Pope Francis went further than previous comments criticizing the global economic system, attacking the “idolatry of money” and beseeching politicians to guarantee all citizens “dignified work, education and healthcare”. He also called on rich people to share their wealth. “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills,” Francis wrote in the document issued on Tuesday.

It’s interesting that the evidence to support poverty reduction is overwhelming and yet decisions are still based on the belief that the poor are poor because of their own “bad choices.” It would be interesting if the “believers” could debate the “evidence” in a court of law before a jury of 12 ordinary citizens. Have a look at the evidence and think about how you would vote on that jury.

Exhibit A

http://www.edmontonjournal.com/opinion/Opinion+Poverty+Alberta+persistent+costly/9129232/story.html

Researchers examined the financial costs of perpetuating poverty in Alberta. Accounting for the increased cost to Albertans via poverty’s toll on health care, its association with crime, its continuance from one generation to the next and its economic costs in lost opportunities, it is estimated in 2012 that poverty already costs Albertans between $7.1 billion and $9.5 billion a year — more than double what it would cost to remove poverty from the province altogether.

Exhibit B

Mincome was an actual poverty reduction project that ran in the 70’s and only recently have the results been published:

http://public.econ.duke.edu/~erw/197/forget-cea%20(2).pdf

The following key indicators all improved during the 3 pilot project years and dropped right after it ended:
· High school completion went up
· Health care costs went down
· Justice costs went down
Primary earners stayed working full time or increased their hours to full time while secondary earners (spouses and children) did withdraw from the labour market marginally. But they used their freed up time to raise better children and improve their education.

Exhibit C

The book using evidence based research, “The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better”

The author’s striking conclusion is that the societies that do best for their citizens are those with the narrowest income differentials—such as Japan and the Nordic countries and the US state of New Hampshire. The most unequal—the United States as a whole, the United Kingdom and Portugal—do worst.

Exhibit D

Robert B. Reich warns about income inequality – ”If nothing changes, the median household is going to get poorer and poorer. The wealth of the country is going to get more concentrated, which is not only bad for the economy but it’s also bad for society. I’m optimistic only because this has happened before in American history. If we were having this conversation in 1900, we would say much the same thing. Then two years later, we’d be in the middle of the Progressive movement. How did we get from 1900 to the Progressive era? Frankly nobody knows how social upheaval of a positive kind that we have in the United States occurs, but it’s very simple: We get to a gap where our ideal — equal opportunity, a society based on merit — is so far away from the reality that people just can’t stand it anymore.”

Did you catch the part where Bill O’Reilly (Fox news) calls him a communist? When you have no evidence to support your point of view or belief, you have to resort to name calling. “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.” Dom Helder Camara, Brazilian Archbishop

Exhibit E

The evidence in charts and graphs that proves poverty is systemic and refutes the belief it is caused by individual moral defect:

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/02/income-inequality-in-america-chart-graph

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