Friday, December 6, 2013

The Reverse New Deal: A "globalization of indifference"

(President Franklin Roosevelt, image courtesy of the FDR Presidential Library and Museum.)

President Franklin Roosevelt once declared, "We are going to make a country in which no one is left out."

Unfortunately, over the past few decades, as we've turned away from New Deal policies, and as countries around the world have imposed austerity measures upon the middle-class and poor (to make up the difference for revenue lost through white collar crime and illegal tax evasion), we are creating what Pope Francis recently described as a "globalization of indifference" where "we end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people’s pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else’s responsibility and not our own."

Pope Francis connects the "globalization of indifference" to supply-side economics: "...some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."

Indeed, in America 30+ years of economic policies that have largely favored the wealthy have created nothing short of cultural chaos: An enormous national debt, the largest prison system in the world, stagnant (or even dropping) wages, high unemployment, and a right-wing political culture that screams "stop the nanny state!!" even as data clearly shows that the social safety net of the United States is weak compared to other developed countries.

The question is, how do we fight the "globalization of indifference," especially when it is coupled with wide-spread ignorance?

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