I had never thought of putting it that way, but it works.
There have to be restraints. This means that there have to be laws and serious consequences for those who get rich at the expense of others. This should be worldwide, not just Europe and the USA. It is one thing to work hard and accumulate wealth that way. It is another to believe that wealth is meant to be hoarded.
I recently came across a couple who were having a difference of opinion while I sat and watched. I just happened to be visiting.
Basically, it was simple. One of the spouses wanted to reduce their annual contribution to their parish, because the physical trainer had raised his or her fees. The line of logic was, “God understands that we also have needs, not just the parish.”
This is unrestrained capitalism. There is a lack of conscience here. When there is a lack of conscience, there is also a lack of restraint.
At another parish where I help there was a mother who said to me, “I’m just flying up to X City with the kids for the weekend.” I asked if there was a special occasion. She said, “No, no special occasion. The kids are bored of doing the same thing every weekend. So I thought I’d fly them up to see grandma’.”
I would have swallowed my tonsils, if they had not been removed when I was a kid. To spend almost $2,000.00 to kill boredom is unrestrained capitalism.
A while back, my brother did something even sillier. My niece took her driving test, at age 16. My sister-in-law called my brother to say that my niece had passed. My brother came home with a new car as a surprise present. This is a family that needs an additional car payment, an additional car insurance and an additional car like I need a third leg.
When my brother told me, as if he had just done the best thing in the world, I couldn’t help myself but tell him the truth. “I hope, for your soul, that you have put aside an equal amount of money for the local soup kitchen.” I didn’t mean a small donation. I literally demanded an equal amount of money. Such things are obscene.
I felt very badly for my niece. I’m the oldest of five. I remember that my first car was my mother’s old station wagon. I had to work hard to save enough money to buy a brand new car. Also, I didn’t get my mother’s old car until I was going to college. I was 18, not 16. I had to earn the car by getting my butt into college. No college = no car.
When my niece goes to the mall and puts hundreds on the credit card and I challenge her, she always says the same thing. “Oh don’t worry. Dad makes enough money to cover me.” She is very generous with gifts and more. It’s her dad’s money, not her own.
What is the message that we’re sending our kids?
These are the things that concern the Church when she speaks about money, justice, the poor and a culture of indifference.