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MUHAMMAD: Unchecked Greed Running Wild in the U.S.

Askia Muhammad | 1/8/2014, 3 p.m.
Ken Langone, the billionaire founder of Home Depot, is worried that Pope Francis' recent criticism of the wealthy and capitalism ...
Askia Muhammad

Not even George Orwell – who envisioned a “1984” world in which the government was called “Big Brother” and where positives were in fact negatives and where waging “peace” meant committing “war” – not even George Orwell could have imagined a fictional character like Ken Langone, the billionaire founder of Home Depot. Langone is worried that Pope Francis’ recent criticism of the wealthy and capitalism will be a “hurdle” for rich donors who otherwise might donate to the church. Duh?

Langone is heading an effort to raise $180 million for the restoration of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, and he said at least one potential seven-figure donor was “concerned” about some of the Pope’s recent remarks. “You get more with honey than with vinegar,” Langone said.

Maybe the church could give the rich guy some naming rights, the way teams do with sports stadiums and college bowl games. Maybe if they were to call the place “The Home Depot Cathedral at St. Patrick’s” that might smooth things over some.

I guess this guy is so rich that he must believe he’s already “in Heaven,” and that the part in the New Testament, where a rich man asks Christ what he must do to fully follow God’s law does not apply anymore. Because Jesus responded saying: “sell your possessions, and give the money to the poor.” Well, that guy walked away from Jesus, prompting Christ to observe that “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

But today, we have this cheeky rich guy who is telling The Pope, The Holy Father, the Vicar of Christ on Earth, in essence: “Cool your roll Papa.”

But what do I know? If you ask me, forget about Heaven up in the sky, I’m concerned right here on earth about the increase of runaway plutocratic greed. Home Depot Dude should talk to Mitt Romney about his 2012 election-year comment condemning “the 47 percent” of Americans who essentially don’t want to work, but just vote for government leaders who will give them “free stuff.”

If you ask me, the greedy rich – who already have too much at the expense of everyone else – those who have “done well” in this life, should be going out of their way to “do good” for others in need, especially those who did not work for their wealth, but only inherited it from some wealthy “robber baron” who took it from the poor.

Where is a real life Robin Hood when you need him. We should take more from the rich and give more to the poor. Period.

But that kind of populism has no root in America. Author John Steinbeck, who famously wrote Of Mice and Men, and Grapes of Wrath, described why even the most destitute country bumpkins are reluctant to rise up against the rich in this country. “Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”