The Acton Institute’s War on the Poor

Reprinted from The FUNdamentalist (May 1995)

On Thursday, March 30th, the Grand Rapids Press ran a short article about recent efforts by the Grand Rapids based Acton Institute to lobby congress on the current welfare for the poor debate. The Acton Institute held a day long press conference in Washington on the “ethical implications of welfare reform.” Its founder and main spokesperson,, Paulist priest Robert Sirico said “This [welfare for the poor reform] is not just a question of efficiency, it’s a question of morality.” Cute, but we need to know more reverend. The article does not articulate what exactly Fr. Sirico means, but does say that the “institute’s agenda won high praise” from Gang Leader (House Speaker) Newt Gingrich. It’s too bad that the Press did not look farther, even within the ranks of the corporate media, to expound on this morality that Sirico refers to.

The neo-fascist and fanatic Rev. Moon’s paper The Washington Times featured an editorial by Rev. Sirico on Feburary 3 of this year. In response to the urgings of some politicians and most working class people for an increase in the minimum wage, Fr. Sirico displays his true colors. He says that if we “Raise the wage high enough, all but a few would be out of work.” Sounds awful to me. Then he says “Labor productivity would fall to near zero.” That’s right, pay people better and they will have no incentive to work. Please! The good reverend claims that a raise in the minimum wage would hurt the poor in particular, because they “lack the skills for the high-wage job.” Such concern for the poor is noble, but tremendously misled. In the reall world people cannot live off of the wages that are presently being paid, especially since wages for many people have either stagnated or actually dropped over the last 15-20 years (see “Overworked America,” by Juliet Schor). Rev. Sirico also feels that in order for businesses to continue to make profits, they would have to scale back their jobs if the minimum wage increased. This may be true as long as the businesses’ primary concern is profits and not providing economic security for its workers or serving the public interest. But with the paradox of the USA economy (higher unemployment and bigger corporate profits) we can clearly see where most corporate interest lies.

Last but not least, in a March 5 article in the paper of record, The New York Times, Fr. Sirico, in response to comments about the GOP’s Contract for America said, “I would go further than the contract.” Oh, beware America and beware Grand Rapids. We are surely going to have tough times ahead with the Acton Institute blasting the poor.

Author: mediamouse

Grand Rapids independent media // mediamouse.org