BILL MOYERS: This week on Moyers & Company… nuns hit the highway on a road trip of faith and politics.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: The Ryan budget cuts social services, devastates social services. They want you to think they’re giving it to the deficit, but they’re not. What they’re doing is they’re cutting taxes for the wealthy.

BILL MOYERS: Come along for the ride. Then Sister Simone Campbell and Robert Royal join me in the studio.

ROBERT ROYAL: Let's not forget, there is no free lunch at the end of the day. That when something is paid for through a government program, it comes out of other people's pockets.

BILL MOYERS: Welcome to our take on one of the hottest controversies of this overheated summer. My two guests have some insights you’ll want to hear on faith and politics.

Sister Simone Campbell heads the Catholic activist group NETWORK, based in Washington, D.C. A lawyer and poet, she has long been a fearless advocate for the poor and marginalized in America. So fearless she recently took on two other combative Catholics, Bill O’Reilly and his alter ego, Stephen Colbert.

Robert Royal is founder and president of the Faith and Reason Institute, also in Washington, dedicated, in his words, to “the twin strands out of which America and any good and free social fabric are woven."

He is also editor in chief of this online publication, “The Catholic Thing,” and the author of many books, including “The God That Did Not Fail: How Religion Built and Sustains the West.”

But first, buckle your seat belts. We’re going to take a road trip across America's heartland with “Nuns on the Bus.” And as you watch, remember, this cross-country journey took place two months before Paul Ryan became Mitt Romney’s choice for vice president.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Faith is like walking through a mist with your eyes wide open. Reminds me of when I was a kid in Long Beach and we’d stand out at the bus stop in the fog, and we’d try to tell by the headlights, was it a bus or was it a truck? You know, what was it? For me, looking down the road, I don’t know. I don’t have a clue. I just know this step is the right step.

BILL MOYERS: So it was that on a steamy morning earlier this summer, Sister Simone Campbell and a handful of other nuns gathered in Des Moines, Iowa to set out on a journey of faith and politics. Simone belongs to the order of the Sisters of Social Service. She is also an attorney who heads the Catholic Social Justice Lobby, NETWORK based in Washington DC.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Will we move beyond individualism back to the principles of our founding fathers, and mothers I’ve add, to be ‘we the people of the United States.’

BILL MOYERS: She found herself in a bit of hot holy water when the Vatican singled out Network for not promoting all of the church’s doctrines with equal verve. Suddenly the nuns were in the news.

LAWRENCE O’DONNELL: The Vatican chastised the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, America’s largest group of Catholic nuns for caring too much about the very poor, and not spending enough time crusading against abortion and same-sex marriage.

RUSH LIMBAUGH: This small group of nuns in the Catholic church is going feminist, and the Vatican is obviously, figure of speech, slapping them down.

NEWSCASTER: on CBS Evening News: Is this a group of radical feminists teaching outside the doctrines of the church?

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL on CBS Evening News: Oh heavens no, that’s just ridiculous.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL on the Colbert Report: We work every day to live as Jesus did in relationship to people at the margins of our society. That’s all we do.

STEPHEN COLBERT: That’s a cheap applause line: Jesus. You can throw Jesus into anything and people are going to applaud.

BILL MOYERS: Sister Simone seized on her unexpected celebrity and with the support of thousands of individual donors, and a sympathetic labor union, she and four of her sisters-in-alms took to the road. From Des Moines to DC they would ride in solidarity with the poorest among us.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: NETWORK’s mission from its beginning is about economic justice issues. We were founded 40 years ago by 47 Catholic sisters to be the voice for and with those at the margins of society all over the country. And the thing that is utmost in our mind at NETWORK is the devastation that is being economically through the budget fight, and what will happen to programs that are so effective, that really help people and so, it seemed like a great convergence to have this notoriety used for the sake of our mission.

We know that the House-passed Ryan budget will devastate our nation. And most people don’t know what’s going on. And that’s why we decided to take to the road in our rather glorious bus.

BILL MOYERS: The primary message of their mission was to sound an alarm about the federal budget recently passed by the Republican Majority in the house. A budget titled “The Path to Prosperity,” by its author, Republican Congressman, and now Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: What we’re doing is trying to let people know that the Ryan budget cuts social services, devastates social services, cuts food stamps. And while they’re cutting all the social services, well what are they going to do with the money? They want you to think they’re giving it to the deficit, but they’re not. What they’re doing is they’re cutting taxes for the wealthy.

BILL MOYERS: Especially galling to the sisters was that Paul Ryan, a fellow Catholic, was invoking the church’s doctrine of Social Teaching as justification for his priorities.

PAUL RYAN: I feel it’s important to discuss how, as a Catholic in public life, my own personal thinking on these issues have been guided by my understanding of the church’s social teaching. Simply put, I don’t believe that the preferential option for the poor means a preferential option for big government.

BILL MOYERS: Preferential option for the poor is an essential component of Catholic social teaching. It holds that the needs of the poor should always be of primary consideration, and is the foundation of the Church’s ideal that the moral test of any society is how it treats its most vulnerable members.

A test that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops says the Ryan budget fails. Declaring that it “will hurt hungry children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find employment.” These cuts,” say the Bishops, “are unjustified and wrong.”

PAUL RYAN: Of course, there can be differences among faithful Catholics on this. The work I do, as a Catholic holding office, conforms to the social doctrine as best I can make of it. What I have to say about the social doctrine of the church is from the viewpoint of a Catholic in politics applying my understanding to the problems of the day […] The overarching threat to our whole society today is the exploding federal debt. The Holy Father, himself, Pope Benedict, has charged that governments, communities, and individuals running up high debt levels are, quote, "living at the expense of future generations" and "living in untruth," unquote.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: I wish he would talk to us I’d like to say, “Well, how are thinking about this? What part of your Catholic Social Teaching did you miss?" Catholic social teaching is all about building community together.

BILL MOYERS: Three hours northeast of Des Moines, after stops in Ames and Cedar Rapids, the nuns stopped in the river town of Dubuque, where they visited a food pantry run by the Sisters of the Presentation. A charity already burdened by need, which would surly feel the weight of Ryan’s intended cuts to the food stamp program.

LYNN WAGNER: And we usually get anywhere from 15 to maybe 20,000 pounds of food at that time…

BILL MOYERS: Sister Lynn Wagner is the pantry’s director.

SR. LYNN WAGNER: We have the elderly who can’t make it on their social security payments or pension payments that they have. We have single-parent families; we have two-parent families. We have kids out of college that can’t get a job that pays enough to pay rent and all that. A lot of jobs are minimum wage, basic pay, and that just doesn’t cut it anymore. When groceries go up, and when milk is two bucks for a half gallon or something like that, it’s just, people can’t make it.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Most of these people that are using food stamps make a little bit above minimum wage and they still are in poverty. But the choice has been made to allow businesses to pay low wages. The idea is to keep costs down, increase productivity. But people have increased their productivity and their wages have not gone up. So from my point of view, this isn’t charity. This isn’t a handout. Whether you like it or not, these are business subsidies. We have a choice as a nation. We can either provide a real safety net so that workers can eat, or we can mandate living wage. It’s a choice. Our choice recently of late has been to do the safety net, but now they want to do away with the safety net and say it’s the people receiving the benefits fault.

TEYA SEELEY: They’re punishing you, but your children are the ones that get punished. By myself, I would be fine, but I have two little ones. It ain’t about me, it’s them. Kids can’t fend for themselves; that’s what they depend on you to do. So…

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Can you imagine the struggle of that? To be able to care for your family and you can’t put food on the table? In the richest country? It breaks my heart, breaks my heart.

BILL MOYERS: Traveling east from Dubuque the nuns crossed the Mississippi, heading for the Lion’s Den – Paul Ryan’s home district in Wisconsin. They arrived at the Congressman’s office in Janesville to a heroes’ welcome.

KATE MILLER: When I was in Catholic school, nuns weren’t my heroes and I never thought I’d see the day where I forgave them and they were my total heroes, and that’s what’s happened.

WOMAN: This is really a courageous move on their parts, and the fact that they’re standing up for social justice. That’s what they’re talking about here, social justice for everybody. That is a major, courageous thing that they are doing.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: This is sister Marge Clark…

BILL MOYERS: Paul Ryan was still in Washington, where Congress remained in session, so the nuns were left to meet with his staff.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: I want to talk to Paul Ryan, I want to understand what he sees, learn from that and see if there’s a way that we can be more effective, that we can claim our culture back, that we can claim our government back, that we can govern, not for stalemate or political points, but we can solve the problems, the serious problems of this 21st century, and talking to people who think differently when I can keep my patience is a really good way to do that.

BILL MOYERS: The meeting was cordial, and the confrontation the press would have loved to see never came to pass.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: What we are here to do is to lift up a different point of view and to say, “Let’s talk…"

The media is used to messages of fighting, and uses sports metaphors all the time. It’s who scored points, who’s down for the count, who committed a foul, who dropped the ball, who hit a homerun. And it has reduced politics, the sacred art of governance, which is about democracy, is at the heart of democracy. It’s reduced it to making the citizens couch potatoes. Because they think, “Oh, it’s a game, I’ll watch, I’ll wear my button, I’ll wear my team’s colors, I’ll root.” And then the next day life goes on, and a big Super Bowl every four years, like the Olympics, and, “Oh, well, that’s done.” But democracy is all about the need for us as responsible people to govern ourselves.

It’s we the people; it’s not we the politicians, or we the rich people or we Citizens United. It’s we the people. And we’re losing our democracy.

REPORTER: Here in Janesville, the nuns on the bus have made one of many stops they plan to take as they travel across the country to spread their religious beliefs in politics.

BILL MOYERS: From Janesville, the nuns carried their message across Wisconsin, then south into the Land of Lincoln.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: The issue isn’t that the people at the top are bad. The issue is not that this is class warfare. The issue is that we are all better when we all share.

BILL MOYERS: They called out and called on congressmen who voted for the Ryan plan while promoting their own “faithful budget.”

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: …that was created by the Christian, Muslim and Jewish communities coming together…

BILL MOYERS: A fiscal plan that they say is more in line with the values of a just nation. Everywhere they went, a crowd was there to greet them. Catholics and non-Catholics alike gathered to bless the nun’s journey.

SR. DIANE DONOGHUE: When we get off the bus and people see us, and they’ve got signs of support, that is just absolutely an incredible connection.

BILL MOYERS: Sister Diane Donoghue calls herself a “persistent activist.” And she’s proved it by walking alongside the poor for the better part of sixty years, from India to East L.A.

SR. DIANE DONOGHUE: Jesus talks about feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick. So it isn’t like we’ve invented something in the last 150 years. We go back to the teachings of Jesus. We are the church, the people of God. And so when you talk church you’re talking about people coming together in a faithful response, and looking at and responding to the signs of the times. And our signs of the times right now is that the people at the top, who have the loudest voice and the most money, have an incredible amount of influence in terms of priorities for people at the top to have a tax break is just totally unjust. People at the bottom need the revenue for services that really count.

BILL MOYERS: In the concrete desert of Chicago’s South Side, they come to an oasis called Mercy Housing. Built by private donations and public funds, as a home for nearly a hundred people who had been otherwise left to wander through this economic wasteland. That’s where the nuns met Shiesha Smith.

SHIESHA SMITH: I grew up on the west side of Chicago. Around my teenage years, I was placed into foster care due to my mother’s drug addiction. I witnessed a lot of bad things at an early age, but I maintained in school, I kept good grades, I was ranked 38th in my class and I went on to college. But I was pretty much just having a hard time with staying stable and I think that had a lot to do with growing up. It was kind of hard, you know, being stable so I took it on into my adulthood.

BILL MOYERS: Shiesha wound up living on the streets, seeking refuge in homeless shelters. At age 24, she was convicted of drug possession, and sentenced to two years probation. Seven years later, she has found stability at Mercy Housing.

SHIESHA SMITH: The first step in getting yourself stable is having somewhere to come to call home. A roof over your head that’s safe. An environment that’s safe. If I didn’t have Mercy, I wouldn’t be safe right now. I know a lot of us may say we need help, and we don’t. I know that. I know some of us may play the system for our own advantage. I know that too. However, I also know that there’s people out there that do need it. And we should stick together to allow them opportunity to live, and know what life is. Life is not about struggling day to day. It’s about living. Help people live. That’s what I would tell those people: help people live. Yeah.

BILL MOYERS: The bus rolled on -- from Illinois to Indiana, then into Michigan and Ohio. The nuns on the bus were welcomed as messengers of good news, like the evangels of old. Everywhere they went, they visited the places where other women of faith are the few among the desperate many.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: We are called to be a bush that allows God to flame up and be a burning bush.

BILL MOYERS: Over and again, Sister Simone invoked the imagery of the Bible – stories of how faith can resurrect withered lives, despairing souls, and broken bodies.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: What it does is it says is that God has heard the cry of the people…

My image is Ezekiel’s dry bones, and that these bones have been so weary and hungry for a little flesh. But flesh isn’t enough. They need breath.

SR. CORITA AMBRO: We are 150 years old, and my first reason for coming to St. Augustine's was to work with the deaf

BILL MOYERS: In Cleveland, Ohio, Sister Corita Ambro breathes what life she can into the community around St Augustine's parish where she runs the church’s hunger center.


These people that come into this hunger center, I love each and every single one of them and they know that. And they’ll often come to me and say, “Can I have a hug today? I need a hug.” Because, they need somebody to let them know they loved.

And I found out the hard way that a touch is really important for so many of these people. I had a gentleman that came down into the hunger center and I gave him a huge hug and just, you know, thanked him for coming. One of the homeless men came up to me and he tapped me on the shoulder he says, “you know what,?” He said, “Sister, I’m angry with you.” I said, “Well, why? Why are you angry with me?” He says, “You know, I’ve been coming to eat here for three years and never once did you receive me the way you received him.” And I couldn’t. This gentleman had lice in his hair, his nose was on his beard, he was just a mess. He had at least five to seven coats on, and he stunk to high heaven. I just said to him, “Jimmy, one of these days,” because I didn’t know how to handle it. One of these days. And I remember going home and crying because I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t hug him. And it was the hardest thing in the world. And every day, he’d come in and say, “Is today the day? Is today the day?” And I couldn’t for a while. But through prayer and pushing myself I got to the day when I could give Jimmy a hug. And that day something happened inside my heart, which opened it up to something I can never explained, and ever since that day I’ve been able to hug any one of them that walks into this hall. No matter what they smell like, no matter what they look like, no matter who they are.

REGINALD ANDERSON: Oh, Heavenly Father…

BILL MOYERS: Reginald Anderson is one of the hundreds of people a day who have come to rely on the safe harbor of Saint Augustines, while they navigate the shallow waters of Cleveland’s economy.

REGINALD ANDERSON: Jesus holy name we pray, Amen.

I wish that trickle-down effect would trickle on down to us. Because everyone says that the economy is getting better, but it is I guess for those that have the money to sit back and weather the storm. For those that don’t have the economic well withall to sit back and weather out that storm, it’s kind of hard. We live in the day to day realities of life, you know trying to pay bills, trying to eat, trying to feed our families, trying to clothe our families. You know, I don’t really pay much attention to what the experts say as far as the forecasting of the economy is. I look at the people around me and I see, are they eating? Are they paying bills? Are they getting evicted? And that’s my barometer of just how well the economy is doing.

If I could, if I could just simply wave a magic wand and put all the politicians in the shoes of the average American. Let them wonder how they’re going to pay next month’s rent or mortgage. I think once they saw just how hard it was for the average person, I think they'd have a whole different outtake on governing.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Every single place that we go, the hunger for an alternative is overwhelming.

And I was feeling that sense of the apostles saying, “What is this among so many?” I mean we’re five nuns on a bus, for heaven sakes. What is this among so many? And then I realized, if we just know we’re blessed, and if we let our hearts be broken, that’s the blessed and broken, something amazing will happen.

BILL MOYERS: From Ohio, their journey took them east through Pennsylvania with stops in Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, Hershey and Philadelphia. Then south into Maryland and Virginia. They stopped to visit with farmers who grow produce destined for local food pantries. And celebrate mass with a congregation of immigrants in Richmond. Finally, 14 days and some three thousand miles after they left Des Moines, the nuns on the bus pulled into the nation’s capitol.

DR. SAYYID SYEED: Nuns in the bus, speak not just for Catholics, not for Christians only, not for Jews, they speak for all of us.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: As great and educational as this trip was, as inspirational as this trip was, it was also a journey of heartbreak and anguish. And it was a journey of hope.

For me, this trip has been totally about touching the pain of the world as real for all these people we’ve seen, and being hopeful. We have hope that the pain of the world isn’t the end of the story. And that frees our imagination to think of our world in a new place. To think of this place between the partisan politics to a center, to think of a church where everyone could be cared for. To think of a lobby like ours, where we could really be voices for the folks who are at the margins. It frees up our imagination. The bus trip was a prophetic imagination, it turns out, and who knew it? It’s fabulous.

BILL MOYERS: Sister Simone, this trip thoroughly entwines you in faith and politics. And now you're engaged in a partisan battle over the Ryan budget. What does this activism do for your contemplative life, which I know is very much a part of who you are?

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Well, it’s the, from my perspective, it's the fruit of my contemplative life. For me, the contemplative life is all about listening deeply to the movement of the spirit among us and to touch the heart of what might frighten me or touch the heart of where Jesus would go in the gospel. And so listening deeply to the needs of the world around us, we've got to be engaged politically in our nation.

BILL MOYERS: But does it make you uncomfortable? Do you feel vulnerable?

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Oh, I feel scared, a number of times, yes. But the thing is when it comes from that deep inside space where you're listening to the gospel and listening to the spirit alive in our world, it just seems right. It just seems right.

BILL MOYERS: At the same time, you've been criticized by the conservative bishop of Paul Ryan's own diocese in Wisconsin, Bishop Robert Morlino of Madison. Here's a video.

RAYMOND ARROYO: Paul Ryan is a member of your dioceses. Your thoughts on this, is this an appropriate thing for a group of sisters to be engaged in?

MADISON BISHOP ROBERT MORLINO: Congressman Ryan has made his prudential judgment about how best to serve the long term needs of the poor. He has done that in accord with Catholic principles. I don’t have to approve his decision or his budget or anything else. What I do approve of is that he is a responsible Catholic layman, who understands his mission and carries it out very responsibly. I feel very strongly about that. The details of his solution are not mine to approve or disapprove, that’s not my field. So, I would think that the religious sisters though should concentrate on giving that witness of holiness of all the wonderful works that they do, rather than bussing around for political issues.

BILL MOYERS: Is it hard to be criticized by one of your bishops?

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Well, I don't know what Bishop Morlino was thinking. I know Paul Ryan is being-- I mean, he keeps saying that it's according to his lights and how he understands faith. So I can affirm that. The problem is that our bishops firmly say that this budget's immoral. It fails the moral test. So there are some inconsistencies there. So I don't take the criticism as being, as, I don't know, as painful as it would be otherwise.

BILL MOYERS: And on the other hand, a parish priest in Bishop Morlino's diocese, who used to be the Ryan family's pastor says Ryan's austerity budget is inconsistent with Catholic teaching. So Robert, help us non-Catholics sort this out. What's this debate all about?

ROBERT ROYAL: How much time have I got? Well, look, one of the things we have to be clear about to begin with is how Catholics think about moral principles. There are certain moral principles that are absolutes. You can't commit murder. You can't commit adultery. You can't steal. These are things that apply to everybody in every circumstance, without exception.

When we step into the political realm, as we're doing in this particular case, things become very complicated. And I myself don't have a perfect answer for every bit of the problem that we face right now. There's some very big questions being put to us as a society.

We see on the one hand that a sister and her fellow sisters rightly show, we need to support the poor. These are people who are absolutely at the margins. And I agree entirely with that. Now the big question is always how best to do that.

BILL MOYERS: You mean financially. The fiscal cliff everybody's—

ROBERT ROYAL: Lead us off a fiscal cliff. So there are differences when we get into-- Bishop Morlino used the term "prudential judgments." Now it's one prudential judgment to say that we need a larger support system-- Medicaid or other support systems for the absolutely poor. But the prior question that has to be answered, when we think about social justice, is, "Is there going to be excess wealth to be distributed? Is there going to be a functioning system?" That's-- it seems to me, to be missing in much of what's talked about in certain Catholic circles, when you talk about social justice or the preferential option for the poor.

BILL MOYERS: Given that, would you have been theologically comfortable on that bus?

ROBERT ROYAL: Probably not. Probably not. Because my own work is, of course, different than what the nuns do. My own work is to think about larger questions about how religion and politics intersect. And I find that this is a country whose tradition and we have to respect the country that we're in.

If you lived in France or some other countries, they're quite used to centralized systems. We're not in the United States. Alexis De Tocqueville, the Frenchman who wrote the famous book “Democracy in America” came to the United States—

BILL MOYERS: 1830's.

ROBERT ROYAL: Right. And he was flabbergasted. And he said famously that in France where you see the state, in America you see a private association.

I myself, I mean, this is kind of a joke, but I don't hear Jesus go to Matthew the tax collector and say, "Matthew, you need to collect more taxes." He’s speaking to people individually. And it has to begin at that level, with obviously some governmental role in some of these issues.

BILL MOYERS: In the Bible, as you say, when Jesus speaks of helping the poor, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, taking in the sick, he says, "You do it." He doesn't say, "Go and ask Caesar or go and get the senate to pass taxes." And when Jesus looked at the rich man, whom the Bible tells us he loved, he said, "Go, sell what you own and give the money to the poor, and you shall have treasure in Heaven." It was to be a personal act of sacrifice. Do you see that point in what Robert is saying?

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: I think absolutely. And what we saw on the bus trip were personal acts of sacrifice. The problem is that we've got now, is that the problem is so huge, it is so far beyond individual charity. Additionally, we have the teaching within our church that Pope Benedict the XVI makes very clear that until we have justice, we can't have charity. And the idea that largesse alone, on the part of the extremely wealthy, will fix this problem is really wrong.

It has not happened over the last ten years, when the wealth gap in our nation has grown so dramatically. We also know from Catholic social teaching that the role of government is to positively balance out the excesses of any culture. Our current excess is this huge individualistic, "I've got mine, nobody else can have it" approach. And so we, in Catholic social teaching, Pope Benedict teaches in “Charity and Truth” that the role of government—

BILL MOYERS: “Charity and Truth” was the—

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: --is the encyclical, an encyclical. Is that the role of government then becomes to balance out excess. I would agree if people would generously give, if we didn't have the huge wealth gap. If we hadn't had years of millions of people in our country being without health care. If we hadn't have had all of this experience of the poor becoming poorer, that the minimum wage doesn't even get people out of poverty now. I would think, "Okay, just let the free market do it." It's failed. It's time we say it.



ROBERT ROYAL: Let me interrupt, though. You tend to put this in very black and white terms. That it's only this, or we need this. Let's just look at the history of the Catholic Church, to take that. And there are other Christian denominations, Jewish groups. The churches and other religious bodies in this country built the university system. They built schools. They built hospitals. They built elaborate cathedrals. All without any government subventions. Now we live in a different age than in those older days. But it's not impossible. I take it that the nuns on the bus also want to inspire people in the private sector to come together and to do things.

And let's not forget, there is no free lunch at the end of the day. That when something is paid for through a government program, it comes out of other people's pockets. And the question is not should it be-- there are certain things we're going to decide should be done and others we don't want to have be done. The question is whether that's the best way to do these things that must be done. I myself have gone out with my children, they hated this when they were younger, and stood outside of supermarkets and asked people to get food. And we were going to put it in a shopping cart and take it to a local soup kitchen. My kids hated it. But they remember it to this day. It would have been much easier for us just to take the dollars and, the equivalent dollar amount. But there's something about that personal commitment to other people that is very different than paying taxes or—

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: I totally agree.

ROBERT ROYAL: --going through a government program.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: That's really an important piece that we need to do, totally, in our society. I agree. And most of those programs that we saw on the road, that's what they did. But what is difficult now is that the need is so huge.

There is such a huge need. Do you know, Bread for the World figured out that with the cuts in the Ryan budget that we've been talking about, just of food stamps alone, because Congressman Ryan says that churches can take care of it.

ROBERT ROYAL: I didn't say that. I'm saying that that's one of the elements.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Oh, it's one of-- okay, but this is what Congressman Ryan-- I'm not putting those-- I didn't mean to put those words in your mouth. But Congressman Ryan says, "Churches will take care of it." But Bread for the World, who specializes in—

BILL MOYERS: It's an organization that deals with hunger around the world.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Hunger. Domestic, as well as global. And they figured out that every synagogue, church, mosque, every single one of them, would have to raise $50,000 additional money every year, for ten years, in order to meet the amount of money that’s being cut from the food stamp program. And what we saw on the bus trip was that sisters take some federal money. We leverage it with private money. We leverage it with volunteers. We leverage it with corporate contributions. And we make effective programs. But it's the federal money is the cornerstone of making these programs work.

ROBERT ROYAL: I agree with Sister that this is a huge problem. We know from the current debates about the economy that something like half of the people in the United States currently receive federal checks of some sort. They get federal support of some kind. There's something wrong with this. It seems to me that the Catholic vision is not simply to counterbalance—


ROBERT ROYAL: --what is right or wrong in a given society. The Catholic vision says, initially, through the concept called "subsidiarity."

BILL MOYERS: Paul Ryan uses that word, by the way. What's the definition? A working definition?

ROBERT ROYAL: Well, look, subsidiarity is really a vision of the whole of society. But what it says is, in essence, the lowest level of a society that is capable, that can take care of a problem, should deal with it. So in the normal course of affairs, parents go out and earn a living, take care of their children, provide for their needs, education, et cetera.

Then you may have kind of-- neighborhood associations, churches, specific towns and cities. And you only kick the can, so to speak, up to the federal or even an international level, when there's no other body that can deal with the problem as it exists. Now unfortunately it seems to me that we look very quickly to the federal government, because we assume it's only the federal government that can take care of these things.

But there is something wrong when something like 70 percent of the taxes that get paid, get paid by the top 10 percent. So that's a pretty significant chunk from people who are so-called wealthy and not paying their fair share. And where we have half of the country that's paying no taxes at all. And yet, as sister rightly says, there's this massive problem that exists in the society.

I one of the things that a person of my general perspective would argue is that the ideal, the ideal that we begin by saying that there are responsibilities that our ideal is to try to make sure that those families are able to do things for themselves and then other communities, and only turn to the higher levels of government and turning to government is, of course, very dangerous. I mean, that this is a last resort. It's like going to war.

BILL MOYERS: Let me play for you Paul Ryan's response to a question about the policy implications of his own interpretation of Catholic social teaching. Here it is.

UNKNOWN SPEAKER: Talk to me a little bit about the morality, and the debt. Where does your Catholic faith play into the way this budget proposal was crafted?

PAUL RYAN: Well, a person’s faith is central to how they conduct themselves, in public and in private. So to me, using my Catholic faith, we call it the social magisterium, which is how do you apply the doctrine of your teaching into your everyday life as a lay person? To me, the principle of subsidiarity, which is really federalism, meaning government closest to the people governs best. Having a civil society of the principal of solidarity where we, through our civic organizations, through our churches, through our charities, through all of our different groups where we interact with people as a community, that's how we advance the common good. By not having big government crowd out civic society, but by having enough space in our communities so that we can interact with each other, and take care of people who are down and out in our communities. Those principles are very, very important, and the preferential option for the poor, which is one of the primary tenets of Catholic social teaching, means don't keep people poor, don't make people dependent on government so that they stay stuck at their station in life. Help people get out of poverty onto a life of independence.

BILL MOYERS: Is that very close to what you think?

ROBERT ROYAL: Well, I have qualifications about that. First of all, subsidiarity is not just about government. It's not federalism. He then went on to talk about civil society institutions. And that's, that's great. That is very much—and we should also talk about individuals, individual initiative, individual responsibility as you were pointing out is Jesus talking to you and saying, "You must do this thing." We have to take a dynamic view of economies. Because economics is a matter of dynamism. When we talk about the minimum wage, for example, I've debated this. I've tried to talk it through with economists. Economists, of course, disagree about everything. Either you need more stimulus or you need, you know, less. And—

BILL MOYERS: That's why you're here and not the economists.

ROBERT ROYAL: I have to tell you one thing. One of the things that I typically find that economists from different backgrounds agree on is that a minimum wage is a very touchy thing. Because yes, you've got a couple. And you look at them on TV. And you say, "Wow, man, they're just holding on by their fingernails." But suppose the minimum wage made that job go away? Which tends to happen in certain circumstances. Not always.


ROBERT ROYAL: And this is also another thing that has to be factored into the dynamic nature of what an economy is. So the circumstances that you're in may make it okay to raise the minimum wage. If the economy is booming, maybe it helps. But in other circumstances, you may actually find yourself with an unintended consequence that not only is that, that family just holding on with a minimum wage, it has no job any longer. And that might be the most tragic thing of all.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: That's the scare tactic that's often used. I lobbied on minimum wage in California. And we ended up raising minimum wage. And what happened was the economy grew. Because the problem is if we believe in free market, then you shift money to get the economy going. You shift money to where there's pent-up demand. Where is there pent-up demand right now? It's at the bottom, not at the top.

BILL MOYERS: Doesn't Paul Ryan's budget try to fix the economic woes that we're in on the backs of the poor? The Bishops seem to be saying that--

ROBERT ROYAL: Bill, I think that that's really putting it rather strongly. I mean, if you look at Paul Ryan, does he look to you like the kind of guy who just says, "The heck with the poor. We need to get American going. We, you know, we're going to throw these people underneath the bus," excuse me sister, "and, damn the torpedoes. You know, we're going to go straight ahead and we're going to make--" I think that he knows and some of the positions they're-- anybody who's lived in Washington or dealt with these issues knows you may have to start out a little bit further along than you really want to be at, so that when you inevitably begin to walk some things back, you at least get on the table that there are some hard choices that have to be made. And what we're facing right now is unprecedented. I mean, I think we agree—

BILL MOYERS: In terms of?

ROBERT ROYAL: In terms of the size of the economic difficulty that we face. Maybe in the 1920’s and the 30’s during The Great Depression, something on a similar scale got going. But we're talking about the possibility-- and if Europe and the Euro start to go south on us-- the possibility of a global economic downturn, yet again. There are already countries in Europe that are in negative growth right now, several of them. Not only Greece, but Italy, Spain, and a couple of others. If that comes to the United States and we have no plan for what are we going to do if there are not revenues that are available for many of the things that we want to do, then we're even in worse trouble. And in-- we're in worse trouble from trying to support the poor as much as for the rest of the society.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: I find myself very troubled by that. I share your concern about the financial circumstances. But I think that the analysis is sorely lacking. Because what has happened over the last 12 years has been-- we did have a surplus in our budget. And it could have been remedied. We had two tax cuts. Significant tax cuts that shifted money to the top. We then decided to go to war twice. We chose not to pay for them. We then did the TARP. That's true. It added to the rescue-- that added to some of the--

BILL MOYERS: The bailout.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: The bailout. And we have an aging population. All of those facets are putting pressure on our current situation. None of those facets, though, that are putting pressure were because of social programs.

BILL MOYERS: Given the realities you both have described, why not support a living wage as opposed to these harsh austerity measures, which your bishops and others say will fall hardest on the people you visited this summer?

ROBERT ROYAL: But what is a living wage, Bill?

BILL MOYERS: Enough for a family to—

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Even if we got the buying power that minimum wage had in the 1970’s, that would be significant. Because it would put people above the poverty level. I understand it would be something, like, maybe $12 an hour. Isn't that fair? But the pieces that gets argued is that it's a global economy. It's very integrated. So we can't have high wages.

But the piece that I find most problematic in that is when CEOs have had this tremendous escalation in their salaries. And the shareholders get these tremendous dividends. And yet none is shared with the workers at the bottom. That to me is wrong. That's immoral. It's a problem.

ROBERT ROYAL: You've overstated this. I mean, yes, it's a problem there's been this increase in income inequality, I agree entirely. And I think some of it is, frankly, obscene. But that it's not been shared with workers? Workers in the United States live better than the average worker ever before.


BILL MOYERS: But the wages of working people have been stagnant now for almost—

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Thirty years.

BILL MOYERS: Yeah, well, it's up a little bit, but largely stagnant. That does seem to me to be a critical issue.

ROBERT ROYAL: But Bill, there are so many moving parts in an economy that, as I said, if you try-- what would a living wage be for a family of four? If you're talking about, you know, $20 an hour. I mean, is it $20, $25, is it $15? If we think that, that it's possible sort of from the top to specify what different parts of the economy can be, we're not-- we're not allowing the market to do what it does so brilliantly. And that is it allows people to, it allows people to make judgments that adjust certain things.

After all, not every person who's working is working for some large corporation that has a CEO who's making $300 million a year. Most jobs, and most new jobs that are created are in small businesses, as everybody knows. And this means businesses that are on the margins that maybe in their startup years are going to have to be austere, and they're inviting people to invest themselves, not only their time, in making these companies grow. And it can make all the difference between whether somebody has a better looking job five years down the line or not. I'm very skeptical. And I think one of the week spots of Catholic social thought is it looks as if it's easy to command what a living wage would be. And it's not all that easy to determine at all.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: I think it's very easy to say it's way more than $7.25 an hour. Additionally, I think it's easy to say that in our society right now, with mobility the way it is, and people moving across state boundaries, the idea that we have this little community that everybody knows each other, it may happen in Janesville, but it certainly doesn't happen in the rest of the nation. There's big issues to be dealt with.

BILL MOYERS: Your visits on the bus tour were to community-run programs that are making a real difference to the people we saw in the film. While he's short on specifics, Paul Ryan claims that his budget will empower those very kinds of community-centered solutions to the problem of poverty that the federal bureaucracy has not been able to solve. Are you willing to give him a chance on that?

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Absolutely not. Because the fact is that the federal government has been supporting, in part, these very programs that we're at. What people don't know is that the federal government money helps as the cornerstone. And that the fact is these problems are so large that we all need to collaborate. I totally agree. They're so big, so complex, we all need to be a part of the solution. Individuals, corporations, businesses, and government. We all need to work together on it. And Congressman Ryan would prefer just to pull the government out. It's not reasonable. It's not possible. It's not doable.


SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: My people would suffer.

ROBERT ROYAL: Sister, are you saying that there are positions in Paul Ryan's budget that just pull out the federal government from welfare?

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: That significantly curtail it and that-- with Medicaid, especially with Medicaid and some of the other-- the health care provisions of that, that would decimate, decimate service.

BILL MOYERS: Well, for example, my understanding is that it would lead to about 10 million people, an estimated 10 million people losing food stamps.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: And another 20 million people losing health care coverage.

BILL MOYERS: Paul Ryan speaks about dependence developing on welfare programs. Is that your concern, one of your concerns, that dependence is the unintended consequence of good, benevolent intentions on the part of government?

ROBERT ROYAL: Well, Sister had all those nice people who, you know, we all want to support. And I, you know, I agree, I mean, it's a heart-wrenching thing to see people put in those circumstances. But what's the alternative? I mean, we've seen this in the past.

BILL MOYERS: Good question. What is the alternative?

ROBERT ROYAL: What is the alternative? Do we just--

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Change the wealth gap. I mean, that's a big part of the problem is that the rich have gotten dramatically —

BILL MOYERS: How do you do that?

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Well, I agree, that's complex. But part of it is, I mean, part of it is the tax structure. Hedge fund folks that make these gabillion dollars, but pay way less percentage than you or I pay.

BILL MOYERS: 15 percent compared to what--the third we pay on ours.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Exactly, exactly. There are a lot of fixes where there's more revenue out there that's fair.

ROBERT ROYAL: But Sister, you can confiscate the wealth of the top one percent and I forget what the figure is, but it lasts, maybe it covers one budget deficit—

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Well, that's a step.

ROBERT ROYAL: Four trillion dollars. Yeah, I mean, that's a lot of money. That's a lot of money. But what does that do to the overall question? The overall question is, in the normal course of affairs, subsidiarity, one of the great discoveries of the 20th century, because subsidiarity started to come to the fore—

BILL MOYERS: Which means?

ROBERT ROYAL: We talked about this with Paul Ryan. It's not simply different levels of government operating. It's a vision of society as a whole, which includes a role for government-- for federal and maybe even international governments. It goes all the way down to the responsibilities of individuals. And at each level, there are responsibilities that in the ideal circumstance, we want to see those different levels operating on their own with their own—

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Well, but the piece that's been missing in this whole conversation is the impact of solidarity. Because what we'd like to think is that they're dichotomies, but they're not. They're unity. And what Catholic social teaching says is that yes, subsidiarity works, but as long as everybody has a strong sense of solidarity. So I hold your concerns and your worries, your engagement as important as my own. And that I make my decisions as much for the group in sense of solidarity for the group and for everyone else up the chain that you very well spoke of. That's solidarity. So I'm aware of the folks of Kenya. I'm aware of the folks in Cleveland. I'm aware of the folks in Los Angeles. I'm aware of all those folks when I make my personal decisions. That's the piece that our society's missing. And to me, that's what Catholic social teaching really brings to the fore for us is solidarity.

ROBERT ROYAL: I don't think that's missing at all. I think all people, everybody I know, I mean, you'd have to be a monster not to have any interest in people who are poor in the United States, in the plight of people around the world. Look, the difficulty with what you're talking about, it seems to me. I try not to quote libertarians, but I'm going to quote Friedrich von Hayek, just—

BILL MOYERS: The Austrian economist. The icon of--

ROBERT ROYAL: The Austrian economist, who called this "the fatal conceit." That we can know, you know, "I'm going to be in my desire for solidarity, I know what to do about that and I know what to do about that and I know to what to do about that." We don't.


ROBERT ROYAL: One of the reasons why the market properly fenced around with institutions works so beautifully is it allows the intelligence and the practical application of various people in all sorts of areas that we can't possibly know the details of. It allows those people with their own dynamism and creativity and intelligence to do things that a central planner cannot do. Now--

BILL MOYERS: You said something quite important, that markets work as long as there are fences around them. But you seem to think that democracy no longer serves as a brake on raw and unregulated capitalism.

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Absolutely. For me, I really think this is about the soul of our nation and will democracy work. Or will we just continue this polarized, yelling at each other, the talking heads?

And I'm grateful for this conversation that we-- but can we talk together about how do we solve it? Because I agree it's complex. I agree the answer is not government. I agree that the way forward has to include the market. But I also know it is not working now and we need to find some new mechanisms.

BILL MOYERS: Is there any common ground?

ROBERT ROYAL: Yeah, because I mean, I would absolutely say that a prudential approach to this-- this set of circumstances is to say, "Those people who are just holding on, we can't simply abandon them." We have to find some other ways. But we have to make-- we have to attempt to move from where we are now to someplace else.

I myself would lean more towards less government, because there's the perennial danger. This is, you know, this goes back forever in political philosophy that it's dangerous to give powers over to the government. It’s dangerous to have the government controlling health care for example.

BILL MOYERS: I want to change the subject slightly. Sister Simone, given the Vatican's dismay over the actions of The Leadership Conference of Women's Religious, that's an umbrella group, I think, for 80% of the nuns in this country? Given the fact that women are not part of the hierarchy and that some of you think you're treated as second-class believers, why do you remain a nun?

SR. SIMONE CAMPBELL: Because it's the most treasured part of my life that I have the tradition of spirituality, of nourishment and sacrament of a deep abiding joy. How could I not? It's the wealth of my life. But the role of women religious historically is not to be at the center with the hierarchy. Our role historically is to be at the margins with the very folks we've been talking about. And because we're at the margins, we can be an annoyance to both the government folks, as well as to the bishops. It's part of our mission.

BILL MOYERS: Robert, why do you remain a Catholic given that so many of the bishops are far more liberal than you are?

ROBERT ROYAL: Because I believe it's the church that Jesus found. I was taught by nuns. So I, you know, I am beholden to them. I learned a lot more under the nuns than I did at Ivy League institutions and other places. And I don't remember them being wilting wallflowers even back before Vatican II, I can tell you.

BILL MOYERS: Robert Royal, Sister Simone Campbell, thank you very much for this conversation.


ROBERT ROYAL: Thank you.

BILL MOYERS: That’s it for this week. At, we have more to say about poverty and American politics in a web-only, video essay. And a closer look at Paul Ryan’s budget plan. You can see how it stacks up against alternative proposals from Democrats and other interest groups. Let us know which you think has America’s priorities straight.

That’s all at See you there and see you here, next time.

Watch By Segment

  • Catholics and the Budget

    On a road trip of faith and politics, American nuns spread the word: Paul Ryan’s budget would hurt those already struggling to make ends meet.

    Catholics and the Budget
  • When Nuns Get Political

    On a road trip of faith and politics, American nuns spread the word: Paul Ryan’s budget would hurt those already struggling to make ends meet.

    Air Date: August 24, 2012
    When Nuns Get Political

Nuns, Faith and Politics

August 24, 2012

Weeks before Republican Paul Ryan was selected to run for vice president, Sister Simone Campbell — who heads NETWORK, a Catholic policy and lobbying group — hit the road to protest the so-called “Ryan budget” recently passed by the House of Representatives. She and some of her sister nuns rolled across the heartland on a bus trip designed to arouse public concern over what the Ryan plan would mean for social services in America, especially its slashing of programs for the poor. Sister Simone says his budget is inconsistent with Catholic social teaching. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops agrees.

But other Catholics say Sister Simone and the nuns have crossed a line. Robert Royal, editor in chief of The Catholic Thing and founder of the Faith & Reason Institute, believes that issues of economic inequality are being oversimplified. Royal says the focus should be on creating a more dynamic economy for all.

In this episode, watch our field report from producers who rode along on the ‘Nuns on the Bus’ tour, then join a passionate, candid discussion about faith and economics with Sister Simone and Royal.

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  • StopInvertedTotalitarianism

    Thank you to the Nuns on the Bus for their courage in standing up against the tyranny of the establishment.

    Robert Royal offered no facts to back up his view, choosing instead to repeat tired propaganda. Is he vying for the title “Last American to acknowledge that the Emperor is wearing no cloths?”

    Robert Royal keeps reminding us about the virtues of the free market. What free market? When banks collapse due to their own stinking corruption and the tax payers end up being forced to bail them out is that the free market? Is the market at work when a multinational corporation with no loyalty to the USA gets tax dollars to destroy American jobs and American small business?

    Royal says we can’t trust the government with health care…but we can trust the for profit “pay or die” health insurance monopoly? How convenient that Royal chooses to ignore that fact that expanding Medicare to every citizen would greatly reduce the deficit.

    There is no free market in the USA. There is no Democracy. Just big corporate interests and the 1% harvesting the country and preparing us for Neo-feudalism. Read Chris Hedges, Sheldon Wolin, and Matt Taibbi and you will find much to back up these statements.

  • Christine Dyke

    It was hard to listen to Robert Royal talk down to Sister Simone, I think she was very generous to speak calmly.

  • SteveOhno

    Powerful show. Thank God for Sister Simone. But Robert Royal, what’s the deal with that guy? What solutions does he propose. Oh, right. It’s complex, it’s really complex, which, I guess, means that we shouldn’t do anything. On what basis was he presenting his opinions? The Catholic Bishops have already said that Ryan’s Path to Prosperity is inconsistent with Catholic Social teaching. HIs contributions seemed to emanate less from his Catholicism than from his economic and social conservatism. Frankly, I found Royal’s perspectives lacking both moral imagination and moral courage.

  • julogue

    It’s Royal who oversimplifies the the issues of economic inequality. What his body of thought totally ignores is that those at the bottom, in most instances, start at the bottom. There are fewer and fewer ways UP. All men may be ceated equal – but they are certainly born with inequal opportunity starting at birth with nutrition, family and community support, education, health care, access and extending to every human need. Equal opportunity is the Great Lie the Royals of the world tell themselves. This was true even in better times. Royal’s argument might have some validity if anything like Equal Opportunty existed.
    God bless the Sr. Campbell and the NETWORK!

  • Malcolm Kantzler

    I’m so please to see, even if late, that Bill Moyers is back from retirement, and this first show, for me, couldn’t touch on more appropriate a topic of need and abuse in America’s society, both from the standpoint of economic inequalities and a severed democracy.

    I will only address a portion of the Ryan-budget philosophy which was discussed, that being his interpretive principle of “subsidiarity:” that problematic social issues derived from economic/resource distribution should be addressed by the lowest level of authority capable of dealing with it. By this principle, the problems of the poor, from housing and feeding to education and health, should begin with the charitable structures within the towns, villages and cities, involving those levels of government if the private community resources can’t cope, and moving up the ladder from there to county to state to federal levels.

    One problem with this concept is that it conveniently avoids assigning any responsibility for providing that capability, through taxes or any other obligation, and it conveniently leaves the most fortunate, the most lucky, the most wealthy and their resources, gained through the fabric of the communities Ryan would have bear all burdens, completely out of the picture if they want to be left out. No wonder the Republican elite love Ryan’s budget and his philosophy!

    Robert Royal? He’s as evasive as a seasoned public-relations pro and as slithery as a snake with scales hiding a “666.”

  • Votesmart

    I was waiting for Robert Royal to
    invoke Paul Ryan’s personal catechism, Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged.
    There are solutions to the problems faced by the working poor and
    unemployed, but they will not come from Royal’s and Ryan’s vision of
    a trickle down, greed is a virtue, conservative free market utopia.
    Much of the poverty in America is the result of the very right wing
    social engineering they have advocated by waging war on unions and
    that all important solidarity Sister Simone spoke so eloquently of.
    If we want to breathe new life into the American economy we should
    demand that a living wage be set and at the same time demand funding
    and implementation of the 1976 Humphrey-Hawkins Full Employment Act,
    it’s high time. We also need to cut off the head of the snake that
    has created this poverty and is destroying our democracy, namely
    unbridled campaign and lobbying money. We need a constitutional
    amendment allowing an individual to contribute only up to $100.00
    towards a political campaign, no exceptions.

  • TDOK84

    I don’t mean to be cruel or dramatic, but Royal’s arguments made me sick. Turning to government (i.e. go back to tax rates and minimum wage that existed in the 60’s and 70’s) is like going to war (start about the 37th minute)??????? And, WHERE in the New Testament did Jesus invoke the Free Market????????

  • Anonymous

    Robert Royle works at a “Think Tank” in Wash. D.C. I’d like to know who pays his salary and how much he gets paid? Would he do what he does at the “Think Tank” for minimum wage? Somehow I doubt it . I’ll bet his ideas would change if he did have to work for minimum wage.

  • Anonymous

    Sister Simone impressed me so deeply with her wisdom, compassion, common sense and command of the facts. I’m one of those lapsed Protestants who only goes to church for weddings and funerals, but I would get up early on Sunday to hear her speak!

  • davidp

    Ryan´s guidence is his understanding of RC social justice but really over soaked with Ayn Rand´s philosophy.

  • Kathy

    It was so difficult to sit and listen to Robert Royal’s bumbling, elitist attempt to justify Paul Ryan’s budget. He is the worst kind of apologist, one who is inarticulate and condescending.

    This was a watershed moment for me, as a church educated non practicing Catholic. Like a woman in the Dubuque audience in the “Nuns On The Bus” documentary, nuns have a very conflicted place in my psyche. I was physically, verbally and emotionally abused as a child in Catholic School. As a child I worked in a rectory where I saw things I instinctively knew were wrong, but it took another 60 years for me to understand pedophilia in the church. So, sad, angry and confused, I left my church. I have come back to my faith, but am still uncomfortable with the Catholic religion in America. It is through reading people as diverse as Thomas Merton and Sister Joan Chittiser that I attempt to discern if there is a place for me in the Catholic Church.

    I still don’t know, for the Robert Royals and Paul Ryans still seem to wield more power in the patriarchy that is Catholicism. But these wonderful nuns give me such hope! Sister Simone speaks so calmly and with so much love, is so well informed and makes so much sense…that I feel hopeful for the Catholic Church, despite the Pope’s chastisement of religious women in America. Those sisters are doing God’s work, are walking in the footprint of Jesus, as did people like Mother Theresa.

    I do not know anything of the details of Paul Ryan’s budget, but I darn well better learn it fast. Sounds pretty scary. I am ashamed to say that after a half century of political activism, I am just as apathetic and feeling helpless as most of this country right now.

    Bless Sister Simone and her cohorts for taking the show on the road, to inform and educate. Social responsibility in the Catholic Church depends on outreach, as well as in society in general. The Robert Royals and Paul Ryans pontificate (what a perfect verbage for this discussion), the bishops filibuster (like Bishop Merlino (sp?)) and they all smugly wash their hands of any social responsibility.

    And at the end of the program, despite Mr. Moyers’ attempts to pin down a definition, I still have no clue what subsidiarity means. Sounds as fuzzy as the Reagan era buzzword, “trickle down economics”. I have a feeling subsidiarity will have the same ephemeral effect.

    Robert Royal: “Does Paul Ryan strike you as someone…..who would throw poor people under the bus”. My initial reaction is “Umm, Yes”. It is incumbent on me to research him further. But if it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck

    To take a line from the evangelical movement;

    What would Jesus do”?

    Would Jesus support the Paul Ryan budget?

    Jesus multiplied the loaves and the fishes, he did not cut them back.

    Mr. Moyers, I am so grateful for your return to PBS. It was a ‘vast wasteland’ for a while. Now PBS seems relevant to me once again.

    Thank you.

  • Malcolm Kantzler

    The constitutional amendment needs to do far more than eliminate buying party and legislator influence. And there are other necessary steps, including repeal of one infamous law. Read about it at

  • Malcolm Kantzler

    I appreciated the candid nature of your comment and your motivation to come to grips with the forces aligned to oppose you and the rest of America’s citizens of social conscience, My comment, above yours, provides a condensed explanation of Ryan’s principle of “subsidiarity.”

  • BG

    I think they both had a good point. But the bottom line is people need a hand out when there is no hand up.

    To me, as long as a cost analysis takes priority over a human being we are on the wrong track. I don’t believe that continuing the tax cuts for the wealthy will bring jobs to this country. And for all those well-heeled who are losing sleep over our debt crisis, they don’t seem to feel torn about their trillions of dollars stashed away in their off-shore tax shelters.

    Someday we will turn the tables and put human life as our priority; we will focus on better physical and mental health for all, good education for all, equal opportunity for all, and a healthy and beautiful planet to live in. I’m pretty sure that was Jesus’ vision.

  • Claudia Rodriguez Finelle

    What a brilliant woman. On a completely different note. I’d love a conversation between Colbert and Moyers.

  • Anonymous

    How many times did Royal interrupt and condescend to Sister Simone in this conversation? How disappointing to see Mr. Moyers, once Sister Simone was able to finally get a word in, cut her answers short as many times. How insulting to her, and to women everywhere, to see two men, oblivious to their privilege, pushing her out of her own conversation. What a disappointment. I would have liked to have heard more of what she had to say in response to Royal, but she didn’t have much of a chance. Shameful. I have much respect for Mr. Moyers, but I found this interview to be very sad and insulting.

  • Gail

    Mr. Royal failed to mention corporate welfare. How does he plan to end the subsidies to corporations and the tax writeoffs and the tax evasion? Mr. Ryan is very quick to cut programs that help people, like food stamps, education, Medicaid, and Medicare but he does not seem to think it is immoral to keep propping up the corporations with our hard-earned money. Mr. Romney touts his energy policy to “let them drill”. When will the Republicans let the free market rule for the oil and gas companies so they can see what it is like to truly be without government involved in their companies. Sister Simone, you and your organization are walking the path that Jesus would have walked. Thank you.

  • Bernadette

    Thank you, Sister Simone,

    You speak for those who are unable to have their words heard.

    Abraham Lincoln said: “Four
    score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new
    nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are
    created equal.

    …. that this nation, under God, shall have a
    new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for
    the people, shall not perish from the earth.”

    It seems to me that many have lost the
    connection that the government, to whom we pay taxes, was intended to do.

    Granted, President Lincoln was speaking during
    the civil war, but I see a connection. “and that government of the people,
    by the people, for the people,” Today it seems that many people do not
    comprehend the need to provide for those who have been hardest hit by the
    current economic crisis which was brought about by off-shoring jobs resulting
    in unemployment, inability to pay for homes and foreclosures; a war and the prescription benefit that was
    not funded resulting in a deficit; rising costs that resulted in an inability
    of many to purchase basic needs, and the need for many to work two or three
    jobs to make up for the loss of income from their full time jobs that were

    As I listened to Robert Royal speak I began to
    understand why people in a state I will not identify are so enamored by the
    fact that their state budget has improved. The governor in our state has done
    likewise, and as a result of the loss of income from the state to the schools
    and the economy of the area, propositions to raise additional funding from the
    everyday person failed. As a result schools are cutting teacher positions,
    school buses for many are non-existent. What will be the impact of cutting the
    number of teachers for the future? Will we have students that are ill prepared?
    The people in this state seem to think the retirements teachers received were
    too high. How many teachers retire as millionaires?

    Steve from Ohio says: “The Catholic Bishops have already said that Ryan’s Path to
    Prosperity is inconsistent with Catholic Social teaching. HIs contributions
    seemed to emanate less from his Catholicism than from his economic and social
    conservatism”. If this is what the Bishop’s have said, why is Robert Royal
    attempting to justify Paul Ryan’s budget? Why does he have such a hard
    time understanding that the Sisters are correct? According to Sr. Simone Campbell: The Ryan budget
    cuts social services, devastates social services. They want you to think
    they’re giving it to the deficit, but they’re not. What they’re doing is
    they’re cutting taxes for the wealthy. What part of this sounds wrong? What
    happened “for the people”?

    Bill Moyers states: Preferential option for the
    poor is an essential component of Catholic social teaching. It holds that the
    needs of the poor should always be of primary consideration, and is the
    foundation of the Church’s ideal that the moral test of any society is how it
    treats its most vulnerable members.

    A test that the U.S. Conference of Catholic
    Bishops says the Ryan budget fails. Declaring that it “will hurt hungry
    children, poor families, vulnerable seniors and workers who cannot find
    employment.” These cuts,” say the Bishops, “are unjustified and wrong.” Amazing
    that I actually find myself agreeing with the U.S. Conference of Catholic

    It is time for our country to recognize the
    need to provide for those who are unable to care for themselves, those who do
    not earn a living wage. Why do people support the top 1% paying fewer taxes
    than the average person?

    In conclusion, I will quote Sister, a quote
    that should speak to every Catholic including Ryan: Jesus talks about feeding
    the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick. So it isn’t like we’ve
    invented something in the last 150 years. We go back to the teachings of Jesus.
    We are the church, the people of God. And so when you talk church you’re
    talking about people coming together in a faithful response, and looking at and
    responding to the signs of the times. And our signs of the times right now is
    that the people at the top, who have the loudest voice and the most money, have
    an incredible amount of influence in terms of priorities for people at the top
    to have a tax break is just totally unjust. People at the bottom need the
    revenue for services that really count.

  • David Alexander

    I’m all in favor of helping the poor pull themselves up by providing education and training and making opportunities available however the Ryan plan would pull the rug out from under people who are barely hanging on.

  • David Alexander

    The real problem in this country is that wealthiest people don’t spend money back into the economy they stash it in offshore accounts and the evade and avoid paying taxes so the middle and the bottom class are left with paying the bills. I say “We the people” need a stimulus package because we will spend the money back into economy.

  • LVsunshine

    Sr. Simone is an inspiration to me. Most interesting program! What amazes me are the politicians that go on and on about being upstanding Catholics, Mormon, etc. to woo the Catholic, Mormon, Evangelical vote. The thought that went through my mind as Mr. Royal spoke was, “what would Jesus do”? what I look for in myself and others is what the bible says about “…by their fruits you will know them” and ” whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me.” And how about the “Golden Rule”? Show by your actions how you believe!! Your actions will speak volumes. Walk your talk! This is what I think Sr. Simone lives by! How about Paul Ryan and his devotion to the works of Ayn Rand? How does that admiration influence his beliefs and actions? Worrisome!!

  • Anonymous

    Robert Royal, “Let’s not forget, there is no free lunch at the end of the day. When something is paid for through a government program, it comes out of other people’s pockets.”


    No one has pockets big enough to contain all of the wealth that the top 1% has appropriated to their offshore bank accounts.

    And of course the top 10 or even 1% is going to pay a much larger share of the taxes in this country–they’re they only ones still making enough money to contribute significantly to taxes.

    If we still had more of a middle class, the middle class would be paying more in taxes.

  • Florence Hammelev

    Robert Royal and Paul Ryan don’t have a clue to how the people are struggling in the U.S. They just don’t get it. There is no changing their minds because they are missing a heart! Florence Hammelev

  • commonwealth

    Mr. Royal referred to something called “subsidiarism”, with a structured set of loyalties and obligations from one level of society to another. This used to be called “feudalism”. It certainly isn’t democracy.

    Though I share Sister Simone’s anguish at the rampant individualism and what someone has called “rapacious capitalism”, we have become so socially disconnected from one another by these very computers that we use to comment and the televisions that preceded them, that it is hard to imagine how a rebirth of human kindness can occur.

  • willcommentforfood

    Royal is an extremist, and has no credibility. His arguments unravel within themselves. Anyone who thinks the minimum wage destroys jobs is a blithering idiot.

  • willcommentforfood

    In the meantime, the damage has been done to those of us living through this era. Without affordable health care, and with giant student loan debt, both of these have made things very hard for me and many others. I am no longer patient with waiting.

  • willcommentforfood

    Supply side Jesus… google or youtube that, it’s a hilarious comedy short video by Al Franken (he made it when he was an SNL writer) that applies the ridiculous right wing supply side economics to Jesus.

  • Cynthia Elliott

    I found it very difficult to continue to watch and listen carefully while Mr. Royal (a fitting name, I might add) dominated the conversation, and Mr. Moyers (whom I adore) allowed it. This would be a good example of the message being in the medium. Sister Simone never wavered from her patient respect and willingness to concur, even though Mr. Royal was repetitive, condescending, and verbose. Mr. Royal continuously fell back on his excuse of “it’s complicated” and his willingness to find fault with Sister Simone’s arguments, but was never willing to admit that the wealthy have gained their wealth on the backs of those who struggle. He was very offensive, and I’m sorry that Mr. Moyers didn’t rein him in more effectively.

  • Anonymous

    It would have been relevant to ask or mention where all our government revenues, our taxes, are going. No mention was made of the so called defense/war/security state budget, nor of effective subsides to corporations and the wealtheist. I’m implying here that the funds devoted to militarism and “security” are awarded on false premises; our nation is not in danger from Iran, Russia, China or Islam in any military sense. We spend these monies to a large extent to keep corporations associated with the security state and the war state and their investors in the chips.

    In other words, a redistribution of how government funds are distributed and collected could solve much of our “deficit” problems, and we could then pay attention to our social problems..

  • cipher

    Extraordinary women. The moral and ethical bankruptcy of the hierarchy of the Catholic Church is made even more evident by contrast with their courage and devotion. It’s too late to save this country, but I admire them tremendously for trying.

    I’m in complete agreement with the comments made here about Robert Royal, but equally as egregious was Bishop Morlino. Smug, evasive and obviously biased in favor of the Right – but what else would one expect from EWTN?

  • cipher

    Re: Robert Royal – I want to be sure I understand this.

    If one agrees with the the Pope and the bishops about fiscal matters and how to treat the poor, but disagrees with them about contraception, sexual identity and abortion, one cannot call oneself a Catholic.

    However, if one agrees with them about sexual and reproductive issues, but disagrees about treatment of the poor – one can?

    Apparently, the Church’s authority is conditional, and one’s loyalty to it is subordinate to one’s loyalty to the Republican Party.

  • fadista

    What’s assumed by the Royals, Romneys and Ryans of the world is that the capitalist system is sacred and unquestionable, despite the fact that it is an amoral system which, among its other faults, advocates paying workers as little as possible (aka competition). And yes, an economic argument can be made for such a position (as Royal, Hayak, Friedman, and others have made while opposing arguments amass on the Left) but are almost exclusively championed by those who benefit most from such a system (e.g. a President Romney would see his taxes lowered while President Obama would see his own rise. Say what you like about Obama but his tax policy is not motivated by selfishness).

    Our economic system is a vital component of our well-being but it is not sacred or beyond question or a matter to be determined only by the privileged. If it is then we might as well be in a totalitarian state (I do believe much of the Right would like to see the US as a fascist state). If our economic system tempts us (especially the powerful among us) to abandon our democratic values then we have run far afield from our national experiment’s goal and our sacred human mission.

    Because of the failure of most Socialist governments, Capitalism is also now championed by the Left (as well as the Right). But because we on the Left champion a more fair distribution of wealth that includes a safety net, it does thereby not mean that we are hostile to a market economy. It means that we recognize that the wealth of an economy is created by all that participate, not just the owning class, and when such an economy is as successful as ours then the wealth MUST be distributed more fairly. (The rich could still be rich even in our economy where there are no working poor.)

    For decades the Right has been successful at convincing us that they are the wiser economists of the two parties and that our economy would be even worse if the wealthy (“job creators”) were taxed at a higher rate (including the closing of their pet loopholes they lobbied so hard for). But given their failure to grow the middle class since the “Reagan revolution” (with an exception for the Clinton years), maybe Americans are starting to see the Right wing economic (and social for that matter) agenda for what it is, a theft of wealth by the so-called 1% from the rest of us.

    Advocates, such as Royal (who can barely even pretend to care about the poor and the wealth disparity their policies have created), who champion right wing economic policies are disingenuous at best. Royal was uncomfortable offering an idea of what a “living wage” might be but had no qualms about stating unequivocally that the wealthiest are paying too much of the tax burden. Actually, I agree. Wage earners should be paid more so that they can contribute more in taxes for vital programs they need. But the corporate sponsored Right wing agenda wants it both ways: They want to rig the system (through lobbying & sponsoring right wing politicians like Ryan) to their advantage while simultaneously complaining that workers’ pensions, healthcare (social safety net programs) are not their responsibility as employers and that they, as taxpayers, are paying more than their fair share (because after all, the economic system is fair). What whining! What arrogance!

    Sister Campbell understands exactly what is what and is doing a courageous and necessary thing by talking both about the morality of our economic system, as a representative of Christianity, and also about the economic and social failure of our system as any informed and concerned citizen should. Right on Sister!

  • Anonymous

    Excellent portrayal of America 2012. She was so sincere and calm and he was not comfortable. We “exceptional america” have broken the covenant with our people. I left my catholicism behind decades ago and never looked back. She reminded me of what I was taught about religion while I was a child attending my weekly religious classes. We were taught that nuns took a vow of poverty so they could walk and live among those in need. We were taught to care and support… just like Mitt Romney giving $40million to his church because he is required to tith 10% to be a member in good standing. He does not “donate” to charity by focusing his giving on HIS church. Obligation giving is very different than charitable giving out of the goodness of your heart because you see a need.

  • Anonymous

    Cipher, this is off-topic, but I fear I may have gone too far. Your input would be most welcome.

  • John Amenta

    Government might be dangerous as Robert Royal and a host of right-wingers argue (along with plenty of their obscenely rich friends) – but you know what is far more dangerous than a government of “We the People” – an aristocracy of oligarchs of very few relatively rich people who control the so-called “free-market” and control the lives and future of our country – and our world.

    The rich have no RIGHT to determine the future of WE THE PEOPLE. But guys like Robert here – that’s exactly what he is arguing – by refusing to acknowledge the very vital and essential role of government. WITHOUT GOVERMENT WE MIGHT AS WELL START LIVING LIKE BARBARIANS in ROMAN TIMES.

    The Christian faith can tell you quite a bit what it was like living back then – and why even then – the wisdom of Jesus rang true as it does today. That human justice – and social justice – even in these complex times – go hand in hand.

  • dsimon

    Robert Royal made several factually incorrect or misleading statements which should not go unanswered.

    He said that the top 10% of earners pay 70% of the taxes while half the people pay no taxes. That’s simply not true. Those numbers apply to income taxes only. Even people making minimum wage pay payroll taxes, not to mention gas taxes, and sales taxes, and may pay property taxes and state income taxes. Moreover, it’s hardly unfair to have those at the top paying most of the income taxes if they’re making most of the income. The top 10% may not make 70% of total income–it’s closer to 43%–but with a little progressivity to the system I think it’s hard to say that these rates are somehow unfair. Indeed, it’s the progressive federal income tax system that helps prevent the overall tax burden from becoming regressive.

    Royal also said that about half of Americans get some kind of check from the government. Well, about 17.6% of Americans are retirees and get their Social Security checks, so that would account for about a third. I’m sure a fair number of the rest are in poverty, so the remainder would be rather small. Who would Royal kick off the government “dole”?

    Finally, Royal says it’s “dangerous to have the government controlling health care.” That seems like an odd statement when our peer nations which have more government intervention in health care manage to cover everyone, get comparable results, and spend far less than we do. In fact, we are the only nation in our peer group that allows people to die because they can’t get insurance and families go bankrupt because someone got sick. And he says our system is more dangerous? As my brother often advises, “Look around!”

    One other point: Royal refers to the superiority of the market over central planning. Now, I generally like markets. But I like them for the results they get, not because they’re markets. If “the market” produces a lot of low paying jobs that barely keep people out of poverty and a handful of extremely well-paying jobs, is that a result that Royal is willing to accept? Should we just depend on the good deeds of the wealthy to partially alleviate the difficulties of the other workers? “The market” doesn’t care whether the result is a healthy society or not. If we don’t like the results, isn’t intervention appropriate?

    I’m glad Royal was willing to participate in the discussion, but he needs to get some of his facts in order and address some of the consequences of his market-dominant philosophy. I know he doesn’t disavow a government role in curbing the excess of the market and providing some assistance to those who are struggling, but he really doesn’t explain where those borders should be.

  • doggirl

    Robert Royal’s answer to poverty is for each man/woman to give from the heart to charity instead of expecting the government to provide. In case Mr. Royal has not noticed that is not working as the good Sister pointed out. So what is his answer when millions of people are unemployed and the most selfish amongst us –the filthy rich–hide their money in off shore accounts and turn their backs on the needy. Mr. Royal seems to have a blind spot in his thinking. Government is necessary to provide services to those who are in need when charity becomes a pipe dream. When the top 1% decide to step up to the plate and offer charity to the masses in need, then and only then will the government need subside. You can’t have a trickle down program when there is massive need at the bottom. Trickle down only works when there is a strong middle class with solid employment and good paying jobs. We are way past that now.

  • John Amenta

    Would also like to point out the specious argument Robert Royal puts out here that the most wealthy Americans in this country are contributing the most in taxes – and he also – misleadingly claims that 50% of Americans pay no taxes at all – which is factually incorrect as all Americans are subject to sales taxes, those that work payroll taxes, those that drive gas taxes, those that own – property taxes. What Robert meant to say here was “Income taxes” – which he doesn’t in this broadcast.

    But let us take a look at income taxes. Sure – if we go just by INCOME ALONE the rich do PAY MORE than ordinary Americans – simply because they make and have A LOT MORE. In fact – the rich now in this country have more of America’s wealth than anytime in the last hundred years – not since our gilded robber baron age have the most wealthy Americans HAD SO MUCH. Robert does not talk about this obscene wealth inequality to much – or the obvious lack of human or social justice it bespeaks – that Jesus would most certainly have not condoned. He does not talk about it – but then goes on to say that these same enormously wealthy individuals are paying more than anyone else – and thus implying they are paying too much. When in fact, 7,000 millionaires payed ZERO in income taxes last year. Some of the richest as a PERCENTAGE of their wealth pay less than most working Americans – Romney for example only payed 13% for many years. Many of the largest corporations in the country – owned by the wealthiest Americans – payed ZERO in US taxes last year – and in fact received subsidies in the millions if not billions back from the US government.

    Therefore I found Robert’s arguments highly specious. He attacks government but does not really discuss the impact the obscene wealth inequality we now have in this country has. He expects complex social problems to somehow be solved magically through individual charity – which might have worked well back in barbarian times – but in today’s modern world – is a myopic, Ayn Rand ideological view point that will only make the rich more obscenely rich – and will obviously fail to help our country grow stronger – through solidarity COLLECTIVE efforts – such as universal health care, elimination of hunger – and a fair minimum wage – AND THE WEALTHY SHOULD PAY IN PROPORTION TO THE WEALTH THEY HAVE – which they are not doing right now.

    One thing also needs to be pointed out here – it is also a specious argument by Robert that taxing the wealthy will not fix our deficit problem. But you hear this right-wing argument constantly. What they don’t talk about is that higher taxes OVER TIME will indeed reduce and eventually end our deficit. In fact, if you raised by 1% income taxes on all Americans with a million dollar net worth – in 10 years time are deficit would be gone. Just a measly 1%.

  • momwu

    I hope this Robert Royal would read the comments here and use his brain a little bit. He may learn something instead of reciting the party line of the right.
    I am also disappointed that nobody call him out for saying “confiscating money from the rich”. This is a great country and it takes money to run it. Just like a family with 2 spouses making vastly different income. Why wouldn’t the spouse with higher income contribute more to the household expenses? (This is not so say that running a country is as simple as running a household.)

    Thank you Sisters.

  • RobertP

    Robert Royal has put on the proverbial rhetorical blinders. Not only is he blind to the situation of those at the margins. He clearly doesn’t give a damn. Royal is comfortable having government controlled only by the rich and for the rich to take everything for themselves. What a sorry excuse for a human being.

  • John Amenta

    I was surprised during the interview Bill didn’t correct some of the factual fallacies Royal introduced. But I hardly would accuse Bill Moyers of being deliberately patriarchal to the sister – or even favoring Royal’s views. Just watch some of his previous shows – if anything Bill is even more incisive and passionate when it comes to speaking for the poor (and exploited) – and for equal rights of women.

    How he handled this interview does seem surprising though nevertheless.

  • shumphreys

    I was glad Mr. Moyers asked Sister Simone why she stays in the church, I have also been wondering the same thing. I can understand what she means when she says the sacraments are important to her and have meaning for her. BUT aren’t they just a means to an end and isn’t the “end” what is important, not how you get there? Couldn’t she find meaning/comfort/connection in other ways? Just curious and would like to try to understand why she stays.
    I came to the conclusion some time back that ultra-conservatism is at odds with many Christian teachings, from “the least you do to these who are my brothers….”, to “not casting stones (verbal or physical)”, to “turning the other check”, to “forgiving those who trespass as they hope to be forgiven” to “doing unto others…..”
    Just finished reading Mark Twain’s “Joan of Arc and was amazed at the wit and wisdom of the man, his character says at one point, “Whenever one sees in a book or in a king’s proclamation those words “the nation”, they bring before us the upper classs; only those….” Anytime I hear a politician say “the American people want…” I cringe. I know who they mean by “the American people”.
    Also finsished Paul Horgan’s book “The Great River” about the people along the Rio Grande. He describes at the start of Book 4 the American character and what makes it so unique, rugged individualism, and how it struggles against it’s need for others, community, social systems, help doing what one man alone can’t do.
    It seems there is a perpetual battle for far too many between their personal good and what is the communal good. They don’t grasp that what is good for all is also good for their selves. They forget or never learned their history about the rise and fall of empires and causes behind civil strife, crime and violence.
    Churches neither Catholic or Protestant, in our country seem to have done a very good job of teaching people (or at least enough people) to have compassion for “the other”, those that are different or in need. They seem to have done a very good job at encouraging people to be more self-righteous and self-centered.

  • Neytiri Tskaha

    Mr. Royal is an abomination to both “faith and reason”.

  • John Amenta

    Actually I would disagree in the “doesn’t give a damn”. I do think he does believe in this whole Ayn Rand ideological nonsense that somehow we are all better off if we’re all on our own. Although I agree with you that in his belief – he has put on blinders of the consequences of a society where everyone must fend for themselves.

    We as a nation really are at a crossroads now. And it really is in regards to two central ideological ideas and economic approaches. One is the Keynesian economic approach to society – where we as a society do work in a more COLLECTIVE fashion to solve our societal problems – or the Sister uses the term work in SOLIDARITY. And I personally believe great things can be done COLLECTIVELY – and that the right-wing in this country – and their ideology and propaganda has done a damn good job at making any COLLECTIVE efforts as a nation – sound like it is some great evil that can never work. And in fact wants to blame all our current economic ills on public good etc. That really is the heart of the national debate right now. Whether extreme individualism will win out over a more collective/unified approach to our culture and society.

    To me the answer is obvious. We will not for example solve global warming individually – it MUST BE DONE COLLECTIVELY. And in fact – some of the greatest good Americans have done have been done COLLECTIVELY – such as landing on the moon, SOCIAL SECURITY – FIGHTING AND WINNING WORLD WAR II – REDUCING POVERTY – BUILDING A HEALTHY AND SAFE INFRASTRUCTURE.

    There is no law or judgement from God that says we all most live like apes in the jungle. In fact – together – as an American nation – we can accomplish great things – IF WE WORK TOGETHER.

  • MK

    I have just been re-reading Gary Wills on What Jesus Meant. He argues that Jesus did not come to make a politics. However, Wills argues that all human beings have an obligation to create societies that honor human dignity and that all Christians have a further obligation to love their fellow human beings. As I understand this idea of love, it is active and attentive to dire need, not something that stands back and waits for the neo-classical invisible hand to eventually work things out, maybe, or takes refuge in ideas of subsidiarity (or small government/subsidiarity).

  • gjane66

    Great program and comments.
    Mr. Royal said something about ‘what does Paul Ryan look like?’ Actually, watching the clips, the first thing that came to my mind was the facial expressions of the guy in ‘Psycho’. (Sorry.)

  • Teresa Blundell

    Thank you Sr. Simone Campbell for being the voice of reason, intelligence and foresight in this discussion. And of course, Bill Moyers for your excellent questions.
    I kept waiting to hear something that I could accept as Church teaching or practical economical theory or even a decent attempt to bamboozle the audience coming from Robert Royal but I was saddenly disappointed.
    We should wait for the market to solve the problem? It hasn’t worked so far. Just the opposite. How many people must die from starvation or lack of health care before that happens? Or is that the solution? Mr. Royal doesn’t believe in a minimum wage and when that topic came up in the discussion he went to an amount like $25 compared to Sr. Simone’s $12. So Royal went to an unrealistic extreme purposely as a scare tactic. A common practice used by those against minimum wage.
    Mr. Royal wants to protect our country from another possible recession like what is occurring in other countries by cutting funding for services to the poor so that “we” will be better prepared to prevent a recession? Who is the “we” that he is speaking about? Mr. Royal, you are willing to throw those who need assistance from federal programs or the agencies that receive federal support under the bus for the sake of the rest of those who don’t need those services. It could not have been any clearer. I watched the expression on Sr. Simone’s face hoping that I misunderstood what you were saying. But she appeared to be getting the same message that I was getting. I will watch again out of disbelief and hope that you could not have been so indifferent to members of the human race.
    As a Catholic, a human being, an American, a father – what have you saved if you sacrifice even one other person for the purpose of survival of the rest when solutions are out there? Who are you to make that decision? Are the solutions difficult? Yes. Is the decision to save a life difficult? Not to me. My saddness for all of us, but mainly for you, is beyond words.

  • donnac

    I have just FEW THINGS TO SAY BECAUSE MOST OF THE COMMENTS made reflect my views.
    1. Robert Royal is obviously a staunch Republican so commenting on the Catholic church’s position on Paul Ryans budget is bogus in this venuewhich is supposed to be a intellectual dialogue.
    2. His condesension and patronization of Sister Simone Campbell was appalling and represented the male hierarchy of the church’s attitude about all women…nuns included.
    3.Royal’s pompous attiditude and beliefs are good examples of why I will not be a member of the Catholic church. I am a Recovering Catholic!

  • Anonymous

    Respectfully, being “deliberately patriarchal” was not the accusation I made. I’m quite familiar with Moyers’ work, and I believe he wouldn’t have given so much time to the opening segment, much less an entire show to the discussion, if he did not care about this issue. Likewise, I think it is important to journalistic integrity to offer other viewpoints without lazily falling into the trap of “false balance.” However, as moderator of such discussions, I would expect a little more even-handedness; it’s hard not to notice the appearance of men dominating a discussion while the woman mostly sits quietly and patiently suffers interruption–whether it is intentional or not.

  • LVsunshine

    Pick any religion and you will find pompous, arrogant people. Those qualities are not limited to those who adhere to the Catholic religion. God knows no religion! An example of a faith-filled, inclusive, compassionate Catholic is Sr. Simone.

  • Malcolm Kantzler

    Tactful, reasoned, deserved crucifixion.


    I was in-spired by her comments. Please bring her again.
    She and the other nuns understand the “Social
    economic justice!” They are real “public servants.”
    To bad they are not the government!

  • Joseph A. Mungai

    Brain imaging sheds light on how people change their minds when confronted with facts. However, it only pertains to people having the capacity to feel embarrassment, shame, guilt and surprise ( Did Robert Royal present any facts refuting studies brought up by Sister Simone Campbell and Bill Moyers?

  • John Stieglitz

    I just watched this program and yes I am a Catholic. What about redirecting assistance. Minimum wage is less than poverty, which is why many people are on it. How about using some assistance funding and give it to small business and they, in turn, pay a “livable wage”. “A rising tide lifts all boats.” Some of the workers would become entrepeneurs themselves and open small businesses. Maybe even some of them will start businesses to do the things government shouldn’t be involved in.

  • earthmom 23

    I love Moyers and Company. I watch every week. Today I watched to hear about the Nuns and to hear this nun talk. I couldn’t , however. The OTHER side was invited and as ususal he did all the talking. He demeaned her at every turn and reminded us that his work is LARGER than hers. I feel cheated. I could have watch Fox to hear this drivel.

  • Anonymous

    I hope the decision to give the likes of Robert Royal a soapbox doesn’t signal a return to Mr. Moyers’ previous practice of giving equal time to right-wing propagandists. It’s been many years but I still can’t get that clip out of my head wherein Grover Norquist advances the absurd claim that “we’re on her side because we’re trying to reduce her tax burden” after a horrifying vignette about a single mom working as a waitress, unable to get any economic traction despite heroic effort.

    What did Royal have to offer, really? Tired old tropes about half of people not paying taxes. Unwarranted concern about Government control of healthcare, as evidenced by successful experiences in every other industrialized country. References to the cult economist Hayak. Arrogance and condescension.

    Mr. Moyers, why did you not challenge Royal on some of these things? Also, I am bothered by your acceptance of the “stagnation” meme regarding worker compensation in this country. When we say that pay for the typical worker has “stagnated,” it sounds as though it’s remained as high as ever but just hasn’t risen. This is not the case. According to Holly Sclar, from 1973 to 2011, average worker pay fell 7% (after accounting for inflation). Saez and Piketty looked at the matter over a slightly different time period – 1980 to 2010 – and with a different perspective, and discovered the following: America’s top 1% more than doubled (again, after accounting for inflation) their income; the top .1% more than tripled their income; the top .01% more than quadrupled their income; while the bottom 90% saw their income fall 4.8%. Moreover, these numbers don’t take into account the shrinking and disappearance of benefit packages. It should also be noted that many observers believe that the government has been purposefully understating the inflation rate since the late 1990s, which would mean that current pay is being overstated and that ordinary workers have lost even more ground than these sad numbers indicate.

  • Linda Coleman

    I find it interesting that Mr. Royal and others on his side always use the term “free lunch” when explaining how we can’t afford to allow the government to contribute more to things that benefit people, such as health care and welfare. What about war? How come we’re always asked as a nation to sacrifice for war and not for things that benefit people here at home? Maybe next time there’s a “need” for war, we should ask the pro-war side to take up a collection for bombs, planes and so forth, just like they ask us to give to a food bank to feed the poor. Conservatives seem content to allow people to hold car washes to pay for their own health care, so how about asking them to hold car washes to prop up the war machine?

  • gjane66

    Well said. Actually the Bush administration promised that the Iraq war would not cost the American taxpayer anything, because ‘it would be paid for by Iraqi oil money.’ (Can’t remember which administration person said that during an interview broadcast on NPR.) But I’m getting off program point.

  • Molly O’Neill

    Robert Royal is wrong and therefore, naturally behaving in an arrogant and patronizing manner in this conversation. He has Totally delegitimized himself for me.

  • Maryanne Doran Heath

    In a perfect world, Ryan’s “view”, (and I note that he continually refers to it as HIS view, HIS understanding, which lets him off the hook for HIS misinterpretation) of Subsidiarity would work. However, the fallacy of people taking individual responsibility for the poor is that PEOPLE WON’T TAKE IT. They keep what they have and want yet more. The problem is too vast to be undertaken by the private sector alone given that situation.

  • dee

    A bigger question is if people are already struggling, minimum
    wage continues its failure to meet cost of living, and government pulls
    out…what will become of these people, and what will government do with
    millions living in the streets?

  • Anonymous

    John, I think you are living in a dream world. This reality is much more complex and dire.

  • Anonymous

    I agree with your assessment about inflation. Just walk into a local supermarket and compare what you bought today for $120 with the same amount you got for $80 in 1995. This has been my informal assessment of current economics. BTW, I cannot afford most “department stores” in the “mall” anymore. I usually shop at Kohls, Target, or ‘next to new’ shops. I am middle class and comfortable with my mortgage paid off. Just think of what others are going through, i.e. minimum wage, newly employed starting salary teachers, public service workers, elderly, laid-off workers.

  • DK

    I found Mr Royal to be about as useless as most commenters here, but I think the confiscation comment was misheard. He wasn’t calling the proposed tax increase a confiscation — he was referring to some study (I’m not sure by who, or how factual) that showed that even IF you took all of the income from the top 1% it still wouldn’t be enough to cover the deficit. Sort of an argument that the problem is too big, so let’s not do anything.

  • DaveH

    The ‘market’ doesnt care about people at all. It only cares about money People without money are called vagrants and loiterers. people without money have no effect on the market because they have no buying power. This is why capitalsm must be regulated…to make sure it serves people – and not money.
    Robert Royal made many factual errors and Im glad youve pointed out that nearly everyone does in fact pay taxes. But I think we should pay attention to the wealth of the wealthy and not just their incomes.
    Robert Royal said, as has been said by many conservatives, that you could confiscate everything the top 1% owned and not pay off the debt.
    That is factually untrue.
    The Federal Reserve Board estimated all American citizens combined net worth at 54 trillion dollars in 2010. Look up the polifact check on Micheal Moores statement that the richest 400 Americans hold more financial wealth than the bottom 60% of Americans combined. The studies show that the richest 20% hold 84% of Americas total net worth. thats about 46 trillion dollars which would pay off our debt FOUR times over.
    No one wants to confiscate anything. People with million dollar incomes should not pay lower taxes than people earning far far less.
    The wealth of the wealthy needs to become a much bigger part of our discussions on how fair it is to cut Medicare while lowering taxes on the super rich.

  • DK

    Fun chart showing the money:

  • C Clark

    Royal conveniently avoided mentioning all the ways in which we subsidize the rich, especially their corporate investments with tax breaks. He seems to have no problem with corporate welfare in a starry eyed view of the private sector.

  • C Clark

    Volunteer at a food bank. In even one day, you’ll meet people who are only surviving by depending on each other.

  • DaveH

    a rising tide lifts all boats??
    as evidenced by the ever increasing numbers of people who cant make ends meet?
    but as far as giving taxpayer dollars to businesses on the understanding that they will hire people…we already do that. It doesnt seem to be working. Bsuinesses get tax breaks and subsidies but yet still dont pay a living wage.

  • matthew 59

    I simply don’t understand why, when the conversation goes to dependence on government, we always look at those with the least. why are we not talking about subsidies to US business? The oil industry, the Weapon industry? Farming? These industries have huge hands in the pot of tax revenue and where is the outrage? Business subsidies are transferred to stockholders who save. Currency in the hands of the poor is spent and goes to support small business and local governments. Tax breaks for the wealthy go to Wall Street and support the wealthy. Wall Street does nothing for the poor and nothing for small business. When will we tax interest and dividends at 35% and wages at 15%? As families become more well off, they can save and begin paying at higher rates when they can best afford to. If the decision is made to trim the social safety net, first eliminate the corporate safety net. Please flip the tax code!

  • Anonymous

    Shame on you Bill Moyers for not calling out Robert Royal on his statement that 50% of Americans don’t pay taxes. First they may not pay income taxes but they pay payroll taxes, sales taxes, etc. Second some of those not paying taxes are because of the Bush tax cuts, others who don’t pay are seniors and the disabled. Get with the program and tell the truth. Royal sounds like some right wing nut.

  • Minnesandy

    BRAVO!!! REFRESHING civil exploration and discussion. I love that the costs of wars was addressed. Encouraging and inspiring!!! THANK YOU and PLEASE KEEP UP THIS GREAT WORK!!! WE NEED IT!!! There is an awesome “movement” where i live called Manna Market.

  • JonR

    The statement that Royal made about half of Americans getting money from the government is false. The fact is that half of the HOUSEHOLDS in the country get money from the government. That means, in a family of six, where grandma gets Social Security, is ONE of those households, where only 1/6 are getting money. Secondly, Social Security, Medicare unemployment compensation, and many other programs are systems most of us have paid into. What is wrong with getting that money?

    Additionally, what in the world does Royal get a free pass of this whole “invisible hand” in the free market crap? WHAT invisible hand? Why would I conclude that such a hand ACTUALLY exists to “right” the system? Whose hand is it? Can anyone offer any rational proof that this “hand” exists, and is necessarily GOOD?

    Further, why should I conclude that the economic system isn’t more reflective of the obvious nature it possesses – selfishness? The corporate world we ALL live in in the US isn’t democratic – it’s far more totalitarian as a structure than any other quality. The economic system actively seduces us with advertising they’ve spent untold millions on on. The intent of that advertising is to propagate materialism and consumerism, and thereby increase profits. Those profits aren’t the slightest bit altruistic.

    On the other hand, the opening sentence of the US Constitution states that it was written and accepted toward the end of creating “a more perfect union” that supports the “general welfare”. Why shouldn’t we imagine that our government can and SHOULD do GOOD THINGS? If we are such a great country, the greatest in the world, are we really to conclude that our rampant poverty is such a good thing. or more like a national stain, a moral scarlet letter?

    Many other countries have figured out how to, say, spend less money and get better results in the field of healthcare. The argument that the private sector can handle healthcare better than government is proven FALSE in the US, while the other position, that of government running healthcare, has been proven true in country after country throughout Europe. And if one wants to argue that the current economic difficulties in Europe are the result of healthcare, imagine where they’d be if they had OUR costs??

  • Camy Hrankowski

    Thank you for today’s program and giving voice to Sr. Simone. Too bad Robert Royal was allowed to provide his biased, apparently republican brand of catholicism. Both he and Ryan need a course on social justice. What definition of justice eludes these men? Sister Simone is a grounded catholic who lives her faith. These politicians no longer know how to live their faith which has been corrupted by money. The sisters live their faith among the 90% and speak the truth. Royal and Ryan live privileged lives that exclude the truth of the gospel because money has trumped the gospel.

  • Myrna Waddell

    Robert Royal asserted that less money in the pocket of a corporation’s CEO and a little less money in dividends and a little more money paid to the employees would not benefit the nation’s economy because the growth of the economy is based upon small business success is incorrect. For a small business to succeed, they MUST have a clientele with the money to support the bysiness’s existence and growth. The corporate employees who live in a small business’s sales area are responsible for a huge number of the customers whose purchases of goods/services are necessary to support local business. To argue that paying a decent wage to their employees is not a key factor in the welfare of the national economy is disengenuous to say the least.

  • Jean Maddox

    My question is for Robert Royal. Exactly what are at least some verifiable data on which you have based your unsubstantiated and sweeping opinion that complex global contitions have such a strong influence on out economy that we cannot afford to raise the minimum wage to $12.00?
    The relationship between the economy of the USA and the global economy is indisputable, but to evade making a real argument to support your aversion to a living wage for others by stating a vague, un-supported generalization is so typical of those who fancy themselves to be profound thinkers that hearing you do so is laughable. In my opinion, you serve your ego first and others only after yourself.

  • Anonymous

    An issue I’d like to see addressed: How can you get a job when you no longer have a home address, phone, clean clothes/bath or bus fare? It doesn’t take long to go from losing one’s job to being on the streets, and one’s health will rapidly deteriorate, leaving people unemployable — and there is no safety net for these people. THAT is why the repeal of welfare has resulted in increased poverty in the US, and incredibly, has doubled extreme (i.e.,life threatening) poverty in the US. Infant mortality rates among our poor have been climbing while the life expectancy of our poor has actually fallen below that of some Third World countries, as a direct result of our welfare “reform.” What arrogance to call this suffering a mere lifestyle choice! At its highest, our primary welfare program, AFDC, used a mere 6% of the federal budget, and was just enough to enable some 80% of recipients to voluntarily quit welfare for work as soon as their children began school. We have seen massive job loss since the Reagan admin, and most of those jobs were for the chunk of the country that can’t afford a college degree. We no longer have enough jobs for all who need them. It is insane to say that our various scattered charities can effectively deal with this. Nor are Americans, who had been subjected to 30+ yrs of anti-poor rhetoric, willing throw a penny at the poor.

  • Mike D

    As a Catholic, I saw this entire program as about faithfully interpreting the teachings of Jesus on the one hand, and the wilful misinterpretation, on the other hand, by the followers of Mammon who have twisted the fundamental issue of social justice into one of charity and hand-outs.

    Catholic charities can dispense charity but that is all they can do. The only decent mechanism for dispensing justice is government. As Pope Benedict said in his encyclical ChARITY IN TRUTH, “Charity, in itself, is useless unless it is fortified by the truth.” And without justice, our entire civilization is one gigantic lie.

    The Nuns on the Bus tour evoked for me Jesus’ own journey. As their bus rolled into Washington DC to the cheers of the people, I thought of similar cheers as Jesus entered Jerusalem on Palm Sunday riding on a donkey. The tumultous reception was because he was bringing with him “the Good News” of truth and justice in THIS world.

  • CHRehn

    Yes to Nuns On A Bus and thumbs down to the Bishop who needs to eat like a poor person.

  • Artemis Eneldo

    Robert Royal contributed nothing reasonable. If the federal government had a role in creating a problem, they must have a role in fixing it. Pulling banking and banking regulation up to the federal level helped banks to steal from all of us, now it must be fixed at the federal level. He suggests that remedies that have not worked in the past will work in the future, completely unreasonable.

  • Leslie K. R.

    What was not remarked upon….the total lack of opportunity to break out from the very bottom of the economy. The “huge problem” alluded to by Sister Simone, is I think, this exact thing. Food stamps are a necessity to keep our people from starving, but education and some modicum of opportunity after education is the long-term answer. With 6 billion people in the world now competing for a number of economic opportunities that total far less than 6 billion, the future is frightening for those most vulnerable. Food PLUS an opportunity to make a living wage – and yes Mr. Royal a living wage is a hell of a lot more than $7.25 an hour when a loaf of decent bread is at least $2.00 – has to become a priority of our government.

  • Artemis Eneldo

    The evidence is on the Sister`s side. Worker productivity has skyrocketed over the last 3 decades while wages have been held flat. The corporate elite and their super-wealthy shareholders have taken these productivity gains from workers without compensation, they steal them, they confiscate them from working people. More equal societies work better for everyone. More economic equality exists with capitalism regulated by a social democracy that engages in fair trade, has strong labor unions, high levels of labor union participation, and progressive taxation. Not coincidentally, the remedies are all things Republicans oppose.

  • DinaChap

    There is a problem with the discussion surrounding the idea that Jesus did not teach that Ceasar should help the poor,–but that it was a personal responsibility. 2000 years ago—a government ‘Of the People’ did not exist. As our government is not an establishment separate from,–but is ‘THE PEOPLE’,—-and is based on Christian principles—as EQUALITY,–then does it not become the personal responsibility of THE PEOPLE –the substance of our government,–most especially the Christian PEOPLE—to feel a sense of responsibility for the welfare of other people?

  • Artemis Eneldo

    I wonder if it matters if he actually believes the propaganda or not if his heart is hardened and his mind is closed.

  • Anonymous

    Mr. Royal sounds very reasonable when he says that 50% of people aren’t paying taxes, which seems “unfair” to most people. Others in this conversation have pointed out that this refers only to income taxes. The whole idea of unfair taxation is the product of sophisticated framing, which conservatives — thanks to very well-funded think tanks — are extremely good at.

    But the idea of fairness is rarely applied to why our labor is valued so differently. A farmer, who produces food that keeps many other people alive, may be paid well below minimum hourly wage when all his/her time is considered, while a corporate executive who pushes paper around (or simply “puts capital to work”) may bring in $300 million a year. If you put that in terms that most people understand, the capitalist is “earning” over $152,000 per hour (40 hours per week for 48 weeks with 4 weeks vacation). And that doesn’t cover all the bonuses and perks. Does any human being deserve $152K per HOUR? The real question is — why should anyone feel entitled to that sort of pay, particularly when those excessive “earnings” are often made at the expense of those who do the actual work?

    History is very clear that The Holy Market brings only a race to the bottom for the vast majority.

  • Grove

    To be a social conservative, you have to believe that the poor have too much, and the rich don’t have enough. It is absurd, but they never acknowledge that, for they can’t comprehend it.

  • Sean Michael Dodd

    Whether we, the People, fulfill the Christian mission of brotherly love and charity at the individual level or collectively, through our government, is a distinction without a difference. I was surprised to hear Bill Moyers reminding the audience that Jesus’s teachings on charity were exhortations to the people as individuals, not to Caesar (their government). In a nation whose founding myth is the communal pilgrims at Plymouth Rock and the brotherly love and charity of Thanksgiving; in a nation whose founding mottos are “We The People” and “E pluribus unum”; and in a nation whose founding principle is the creation of a self-representative government in which the People’s House (Congress) “lays and collects taxes […] to provide for the general welfare,” it is obscene to imagine that our government should have no role in providing a public safety net and that we should instead leave it to the Invisible Hand of the Free Market to solve all our socioeconomic needs. Lest we forget the words of Dr. Martin Luther King: “A nation that continues, year after year, to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

  • Roy Campbell

    Sister Simone’s genuine Christianity shines through loud and clear as she urges a more equitable sharing of money in American society to alleviate the startling levels of social tragedy and crisis (hunger, illness, unemployment, underemployment, indebtedness, etc) in American society today. I suspect that Robert Royal agrees that this must continue (begin?!) in the near term. However, he is right to pose the question: what happens when either local/state/federal governments go into fiscal crisis or bankruptcy OR civil authorities are unwilling to fund social services adequately? In either of these two cases, it appears that his longer term solution is quite appropriate, i.e., more community and faith-based assistance and more corporate and individual charity will be the only workable solution left to us. As Sister Simone rightly argues, though, the problem is so massive currently that it will take many years (possibly decades) to move fully in that better direction where neighbor helps neighbor, and genuine Christian, Jewish, Muslim (etc) charity reigns supreme. It is well known, for example, that the Mormon community cares exceptionally well for Mormons in need. Other faith-based groups can emulate that model.

  • Artemis Eneldo

    People who are being told they are overqualified, do not need more qualifications.

  • rich

    Mr. Royal is another right wing panderer stating we can’t do this and we can’t do that all because they said so. That is the problem a fair amount of people believe all of it. He quotes Mr. Ryan who i as if he is the great budget messiah!! He can’t even explain in detail his prosperity for America or more like please drink the cool aide budget bill. Bill I would have thought you would invite someone with some level of common sense on to talk about this very sensitive issue!! Mr. Royal has many of his facts wrong. While Sister Simone was right on with all of her points. I would not think Mr. Royal has spent quality time with the homeless or talked to many middle class Americans over the last 3 years. Also we are the only industrialized nation without national health care. In other countries they pay a higher tax rate but receive all the benefits we don’t have. I would rather get something for paying into the system rather than support welfare companies like GE that pay 0 taxes!! Mr. Royal those are the people you were talking about getting a free lunch.l Lastly no one ever talks about the defense budget. 700 Billion per year and a black budget 50 billion per year for secrets work. We could certainly in the words of Mr Robert Gates we could afford to part with at least 80 billion. So in conclusion a country is not measured by it’s wealth or military might it is judged by how it treats it’s people Mr. Royal.
    And all of your talking points does nothing to solve our problems just keep kicking the can down the road. You sir and all of your right wing fanatics need to keep you mouth shut if you don’t have a viable and reasonable solution to our (as you put them) complex problems. Your not about a solution your about pandering!!!

    Rich Sottilaro

  • shumphreys

    It is disturbing about how some politicians will do just about anything to feather their own nests. When Boehner said after Obama was elected something to the point that they were going to see that his presidency failed, I knew we had crossed a line in this country and there would be trouble ahead. What’s just as disturbing though is the number of Americans that will do the same, that buy into the Repub. arguments. Liberals have failed this country, failed to teach citizens to think critically, failed to teach them to understand issues from view points other than their own, failed to teach them to look at the long term not just what’s good for me tomorrow.We cn blame the politicians but as Pogo said we have found the enemy and he is us.

  • SueT

    Other countries live longer and healthier while still smoking and drinking more than the USA. Appears that eating right and healthcare on demand are the key. Our government just doesn’t give a rat’s butt about its people, period.

  • Christine Vernon

    What a great show this is!
    The things that stand out to me –
    After Sister Simone Campbell says her organization was admonished by Rome for spending too much time
    on the poor, this interview shows her mission is about “economic
    justice issues”. As Sister Diane
    Donoghue says “people at the top are not listening to, and responding
    to, the signs of the times”. As Shiesha Smith says, “Life is not about
    struggling day to day, life is about living. Help people live!”
    Sr. Campbell again, “…this is about the soul of our Nation and will Democracy workor will we just continue this polarized yelling at each other, the Talking Heads…”
    Everyone agrees the system is broken but no one has the specific answers. The fact is that we have to try something new and creative to see if we can help this country out of the current sickness that is holding it in decline.
    Lastly, a quote from Robert Royal that speaks to the work of nuns, “I learned more from nuns that I did at Ivy League institutions”. Now there’s a tribute!

  • Steve Cross

    I found it really hard to believe that Mr. Royal believes in the same church teaching that Sister Campbell does. Quite frankly, everything that he had to say sounded like hard-right political conservatism that owed nothing to Catholic theology. While Sister Campbell politely stated her disagreements, I wish that either she or Bill would have laced into Royal. I don’t think that Jesus ever taught “tough love” that is all that Mr. Royal seems to believe in.

  • Steve Cross

    Royal and Ryan’s version of the principle of “subsidiarity” is baloney. It dresses up selfishness in what sounds like a political theory. In their world, action is left to the lowest level in society (right down to the individual family and person) who have neither the money nor the organization to remedy the problems. When it comes to hunger and poverty, there is so much to do that EVERY level of society needs to be involved in doing something about it.

  • Steve Cross

    Royal and Ryan’s version of the principle of “subsidiarity” is baloney. It dresses up selfishness in what sounds like a political theory. In their world, action is left to the lowest level in society (right down to the individual family and person) who have neither the money nor the organization to remedy the problems. When it comes to hunger and poverty, there is so much to do that EVERY level of society needs to be involved in doing something about it.

  • Steve Cross

    I always like watching an interview by Mr. Moyers. Always before he has politely challenged the beliefs of those with a point of view that needs challenging. However, this time, I thought that he almost let Mr. Royal get away with murder.

  • Wischeesehead

    One thing that wasn’t mentioned , when talking about people helping people at the church and community level, was that at least here in Wisconsin, our Gov. has actually decreased the wages of teachers, public employees etc. This gives them less money to support their families and much less left to help anyone else. I know many who have been very generous over the years and they no longer have the extra to make the charitable contribution talked about. You can’t have people earn less and expect them to give more.

  • Ruth Courtnell

    When the Robert Royals and Paul Ryans can hug the lice ridden, smelly and repellent “vulnerables” with love, just as the sisters do, subsidiarity will have real meaning.

  • Patricia Budak

    That Iraqi oil money is going to Big Oil.

  • Colombe Côté Loef

    When he said he had larger questions to deal with than hers.

  • Colombe Côté Loef

    Obama did the same, instead of speaking up, and nipping it in the bud, he would let the extreme right overshadow his goals. This phony, Royal, fakes compassion in his tone and talk. I got very upset with his interruptions. He is a Royal Pain in the Arse!!

  • Diane McDermott

    Absolutely, without question, we must take care of our poor, however, I believe that about half of the people on welfare or food-stamps are simply mooching off of people who work and pay taxes.

    When I ran an ad searching for a person to live with my aging father (free room & board) in exchange for helping dad with meals and house cleaning), I spoke to countless people who said that they received government support–they were young and able-bodied, and they proudly divulged “why not take it if you can get it, it’s free.” They think of the government as a distant rich conglomerate, and they don’t realize that they are actually taking from “me” the person in front of them that works and pays taxes. Many many able bodied people are not trying to work because it’s easier not to.
    Once, I saw a man on the side of the highway with a sign “I’ll work for food.” I immediately made a turn into the Carl’s Junior nearby, and I bought a hamburger, a chicken sandwich, 2 fries, and a drink. I then handed the bag to the person that I thought was hungry. He threw the bag on the ground and stomped on it.

    We all know that generation after generation of people on welfare is out of control. Imagine if everyone that was NOT truly in need came off of welfare, then what would the financial picture look like? If they have money for beer, tattoos, four dogs, and gambling at the casinos, then do they really need the money of other hardworking taxpayers? Please know that not everyone receiving welfare is mooching, but the number of moochers is staggering, and Robert Royal and Sister Simone totally left this out of the equation.
    I believe that reducing the number of people on welfare and food-stamps so that only the truly needy remain, is step one. If we did that, I think we would be amazed to learn that we don’t need to cut the budget on welfare/food-stamps.

  • Carol G.

    Thank you, Bill Moyers, for hosting this program. It is
    refreshing to hear a “civil dialogue” between 2 key people with opposing views.
    While I side with Sr. Simone’s point of view, it was good to hear comments from
    both, side-by-side. We need lots more of this in our public discourse. Please
    do more!

    My 2 major responses to the Paul Ryan point of view:

    First, Paul Ryan claims that his positions are consistent
    with Catholic Social Teaching. My view is that he has narrowly interpreted
    these to fit his own political/economic philosophy. I find his statements
    rather disingenuous. At the same time, I have heard from other sources, that he
    has been strongly influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand. What Rand expresses
    in her writing, in my view, is diametrically opposed to Jesus’ call to care for
    the poor, and in Catholic Social Teaching, to work for the “common good” and to
    always consider a “preferential option for the poor.” Paul Ryan, come clean
    with who/what has really influenced you most! Instead of interpreting Catholic
    Social Teaching in light of your politics/economics, how about the opposite, letting
    these teachings enlighten your positions on the latter?

    Second, what I saw totally lacking in this conversation is
    the difference between “charity” and “justice”. While I totally agree that
    individuals, communities of faith, and communities in general should do much of
    the “charity” work of direct caring for the poor at the local level, this work
    cannot address the bigger question, “Why are people poor?” “Charity” does not
    address the problems of unfair tax policies, lack of access to education and
    opportunity, unfair wages, prejudice, foreign trade policy, mass incarceration,
    etc. that perpetuate poverty within certain groups. Charity is indeed a
    necessary work, but these efforts are simply not enough. Remember the saying, “Give
    a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you feed him
    for a lifetime.” I recently heard a new version that added something like, “But
    what if laws prevent him from fishing?” Interesting question that must be part
    of the picture! I agree with Sr. Simone that it will take partnerships at all
    levels, including government, to do this work effectively, and it must include
    both direct charity and justice—advocacy
    to change the social structures that perpetuate poverty.

    Three cheers for the Nuns on the Bus!

  • Carol G.

    Thank you, Bill Moyers, for hosting this program. It is
    refreshing to hear a “civil dialogue” between 2 key people with opposing views.
    While I side with Sr. Simone’s point of view, it was good to hear comments from
    both, side-by-side. We need lots more of this in our public discourse. Please
    do more!

    My 2 major responses to the Paul Ryan point of view:

    First, Paul Ryan claims that his positions are consistent
    with Catholic Social Teaching. My view is that he has narrowly interpreted
    these to fit his own political/economic philosophy. I find his statements
    rather disingenuous. At the same time, I have heard from other sources, that he
    has been strongly influenced by the writings of Ayn Rand. What Rand expresses
    in her writing, in my view, is diametrically opposed to Jesus’ call to care for
    the poor, and in Catholic Social Teaching, to work for the “common good” and to
    always consider a “preferential option for the poor.” Paul Ryan, come clean
    with who/what has really influenced you most! Instead of interpreting Catholic
    Social Teaching in light of your politics/economics, how about the opposite, letting
    these teachings enlighten your positions on the latter?

    Second, what I saw totally lacking in this conversation is
    the difference between “charity” and “justice”. While I totally agree that
    individuals, communities of faith, and communities in general should do much of
    the “charity” work of direct caring for the poor at the local level, this work
    cannot address the bigger question, “Why are people poor?” “Charity” does not
    address the problems of unfair tax policies, lack of access to education and
    opportunity, unfair wages, prejudice, foreign trade policy, mass incarceration,
    etc. that perpetuate poverty within certain groups. Charity is indeed a
    necessary work, but these efforts are simply not enough. Remember the saying,
    “Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, and you
    feed him for a lifetime.” I recently heard a new version that added something
    like, “But what if laws prevent him from fishing?” Interesting question that
    must be part of the picture! I agree with Sr. Simone that it will take
    partnerships at all levels, including government, to do this work effectively,
    and it must include both direct charity and
    justice—advocacy to change the social structures that perpetuate poverty.

    Three cheers for the Nuns on the Bus!

  • Roy Campbell

    Of course government has a role in providing a social safety net – a decidedly secondary one, though. Be careful in abdicating too much power to any government entity. Civil officials (yes, even in America) can spend your tax proceeds on whatever they desire – yes, even in a republic like ours. And when government coffers empty, the poor, children, and the sick will have to turn elsewhere.

  • 2ndlaws

    I came to these comments, as apparently did so many others,
    to address Robert Royal’s position. What I am surprised at is the negative
    response of so many to Bill Moyers’ handling of this conversation. I do think there were things Mr. Moyers could
    have done better – pointing out some of the plainly incorrect things Mr. Royal
    claimed, for instance the percentages paying taxes and receiving government help
    – but Mr. Moyers did exactly what he
    needed to do as an effective journalist:
    allow Royal to speak freely so
    that listeners had the opportunity to understand his and Paul Ryan’s position,
    and that aspect of Mr. Moyers’ approach
    appears to have succeeded.

    The rope Mr. Moyers provided to Mr. Royal through a basically
    non-confrontational approach, in very short order elicited a perfectly clear
    picture of Mr. Royal’s, and by extension Mr. Ryan’s, faith: their God is mammon, they are disciples of
    Ayn Rand, their gospel is doubling down on a failed ideology, their redemption
    is the free-market’s “magic” washing of obscene greed, their stewardship is
    exploitation and extraction regardless of consequences, their priests are Wall
    Street, their patron saint is Hayek (but just the part that didn’t advocate for
    the government to provide every individual with a base income), the other cheek
    they turn is to massive wasteful spending on weapons and war, their tithes are
    deregulation, business subsidies, and tax breaks for the wealthy, their good
    works are trickle down, their prayers are for the 1%, their compassion is condescension
    and disenfranchisement, their commandment is survival of the fittest (in a
    rigged system), their devotion is to the powerful.

    Thank you, Mr. Moyers.

  • Mary D.

    I am so grateful for Moyers willingness to tackle the big complicated issues, and especially for this particular show. I think Sr. Simone completely held her own, graciously and compassionately, and she provides an example of what Margaret Mead called the power of individuals and small groups of people to make change.

  • Shawna Carroll

    For someone who says he is a Catholic, Mr. Royal surely seems to worship the “free market” more than the bible. Does he realize that the free market isn’t actually mentioned in the bible and is not part of the Christian faith. He is confusing his religions (or should I say idiologies).

  • Jeanne Gallo

    I am grateful to Bill Moyers for having a program that showed the wide divide between those in the country who stand on the side of the poor and working class and those who stand on the side of the wealthiest among us. This is truly a struggle for the “soul of America” as Sister Simone said. It is a struggle not only for the soul of America but for the soul of the universe, given the rampant povery and class exploitation that exists throughout the world. Charity has never helped families become self-sufficient; it has helped them survive. Is the task of living only to survive? I think not. For those who are believers in the gospel of Jesus Christ, human dignity is at the core of what it means to be human. The question needs to be asked, “What is human dignity and how does one attain it?” I have been in places where families and individuals did not live in conditions befitting human beings. Some pets live in better conditions. I am not speaking of other countries; it is also true in the U.S.
    What was surprising to me as I watched was the deference that Bill Moyers gave to Robert Royal. He allowed him to dominate the program; he gave Sr. Simone very little time to speak her wisdom and share her experience. I was very, very surprised to see Bill allow a woman to be placed in such a position. Not even-handed at all — when that is one of the things that is usually an attribute of his programming. How sad.
    Finally, I saw this program on PBS in the Boston area. Here the last segment of the program was cut off so that the show never was finished. Strange that that happened. I asked myself, “Why”? Is the challenging of capitalism and the free market so anathema even to Public Broadcasting?

  • 2ndlaws

    Mr. Royal runs his ship aground, exposing for all to see the
    emptiness of his intellectual cargo when he decides his best argument to roll
    out is the empty (and depending on its unclear intent – less good looking politicians
    than Paul Ryan are up to no good? – and audience – ad hominem political references
    to appearance are in some contexts essentially racist dog whistles – perhaps
    much worse) ad hominem “Does Paul Ryan look like….” Which verse was that, Mr. Royal, that
    admonished “….yea, and just as I have done, you also shall favor appearance
    over substance…”? It turned my stomach.

  • Iowa Mum

    for those commenting on Mr. Moyers not trying to reign Mr Royal in, he is always calm & respectful of everyone on his program. And you do have to see that by allowing Mr Royal to say exactly what he thinks (or believes) made a much clearer contrast of Sister Simone with her more human beliefs. And I find, especially as an agnostic or atheist (haven’t come to grips with myself) I found the Sister so warm and so close to my thoughts toward people, I wish President Obama could sit down with her and just listen, as I understand he is good at doing.
    GO! SISTERS! GO! We need you.

  • Barry in Melville

    While my first impulse is always to change the channel
    whenever a spokesman for the one-percent is given a chance to offer some
    pseudo-sage advice about things that really matter, I suppressed that impulse,
    based purely on my respect for Mr. Moyers….

    I’m glad I did: I got a chance the see an “uppity”
    Sister display far more faith and reason than the oh-so-wise condescending CEO
    of the Faith & Reason Institute – who proceeded to demonstrate what its
    like to exhibit oodles of intellectual concern for the unfortunate among us,
    while possessing about as much genuine compassion and empathy as might be found
    in that divine free-market he is so devoted to.

    Faith and reason are more than mere debating points.

    Bravo Sister!

  • George

    So well put, but it is too reasonable to influence many people at the top. LOL

  • Jean Matlack

    We were disappointed by this show. Robert Royal was given way too much time to talk. It is understandable to want to put the Sister up against a challenge. But actually I would have preferred to have her partnered with someone who might explicate the kind of social structure that she would favor. What took place felt way to much like the same polarized banging of heads that we hear on many other programs.

    What the Nuns on the Bus have done is given voice to the dismay so many of us feel as we witness the anguish of our fellow Americans living in a system that fails to allow them to thrive. That is a voice I expected to hear fully articulated on this show. Instead I mostly listened to a free market ideologue who happens to be Catholic.

    I hope you will have Sister Simone Campbell back for a second show with a partner who will challenge her to articulate her understanding of community, solidarity in the context of democracy, capitalism and government.

  • Tim

    First, this is a great conversation — between two people who strongly disagree but refuse to be disagreeable. Kudos. Also great discussion here in the comments, and for the same reason.

    I would think Ryan’s history as an acolyte of Ayn Rand would be deeply troubling to Catholics, and I was surprised this wasn’t brought up. Notwithstanding Ryan’s recent effort to distance himself from her on the basis of her atheism, deep concern must remain regarding the influence of her blatant worship of money and selfishness. Let’s ask Ryan and his defenders, “Who is John Galt?” Answer: a crusader against The Golden Rule (he calls it “the code”). My guess is that while Ryan stops short of Rand’s atheism, his idea of Christian charity is, shall we say (to be charitable), complex for Catholic social thought.

    The whole libertarian strain including Rand and the Austrian economists seems problematic at best for Catholicism. I was interested in the apologetic manner in which Mr Royal brought up Hayek and his concept of “the fatal conceit”—the notion that there’s a role for government in regulating the economy. I would think Catholics would consider as a greater a fatal conceit the acceptance of the primacy of self-interest.

    All that said, I am ready to concede that our country is too big and complicated to rely as heavily as it does on one government as powerful as ours. Subsidiarity is a very, very important concept, one the founding fathers struggled with under another name, federalism, and one, it seems to me, that reasonable people of all political temperaments might embrace. On this “left” and “right” can agree: for political, economic and environmental reasons, we need to re-localize. But that’s an issue of good government, not the very existence of government. We need to be more self-governing at a level and scale where participation is meaningful. The federal government is collapsing under its own weight. The nation is too big to govern. We are governed more and more by disaffection.

    The problem is, the corporations that are increasingly our de facto government. I would not cut them loose from government regulation. It’s a problem. But conversations like this can begin to address it.

  • PRdream

    Sister Simone Campbell is right. Royal is just mouthing the old rhetoric of the right. Here’s an insight: Government programs such as Food Stamps, Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, etc. subsidize businesses so that wages remain low. Ironically, those government programs help businesses by buoying up consumer demand and diffusing social/economic unrest. Ryan and Royal would be hoisted on their own petards should these government programs be cut.

    Appealing to the old shiboleth of the “market” seems almost superstitious. It’s certainly a myth. The free market has never existed. There have always been government policies to encourage business both here and abroad. For example, what is Puerto Rico, our colony, but a subsidized market for American goods? But that’s another subject. Destroying the consumer base will destroy demand which is the basis for growing businesses and hiring employees. That base, as Nick Hanauer has pointed out, is the middle-class/working-class whose real wages have been falling for the past 3 decades as a direct result of government policies.

  • Anonymous

    As a person who has spent 12 years in Catholic schools, with daily catechism lessons, I have to say Robert Royal is full of it. Catholicism is all about lifting your fellow traveler, giving them the opportunity to help themselves, and NOT about so-called Free Market Capitalism where the ruling class buys politicians to legislate in a way to enable even more asset transfer to the 1%. Free Markets with Global Labor force is an utter failure in US. We the 99% have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

  • lisa

    Sister Ramone is correct when she says food stamps etc are not federal subsidies but business subsidies.
    A classic example is a young struggling mother I have known for since she was a child. The woman has worked at Walmart for over 3 years and has been promoted to customer service. She makes $8.75 an hour with no health care benefits. Walmart has been helpful in pointing her to federal aid programs. Not only does the local government willingly give Walmart tax subsidies but we all subsidize their employees. And we blame the workers! It is hard to wrap my mind around this phenomenon.

    Then the huge profits they make because they do not pay a living wage or provide any benefits, they use to buy government to keep the ponzi scheme going.

    This is insanity.

    Thank you sisters for keeping the poor working class and most vulnerable people in the news.

    Thank you Mr Moyers, great show.

  • Joan Mistretta

    I was appalled at the Mr. Royal’s suggestion that people should be happy with an unlivable wage because otherwise they might not have a job at all. This is exactly the argument that was used back in the days when things like the 5-day week and overtime pay were proposed. Those measures would close down corporations and then there would be NO jobs. It was nonsense then and it is nonsense now. Does he think that unfettered capitalism created the great middle class? In what world? Fair labor practices, decent wages, safe working conditions, they were created by unions and government regulations. I was also surprised, when Mr. Royal was, in effect, asking if a nice boy like Paul Ryan would hurt people, that neither Bill nor Sister Simone mentioned Ryan’s fascination with Ayn Rand. He has back away recently because of her stance on abortion, but he loved her philosophy. You do great, Bill, and we love you — but it is always frustrating to watch a program and not be able to ask the questions that I want to ask!

  • Passacaglia

    I want to be sure that someone responds to some of the facts presented by Robert Royal; for example, he claims that the top 10% of earners pay 70% of all taxes. The most important thing to understand about stats like these is that they are not due to an out-of-control socialist tax system; they happen because income inequality has become so extreme. The top 10% make 70% of all _income_, so I, for one, would expect them to pay more.

    This particular stat also leaves out state income taxes, fees & tolls. The fact is, those who earn the least pay a greater share of their income in taxes than those who earn the most.

  • passacaglia

    I want to be sure someone responds to the facts cited by Mr. Royal: he says that 70% of all taxes are paid by the top 10%. This is not due to an out-of-control socialist tax policy, it’s because of extreme income inequality; the top 10% make 70% percent of all income. In a truly progressive tax system, they would pay more.

    When you add in state income taxes, sales taxes, fees & tolls, those who make the least income pay a larger percent of their income than those who make the most.

  • grandmother..

    I found this tonight in papers I was going through. I think it might fit here…U2’s Bono,National Prayer Breakfast, 2006

    God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house.
    God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard
    under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.”

  • wyeaster

    Robert Royal’s insights into economics were disturbingly banal. I thought he might have been reading directly out of an introductory economics textbook (the brilliance of the market vs. central planning). BTW, Hayek is not a libertarian, he’s a classical liberal.

  • JE Lynch

    As usual, Bill, you created an important and safe space for a real conversation to happen. What I felt gets missed in these conversations is talking about getting government out of ‘corporate welfare’. If Mr Royal believes in the free market, then why should large corporations be subsidised? I was sad this did not come up in the conversation. But, as always, a terrific show.

  • Mary

    What Sister Simone Campbell understands, and apparently Robert Royal does not, is that all human beings, as Souls in incarnation, are children of God. Every single one of us is a Divine Spark of God, as Mother Teresa so demonstrated. As Souls every single person on this planet has a Divine right to healthy, non polluted food and water; to humane shelter; to education and health care. Arguing about doctrine,
    politics and ‘the market’ is beside the point.

  • Moyers Fan

    It was shocking that Bill Moyers gave Mr. Royal, the president of the Faith and Reason Institute a platform to espouse his views. Mr. Royal is a man devoid of faith and reason, and let’s add devoid of empathy. He was so condescending to the sister, which must be due to years of pent-up animosity. The majority of his arguments had no merit. As my mom would say, “A sad sack of a man in a fine suit.”

  • Singing River

    Sometimes two people can seem to give opposing views-

    -but they are really giving two parts to the whole and,

    by listening inwardly,

    you can build the
    bridge between them.

    I personally am grateful for the stipend

    (as I prefer to think
    of it as)

    afforded me by the United States government giving me the
    opportunity to do my “tikkun

    “–a Hebrew word for “to heal, repair and
    transform the world.”

    Everyone is said to have a “tikkun”

    –a person’s destiny-

    -what they are supposed to do in the world.

    We need to help each other do this.

    We want any government programs to enhance this-

    -clearly, we do not want to be enablers of idleness.

    Every situation is different.

    We often hear of the need to help those most
    vulnerable among us—

    a group forgotten—

    a group whose voice is not heard are those to which I belong—

    the psychiatrically labeled.

    We are medicating the prophets

    and one reason we
    don’t hear there voices is that many are drugged-

    -many have believed the lies that they have some disorder—

    bipolar disorder-

    -No, my friends, I have a genetic endowment.

    I have said,

    “I am so
    grateful for the gift of the mind God has given me that others psychiatrically

    At the death of my husband in 1968,

    I had a spiritual

    -actually going into a trance-like state.

    Decisions of those around me, not understanding,

    I was taken to a psychiatric ward

    where I was given
    drugs with adverse side effects and 20 shock treatments—

    a true example of doing what should not have been done-

    -however, it was my destiny-

    -my destiny is to bring truth to the real situation—

    The psychiatric medical model has been making mental

    When I spoke for the psychiatrists in their grand rounds at
    Bronx Lebanon,

    I told them that I have a doctor’s degree in psychiatric

    I have been committed around 25 times-

    -mostly short stays of around 2 or 3 weeks—

    in these states-

    -Indiana,Florida, Georgia, New York, New Jersey.

    I would not recommend any of these places-

    -however, within these institutions

    I usually find at
    least one person with understanding, who knows I am not crazy,

    who respects the gift
    God has given me.

    There needs to be a school for the prophets-

    -it takes skill to be in both worlds—

    the spirit world and the physical world-

    -to be as a giraffe-

    -to see with vision and yet have 4 feet firmly on terra

    Some people think-

    -just get a job-

    -just give people a job–stuffing envelopes–just something
    for money.

    There are plenty of people making big money doing things
    that don’t need done.

    If my creativity had
    been permanently stifled-

    -often, it seemed it was-

    -only my faith in God kept me from tumbling over into the

    Work a cash register?

    I could never.

    I cannot be put in a box–I must flow–be like the
    wind–the wind of the Spirit.

    I see people on government programs just sit doing

    while waiting to see
    someone for Section 8, or some other program.

    I have my cart–my office, if you will–I bring things
    to do.

    And the waste–hospitals-

    -Styrofoam containers with food with no nutrients-

    -no taste-most of it thrown away.

    In my booklet,

    “What Makes us a
    Recover, an anthology of recovery for mental health,

    I have a description
    of what a place should be for people like me who are

    (not have a psychotic break–but who are accessing what the
    prophets in the Bible accessed.)

    in altered states of

    I have quoted Dr. John Perry who founded Diabasis,

    a safe place where
    young adults experiencing their first psychotic break could go-

    -look up “Global Vision: When the Dream Becomes Real,
    by Michael O’ Callaghan–Chapter two.

    “It was designed
    as a comfortable home .

    .There was no medication or locked doors.

    Full-blown “schizophrenics” were able to go
    through their Apocalypse and emerge on the other side “weller than
    well” as Dr. Perry puts it.

    “Schizophrenia is not a disease which the
    psychiatrist should attempt to control,

    but rather a
    spontaneous healing process.

    It is a condition in which the dream takes the place
    of reality. . .

    The acute hallucinatory phase, usually last about six weeks

    -the proverbial “forty days in the wilderness’ often
    referred to in the Bible,” He says.

    From the interview:

    Mr. O’Callaghan So are you saying that
    the reasons we have so-called “chronic schizophrenia

    in our society,

    a person is medicated, distressed or hospitalized for decades–is really

    A society which refuses to
    understand the healing nature of the phenomenon?.

  • John Amenta

    “Opinion is a fitting thing but truth outlasts the sun – if then we cannot own them both, possess the oldest one.” -Emily Dickinson

  • PAT

    What people like Robert Royal do not get is that all of the money the government has comes from “the people”…no matter where it ends up. NOW it is going to the wealthy through tax cuts and tax loopholes instead of the poorer among us through social programs. “The People” pay no matter what so it is time to choose where we want OUR money to go. Sister Simone says let it go to “the people”, they need it. Robert Royal says let it go to the wealthy, they earned it.
    Royal’s rationalization on minimum wage is sad and just wrong. Would he live on minimum wage paying for housing, food, medical and transportation for a year and then still agree with all of his absurd statements about minimum wage? If the banking fiasco is any example, the wealthy do not earn it, they steal it and get away with it. His statement…just look at Paul Ryan and you can see he is a good man…is ludicrous. He needs some critical thinking skills to help him learn actual facts instead of always regurgitating the “talking points” he has been brainwashed with…politically and religiously. He could not respond to one of Sister Simone’s points intelligently…only by regurgitation.
    We depend on the wealthy people at the top to give us our jobs so we can get the money to support ourselves. When they do not hire us, we cannot live. There is only so much money “available” for distribution…so, when those at the top keep a disproportionate amount, there is less for all at the bottom to divide up and live on. And there is no free market…it is manipulated by those of power and wealth everyday…to their advantage, not ours.
    Sister Simone makes me proud and I would still be a Catholic if my Church was actually like her…it isn’t. And neither is Robert Royal and/or Paul Ryan…not even close!

  • WOW

    Faith and politics make strange and dangerous bedfellows. The nuns, sometimes dubbed mothers, have always had to deal with the fallout. They are the “skirts” on the ground so to say. The church uses them still.

  • rlegolf

    I was disappointed that in a telecast that spent so much time exploring the Catholic roots of Paul Ryan and his budget that no mention was made of Ryan’s committment to the political and economic views of Ayn Rand. Rand surely bulks larger than Catholicism in Ryan’s world view.

  • Anonymous

    In the opening “Nuns on a Bus” video, the good Sister makes the excellent and highly intelligent observation that welfare programs are a form of subsidy for business. Businesses like Walmart rely upon the rest of us to provide their employees with sufficient support to live upon so the business doesn’t have to do that.

    The argument (right or wrong) is that a higher minimal wage might eliminate jobs at Walmart (as just one arbitrary example). Let us assume that it did. What would the free market consequences be?

    Free market says that Walmart currently does not employ more workers than it needs to fulfill the demand of Walmart customers. If Walmart cut workers as a result of higher minimum wage, Walmart would have insufficient workers to fulfill the demand of Walmart’s customers. Those customers would seek out other stores in order to fulfill their demand. Walmart would either lose customers to other stores that did hire sufficient workers to meet customer demand, or Walmart would pay workers the new higher minimum wage in order to not lose those customers. If customer demand shifted to other stores, those workers who lost their jobs at Walmart would simply get jobs filling the demand that shifted to other stores.

    Another argument is that product costs would rise for the consumer. One must question why, if product costs are so critical, that a company like Walmart would not cut executive compensation as a way of keeping costs down. If the company did not feel the need to cut executive compensation, then what does that say about the company’s concern over product costs?

    Assuming that product costs did in fact rise for the consumer because Walmart and other companies refused to cut executive compensation in order to keep costs down, what is the result? Simply that the true societal costs of the products being sold are carried in a more honest free market way.

    The product sales are paying the full cost of keeping the workers out of poverty rather than having a government welfare subsidy partially pay the workers in order to keep the product cost artificially low. Those consumers who wish to buy the Walmart (etc) products pay for the cost of the workers in a proper free market fashion. Those who do not wish to purchase product from Walmart are no longer paying non free market welfare subsidies in order to keep prices down for those who do buy from Walmart.

    To put it another way, if I wish to purchase product from a Walmart competitor that DOES pay a living wage to its workers, why should I be forced to also pay for welfare subsidies to Walmart workers in order to keep Walmart’s prices artificially low? That isn’t free market.

  • Anonymous

    Royal promoted the fallacious argument that the wealthy should be freed up to help solve these problems. Bill and the Sister did a good job pointing out that the wealth-gap clearly demonstrates that hasn’t been happening.
    It is also worth pointing out that charitable contributions to help out the poor are 100% tax deductible, but yet IRS records confirm the middle class overwhelmingly contributes a larger percentage of their income to charities than does the wealthy. If we are to accept the argument that the wealthy will help if we just cut their taxes, then we are immediately lead to ask why the wealthy do not already cut their own taxes by contributing more to the tax deductible poor assistance charity of their choice?
    The reason is actually very simple. The easiest way to get rich is by not caring about other people and who you step on. That is NOT to say that ALL rich people do not care about others. There certainly are a number of rich people who do contribute and work to help others. It is only to say that not caring about how much you trample other people is a great assistance to getting rich.

  • Allie

    Why did you even have Robert Royal on the program, tryng to undo what the Sister was promoting. I wanted to hear her, not his “baloney” as some commenters have said. I just got so sick of him, I couldn’t finish the program. Please have more postive guests as used to be your custom.

  • Loretta Huston

    Yes the GOP or “Grand Old Patriarch” is stubbornly stuck in a dying Paradigm.What they do not understand is that the “Enormous” economic figures we experience today have been dangerously driven by Greed, Fear, and War. We’re still reeling from the Greatest Capitalistic Bust of All, which is “Housing” or the most basic need for all human beings.Unfortunately, the only “JOBS” they can come up with is based on “Addictions” to “Drill Baby Kill”. They really do not want us to be self reliant for this “kills Capitalism”. Instead they want to destroy every ecosystem on EARTH and at the same time use and abuse our “Tax” dollars of the working poor.

  • Sherry

    I’m just now watching this episode and am so disappointed that Robert Royal was given a platform to speak and condescend on such an important topic. I would’ve like to have an opportunity to listen to Sister Simone with Bill’s questions encouraging deeper explanation. I felt like a Koch nephew of some sort was brought on the show for no reason than to diminish the topic and give the urgency of the topic less air time. It seemed that suddenly and atypically there was a point/counterpoint format. I don’t watch Moyer’s & Co. for that salacious type of discussion.

  • Annette

    You expressed what I, too, feel raised as a Roman Catholic. Although I did not witness the abuse personally, I perceived the hypocrisy as a child – and see it now more so as an adult. I cannot attend Mass faithfully anymore, especially during election season – when my church slips in “political” messages (ie: When you vote, think of the unborn”). They love to hang pictures of fetuses in the lobby and focus on reproduction, prayer and support for the military in the homily. Does anyone realize that our military is killing and displacing innocents and flaming the fires of sectarian violence? As an intelligent, strong-minded woman, I can no longer accept the lies promoted by the Republican Party (of greed) Your response to the wonderful “Nuns on the Bus” story (which renews my faith in Catholicism) was so eloquently written. Thank you for helping me have renewed faith in logic and reason.

  • Enrique

    Scandinavians countries have found the middle ground between having a society where there is no poverty and you can have millionaires.

  • Vera Gottlieb

    Stop outsourcing jobs. Give people proper jobs with proper pay instead of subsidizing CEOs and their obscene salaries, which they don’t deserve. It is still a healthy middle class that makes any country run properly.

  • Anonymous

    The Sister said “pay people a LIVING wage”. Not (instead) funnel every last dime to the cofers of

    very very wealthy. Decently paying jobs are being destroyed by corporate raiders who destroy businesses and jobs for enormous profits. Their “work” is borrowing money that the business they

    take over has to pay back. Now a business, that was already struggling, has to pay the interest on those loans and pay for these “consultants” who take the borrowed money and dole out pay-offs to the executives (in return for their silence) and pay off themselves.

    The rich create laws to protect themselves and their profits. As a Catholic it is our duty to help, not just the poor, but the very wealthy see that they are lost in this endless search for a security they can never feel.

    Please stop talking about the poor in this country as if they were the problem with our financial system. The well known wealth disparity gives lie to ALL of your arguments.

  • Lauren S. Kahn

    Thanks for the great program. And thanks to the nuns for focusing attention on the need for a social conscience. Many in America have totally lost their sense of community responsibility for the less fortunate–which makes it very difficult for us to attack these problems.

  • Anonymous

    Hearing from the Catholic voices is so uplifting for me. I simply cannot fathom a catholic church of believers of our Lord and Savior Jesus the Christ that would throw the poor and aged and disenfranchised under the bus when Jesus teaches us to do exactly the opposite. The Catholic Royal and Paul Ryan of Wisconsin seem to subscribe to a Catholic Social Teaching economic model that says not everyone can be taken care of in their time of need. This is one of most important Bill Moyers’ sessions of all time. There was one VERY important element missing from the discussion. The COST of taking care of the poor and disenfranchised. The cost of war is 600 billion more or less per year. The cost of taking care of the poor and disenfranchised is a fraction of the cost of war and defense. Sister Simone and our Catholic economist Royal never got to real numbers in this great segment. “The needs are so great…” “The numbers are phenomenal…” I think the moral lesson will be learned when we compare war costs and the costs of foreign aid to “friends of the U.S.A.” with human need social safety net costs. The Right likes to point to the enormous cost of the social safety net as the reason we SIMPLY CAN’T AFFORD food stamps, or healthcare, or retirement security for Americans. I want to hear the argument that we SURELY CAN AFFORD the costs of wars of occupation and the empirical presence (and related costs) around the world at the expense of taking care of our own right here. I’m not hearing the economic case for destroying the social safety net while going to war on several fronts without paying for them through taxation.

  • Cliff Maier

    Robert Royal – “We’re not allowing the market to do what it does so brilliantly”
    Did this man sit out the last few years, did he miss the meltdown in ’08? Did he forget the tech bubble? Perhaps he doesn’t recall the American taxpayer being on the hook for the savings and loan debacle? Or, maybe he was busy reading that Ayn Rand that Ryan is so fond of (her atheism not withstanding). Perhaps he was such good friends with (Sir) Alan Greenspan that they were chatting over dinner most of the time and just missed catching the news a few times?
    Yeah, it does it sooooooooooooo brilliantly!!!

  • Layna

    As a secular, Eastern European Jew,who grew up in San Francisco where the Catholic kids used to knock us off the sidewalks on our way home, and where I was often told that the Jews killed Christ, this show gave me hope. Sister Simone Campbell’s engaged and open hearted faith encouraged me that there are still compassionate people left in this country! Her discussion of the joy she experiences through her mission gave me the heart to keep working for justice. Just as I was thinking that it’s time to flee this country. Talk about a teaching!
    I’m thrilled to see how many people were moved by her even, brilliant message.

  • Mary

    Read and decide for yourself.

  • Berlin

    Really a wonderful example of “two sides to every story” journalism. There are, of course, more than two sides, but at least this discussion allowed for less polarity and more cogent debate than you might find in other news sources.

    I would love to see what Sister Simone and Robert Royal could come up with if they had the time to collectively provide a solution to this budget issue. This, I think, is a piece of the discussion I missed the most and I find myself wondering what they would be able to create together.

    Perhaps it would be akin to what Congress could create if they worked together based on common ground as democracy requires?

    Another missing piece in the discussion for me was the variety of government subsidies. While the reliance of the poor on government services was discussed throughout, no mention was made of the rich relying on government aid as well. Entitlements go far beyond what “hand-outs” the very poor receive for being very poor. They also include what “hand-outs” the very rich receive for being very rich. It’s the middle that loses out in this scenario and this is exactly what is at issue!

    I understand why both of these guests (and Paul Ryan) look at politics through the lens of their faith. This is understandable and justified. However, lest we forget, in America, there is a separation of church and state. Catholic teachings may inform those players who debate and decide the U.S. budget, but it can’t be what ultimately, or solely, influences how our government makes the budget.

    Ryan’s use of Catholic terminology to support his budget proposal is not in keeping with this important distinction in American government. At the same time it seems like Ryan’s attempt to justify — with something older, weightier and more powerful than himself — what is basically business as usual in Washington.

    Whether Democrat or Republican they’re all beholden to those with access to great wealth. This is the basis for Ryan’s budget and not his personal opinions about Catholic moral teaching.

    The people with great wealth in this country may not directly seek to hurt others with their abundant influence in our government. But they clearly don’t see any connection between their own well-being and the well-being of others. They behave as if their wealth was generated — and has meaning and
    usefulness — separate from all the other people in this country/world.

    Not in a high tide all boats rise but, rather, I win the game if my boat rises higher than others so let me see how I can change how the tide works.

    It’s not a game, though, and we’re all — ALL of us without exception — in this together. That is the main principle that should drive any budget Congress approves from here until the end of time.

  • aconcernedcitizen

    Bill, thank you once again for your truly important work, and a fantastic, thought-provoking show. I also applaud the work of Sister Simone and her fellow nuns. This is exactly the type of Faith In Action that is sorely needed today — action that demonstrates the proper use of Reason. Back in the 80’s I attended a Catholic college and there learned about the Church’s preferential option for the poor, the Church’s social justice teachings, and was very inspired by the US Bishop’s pastoral letter, Economic Justice for All ( ). Although still shocking in their naivety, I am not surprised by the reactions of Rome, of US Bishops, and of Mr. Royal to the Nuns’ truly inspirational tour and meeting with Mr. Ryan. Church leaders from the Pope down, would rather focus Catholics’ attention — and votes — on the same, tired old anti-abortion issue. To me, this has been one more reason why the Catholic church has been on the decline, we know many of the others. Thanks to Bill Moyers and others, we understand how and why the Christian right has played directly into the hands of the rich and powerful in this country, and how this will likely continue. We need people like Sister Simone and her fellow Nuns at this time, more than any other, to show Catholics and all people of good will why we must be very concerned about the social safety net of this country being dismantled as the weakest and most vulnerable in our society are left on their own. I think all of us know someone who is at least on food stamps… what happens when those are cut? As Sister Simone states very clearly, there is not going to be anything new to take its place. Bill, thank you again for an excellent, thought-provoking show.

  • Daniel Pfeiffer

    Coming to this late, but what an odd pairing. I shed tears of gratitude learning about Sister Simone’s travels and mission, and suffered strains of vomit for having to listen to the stale, immoral and disingenuous claims of Robert Royal, so condescendingly passed along as fact…How many times does he have to say ‘free market’ to fool someone into believing that what we have is anything close? Mr. Bain Capital himself required government help for his company to survive (, and Mr. Royal thinks the government shouldn’t play a part in aiding the poor because we’re just too broke? No -it’s a matter of priorities, and Mr. Royal’s (and Congressman Ryan’s) are crystal clear. Until we cut government subsidies to already-profitable companies and stop giving handouts to the already wealthy and well-connected, Robert Royal and his ilk can go troll their garbage elsewhere. The Government is us, whatever We The People make of it, together, to advance the common cause of liberty and justice. Shame on Mr. Moyers for allowing so much fallacy to spew forth from Mr. Royal unchallenged. What was this – Faux News?

  • Terry

    Kathy and Annette: Off topic,
    Try the Episcopal Church. There you can find strong faith in the catholic apostolic tradition, but infused with a strong sense of liberal ideals, inclusion and acceptance. Give it a try, it might just be a place that feels like home.

  • Terry

    Annette: See my comment to Kathy, above.

  • Nigel Lucas McBain

    I found Robert Royal extremely hard to listen to without have a violent reaction around my heart! The guy misinterprets the bible, Catholic teaching and doesn’t offer any kind of solution. Obviously, he is a paid up spokesman of the 1%!

  • Barbara Blanton

    I am a non-Catholic agnostic with deep support for the nuns on the bus. I went to a Catholic College in 1972 for a BSN and then returned there to teach after I got a MSN in 1978-1980 when we moved to Europe. (Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin).

    The nuns there were absolutely fantastic. I admired them as both a student and then a faculty member. They worked us to death as faculty but it was so wonderful to be invited to be a research assistant and help the more advanced faculty (Nuns et al) develop a what is now seen internationally as an award winning ability based curriculum. I’ve never been a student or faculty at a better University in all these 40 years since.

  • J Baker

    bravo, thank you

  • J Baker

    yes thank you

  • J Baker