BUZ LIVINGSTON: The Pope, charity, and new rules

Published: Sunday, December 15, 2013 at 09:13 AM.

Being raised a rural Georgia Methodist it seemed as if I grew up in a peculiar drug culture; I was drug to church every time the doors opened.

Since not much was going on, Sunday mornings were tolerable but Sunday evening services often interfered with quality time. An aunt converted to Catholicism and chose our local parish for her wedding. Alas, the location was too small for Mama’s large family thus children were excused — Hail Mary, Full of Grace and the rare reprieve gave me more fun time.

The new Pope ruffled more than few feathers with his pronouncement that trickle-down economics was not working as well as planned. Or maybe it does.  For people who have money invested in stocks these are heady times, both the Dow Jones Industrial Average and the S&P 500 have set new highs.

The tech-heavy NASDAQ hit levels not seen since the Clinton Administration. Our clients’ investments have done well. Despite the new highs, not everyone in the world’s largest economy and wealthiest nation can celebrate. Unemployment rates are historically high, albeit lower now than any time since 2008. 

No one needs a direct line with God to see the growing income inequality. Real wages for the American middle class have stagnated over the last 30 years.

Don’t let Pope Francis’ words bother you. Look at them as a wake-up call. “… without equal opportunities … aggression and conflict will find a fertile terrain for growth and eventually explode.” I love capitalism but rioting in the streets often hinders commerce. 

Nelson Mandela, a giant of a man, was laid to rest this week. Economic sanctions coupled with divestiture by investors both played a role in apartheid’s unwinding. Without capitalists twisting the screws a bit (a mite late, true dat) the oppressive regime would/could have held on longer.

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