Pope: 'unjust' unemployment can mean sin, suicide

VATICAN CITY (AP) – Pope Francis says that “unjust” social conditions like unemployment can lead to sin, financial ruin and even suicide.
Francis discussed three types of destitution - material, moral and spiritual - in his first message for Lent, the solemn period leading up to Holy Week and Easter, that was released Tuesday.

Moral destitution, he said, “consists of slavery to vice and sin” such as alcohol, drugs, gambling and pornography.

He noted that sometimes “unjust social conditions” like unemployment lead to this type of destitution by depriving people of the dignity of work and access to education and health care.


I’m glad Pope Francis has decided to recognize the injustice of unemployment. Perhaps he might turn his attention to some of the causes within easy control: Minimum wage legislation is unjust because it causes the injustice of unemployment. Obamacare is unjust because it causes the injustive of unemployment. The list is long and the problem dire.

and many, many thoughts of such, which is debilitating to say the least.

is this where he said that unemployment causes young people to do drugs and other things?

“When power, luxury and money become idols, they take priority over the need for a fair distribution of wealth,” he said in the short message. “Our consciences thus need to be converted to justice, equality, simplicity and sharing.”

I don’t see how anything our Holy Father has said here can be reconciled with the overly individualistic economic policies promoted by the Tea Party, or for that matter those of the big government and big business Democrats and RINOs. Catholics need to consider all of these issues when voting, and not just abortion and gay marriage, as important as they are.

Consider whose policies are creating unemployment and other injustices and moral hazards. Christians don’t let Christians vote for bigger government.

Minimum wage legislation is hardly unjust. When done properly its true social justice.

There is no possible way to do minimum wage legislation justly. It is inherently unjust and leads to unjust results, most importantly unemployment. I’m glad that Pope Francis has turned the spotlight on unemployment. Let’s hope that the laity has the courage to face reality on the prudential aspects of it.

Pope Francis’ words echo within me at a personal level, but I’m still at a lose for how these sort of issues can be amended. How is it possible to “guarantee employment” to everybody?

It’s not. And Pope Francis was not calling for any guarantees. He is simply noting the injustice of unemployment, the great harm that results from it. It is up to the laity to address the issue in a prudential way starting with understanding what causes unemployment in the first place.

The Tea Party??? Those people are for lower taxes and policies that don’t stifle employment. They are also against ever growing entitlement programs. You do realize that government forced transfer payments come entirely from labor’s share of national income, do you not?

There’s really nothing wrong with being “individualistic” if people can get jobs and keep more of their money. After all, if you look at people who support their families through their labor versus those who are supported by government, one can think much better of “individualism” than the view the left promotes.

I don’t think employment can be truly guaranteed, but not so very long ago, it was virtually so. About eight-ten years ago, we actually had “negative unemployment”; that is, full employment of the populace plus a lot of illegals working.

But employing people was not as discouraged then as it is now.

It’s senseless to blanketly condemn minimum-wage legislation. Have you considered people who make the equivalent of $0.50 per hour (or less)?

How is it possible for a minimum wage to be true social justice? Serious question. Allow me to pose these two points to illustrate.

I assume the point of a minimum wage is to allow the breadwinner of a household to be able to live at or above poverty when working a full work-week (by law, that is defined as 40 hours a week).

Point 1. What is poverty for one may be luxury for another…depends upon the family circumstance.

The Federal Poverty Level for 2014 is defined as:

(I figure if you want somebody lifted “out of poverty”, then 1.5X poverty is a reasonable, although admittedly arbitrary factor. I imported the data from the link above into Excel and did formulas to multiply the numbers by 1.5…the hourly wage came by dividing that number by 2080: 2080 = 40 hours a week X 52 weeks a year)

Point 2. Geography matters.

Let’s take a family of 3 making 1.5 times the level of poverty. They need a place to live, right?

Let us not get too fancy and help them look for a 2 bedroom apartment. I chose to use apartments dot com for our search.

First, let’s look at my neck of the woods. We’ll keep it low rent and look for a place in Northeast DC and surrounding suburbs, like Mt Rainier, Hyattsville, Chillum, and the like. You will have a hard time finding one for less than $1,200 a month.

On the other hand, in RIchmond, Virginia, you can likely find one for $600 a month.

They say that you should have an annual income of 40X the monthly rent to make sure you can afford the place.

So $1,200 X 40 = $48,000 annual income.

$600 X 40 = $24,000 annual income.

So our friends, who make 1.5 X the level of poverty would have enough income to rent a 2 bedroom place in RIchmond, but nowhere near enough to rent a place in Northeast DC or the shady suburbs that are right outside of Northeast.

So the Point 2 question is: should the minimum wage be set to allow people to have housing in the DC metro area or to allow them to do so in Richmond?

(And in case you’re tempted to say that it should be set state-by-state, I suggest you look at the cost of living differences just within Virginia. It’s a world different living in Richmond, Bristol, Virginia Beach, or Arlington)

My answer is that no law set by the government is going to make people act justly. And if people act justly, there is no need for a law to regulate it. So maybe we should concentrate on trying to convert peoples’ hearts.

You assume wrong about minimum wage is to allow the breadwinner of a household to be able to live at or above poverty when working a full work-week. What that is is a living wage. Minimum wage should not be considered a living wage imho, but a wage enough for a single person to live off frugally.

Minimum wage should be increased only annually to match the inflation rate to maintain that level year in and year out. Minimum wage protects workers from being exploited which is happening. Consider employers who hire undocumented workers. I am positive that they are making less than minimum wage for the back breaking work that they do.

Also consider waiters/waitresses. They belong to a class that legally permits a business to pay them less than normal minimum wage.

As do some sales and commissions jobs, I believe.

I, frankly, do not see a purpose of a minimum wage unless it is a living wage (not that I see that a government-mandated living wage is a good thing, either…but a mandate below that is simply a joke)

Having said that, how are workers in this country being exploited?

You say “waitstaff” as an example…well, waitstaff make tips. Pretty good tips, too, unless they are stuck with a succession of customers who stiff them (which I admit is possible…but, then, whose fault is that? The employer’s fault or the customers’ fault?) Many restaurants include the gratuity in the bill when the waitstaff serves a large party…to ensure they don’t get stiffed.

Would you prefer that they include gratuity in the check for all customers? (Like what is done in many places in Europe) That’s OK by me if it becomes the custom here…unless, of course, I have a really, really, really lousy waitress.

(Having said that, the one thing I do consider exploitation is when the government forces employers to deduct taxes based upon a full wage but at the same time allow employers to pay a wage that is substantially smaller…because the waitstaff gets tips)

The only way I can see workers in this country being exploited is when their jobs are displaced because employers hire illegal aliens and pay them a fraction of the market rate under the table (so that taxes are not included). Or when businesses move their manufacturing off-shore because of the excessive costs of doing business in this country (either due to high wages, high taxes, or excessive regulation that exerts a punitive cost on them).

I have a lot of friends in home construction that are caught in the first situation…I’ve seen the after-effects of the second situation described above (just take a drive through Bethlehem, Pennsylvania if you haven’t seen it first-hand)

The solution for the first situation is not increasing a minimum wage, but shutting down the flood of people who are more than happy to displace American workers (through closing the border, cracking down on unethical employers who hire those who aren’t authorized to work in this country, or a combination of the two). And the solution for the second is not to increase the minimum wage but to make the business environment in this country conducive to manufacturing again.

(See, St John, I remember in the past when we’ve had economic boom times and unemployment was down below 3% in my area. Fast food places (minimum wage type jobs) could not find anybody to work because anybody worth anything were working at higher paying jobs. So they offered signing bonuses and longevity bonuses to just about anybody they could find to hire.

Now most of those fast food jobs are filled by illegal aliens.

Setting a price floor above the market price always results in a surplus. That’s Economics 101. In the case of the labor market, a surplus of labor is commonly called unemployment.

Show me conclusive proof that any increases in the minimum wage were solely because of the increase and not other factors considering that 98% of the labor force makes well above the minimum wage.

Stinkcat who has his Doctorate in Economics will refute what you are saying.

Did you mean to say, "Show me conclusive proof that any increases in the unemployment rate were solely because of the increase in minimum wage and not other factors?

Don’t throw degrees and titles at me, I don’t care what degree someone has. Just because someone has a degree doesn’t mean that they know what they are talking about. Paul Krugman is proof of that.

DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.