Pope Francis made headlines again this week when he roundly condemned companies that exploit the labor of their workers and refuse to give them healthcare coverage, calling them ” true leeches” that “live on the bloodletting of the people they make slaves to work.”
Fired up, the Holy Father went on to deplore the machinations of capitalists to take advantage of their workers, making huge profits off of their work and offering only scraps in exchange. “Exploitation of people today is a true slavery. We thought that slaves do not exist anymore. They exist. It’s true, people don’t go to Africa to take them and then sell them in America, no. But it’s in our cities. Living off the blood of the people: This is a mortal sin. And it takes much patience, much restitution to convert ourselves from this sin.”
The Pope then pretended to be a selfish oligarch, mocking them by saying “I will pay you this much, without vacation time, without health insurance, all under the table — but I will become rich!” before turning back to his chastisement of cold-hearted capitalists. “May the Lord make us understand today that simplicity that Jesus tells us in the Gospel today. A glass of water in the name of Christ is more important than all the wealth accumulated by exploitation of people.”
His words are a powerful and necessary reminder of how global capitalism has grown out of control. 1% of the population of the world own more wealth than the bottom 99%. The glaring and inexcusable reality of global capitalism comes into greater focus when you consider that there are approximately 4.2 billion adults in the world, with the world’s estimated wealth around $250 trillion – $135 trillion of that wealth is in the hands of just 4 million of that 4.2 billion. They amassed that wealth through the systematic exploitation and abuse of billions of workers, forcing the vast majority of the world to toil for poverty wages while a select few reap obscene rewards off the labor of the many.
One of the first things Pope Francis did when he ascended to his position was to denounce the lies of “trickle-down” economics and call for a redistribution of global resources to arrange a more equitable arrangement that didn’t plunge so many people into poverty, starvation, and suffering. Decried by his critics as a Marxist who should stay out of politics, Pope Francis is one of the few men in this world brave enough to challenge the monolithic colossus of predatory capitalism, and with luck he will begin a conversation that humanity as a collective must have about economic justice – and quickly.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.