Is there a saint, alive or dead, who wasn’t a prophet in diagnosing the dire circumstance of their day? They knew there was no added benefit from ever more austere methods to deal with a present severity for the least? Even flagellants sought to tame personal temptations for the sake of others.
When faced with a great lack of substance, any attempt to reverse the lack by intentionally reducing what there is already too little of will only make matters worse.
Poverty (material, spiritual, relational) is always tied to a few always-open-mawed individuals storing communal wealth in their ever-larger barns. A competition for consumptive living cannot but steal livelihood from a multitude. When less than 1% of the population controls more than 90% of the available wealth, every percentage point of gain represents an increasing number of those impressed into one form of slavery or another – poverty.
Prophet and Saint see that a lack of generosity is directly implicated in every crisis of austerity. Bread and circuses can only patch the basic problem of a blindness to what constitutes common-good or general-welfare. When the life of any other is considered irrelevant or of no account, it means everyone is in for an even rougher ride – no amount of stored wealth will protect against putting every gene pool at risk and require a wider definition of family than an interlocking directorate of corporate boards.
In days of disaster and insufficiency, the only avenues available to a better-lived future are generosity, restitution, and empathy. Wealth adds no moral or ethical value to life. Storing resources away for the benefit of a bragging right eventually leads everyone to a beggar’s life.