRINCETON, N.J. — Americans’ confidence in most major U.S. institutions remains below the historical average for each one. Only the military (72%) and small business (67%) — the highest-rated institutions in this year’s poll — are currently rated higher than their historical norms, based on the percentage expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the institution.
These results are based on a June 2-7 Gallup poll that included Gallup’s latest update on confidence in U.S. institutions. Gallup first measured confidence ratings in 1973 and has updated them each year since 1993.
Americans’ confidence in most major institutions has been down for many years as the nation has dealt with prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a major recession and sluggish economic improvement, and partisan gridlock in Washington. In fact, 2004 was the last year most institutions were at or above their historical average levels of confidence. Perhaps not coincidentally, 2004 was also the last year Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States averaged better than 40%. Currently, 28% of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation.
From a broad perspective, Americans’ confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993. The average confidence rating of the 14 institutions asked about annually since 1993 — excluding small business, asked annually since 2007 — is 32% this year. This is one percentage point above the all-institution average of 31% last year. Americans were generally more confident in all institutions in the late 1990s and early 2000s as the country enjoyed a strong economy and a rally in support for U.S. institutions after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Confidence in Political, Financial and Religious Institutions Especially Low
Today’s confidence ratings of Congress, organized religion, banks, the Supreme Court and the presidency show the greatest deficits compared with their historical averages, all running at least 10 points below that mark. Americans’frustration with the government’s performance has eroded the trust they have in all U.S. political institutions. Likewise, Americans’ confidence in banks fell after the bursting of the housing bubble and the subsequent financial crisis.
The large decline in confidence in organized religion is likely tied to a decline in religiosity overall, but also to scandals that have plagued various religious organizations, most notably the Catholic Church. This year’s 42% score for confidence in the church or organized religion is the lowest Gallup has measured for that institution. The prior low was 44% in 2012.
Confidence in the police, at 52% this year, ties the low for that institution recorded in the first year it was measured, 1993. In the past year, the police have been a major focus of news coverage in several incidents in which white police officers’ actions resulted in the deaths of black men they were trying to apprehend.
Still, the church and the police rank among the highest-rated institutions, trailing only the military and small business among the 15 institutions tested in this year’s poll. Further back in history, the church ranked first or tied for first in all but one survey from 1973 through 1988. Since then, the military has been the top-ranked institution each year except 1997, when small business was first.
Congress is the institution in which Americans express the least confidence this year, with 8% doing so, one point above its 7% rating last year — the lowest Gallup has ever measured for any institution. Congress has ranked last each year since 2010, and a total of 12 times since 1973. Other institutions that have held this unwelcome distinction in the past include big business (nine times), health maintenance organizations (eight), the criminal justice system (six) and organized labor (four). The top- and bottom-rated institutions in each Confidence in Institutions poll are shown at the bottom of this story.
Americans continue to show lower levels of confidence in most of the major institutions central to U.S. society, with only the military and small business getting ratings in 2015 that are above their historical averages. That speaks to the broader dissatisfaction Americans have with the state of the nation more generally over the past decade as the U.S. has faced serious economic, international and political challenges. Americans have tended to be more confident in U.S. institutions when the economy has been strong, such as in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although Americans are now more upbeat about the economy than they were in 2008-2013, they are not yet convinced that the economy is good, given that their assessments of national economic conditions remain more negative than positive.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 2-7, 2015, with a random sample of 1,527 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Confidence in U.S. Branches of Government Remains Low
by Justin McCarthy
Americans’ confidence in presidency up four points, at 33%
Thirty-two percent have confidence in the Supreme Court
Congress retains the least confidence, at 8%
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Americans’ confidence in each of the three branches of the U.S. government remains low, with confidence in Congress and the Supreme Court near their all-time lows reached last year. Currently, 33% of Americans have “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in the presidency, 32% are this confident in the Supreme Court, and Congress is still well behind, at 8%.
While Congress has consistently received the lowest confidence rating of the three branches of government, the Supreme Court and the presidency usually track each other closely. This is apart from times when the incumbent president has been extremely popular, as in 1991 and 2002, or exceptionally unpopular, as in 2007 and 2008.
Gallup’s June 2-7 poll found confidence in the presidency rising slightly to 33% from 29% last year, which in turn was just four percentage points above the historical low of 25% in 2007. The uptick in confidence in the presidency this year is consistent with Americans’ higher job approval ratings of President Barack Obama since last fall.
Meanwhile, ratings of the Supreme Court and Congress, which had dropped to record lows in 2014, have barely moved.
Confidence in the Presidency in Obama’s Seventh Year Exceeds Bush’s
The president in office is not mentioned by name in the confidence in the presidency question, but Americans’ evaluations of the sitting president at the time are strongly related to how much confidence Americans place in the presidency as an institution.
Confidence in the presidency as an institution during each year of Obama’s presidency has generally been lower than the comparable year in the presidencies of Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. An exception is Obama’s first year, when Americans had greater confidence in the institution than in the first years of either Bush or Clinton. Also, in Obama’s current year in office, his seventh, confidence in the presidency is higher than the 25% found in Bush’s seventh year — the record low — but lower than the 49% in Clinton’s seventh year.
The highest confidence rating the presidency has ever received is 72%, in March 1991 during the administration of George H.W. Bush shortly after he had succeeded in pushing Iraq out of Kuwait in the Gulf War. However, by October of that same year, after the Gulf War was over, confidence in the presidency had dropped to 50%.
Average Confidence in the Three Branches Is Low, but Has Been Lower
The average confidence rating for the three branches of government combined is 24%, lower than most previous averages since 1991 and well below the high of 50% that year.
But the average of confidence ratings for the three branches of government has been lower — including in 2008 (23%) and 2014 (22%).
Americans’ confidence in two of the three institutions that make up the U.S. government — Congress and the Supreme Court — remains near their all-time lows reached in 2014, while confidence in the presidency, although low, is up marginally compared with last year.
For Congress, low confidence in the institution is nothing new to members of the Senate and the House of Representatives, who have also seen low job approval ratings in recent years. Individual members likely aren’t as interested in Americans’ collective opinions as they are in the views of the voters they must appeal to back home. But the public’s extremely low confidence no doubt weighs on Congress at some level.
The Supreme Court, meanwhile, is not directly accountable to the public — and often defies public opinion completely. Although its unelected members serve indefinite terms, confidence in the court is not unsusceptible to a drop in confidence in government as a whole.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted June 2-7, 2015, with a random sample of 1,527 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±3 percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.
Americans have little confidence in most of their major institutions including Congress, the presidency, the Supreme Court, banks and organized religion, according to the latest Gallup poll.
“Americans’ confidence in most major U.S. institutions remains below the historical average for each one,” a Gallup spokesman said in a news release. Only the military, in which 72 percent of Americans express confidence, up from a historical average of 68 percent, and small business, with 67 percent confidence, up from 63, are currently rated higher than their historical norms. This is based on the percentage expressing “a great deal” or “quite a lot” of confidence in these institutions, the Gallup spokesman said.
Only 8 percent have confidence in Congress, down by 16 points from a long-term average of 24 percent – the lowest of all institutions rated. The rating is about the same as last year’s 7 percent, the lowest Gallup has ever measured for any institution.
Thirty-three percent have confidence in the presidency, a drop from a historical average of 43 percent.
Thirty-two percent have confidence in the Supreme Court, down from 44.
All in all, it’s a picture of a nation discouraged about its present and worried about its future, and highly doubtful that its institutions can pull America out of its trough. In a political context, the findings indicate that the growing number of presidential candidates for 2016 will have a difficult time instilling confidence in a skeptical electorate that they have the answers to the country’s problems.
“Americans’ confidence in most major institutions has been down for many years as the nation has dealt with prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a major recession and sluggish economic improvement, and partisan gridlock in Washington,” the Gallup spokesman said. “In fact, 2004 was the last year most institutions were at or above their historical average levels of confidence. Perhaps not coincidentally, 2004 was also the last year Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States averaged better than 40 percent. Currently, 28 percent of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation.”
The Gallup spokesman added: “From a broad perspective, Americans’ confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993.”
Twenty-eight percent have confidence in banks, down from 40 percent.
Twenty-one percent have confidence in big business, down from 24 percent.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in organized labor, down from 26.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in newspapers, down from 32 percent. Twenty-one percent have confidence in television news, down from 30 percent.
The police also have experienced a drop in public esteem, with 52 percent of Americans saying they are confident in the police compared with 57 percent who have been confident in the police historically. Police have been widely criticized in recent months for abusive tactics toward African-Americans, which resulted in the deaths of several black men.
Forty-two percent express confidence in organized religion, down from 55.
“Americans continue to show lower levels of confidence in most of the major institutions central to U.S. society, with only the military and small business getting ratings in 2015 that are above their historical averages,” the Gallup spokesman said. “That speaks to the broader dissatisfaction Americans have with the state of the nation more generally over the past decade as the U.S. has faced serious economic, international and political challenges. Americans have tended to be more confident in U.S. institutions when the economy has been strong, such as in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s. Although Americans are now more upbeat about the economy than they were in 2008-2013, they are not yet convinced that the economy is good, given that their assessments of national economic conditions remain more negative than positive.”
AMERICANS LOSE CONFIDENCE IN EVERYTHING
Poll shows views turning negative on banks, government, religion, police, media
An explosive new Gallup poll shows Americans have lost confidence in almost every major institution – from the U.S. presidency, Congress and the Supreme Court to banks and organized religion.
“Americans’ confidence in most major U.S. institutions remains below the historical average for each one,” a Gallup spokesman said.
Only the military (72 percent) and small business (67 percent) have Americans’ increasing confidence, both of which are now rated 4 percentage points higher than their historical norms, according to the poll.
Congress – which plunged 16 points from its average of 24 points – is the lowest ranking institution at just 8 percent.
Just as numerous presidential candidates attempt to convince America that they have the answers to the nation’s problems, the poll shows only one-third, or 33 percent, of Americans have confidence in the presidency, a nosedive from the historical average of 43 percent.
Likewise, just 32 percent said they have confidence in the Supreme Court, which is down from an average of 44 just before the court announces its decisions on landmark issues such as same-sex marriage and Obamacare subsidies to states without insurance-exchange websites.
“Americans’ confidence in most major institutions has been down for many years as the nation has dealt with prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a major recession and sluggish economic improvement, and partisan gridlock in Washington,” a Gallup spokesman said. “In fact, 2004 was the last year most institutions were at or above their historical average levels of confidence. Perhaps not coincidentally, 2004 was also the last year Americans’ satisfaction with the way things are going in the United States averaged better than 40 percent. Currently, 28 percent of Americans are satisfied with the state of the nation.”
In 2004, President George W. Bush was re-elected and the U.S. transferred sovereignty and control of Iraq back to the Iraqi people.
At the beginning of 2004, the U.S. economy was booming. Four middle-class tax cuts were extended, including a $1,000-per-couple child tax credit, expansion of the lowest (10 percent) tax bracket, exceptions for the alternative minimum tax, and relief from the “marriage penalty” for two-income families. Another $140 billion in tax relief was granted to U.S. business. Unemployment dropped from 5.7 percent to 5.4 percent.
Regarding the latest poll numbers, the Gallup spokesman added, “From a broad perspective, Americans’ confidence in all institutions over the last two years has been the lowest since Gallup began systematic updates of a larger set of institutions in 1993.”
In the last two years, Americans have seen President Obama begin his second term of office. Amid an explosion of legalized same-sex marriage in numerous U.S. states, the Supreme Court declared the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional.
Americans witnessed the debt-ceiling crisis in October 2013, which resulted in the shutdown of the federal government and furlough of federal workers.
By 2014, the Obama administration had announced its plan to shrink the military budget to $522 billion and slash the Army to a size unseen since before World War II. The nation also saw Americans impacted by a West African Ebola outbreak and revelations that the Veterans Administration had covered up exceedingly long wait times for veterans seeking medical attention.
The year 2014 also saw the rise of terrorist group ISIS and racial riots in Ferguson, Missouri, and St. Louis after the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown in August. By 2015, riots had broken out in Baltimore, Maryland, over the shooting of Freddie Gray.
According to the Gallup poll, 28 percent of Americans now have confidence in banks, compared to the historical average of 40 percent.
Twenty-one percent said they have confidence in big business, down from 24 percent.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in organized labor, down from 26 percent.
Twenty-four percent have confidence in newspapers, down from 32 percent.
Twenty-one percent have confidence in TV news, down from 30 percent.
Fifty-two percent have confidence in police, down from 57 percent.
Forty-two percent have confidence in organized religion, down from 55.
“Americans continue to show lower levels of confidence in most of the major institutions central to U.S. society, with only the military and small business getting ratings in 2015 that are above their historical averages,” the Gallup spokesman said.
“That speaks to the broader dissatisfaction Americans have with the state of the nation more generally over the past decade as the U.S. has faced serious economic, international and political challenges. Americans have tended to be more confident in U.S. institutions when the economy has been strong, such as in the mid-1980s and the late 1990s and early 2000s.”
While Americans are more confident in the economy than they were from 2008 to 2013, the Gallup spokesman said, “[T]hey are not yet convinced that the economy is good, given that their assessments of national economic conditions remain more negative than positive.”
The Vice President of the United States has the additional duty of President of the Senate. Because the number of seats in the United States Senate is an even number (two senators per state), it is the Vice President’s duty as President of the Senate to cast a tie-breaking vote in the event that “they be equally divided”—an equal number of Senators voting both for and against a motion.
A party that has “an independent state organization… in a majority of the states” is listed as a major party. An “independent state organization” is not to be confused with the organization of an Independent Democrat or Independent Republican.
These parties are based only in states or certain regions and rarely, if ever, offer candidates for national offices. These are all parties that are unaffiliated with national parties. Each state has official state chapters of the major parties as well as some of the minor parties.
Since its inception in 1995, the Index of Economic Freedom has chronicled hundreds of examples of government policy changes that have enhanced economic freedom, thereby promoting human progress and greater prosperity. As the Index has catalogued, nations with higher degrees of economic freedom prosper because they capitalize more fully on the ability of the free-market system not only to generate, but also to reinforce dynamic growth through efficient resource allocation, value creation, and innovation. Policies that promote freedom, whether through improvements in the rule of law, the promotion of competition and openness, or suitable restraints on the size and economic reach of government, turn out in practice to offer and advance practical solutions to a wide range of economic and social challenges that face the world’s societies.
The findings of the 2015 Index once again demonstrate the strongly positive linkages between economic freedom and various dimensions of human development. Many of the linkages are straightforward: Higher taxes, for example, reduce investment and hurt job growth. Others, such as the impact on economic growth from the promotion of property rights or the maintenance of a stable monetary system, are more intricate, multidimensional, and nonlinear.
Even in these cases, however, the evidence is strong that adherence to the principles of economic freedom is an unmatched strategy for promoting solutions to human problems and advancing overall well-being. No alternative systems—and many have been tried—come close to the record of free-market capitalism in promoting growth and improving the human condition.
Economic Freedom: Advancing Opportunity
Today’s successful economies are not necessarily geographically large or richly blessed with natural resources. Many economies have managed to expand opportunities for their citizens by enhancing their economic dynamism. In general, the overarching objective of economic policies must be to create an environment that provides the most opportunity for the widest range of activities that can lead to increased prosperity.
The Index results have shown that sustaining such economic dynamism is achievable only when governments adopt economic policies that empower individuals and firms with more choices, encouraging greater entrepreneurship.
It is noteworthy that despite recent policy missteps by many countries in responding to the global economic slowdown, which amounted to a political assault on capitalism in some places, the free-market system is not on the verge of breakdown. In fact, as the negative impact of regulatory and spending mistakes has become apparent, a greater number of people around the world seem to be realizing that the economic damage inflicted by the heavy hand of government—subpar growth, deteriorating entrepreneurial environments, and lower employment growth—is not inevitable, but rather the result of bad policy choices.
Even as the free market has been under challenge in countries such as Venezuela, Bolivia, Russia, and even the United States, many other governments around the world have acknowledged its superiority. Decades of evidence, some presented in the pages of this Index, are hard for even the most ideological governments to ignore. Not only does the free-market system remain viable, but many of its core features, such as private property rights, openness to trade and investment, and fiscal discipline, have entrenched themselves as the policy standard, any deviation from which requires strong justification.
Economic Freedom: Promoting Prosperity
In many respects, economic freedom is merely shorthand for an openness to entrepreneurial activity that increases opportunity for individuals to succeed in their endeavors. Chart 1 shows the close correspondence between economic freedom and entrepreneurial opportunity as measured by the Entrepreneurship and Opportunity sub-index of the Legatum Prosperity Index, which “measures a country’s entrepreneurial environment, its promotion of innovative activity, and the evenness ofopportunity.”
Given such a strong relationship, it should be apparent that a government’s most effective stimulus activity will not be to increase its own spending or increase layers of regulation, both of which reduce economic freedom. The best results are likely to be achieved instead through policy reforms that improve the incentives that drive entrepreneurial activity, creating more opportunities for greater economicdynamism.
Equally notable are the fundamental benefits that stem from the strong positive relationship between economic freedom and levels of per capita income. For countries achieving scores in the Index that reflect even moderate levels of economic freedom (60 or above), the relationship between economic freedom and per capita GDP is highly significant.
As indicated in Chart 2, countries moving up the economic freedom scale show increasingly high levels of average income. Economies rated “free” or “mostly free” in the 2015 Index enjoy incomes that are over twice the average levels in all other countries and more than five times higher than the incomes of “repressed” economies.
Economic Freedom: Antidote to Poverty
By a great many measures, the past two decades during which the Index has been charting the advance of economic freedom have been the most prosperous in the history of humankind. Those countries that have adopted some version of free-market capitalism, with economies supported by efficient regulations and open to the free flow of goods, services, and capital, have participated in an era of globalization and economic integration in which solutions to many of the world’s development problems have taken hold and generated real improvements in living standards.
The free-market system that is rooted in the principles of economic freedom has fueled unprecedented economic growth around the world. As Chart 3 illustrates, as the global economy has moved toward greater economic freedom over the past two decades, real world GDP has increased by about 70 percent, and the global poverty rate has been cut in half, lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.
Greater economic freedom has had a positive impact not just on the number of people in poverty, but also on the intensity of the poverty still experienced by some. Poverty intensity as measured by the United Nations Development Programme’s Multidimensional Poverty Index, which assesses the nature and intensity of deprivation at the individual level in education, health outcomes, and standard of living, is much lower on average in countries with higher levels of economic freedom. Chart 5 shows that the intensity of poverty in countries whose economies are considered mostly free or moderately free is only about one-fourth the level in countries that are rated less free.
The key driver of poverty reduction is dynamic and resilient economic growth that creates jobs. Not surprisingly, one of the most important goals of economic policy in almost every country in the world has thus been to increase the rate of economic growth.
As Chart 4 demonstrates, there is a robust relationship between improving economic freedom and achieving higher per capita economic growth. Whether long-term (20 years), medium-term (10 years), or short-term (five years), the relationship between changes in economic freedom and changes in economic growth is consistently positive.
Undeniably, countries moving toward greater economic freedom tend to achieve higher rates of per capita GDP growth over time. Whether in the short term or over the long run, the average annual per capita economic growth rates of countries that have grown economic freedom the most are at least 50 percent higher than those of countries where freedom has stagnated or slowed.
Economic Freedom: Societal Development and Democratic Progress
Growing economic freedom is unequivocally about more than financial success. Achieving greater overall prosperity that goes beyond materialistic and monetary dimensions of well-being is equally important. The societal benefits of economic freedom extend far beyond higher incomes or reductions in poverty. Countries with higher levels of economic freedom enjoy higher levels of overall human development as measured by the United Nations Human Development Index, which measures life expectancy, literacy, education, and the standard of living in countries worldwide. As Chart 6 shows, governments that choose policies that increase economic freedom are placing their societies on the pathway to more education opportunities, better health care, and higher standards of living for their citizens.
In some countries, government policies and actions concerning the environment have become more intrusive and economically distortionary. Many governments have pushed programs to tax carbon emissions and increase taxes on gasoline, organized non-transparent and sometimes corrupt exchanges for the buying and selling of carbon emissions, and provided subsidies for “clean” energy to politically favored firms. Such policies impose a huge direct cost on society, and they also retard economic growth—and all for uncertain environmental benefits.
Interestingly, the same free-market principles that have proven to be the key to economic success have also proven to deliver environmental success. Around the world, economic freedom has been shown to increase countries’ capacity for innovation and thus to improve overall environmental performance.
The positive link between economic freedom and higher levels of innovation ensures greater economic dynamism in coping with various developmental challenges, and the most remarkable improvements in clean energy use and energy efficiency over the past decades have occurred not as a result of government regulation, but rather because of advances in technology and trade. A virtuous cycle of investment, innovation (including in greener technologies), and dynamic economic growth has flourished where governments have trusted market forces and competition to spur efficiency. (See Chart 7.)
Greater economic freedom can also provide more fertile ground for effective and democratic governance. Debate over the direction of causality between economic freedom and democracy has become more controversial in recent years because of the multifaceted interaction between the two. Undoubtedly, achieving greater political freedom through well-functioning democracy is a messy and often excruciatingprocess.
However, the positive relationship between economic freedom and democratic governance is undeniable. (See Chart 8.) By empowering people to exercise greater control of their daily lives, economic freedom ultimately nurtures political reform by making it possible for individuals to gain the economic resources necessary to challenge entrenched interests and compete for political power, thereby encouraging the creation of more pluralistic societies.
Pursuit of greater economic freedom is thus an important stepping-stone to democracy. It empowers the poor and builds the middle class. It is a philosophy that encourages entrepreneurship and disperses economic power and decision-making throughout society.
Economic Freedom: The Key to Upward Mobility and Greater Social Progress
The massive improvements in global indicators of income and quality of life largely reflect a paradigm shift in the debate over how societies should be structured to achieve the most optimal outcome. Over the past two decades, this debate has largely been won by capitalism. However, fears that the immediate benefits of capitalism are fading has brought to the forefront concerns about economic mobility and economicfreedom.
At the heart of ensuring upward economic mobility is the task of advancing economic freedom so that dynamic and inclusive growth can meaningfully occur for ordinary people in a free society. Milton and Rose Friedman made a keen observation on the critically intertwined relationship between freedom andmobility:
[S]o long as freedom is maintained, it prevents … positions of privilege from becoming institutionalized. Freedom means diversity, but also mobility. It preserves the opportunity for today’s disadvantaged to become tomorrow’s privileged and, in the process enables almost everyone, from top to bottom, to enjoy a fuller and richer life.1
Economic freedom is critical to generating the broader-based economic growth that brings more opportunities for a greater number of people to work, produce, and save. In other words, ensuring greater economic freedom is directly related to preserving and enhancing dynamic upward mobility.
Also notable is that although some naysayers claim that economic and social progress has been limited in recent years as incomes in some countries have become more unequal as a result of economic freedom, the evidence does not support this contention. Instead, societies based on economic freedom are the ones that have demonstrated the strongest social progress.
As shown in Chart 9, countries that largely embrace economic freedom provide the environments that are most conducive to social progress.2 Countries that improve their competitiveness and open their societies to new ideas, products, and innovations have largely achieved the high levels of social progress that their citizens demand. It is not massive redistributions of wealth or government dictates on income levels that produce the most positive social outcomes. Instead, mobility and progress require lower barriers to entry, freedom to engage with the world, and less government intrusion.
Staying on Course
The 21st edition of the Index of Economic Freedom shows economic freedom once again on the rise, reaching the highest point in the Index’s 21-year history. Behind this record are stories of human progress and the achievements of countries and their citizens—literally billions of people around the world whose lives have measurably improved.
It is no coincidence that the increase of economic liberty over the past decades has coincided with a massive reduction in worldwide poverty, disease, and hunger. The link between economic freedom and development is clear and strong. People in economically free societies live longer. They have better health. They are able to be better stewards of the environment, and they push forward the frontiers of human achievement in science and technology through greater innovation.
A recurring theme of human history has been resilience and revival. The country profiles in the 2015 Index of Economic Freedom include many examples of countries that have accelerated their economic and social progress in the face of difficult challenges and a sometimes harsh international environment. Their successes can be emulated by others. The Index of Economic Freedom charts not just one path to development, but as many as the ingenuity of humans can produce when they are free to experiment andinnovate.
The principles of economic freedom are a sure guide, but only a guide. What truly will matter are the creative solutions to pressing world problems that are certain to flow from people who are, in the words of Milton and Rose Friedman, “free to choose.”
1. Milton Friedman and Rose D. Friedman, Free to Choose: A Personal Statement (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1979).
2. The Social Progress Index defines social progress as the capacity of a society to meet the basic human needs of its citizens, establish the building blocks that allow citizens and communities to enhance and sustain the quality of their lives, and create the conditions for all individuals to reach their full potential.
The United States’ economic freedom score is 76.2, making its economy the 12th freest in the 2015 Index. Its score is 0.7 point higher than last year, with modest gains in six of the 10 economic freedoms, including control of government spending, outweighing a slight decline in business freedom.
Although the precipitous downward spiral in U.S. economic freedom since 2008 has come to a halt in the 2015 Index, a 1.6-point decline in overall economic freedom over the past five years reflects broad-based deteriorations in key policy areas, particularly those related to upholding the rule of law and limited government. Continuing to trail such comparable economies as Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, and Canada, America has been ranked “mostly free” since 2010.
The anemic post-recession recovery has been characterized by slow growth, high unemployment, a decrease in the number of Americans seeking work, and great uncertainty that has held back investment. Increased tax and regulatory burdens, aggravated by favoritism toward entrenched interests, have undercut America’s historically dynamic entrepreneurial growth.
President Barack Obama’s second-term efforts to expand government spending and regulation have been thwarted to some extent by Republican Party opposition in Congress. Economic policy leadership has devolved by default to the Federal Reserve, whose attempts to use monetary policy to stimulate economic activity have not restored robust growth. Implementation of the 2010 health care law, which has reduced competition in most health insurance markets, remains a drag on job creation and full-time employment. Overall, the U.S. economy continues to underperform, despite a private sector–led energy boom that has made the U.S. the world’s largest producer of oil and natural gas. The weak economic recovery and uncertain responses to foreign policy challenges, particularly in the Middle East, in Ukraine, and along the southern U.S. border, have contributed to a loss of support for the President and his party and Republican majorities in both chambers of Congress as a result of 2014 midterm elections.
Corruption in government and the political process remains a concern. High levels of government spending and the expansion and complexity of the government’s regulatory agenda have increased opportunities for political favoritism and cronyism. The judiciary functions independently. Protection of property rights has been uneven, with instances of regulatory overreach by the executive branch requiring court adjudication.
The top individual income tax rate is 39.6 percent, and the top corporate tax rate remains among the world’s highest at 35 percent. Other taxes include a capital gains tax and excise taxes. Tax revenue is equal to 24.3 percent of gross domestic product, and government spending is well over one-third of GDP. Public debt exceeds the value of the economy’s annual production.
The regulatory burden has been mounting. Since 2009, over 150 new major regulations have been imposed at an annual cost of more than $70 billion. As of 2014, 125 new regulations were in the pipeline. The labor market, primarily regulated at the state level, remains flexible. Subsidies for agriculture, health care, and renewable energy have bred economic distortions.
The average tariff rate is 1.5 percent. Tariffs on clothing are high, sugar imports face tariff-rate quotas, and petroleum and liquefied natural gas exports are restricted. Foreign investment in some sectors is capped. The financial market is well developed, but the 2010 Dodd–Frank Act has instituted more federal regulation, socializing the cost of financial risk-taking and increasing the likelihood of future financial crises and bailouts