“Man is not in charge today, money is in charge, money rules.”
Pope Francis said that, but it’s not hard to imagine Bernie Sanders uttering the same words.
Sanders, the Jewish Democratic presidential candidate from Brooklyn, went to the Vatican Friday to join the push for a more “moral economy.”
In his speech Friday, Sanders berated those who tell him that a “truly moral economy is beyond our reach.” He pointed to Pope Francis as “the world’s greatest demonstration against such a surrender to despair and cynicism.”
So what exactly is a “moral economy”?
Pope Francis spells out five key points in his many speeches and letters.
1. Inequality is far too high
Pope Francis says the world has an “economy of exclusion” that is literally killing people because they don’t have shelter or enough to eat even though food gets thrown away in many places. He goes as far as to say “trickle down” economics isn’t working, and he encourages world leaders to not shy away from some re-distribution of wealth.
2. We have to end the “throw away” culture
Pope Francis points out how the well off around the world salivate for new things to buy. “The culture of prosperity deadens us” to what truly matters in life. Instead, we run after material things, many of which will be thrown away. He says this is a cultural and moral problem.
3. Build an ethical financial system
The Bible warns against the worship of idols such as a golden calf, but Pope Francis says the world has “created new idols” that are even more ruthless such as money. As he wrote in his famous address (“Evangelii Gadium”) at the end of 2013: “How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?” He says money must serve, not rule, over people.
4. Stop destroying the environment
In addition to calling out inequality, Pope Francis has increasingly criticized world leaders for allowing environmental destruction. “The Earth, our home, is beginning to look more and more like an immense pile of filth,” he said. Pope Francis believes the technology and will is in place to change our ways.
5. End corruption and ‘self-serving tax evasion’
In late 2013 — long before the Panama Papers — Pope Francis called for an end to “widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions.”
How to fix the problems?
Pope Francis and Sanders have both been called “radical” for what they are saying.
“People say Bernie Sanders is radical? Uh-uh. Read what the Pope is writing,” Sanders said recently on MSNBC Morning Joe.
But both of them have also been criticized for not providing enough concrete solutions.
Sanders tried to rebut that in his speech at the Vatican on Friday.
“As a world we are rich enough to increase our investments in skills, infrastructure, and technological know-how to meet our needs and to protect the planet. Our challenge is mostly a moral one,” he said.