Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pope Francis Continues his assault on Global Capitalism - the Many Sides to the People's Pope


The People's Pope has stayed true to his message of social justice and continued to say capitalism as it is practiced today is a manipulation by the rich to control the lives of everyone else.  It is a message that undermines the flamboyant living of a number of Bishops of the Church, a number of whom have already sold off million dollar estates.

More important, it is a direct challenge to the political leaders of America to stop protecting the rich and start caring for the middle class and poor.  It seems odd that all those defenders of the people running for and holding political office are pretty much silent when it comes taking on capitalism.

Capitalism is not protected by our Constitution and did not even exist when our nation was founded in this country.  It evolved over time and as it became more and more of a force in the evolution of America those practitioners of capitalism seemed to create their own creed, their own constitution and their own priorities far disparate from those of our Declaration of Independence and Constitution.

Where our nation was founded on equal opportunity and individual freedom, capitalism was based on greed, power, accumulation and control.  Once upon a time our nation was the model for the world in terms of social justice and the good of the people was the goal of the nation and it led us into combining charity and government assistance into housing, medical practices, transportation, education and agriculture practices that transformed our country and was a beacon to the world.

But somewhere along the line serving the public good fell victim to the greed driven obsession of wealth, power and control.  It wasn't enough to have more money than everyone else, it became fashionable to protect your own wealth by denying it to others.

Our institutions of commerce became more and more exclusive until financial vehicles like the stock markets were thoroughly corrupted with the blind complicity of our very own government.  Corruption has seeped into nearly every aspect of capitalism from financing to banks, to markets, to manufacturing, distribution, sales, quality control and you name it.

The government, federal, state and local, became the way to legitimize corruption and all it took was the rich setting aside a small percentage of the trillions of dollars in our economy to lobby politicians, set up kickbacks, insider trading deals, political campaign contributions, arms deals and you name it as long as tax dollars were used and there were no restrictions on bonuses whether corporate executives or government employees.

When the dark side takes hold the talons run deep, straight to the heart, and both those people who were participating in corruption and those who were ignoring corruption became the normal, not the exception to the rule.

Total it takes a Pope from South America to point out the obvious to Americans because those here in America responsible for what goes on are caught up in the game and long ago lost their moral compass.

Long ago Jesus Christ went ballistic when he found the merchants peddling their wares in the Temple and he drove them away.  There is no Jesus today and instead of a Temple we have a nation that is full of corrupt and unethical practices.  Maybe instead of trying to fix economic problems caused by greed we should eliminate the instruments of evil used to cheat the people through capitalism and restore individual rights, freedom and equality.

As for the Pope, well he practices what he preaches.  Just check out the next article about how he has cleaned house in the Vatican Bank, a corrupt partner to the American banking system.  If only our elected representatives had the same guts for protecting the people.  Maybe the multi-million dollar bonuses earned by defrauding the American people and triggering a worldwide recession won't happen again.

Pope Francis Fires His Bankers…Again
By Rob Garver
Pope Francis Fires His Bankers…Again

When he took over as head of the Roman Catholic Church last year, Pope Francis made it clear that he meant to be the leader of a “poor church” – meaning that the Vatican would focus less on its own splendor and more on finding ways to use its vast financial resources to benefit the world’s poor.

It’s turning out to be more of a struggle than Francis may have expected; last week he found it necessary to fire all five directors of the Vatican’s Financial Information Authority – essentially the primary financial watchdog over the Papal State’s considerable financial operations.

The announcement on Thursday was only the most recent in a series of firings, replacements, and arrests that have rocked the Vatican’s financial hierarchy. It turns out that for Francis, casting the moneychangers out of the Temple has proven to be a time-consuming task.

Last summer, a number of senior officials with the Vatican Bank resigned around the time that one of its senior accountants, Monsignor Nunzio Scarano, was arrested and charged with conspiring to smuggle more than $20 million from Italy to Switzerland. Scarano, reportedly known in Rome as “Monsignor 500” for his habit of displaying a wallet full of €500 notes, has since been charged with multiple other offenses, including money laundering.

In January, Francis fired four out of the five cardinals on the commission overseeing the bank, known as the Institute for Works of Religion, or IOR in its Italian acronym. Supposed to serve only priests, nuns, and religious orders, the Vatican Bank has been implicated in money laundering schemes and other illegal activity. Francis made it clear that he was open to closing down the bank completely.

In February, by Papal edict, he laid out multiple new transparency requirements for the Vatican’s financial arm, and created a new Secretariat for the Economy, meant to act as an auditor general for the Vatican. The following month, he indicated that the Vatican Bank would survive, though in a vastly different form, as a large number of accounts not related to its central mission were shut down.

The edict, though, has not cleaned out all of the old guard who have made the Vatican’s financial system a laughingstock among law enforcement professionals and a haven for criminals.

Last week’s announcement came after Swiss money laundering expert René Brülhart, who was named to head the Financial Information Authority, complained that he was being obstructed by the board – made up of five Italians with connections to the Vatican’s old guard.

In years past, it might have been Brülhart, at one point the head of Liechtenstein’s respected Financial Intelligence Unit, who found himself out on the street.

To Francis’s credit, there is a new board on its way in oversee the Vatican’s financial watchdog Its makeup is remarkable only because of its international nature: it’s made up of four international experts, including former financial regulators – one from the U.S., one from Switzerland, one from Singapore and a fourth from Italy. It is also notable that the Italian member is a woman, insurance executive Maria Bianca Farina, making her one of the few women with significant authority in the Vatican.

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