Wednesday, August 17, 2011

World Youth Day Madrid: Shocking Extravagance; or Something Else

The 2011 World Youth Day in Madrid, Spain, is in progress now - two days down, four to go, if I have the count right.

Depending on who you listen to, the event is:
  1. A shocking extravagance
    • Heartlessly dropped on the aching backs of Spain's working class
      • By the Catholic Church
        • In league with the current administration in Spain
      • The cads!!
  2. An opportunity for youth and young adults to find "a foundation on which to build their lives"
  3. A wonderful business opportunity for anybody in or near Madrid who
    • Sells small consumer goods
    • Provides tourism-related services
    • Depends on a merchant or service provider as
      • An employee
      • A business-to-business vendor
      • a landlord
Some parts of that list are more related to the space-time continuum you and I live in than others. I quoted a Spanish archbishop's reality check about who's paying for the event yesterday. (August 14, 2011)

Foreign Feet Attack Spain's Pavement!!

I suppose there might be indirect costs to Spanish taxpayers, as hinted in this excerpt:
"...More than 130,000 young people from across the world are in Spain's 65 dioceses, before the international gathering begins on Aug. 16...."
(CNA (August 15, 2011)
All those young folks have to get from their point of entry to wherever they're staying. Think about it: even if they walked barefoot, each step they took would wear away a bit of pavement, scuff a lawn, or otherwise trample Spain.

How a person would calculate cost-per-step for a pedestrian, so the participants could be charged a 'walker's fee,' is beyond me. And I'm getting a little off-topic.

Or maybe not so much. About 1,000,000 folks are coming to the Madrid area for this event: young attendees, adults associated with the attendees - probably including parents who decided to 'tag along' and see one of Europe's great cities. That's a lot of people. Even if they don't act like college students on spring break, Madrid's police force will need extra on-duty officers for traffic control and other routines.

My understanding is that host cities bill event organizers for that sort of extra cost - but maybe Madrid doesn't work that way.

How Dare Catholics Spend Money in Spain?!

Today's news includes a story about the arrest of someone who apparently thought folks who criticize the Pope should be gassed. I'll get back to that attitude later.1 Here's an excerpt from that story:
"...The traditionally anti-Catholic Spanish newspaper El Pais claims that the arrest was to avoid the chance that any failed attack would panic people...."

"...The news of the arrest emerged only hours before a demonstration in Madrid this evening against the alleged costs of the papal visit."

" 'We are not angry about the Pope's visit, which some will agree with and others won't, but rather over the financing of it with public money, especially at a time when many services are being cut because it's necessary to curb government spending,' said campaign group 15-M said in a statement."

"However, organizers of World Youth Day insist the event is at 'zero cost to taxpayers' and will, in fact, bring money into the Spanish economy with over a million visitors expected in the nation's capital this week."

"Spain is currently gripped by an economic crisis that has resulted in it having the highest unemployment rate in the industrialized world."
(CNA (August 17, 2011))

Keeping the Working Class in the 'Right' State of Mind

I suspect that some of the more tightly-wound 'Foreigners Stay Home' crowd know how much wealth flows into the host country in events like this: and don't like it. Maybe I'm being unfair.

On the other hand, folks who are unemployed are under a lot of stress - I've had the experience often enough to know that. Staying calm isn't easy with stress like that. Not for me, anyway.

As I've said before, emotion and reason don't play well together: so when folks are stressed out and emotions run high, they're less likely to carefully consider what politicos and editors say.

I posted these links to posts about emotion, reason, and placing blame last month, too:

Political, No: Concerned, Yes

I've said it before: This isn't a "political" blog. I'm not primarily interested in political shenanigans. I don't say that you either like my favorite candidate: or are stupid. I'm not even unswervingly loyal, above and beyond the call of reason, to any political party.

But I'm not 'so heavenly minded, I'm no earthly good.' At least, I hope not.

Which is why I sometimes speculate on why someone would insist that nearly a million foreigners coming to spend money is a bad thing.

In a way, what happens in Spain 'is none of my business.' The country's thousands of miles away, on the other side of an ocean. It's likely I'll never see the place, let alone live there. On the other hand, I'm Catholic - and I've discussed our catholic (lower-case "c") idea of who's a neighbor before. Recently. (August 5, 2011)

Besides, the odd insistence that a flood of visitors with money to spend was a bad thing gave me a chance to discuss emotions, reason, and how they tie in with marketing. Or propaganda. The basic point there is that a savvy demagogue appeals "to popular passions and prejudices" - not facts and reason.

Profit, People, and Principles

Although some monastic orders renounce worldly goods, a Catholic may be rich, poor, or anything in between. It isn't the money that gets folks in trouble - it's love of money. (1 Timothy 6:10, Hebrews 13:5, Catechism of the Catholic Church, Catechism, 2113) I've been over that earlier this month. (August 4, 2011)

The seventh Commandment is pretty straightforward: "You shall not steal." (Exodus 20:15, Deuteronomy 5:19, Matthew 19:18) But after thousands of years' experience with humanity: the Church has prudently spelled out what "do not steal" means. Here's a sample:
  • Opening and running a business is okay
    • So is economic enterprise in general
    • If moral principles are followed
      (Catechism, 2430)
  • Making a profit is okay
    • But it's not the whole picture
      (Catechism, 2432)
Those 'moral principles' include, but aren't limited to, whether or not it's okay to sell kiddie porn in a candy store. (It's not, by the way: Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2354) Like I've said, morality isn't just about "morality." (June 3, 2011)

I think one reason some folks think the Catholic Church is Satanic, and others think it's "vague," on issues is that we don't get draconian, one-size-fits-all rules about day-to-day detail in our lives. Like whether it's moral to use suspenders with trousers, or which side of the road to drive on.

What we get, I've found, are usually more like guidelines: the reason for whatever rules we may set up for the little patch of space and time we live in at the moment.

Like this set of instructions about the social order:
"A theory that makes profit the exclusive norm and ultimate end of economic activity is morally unacceptable. The disordered desire for money cannot but produce perverse effects. It is one of the causes of the many conflicts which disturb the social order.204

"A system that 'subordinates the basic rights of individuals and of groups to the collective organization of production' is contrary to human dignity.205 Every practice that reduces persons to nothing more than a means of profit enslaves man, leads to idolizing money, and contributes to the spread of atheism. 'You cannot serve God and mammon.'206 "
There's more, of course. A pretty good place to start is Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2401-2463.
Update (August 18, 2011)

I fell asleep while writing this last night, and didn't get it posted. Which is just as well: I've corrected a few typos, and found a couple spots that needed rewriting.

You'll notice that I still haven't gotten around to opining on the "foundation" opinion about what World Youth Day Madrid is - and didn't get back to the chap who got arrested. My plan is to post about those topics today, and maybe later this week.

But then, I'd planned to post this yesterday - we'll see I actually get done.

Thanks for your patience.
Not-completely-unrelated posts:
In the news:

1 Update (August 20, 2011)

I got around to posting about the wannabe-bomber, or hotheaded twit, quite a bit later:

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Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.