“Inequality is the Root of Social Evil”

The religious right are getting upset over this.

Inequality is the root of social evil,

tweeteth the Pope.

Look, guys:  We can’t make fun of the left as plodding, black-n-white thinkers without the intellectual wattage to toast bread if we do the same damn thing.  Of course inequality is the root of social evil.  Take five seconds to think about it: monetary inequality, intellectual inequality, attractiveness inequality…. I can’t do evil to you if I don’t have some kind of advantage over you.  This is about as plain as zits on the prom queen, as Fred Reed so eloquently puts it.

The problem is, said inequality is ineradicable, and almost any government program to ameliorate it invariably ends in far worse social evil.  It’s bad that Billy Bob doesn’t have “health insurance.”  That’s an inequality of one, and an evil of one.  Screwing up the perfectly good health care coverage of millions of others, such that we all have the same shitty “health insurance” as Billy Bob, reduces inequality to zero by imposing evil on millions.

His Holiness got the diagnosis right.  The question is, what’s the treatment?

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2 thoughts on ““Inequality is the Root of Social Evil”

  1. philmon

    I spend a lot of time defending the Church … but this I’ve got no defense for. I doubt it was said from the seat of the Holy See. It was tweeted. But I’ve gotta ask…

    What happened to Satan being the root of all Evil?

    Envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. And envy is a response to inequality, yes. But inequality is The Way of Things (which, as I understand, is what “Tao” pretty much translates to.) Inequality is at the root of existence, people.

    If there were no inequality, there would only be The Void. A big, massive expanse of sameness from which nothing could be distinguished. Which means it couldn’t be distinguished from nothing, either. And if something can’t be distinguished from nothing, then that something is the same thing as nothing. See what I’m saying? The Void. Without inequality, you can’t get away from it. There is no you. There is no me. There is no sun, no earth, no … anything.

    Since there is something, inequality exists. And because inequality exists, there is something.

    How do I know something exists?

    How does who know what does what? And who is asking the question? And what is a question in the first place?

    See, can’t get away from inequality.

    So if inequality is the root of all evil, then existence is the root of all evil, so I guess we should all be Satanists. But I don’t buy that.

    I do buy that envy is the root of most, if not all evil. (I could probably argue that it is the root of ALL evil in much the same way the dad from My Big Fat Greek Wedding argued every word is come from Greek 😉 )

    The difference is in how we DEAL with reality (which, as I said, wouldn’t exist without inequality … have I beaten this horse dead yet?) I was raised Catholic, and this is what I was taught. Your reaction to what is presented to you by God (or the Tao, or whatever the hell you want to call it) is right or wrong. Reality isn’t. Reality just is.

    Why do I care if my neighbor has more than I do? Why do I think ill of him or plot and scheme to take it from him by stealth or force or proxy force? How about I just go out and get what I can honestly and live on what I can get? If my neighbor’s gains were gotten honestly, I have no claim against him, and if mine are gotten honestly … he has none against me.

    Do I have a duty to be charitable to someone in need? Absolutely. Do I have a duty to give him the difference between what he has and what I have? Absolutely not.


    1. Severian

      To be fair, he did say “the root of social evil.”

      Which I agree with. Which, indeed, I think is indisputable — the only society in which all individuals are absolutely equal is a graveyard.

      If you want to square it theologically, I guess we could say that inequality is the mechanism by which Satan operates — if we forget our proper relationship to each other (all sinners, all equal in God’s eyes), then the resultant envy &c is the crack through which evil enters….

      I dunno. I’m not a theologian. The only problem I have is that, as stated, it’s a truism — gravity is the root of objects falling earthward. The amelioration of social evil is the best we can do this side of heaven, and that’s what the Church should focus on.

      And I sure do hope His Holiness considers the very real social evils done by governments in the name of “reducing inequality.” Say what you will about him, the newly sainted JPII grew up under communism and understood that part of it perfectly.

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