Ben Wattenberg's article (Editorial Pages, Dec. 26), "Poverty Is Not as Bad Here as the Bishops Believe," was not only belittling, it also was done for the most specious of motives, the distortion of facts to grind a political ax.
To begin with, immediately after flatly declaring the bishops wrong, Wattenberg launches into one of those manipulated comparisons between the American way of life and that of other (predictable) nations in order to portray us as superior. By now, this type of false reasoning is not only tiresome, but also embarrassing, accomplishing nothing more than a condescension to other societies, and a failed dismissal of the bishops' by now widely acclaimed conclusions.
Further, Wattenberg seems to miss the pastoral letter's underlying message completely. It is not that other societies don't know disparities in income; it is rather that in the United States the distribution of the general wealth is inequitable to the point of disgrace. Thus, the scene where in Moscow men ride in black limousines while old ladies sweep the streets with brooms made out of bound twigs, is a total and pathetic distortion.
Whoever the limousine passengers are, we can be certain they don't have the privilege because they can throw or catch a ball, perform vulgarities on television, or run stables of increasingly younger prostitutes. As for the sweeper with the "bound twigs," brooms are pretty much the same over most of the world, and whoever is keeping Moscow as spotless as it is, most certainly it is not hags in rags.