A group of liberal Catholic academics, led by professors at Catholic University, have written a public letter to Catholic Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) calling for protection of social-welfare programs that they argue are mortally threatened by the current budget proposal.
The lead signatory, Professor Stephen Schneck, invokes the Gospel mandate to help the poor—to ensure that “the least of these” get assistance from the state, especially when private charity fails. (Actually, Schneck made the very valid charity point on “The O’Reilly Factor” on May 12, though the point is not made in the letter.)
Boehner that he can rest assured that the professors will be praying for him and his vocation in public life. Their sincerity falls flat in light of their earlier language.
Second, and more significant, the letters fails to demonstrate even a remote awareness of the utterly disastrous fiscal situation that America faces. We have a $1.6 trillion deficit—numbers absent from this letter. For a sense of perspective, George W. Bush, going into the final year of his presidency, had a record—repeat, record—deficit of $400 billion. That was awful enough, but the current deficit quadruples that record, blowing the previous astronomical figure to smithereens. The Obama presidency and Pelosi-Reid Democratic Congress that preceded Boehner dug that hole.
Our national debt is far higher still. America’s debt-to-GNP ratio is at Greece standards.
The effect of all this on our currency, economic growth, credit rating, and much more, is catastrophic. And critically important, this crisis is not the result of a lack of tax dollars. It has been generated by a federal government that spends money it doesn’t have at an obscene and flatly immoral rate, in ways that would be literally criminal if done by the private sector. The single greatest culprit for the current deficit was the incredibly wasteful and damaging $800-billion “stimulus package” passed by President Obama and the Democratic Congress in 2009.
Sadly, the letter from the liberal Catholics to Speaker Boehner mentions nothing of the responsibility of these players in this mess, nor does it offer any appreciation to Boehner for the thankless, difficult task he faces in trying to begin to fix their disaster. It’s like calling the parent “cruel”—a word the letter directs at Boehner—for trying to clean up the house and discipline the children after they’ve practically set it on fire.
Billionaire libertarian businessman Peter Thiel, the founder and former CEO of PayPal, is perhaps best known as the venture capitalist who gave Facebook the angel investment it needed to really get started. But, increasingly, he's getting attention for his controversial views on higher learning. Last year, he launched the Thiel fellowship, which gives grants as large as $100,000 to 20 tech entrepreneurs who drop out of college by age 20 to pursue their own ideas.
Then, in a National Review interview earlier this year, Thiel said that higher education is a "bubble in the classic sense," because education is "overpriced," something people have "an intense belief in," and an investment that's unlikely, in the majority of cases, to have a positive return. He made the point again last week at TechCrunch. Given the "financial disaster" of student loan debt surpassing credit card debt, does Thiel have a point?
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