8/2/2015 Portland, Oregon – Pop in your mints…
During the month of July we found ourselves south of the equator in our second home, Bolivia. It has been two long years since we have walked the earth there and much has changed. The following are some observations made on our journey.
First off, it is obvious that money is everywhere. From the construction of new apartment buildings to a new style of McMansions that are being erected by those who have benefited by the DEA’s absence in this country: The Cholet. The same increase in economic activity that we have noted in Portland is evident here in spades. Everywhere you look, there is a new store, restaurant, cafe, or industrial park, all with the comforts of modern architecture with inimitable South American flair.
The first part of our visit coincided with the visit of the extremely popular Pope Francisco, or “El papa Francisco” as he is known here. We arrived in Santa Cruz on July 6th, two days before the Holy See arrived. On the 8th, we listened, along with all of Bolivia, the radio call of his descent and landing at the airport in El Alto. The radio call resembled the call of a soccer game here, with the announcer screaming “Llegó” with the same passion that they yell “gol” when the home team scores.
As a follower of Jesus of Nazareth, we are ambiguous to the activities of the Pope, who to us is simply another follower of the same Jesus, with a slightly larger following. In other words, we do not recognize or attribute any special authority nor clairvoyance to the Catholic church that is not available to all believers.
That said, it is undeniable that papa Francisco is something special to the Catholic faithful, especially here in South America, as Francisco (or Francis, as he is known in the English speaking world), an Argentinian (though you would never know it as he does not seem to swear like a sailor) is the first Pope to hail from the continent.
Having listened to his discourses over two days, it was obvious that Francisco is well schooled in the populist platitudes that the likes of Che Guevara awakened and contemporary leaders Hugo Chavez and Evo Morales have resurrected.
True to the populist playbook, Pope Francisco derides economic inequality and envisions a society where all elements of the economy, the productive sector, distributors, and retailers, all carry out their daily chores in harmony with mother earth and one another. Where every child can enjoy a happy childhood, every worker enjoy a dignified position, and every elderly person enjoy a dignified retirement.
Evo Morales, the Bolivian President, welcomed Pope Francisco with a unique gift, a crucifix where in the place of the cross, Jesus of Nazareth is portrayed as being crucified on a hammer and scythe, a symbol synonymous with Socialism.
Was the Pope offended? Hardly, you see, the artistic origins of the gift lie with a popular Jesuit priest who made what to some is the obvious connection between the Gospel and Socialist doctrine. There is more to the story behind the gift, which you can read here:
We bring the whole matter up to state once and for all that the Gospel and Socialism have just one common thread: The Gospel, or the Good News, is that God forgives, and expects us to do likewise. Nothing more, and nothing less. It is the most important spiritual and natural event that has ever occurred, in our lives and the lives of countless others, for it is forgiveness and forgiveness alone that unleashes the supernatural and eternal presence of Yahweh in the here and now.
To the extent that Socialism demands that mankind treat one another as they would like to be treated, it is in harmony with the Gospel. However, any attempt to enforce what should be spontaneous acts of goodwill towards one another makes a mockery of the Gospel and subjects it to the rules of men. As we have explored in our economic treatise, Why What We use as Money Matters, rules made by men are incompatible with freedom, which is the reason for the Gospel in the first place.
This Freedom extends to the right to be Socialist, but it does not extend to the right to enforce this destructive doctrine on one’s unwilling fellow man or woman.
We admire the Pope, heck, he gave mass in La Paz with one lung and drew out millions of the faithful in South America. If he wants to use his enormous platform and the freedom afforded to him by the forgiveness of sins through Jesus of Nazareth to expound upon an idyllic worker’s paradise. more power to him.
The Pope speaks to the Socialist Movements in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia:
The danger in the Socialist doctrine is not evident in meaningless platitudes spewed by its proponents, nor is it evident in postulations about goals that are as unattainable as they are unmeasurable, such as universal dignity in work and retirement. The danger of this poisonous doctrine is only evident in the blood spilled silently over the years in its name. For when authoritarian regimes are allowed to define and enforce such concepts on a large scale, the previously unimagined economic burdens of such a program fall upon everyone, and the end result is invariably a society that lives and treats each other in a quite undignified manner.
A side note, and certainly fodder for further debate here at The Mint, our Mother-in-law posed a very interesting hypothesis about what may be wrong with Bolivian society, which seems hell bent on self destruction despite the gifts Mother Nature has seen fit to surround it with: The poisonous union of the lie by two strata of society.
First the rich, or those who come into money, those whom we will call the upper strata of society. This strata of society learns to lie as a means to maintain or improve their status both within their social circle, which in turn feeds a continuous chorus of lies as a group to the populations which they enslave and exploit.
Second, there are the lies of the exploited populations themselves, who learn to lie as a powerful tool of survival in a society where, to paraphrase President Snow of the Hunger Games, the odds are never in their favor.
The union of the accumulated lies tend to make any society impossible to navigate with any form of moral or ideological compass. For to run the straight and narrow is to be stabbed in the back, and the lies create the sad and universally acknowledged truth that no one can be trusted.
Into such societies the seeds of Socialist ideology find fertile ground in which to grow and take root in the minds of the underprivileged. They begin to grow and, like GMO crop production, look good until one realizes that the crops are only viable with a disproportionate quantity of productive inputs, and that they leave the soil and its inhabitants desolate once the massive inputs stop flowing.
It is then that the inevitable bloodshed begins, and no amount of platitudes or lofty goals, whether spoken by the Pope or the President, can stop it.
Stay tuned and Trust Jesus.
Key Indicators for August 2, 2015