America's issues are cultural, not economic

By Tom Quiner

One of the divisive issues within the Catholic Church is social justice.

On one side are well-intentioned folks who promote expansive government involvement in providing for the lower end of society, however you define that. This group tends to be liberal politically.

On the other side are well-intentioned folks who say social justice begins in the womb. Their energies are directed toward helping the pre-born and agitating for more just legislation in the pro life arena. This group tends to be conservative politically.

Barack Obama, although not a Catholic, falls into the first category. Social justice Catholics tend to adore him.

President Obama could do so much good, but he hasn’t. He has the same skewed vision of social justice as so many others. To them, it tends to be about economics. It’s about money.  It’s about redistribution of wealth.

What has he done?

He raised the minimum wage. The result? The unemployment rate for black teen age boys exploded. Over half are unemployed. Now he wants to raise it again.

Is this social justice?

What else has he done? He fights any attempt to limit abortion. Over half of pregnancies in the African-American community end with an abortion. As a consequence, the population of this demographic segment of American is on the decline.

Is this social justice?

He and politicians like him have erected a “Great Society” over the past forty to fifty years. The result? Families have broken up as the out-of-wedlock birth rate exploded. Now, most kids in the African American community are raised in single parent households. So what, you may ask? Here’s what: these children perform worse in school; they’re more likely to get hooked on drugs; they’re more likely to hurt someone else or get hurt themselves; they’re more likely to go to jail; they’re more likely to be unemployed.

Is any of this social justice?

As Pope John Paul II demonstrated, it is culture that matters most.  It is culture that drives history. The American culture of independence, self-reliance, and personal responsibility is being replaced with one of dependence, reliance upon the state, and irresponsibility toward society’s children. Increasingly, men view children to be the responsibility of the taxpayers, not themselves.

The tragedy of President Obama is that he doesn’t see the root causes of the problem, that he is in fact a political adversary to the type of solutions that can make a difference.

A theologian, R.R. Reno, spelled it out very well writing in “Public Square:”

“A Christian who hopes to follow the teachings of Jesus needs to reckon with a singular fact about American poverty: Its deepest and most debilitating deficits are moral, not financial; the most serious deprivations are cultural, not economic. Many people living at the bottom of American society have cell phones, flat-screen TVs, and some of the other goodies of consumer culture. But their lives are a mess.”

If we want to fight poverty, let’s change the culture.