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If Pope Francis Wants to Help the Poor, He Should Embrace Capitalism

Markets and globalization have lifted billions out of poverty and lessened global inequality. So what's behind the pope's agenda?

WikimediaWikimediaHe has been called the "slum pope" and "a pope for the poor." And indeed, it's true that Pope Francis, leader to 1.3 billion Roman Catholics, speaks often of those in need. He's described the amount of poverty and inequality in the world as "a scandal" and implored the Church to fight what he sees as a "culture of exclusion."

Yet even as he calls for greater concern for the marginalized, he broadly and cavalierly condemns the market-driven economic development that has lifted a billion people out of extreme poverty within the lifetime of the typical millennial. A lack of understanding of even basic economic concepts has led one of the most influential and beloved human beings on the planet to decry free enterprise, opine that private property rights must not be treated as "inviolable," hold up as the ideal "cooperatives of small producers" over "economies of scale," accuse the Western world of "scandalous level[s] of consumption," and assert that we need "to think of containing growth by setting some reasonable limits."

Given his vast influence, which extends far beyond practicing Catholics, this type of rhetoric is deeply troubling. It's impossible to know how much of an impact his words are having on concrete policy decisions—but it's implausible to deny that when he calls for regulating and constraining the free markets and economic growth that alleviate truly crushing poverty, the world is listening. As a libertarian who is also a devout Roman Catholic, I'm afraid as well that statements like these from Pope Francis reinforce the mistaken notion that libertarianism and religion are fundamentally incompatible.

There's no question that the pope at times seems downright hostile to much of what market-loving Catholics believe. In this summer's lauded-by-the-press environmental encyclical Laudato Si (from which the quotes in the second paragraph were drawn), Pope Francis wrote that people who trust the invisible hand suffer from the same mindset that leads to slavery and "the sexual exploitation of children." In Evangelii Gaudium, his 2013 apostolic exhortation, he chastised those who "continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world."

Even more frustratingly, he asserted that such a belief in free markets "has never been confirmed by the facts." Worse still, this year he stated in an interview: "I recognize that globalization has helped many people to lift themselves out of poverty, but it has condemned many other people to starve. It is true that in absolute terms the world's wealth has grown, but inequality and poverty have arisen." Globalization has caused poverty to "arise" and "condemned…many people to starve"?

A man Politico described as insisting "reality comes before theory" could not be more mistaken about the empirical truth of capitalism's role in our world. While income inequality within developed countries may be growing, the income gap between the First World and the rest of the world is decreasing fast. As the World Bank's Branko Milanovic has documented, we are in the midst of "the first decline in global inequality between world citizens since the Industrial Revolution." In 1960, notes the Cato Institute's Marian Tupy, the average America earned 11 times more than the average resident of Asia. Today, Americans make 4.8 times as much. "The narrowing of the income gap," Tupy found, "is a result of growing incomes in the rest of the world," not a decline in incomes in developed nations.

Markets: The Greatest Anti-Poverty Tool

"Entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid." With those 10 words, spoken to an audience at Georgetown University in 2013, philanthropist rock star Bono demonstrated a keener understanding of economic reality than the leader of global Catholicism.

The U2 frontman clearly has it right—and Pope Francis is wrong to suggest that poverty is growing, or that capitalism, free markets, and globalization are fueling the (non-existent) problem. In just two decades, extreme poverty has been reduced by more than 50 percent. "In 1990, almost half of the population in developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day," reads a 2014 report from the United Nations. "This rate dropped to 22 per cent by 2010, reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 700 million."

How was this secular miracle achieved? The bulk of the answer is through economic development, as nascent markets began to take hold in large swaths of the world that were until recently desperately poor. A 2013 editorial from The Economist noted that the Millennium Development Goals "may have helped marginally, by creating a yardstick for measuring progress, and by focusing minds on the evil of poverty. Most of the credit, however, must go to capitalism and free trade, for they enable economies to grow—and it was growth, principally, that has eased destitution."

The image of economic growth as an "engine" that drives progress and lifts people up is nothing novel, of course. In his book The Road to Freedom, American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks discussed the transformation the U.S. underwent in the 1800s as a result of the Industrial Revolution:

Average prosperity in the 19th century began to rocket upwards…In 1850, life expectancy at birth in the United States was 38.3. By 2010, it was 78. The literacy rate in the United States rose from 80 percent in 1870 to 99 percent today. And real per capita GDP increased twenty-two-fold from 1820 to 1998. 

Poverty may never be fully a thing of the past. But if you're looking to increase global prosperity and decrease global hardship—something Christians as a rule are pretty concerned with and Pope Francis has expressed a particular interest in—history has shown us the way to do it: through industrialization and mass production, trade liberalization that lets goods and people flow across borders to serve each other better, and property rights that give everyone the ability to put their wealth to work for them. 

Ultimately, hindering the free market system is the surest way we know of to slow the pace of growth. And it's growth that leads to quality-of-life improvements not just here in America but also—especially—in the developing world. Pope Francis thinks free marketeers have been deluded by a "myth of unlimited material progress." If we have, it's because we've seen for ourselves the wonders that economic development and technological advancement can bring—from modern medicine stopping diseases that were the scourge of civilizations for centuries, to buildings more able to withstand natural disasters than at any time before, to ever-widening access to the air conditioning he wishes us to use less of. 

The pope is enamored of the idea of "small-scale food production systems ... using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing." He does not seem to understand that it is mass-market production—including often-vilfiied biotech crops—that has freed millions of people from hunger by allowing us to reap far more food from far fewer resources. 

Productivity gains have been so great that humanity is on the brink of being able to release enormous tracts of farmland back to nature while feeding more people than ever before, according to researchers at the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University. But resisting such advances out of skepticism or nostalgia can have devastating consequences. Take for example the story of Golden Rice, a genetically modified crop fortified with Vitamin A, whose introduction has been delayed since 2000 by government regulations. The grain has the potential to save up to 3 million poor people a year from going blind, and to alleviate Vitamin A deficiency—which compromises the immune system—in a quarter of a billion people a year. But unwarranted fears of "frankenfoods" have kept Golden Rice from widespread use in the developing world. In a study published last year in the journal Environment and Development Economics, scholars at Technische Universität München and the University of California, Berkeley estimated those delays resulted in the loss of 1.4 million life years over the past decade—and that was just in India

There are moments when Pope Francis seems to comprehend all this. In his encyclical, he quotes the now-sainted Pope John Paul II that "science and technology are wonderful products of a God-given human creativity," and asks, "How can we not feel gratitude and appreciation for this progress?" But a few short pages later he suggests that "a decrease in the pace of production and consumption" would yet be for the best. The lasting impression is not of a staunch anti-capitalist tirelessly advocating for a well-thought-out alternative to the present system, but of a man confused about how to achieve the things he wants. 

Nowhere is that confusion clearer than when Pope Francis discusses the environment, the overarching topic of Laudato Si. To preserve the earth he wants us to live simpler lives, as by the example he's set by eschewing the lavish trappings of the papacy. But he goes further than that, not just calling for individual restraint but also for government enforcement of what amounts to a reduction in overall economic activity. It does not seem to occur to him that this prescription might have adverse effects for the people still struggling to pull themselves out of desperate conditions and into the type of comfortable life he's asking the rest of us to forgo. For the poor, the problem isn't too much consumption, but too little wealth to afford the basic things the First World takes for granted. 

To Save the Planet, Empower More Consumers 

But perhaps, as the pope suggests, slower economic growth really is required if we are to save the planet? 

Here, too, Pope Francis suffers from a blindness to empirical reality. Over and over throughout Laudato Si, he writes about the importance of protecting "God's handiwork," of providing access to green spaces, of "learning to see and appreciate beauty," and of living in "harmony with creation." But over and over we've seen that the type of concern for the environment he's describing is a luxury good—that is, a thing people consume more of as they become richer. 

This should be surprising to no one. It's been more than 70 years since Abraham Maslow introduced the idea that human needs can be organized into a hierarchy—and that until a person has satisfied her basic requirements for food, shelter, safety, and the like, she won't be motivated to pursue higher-level needs, like friendship and "self-actualization." While Pope Francis is not wrong to suggest that clean air and beautiful vistas matter, he seems to overlook how much less they matter to the mother in Burundi who cannot feed her children than they do to the white-collar professional in the U.S. or his native Argentina. 

Again, Pope Francis comes maddeningly close to acknowledging this in his encyclical. "In some countries," he writes, "there are positive examples of environmental improvement: rivers, polluted for decades, have been cleaned up; native woodlands have been restored; landscapes have been beautified thanks to environmental renewal projects; beautiful buildings have been erected; advances have been made in the production of non-polluting energy…" But he ignores that it's in the most developed parts of the world where the push for sustainability and green energy, for living slow and eating local, for highway beautification and Earth Day and nearly every other conservation effort originate. 

The pope decries "the unruly growth of many cities, which have become unhealthy to live in." He does not seem to recognize that the cities that are true horrors to live in are the very places that would benefit most from robust economic activity. He condemns "the pollution produced by the companies which operate in less developed countries in ways they never could do at home." He does not consider that rich Americans and Europeans can afford to care about such things because we're not malnourished or dying of malaria. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) released data last year showing that the most air-polluted cities on the planet are all in India, Pakistan, and Iran. The lowest concentrations of particulate matter are meanwhile found in Iceland, Australia, and Canada. 

Both the economics and the history are clear: The more prosperous the developing world becomes, the more it too will be able to demand and achieve livable conditions. If your goal is to move the world to concern for the preservation of biodiversity, the answer is economic growth. If you want to increase access to clean water, the solution is to increase global wealth, and the consumer power that comes with it. Studies have shown that deforestation reverses when a country's annual GDP reaches about $3,000 per capita. While some environmental indicators do get worse during the early stages of industrialization, the widely accepted Environmental Kuznets Curve hypothesis convincingly argues that they quickly reverse themselves when national income grows beyond a certain threshold. If the pope wants a cleaner world, the best way to get there is by creating a richer world—something Pope Francis' own policy recommendations will make more difficult. 

Why This Matters to Me 

Watching someone a billion people look to for moral guidance—and who's been known to broker political agreements between world leaders—assume a critical posture toward capitalism is troubling to me as a believer in free markets. But it's not just that I fear the pope is weakening public support for the economic freedom that increases standards of living while minimizing poverty. It's also that when Pope Francis slanders the "magical" thinking of people who trust markets more than government, he's reinforcing the already widespread idea that libertarianism and religion aren't compatible. 

As a churchgoing, Christ-loving Catholic, I feel duty-bound to push back against that notion. It's not the case that Rome demands fidelity on matters of economic policy—or that everything a pope teaches must be accepted by the faithful as correct. Actually, the ability to make unerring declarations is narrowly circumscribed according to Church teachings. To quote directly from the Second Vatican Council's Lumen Gentium (emphasis mine), "The Roman Pontiff, head of the college of bishops, enjoys this infallibility in virtue of his office, when, as supreme pastor and teacher of all the faithful...he proclaims by a definitive act a doctrine pertaining to faith or morals." 

In practice, such "definitive acts," in which a pope makes clear he's teaching "from the chair" of Jesus, are almost vanishingly rare

"Catholic social teaching is not a detailed policy platform that all Catholics are obliged to sign on to," says Catholic University's Jay W. Richards. "It's an articulation of what I'd refer to as 'perennial principles.'...The encyclicals themselves frequently recognize that it falls to Catholic laymen and laywomen, in their respective roles, to take the principles and apply them in concrete situations." 

Even Pope Francis himself has noted that "neither the Pope nor the Church have a monopoly on the interpretation of social realities or the proposal of solutions to contemporary problems." The passage, from Evangelii Gaudium, continues: 

Here I can repeat the insightful observation of Pope Paul VI: "In the face of such widely varying situations, it is difficult for us to utter a unified message and to put forward a solution which has universal validity. This is not our ambition, nor is it our mission. It is up to the Christian communities to analyze with objectivity the situation which is proper to their own country. 

In other words, a faithful Catholic need not always agree with a sitting pope. The New York Times columnist Ross Douthat has repeatedly encouraged the faithful to consider that we might actually have a responsibility to resist the pope so as to help preserve the Church from error. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says that "in all he says and does, man is obliged to follow faithfully what he knows to be just and right"—that is, to listen to his "moral conscience." And so, although I respect Pope Francis' office, I feel no compunction in saying I think he needs to reassess his beliefs about the power of free markets to make the world a better place. 

The Freedom to Be Better Christians 

Responding to the pope's statements and writings on these topics is made harder by the fact that, like many non-libertarians, he often blurs the line between private vs. public action. Is he simply encouraging people to resist avarice and demonstrate more Christian charity at an individual level? Or is he condemning the capitalist system and suggesting it be replaced at a government level? We know the pope distrusts "the unregulated market." But does he think extensive laws are needed to constrict people's choices and redistribute their property? Or can moral actors, making ethical consumption decisions and voluntarily sharing what they have with the less fortunate, provide regulation enough? 

Much of what the pope writes seems to be concerned with micro-level, personal behavior. Consider this passage from Laudato Si: "We are speaking of an attitude of the heart…which accepts each moment as a gift from God to be lived to the full. Jesus taught us this attitude when he invited us to contemplate the lilies of the field and the birds of the air…and in this way he showed us the way to overcome that unhealthy anxiety which makes us superficial, aggressive and compulsive consumers." 

To the extent he's simply urging his followers to better live out our Christian vocations, I find little on which to disagree. A pastor's job is to be concerned with the eternal souls of his flock. It's true that "an appreciation of the immense dignity of the poor" is "one of our deepest convictions as believers," and the Church has always encouraged its members to be good stewards of natural creation. Moreover, the Holy Father is right to warn that "the mere amassing of things and pleasures are not enough to give meaning and joy to the human heart." Economists describe people as utility, not profit, maximizers. Even the most rigid libertarian knows the pursuit of happiness is more than the pursuit of material wealth. 

But Pope Francis often goes beyond just reminding Christians of our "call to sainthood." In a speech at the World Meeting of Popular Movements this summer in Bolivia he said: "Let us say no to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth." Note that here it isn't just "compulsive consumerism" and "unfettered greed" in his crosshairs—it's the economy itself. This gives credence to the idea that he thinks the very structures of the market system need to be upended. 

"The problem is [Pope Francis] doesn't clearly make distinctions between capitalism and trade and greed and corporatism," like the kind he would have seen in Argentina, Catholic University's Richards says. "My sense is he's skeptical of what he thinks capitalism is, but also that he hasn't made a careful study of these things." 

Evidence that the pope is working with an inaccurate picture of what capitalists really believe comes from Evangelii Gaudium, wherein he wrote that we exhibit "a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power." Richards thinks Pope Francis fundamentally misunderstands Adam Smith's key insight: that even if the people who "wield economic power" are narrowly self-interested, the market will orient their behavior in a way that benefits others. 

"Now as a matter of fact we live in a fallen world, and so the question is: What is the best economic arrangement to either mitigate human selfishness or even to channel it into something socially beneficial?" Richards asks. "Precisely the reason I believe in limited government and a free economy is because it's the best of the live alternatives at channeling both people's creativity and ingenuity, but also their greed." 

The pope doesn't see it that way. From his perspective, either you support unfettered capitalism or you care about poverty. Among free marketeers, he says dismissively, the problems of the poor "are brought up as an afterthought, a question which gets added almost out of duty or in a tangential way, if not treated merely as collateral damage." But that is a deeply uncharitable characterization of those who see things differently than he does. The people I know who invest their time and talent into defending economic freedom do so not in spite of the effect we think a capitalist system has on the least among us, but because of it. As John Mackey, the co-founder of Whole Foods (a company that's a leader in philanthropic giving), argues in a recent interview with Reason, one of the strongest moral arguments for capitalism is that it alleviates poverty. 

That's not to say we shouldn't still be working to transcend our fallen nature. Within a free society there's plenty of space, for those who are so inclined, to heed Pope Francis' appeal—to be less materialistic, more selfless, truer disciples of Christ. In fact, I've argued that only a liberalized economic order grants people the autonomy to choose for themselves to be generous. If you don't have the freedom to accumulate treasure, how can you possibly share it with the world?

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    Just goes to show that one need not have knowledge to attain great power.

  • some guy||

    Being a politician (and the pope is a politician) is like being an anchorman. Success depends on your ability to sound like an expert at everything when really you're only an expert at pretending.

  • Florida Man||

    *nods affirmatively while pretending to understand*

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    *nods in agreement with Florida Man, despite having no idea what's goin' on*

  • Florida Man||

    no idea what's goin' on*

    You wanna get high?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Pope Francis, like every other leftist (and plenty on the right), thinks that left to their own devices people will make wrong choices. A central authority managing resources of millions if not billions of individuals would serve to remove the terrible burden of so many wrong choices.

  • Florida Man||

    Anyone who seeks a position of authority over others must hold a poor opinion of their fellow man, otherwise they wouldn't seek the office.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I can't think of anyone who holds a positive opinion of all factions of the human race. (Excluding children who have not yet been exposed to most of it, and the mentally handicapped who are incapable of processing information.)

  • Florida Man||

    Obviously all people aren't good people, but if you think you should make the choices for everyone, then I believe that person must have a low opinion of humans in general.

  • BigT||

    I have a low opinion of humans in general, but I don't want to make choices for them. I have no right to do so. And I want them to learn from their mistakes .... or not.

  • Florida Man||

    I try to ignore the media and look at the people around me. They're going to work, raising families and generally minding their own business. The idiots are the outliers, that's why it's easy to focus attention on them.

  • UnCivilServant||

    I do exactly that, and All I see are idiots. In my public school - students, faculty and staff - mostly morons. In my university - some of the densest people you'd ever want to meet. An my work - they're able to unironically support a policy which has an effect of requiring technicians to send change requests to themselves.

  • Florida Man||

    I work with good people and have good neighbors. I forget how lucky I am sometimes.

  • Mr Lizard||

    Hi neighbor!

  • Florida Man||

    Mornin'

  • LynchPin1477||

    I think most people are good and can order their own lives pretty well.

    When it comes to the lives of others, it's a different story.

  • Berha123||

    true

  • SugarFree||

    The dumbest poppy occasionally grows the highest.

  • Swiss Servator||

    -1 Lucius Tarquinius Superbus

  • Curt2004||

    +1 Religion = control

  • LynchPin1477||

    It's possible for someone to seek a position of authority in order to keep those that want to control their fellow man out of power. Rare, but possible.

  • Florida Man||

    George Washington and ... I got nobody.

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    Hitler?

  • SugarFree||

    George Washington

    [cough]Whiskey Rebellion[cough]

  • Florida Man||

    Fine. Nobody then. I fall back to my original statement.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Frodo Baggins.

  • Florida Man||

    He didn't voluntarily destroy the ring. Gollum just fucked up and fell into the fire.

  • Berha123||

    ok

  • LynchPin1477||

    Washington still seems to come pretty close, the Whiskey Rebellion notwithstanding.

  • Mindyourbusiness||

    Let's add Cincinnatus to the list.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    Cincinnatus?

  • Pulseguy||

    I think he is an associate of Baltimorius Oriolus

  • Suicidy||

    Really? I pretty much hate almost everyone. With their tiny IQ's and lazy thinking. And my preference is everyone stay the fuck away.

    Managing the turds in the general public sounds just awful to me.

  • Drake||

    Contrast the commie Pope with John Paul II who refused to kiss Castro ass.

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/a.....ml?via=ios

  • Mike M.||

    John Paul rejoiced when the Soviet Union collapsed. My guess is Francis probably cried for like a week.

  • LynchPin1477||

    No no. Those were the wrong kind of central planning communists.

  • Win Bear||

    Pope Francis, like every other leftist (and plenty on the right), thinks that left to their own devices people will make wrong choices.

    And he would be right: people make lots of wrong choices all the time. But their wrong choices are still much better on average than the choices imposed by governments or churches, organizations that put their own interests ahead of those on whose behalf they make choices.

  • cavalier973||

    I hate it when the church makes me choose one thing when I would prefer another.

  • Win Bear||

    I can't tell whether you're trying to be sarcastic. In Europe, the Catholic church has strong input on legislation in a lot of countries. The US is more protestant, more diverse, and has better separation of church and state, so you don't see this much in the US.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    It isn't so much that he's a leftist, but that he's an authoritarian. I mean, that's what the position calls for.

    I would also like to note that his recent experience with capitalism is in Nations given over, been more than ours, to crony capitalism, which IS exclusionary.

    Which doesn't mean I don't wish he'd wise up.

  • mulp||

    So, all those passing laws to prohibit abortion are leftists??

    If they believed "left to their own devices people will make wrong choices" was totally false, they would not seek laws to dictate the choices women make.

    Those who passed laws banning use of drugs without the approval of Congress must believe "left to their own devices people will make wrong choices", so the Republicans for the most part are leftists for opposing almost unanimously even legal use of pot, a product of God. (Rand and Ron Paul have been called "dangerous" for their views contrary to Republican mainstream dogma which clearly is leftist view that "left to their own devices people will make wrong choices".

    Right?

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    You're dead thread-fucking, dipstick. Are you a Tony sock?

  • KalkiDas||

    they never consider that they are just giving power to other individuals who also make the wrong choices, but who have guns and are in great numbers. As if somehow numeric superiority (and costumes and badges) results in dissipation of human nature.

  • KalkiDas||

    they never consider that they are just giving power to other individuals who also make the wrong choices, but who have guns and are in great numbers. As if somehow numeric superiority (and costumes and badges) results in dissipation of human nature.

  • LynchPin1477||

    A lack of understanding of even basic economic concepts

    This isn't a credible excuse anymore. It's not that he and others don't understand supply/demand, price signals, economies of scale, comparative advantage, or the difference between wealth and income. The level of ignorance they would need for that excuse to ring true is just mind boggling and doesn't seem at all plausible to me.

    It's that they think these things, when left to their own devices, lead to unjust distributions or have other corrupting effects. *And* they think they can engineer a better system.

    The failures of others to do so aren't evidence against them, they are just lessons to be learned.

  • Drake||

    He loves the poor so much, he has embraced an economic philosophy that will generate millions more of them.

  • Suicidy||

    This Pope will be the cause of death of millions through his Marxism. Maybe he gets stomach cancer soon and we all dodge a bullet.

  • Berha123||

    true

  • Rich||

    It's not that he and others don't understand supply/demand, price signals, economies of scale, comparative advantage, or the difference between wealth and income. The level of ignorance they would need for that excuse to ring true is just mind boggling

    ELITIST!

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    the terrible burden of so many wrong choices.

    Like the dizzying array of twenty-three types of deodorant?

    Who'll save the poor from the scourge of choice? Thanks be to God that the Catholic church and the Socialists will destroy the evil system that wreaks such a terrible choice down on the poor of this world.

  • Win Bear||

    You make it sound like sarcasm, but Popes have preached repeatedly that suffering and material privation are important for making people fully human.

    (I think the reason is that unless you are desperate and unhappy, you won't come crawling on your knees to your priest.)

  • Adans smith||

    'While Lenin read the book of Marx' we sang durges in the park'

  • rudehost||

    If only there were a quartet available so those dirges wouldn't need to be acapella.

  • LynchPin1477||

    While some environmental indicators do get worse during the early stages of industrialization, the widely accepted Environmental Kuznets Curve hypothesis convincingly argues that they quickly reverse themselves when national income grows beyond a certain threshold

    This is a really important point. So many people see the admittedly-sometimes-bad consequences of rapid growth and assume it will continue, when empirical evidence shows that it will not. Analogs exist for labor conditions, wages, etc.

    I will admit, though, that as far as I am aware the improvements have come side-by-side with increasing prosperity and increasing government regulation. I strongly suspect that a lot of the environmental and labor condition gains would arise absent that regulation but I can't deny that regulation has played a role in the past.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    But isn't regulation to enforce property rights agreeable? Polluting air and water shits on the rights and property of others. Government should protect the downstream folk from polluters--shouldn't it?

  • LynchPin1477||

    I agree 100% but was referring to more top-down forms of regulation.

  • robc||

    Coase coase ... Etc.

  • Win Bear||

    But isn't regulation to enforce property rights agreeable? Polluting air and water shits on the rights and property of others. Government should protect the downstream folk from polluters--shouldn't it?

    The reason this problem arises and the reason there is a need for government regulation is because air and water are "public property"; hence, the government functions as "the property owner". The problems with that are that the government (1) has no financial stake or interest in its property, (2) isn't legally or financially accountable either to the people it regulates or the people it ostensibly protects, and (3) is subject to lobbying. So, instead of acting like a property owner and making economically rational tradeoffs, the government actually simply chooses to administer these resources the way it is politically advantageous for itself, which frequently disagrees with actually protecting property rights.

  • mulp||

    So, Congress should privatize the air, and then require every person to pay a license fee annually to breathe to the monopolist owner of the air We the People breathe?

    Or is it possible that We the People are the owners of the air and We the People get to set the rules for the use of OUR We the People's air through the Board of Directors of our corporate enterprise called Congress?

    I as a common shareholder in the air and water want those resources we share to be kept clean, especially because keeping them clean will require more of We the People getting paid to do things cleanly and sustainably, which means everything will cost more because more of We the People are being paid to work sustainably.

    The argument commonly advocated by those who claim to be capitalists is that fewer workers should be paid to work, and those paid to work should be paid less, so the capitalists get higher profits, and higher profits mean wealth, and wealth is good, and those not paid anything or much, or getting sick from polluted water or air are just worth less than the capitalists, and should suffer and die.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Oh look, I'm an economically illiterate progtard dead thread-fucking on a Reason thread...I'll give you a golf clap...nah, I changed my mind.

  • Win Bear||

    Or is it possible that We the People are the owners of the air and We the People get to set the rules for the use of OUR We the People's air through the Board of Directors of our corporate enterprise called Congress?

    Unfortunately, Congress doesn't function like a Board of Directors: it lacks the financial accountability and responsibility. Congress hands out free licenses to pollute the air and mismanages our resources because they don't care. If members of the board of directors of a private corporation acted like our representatives do, they would be thrown in jail for decades or at least face a shareholder revolt.

    The argument commonly advocated by those who claim to be capitalists is that fewer workers should be paid to work, and those paid to work should be paid less, so the capitalists get higher profits, and higher profits mean wealth, and wealth is good,

    That's quite funny, you sound like relic of East German propaganda TV. Really, man, how stupid and uneducated can you be?

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    We need to remember that Socialism was, originally, not about giving the poor a helping hand economically. It was about redeeming the poor.

    Converting the poor into good Catholics and good Progressives/Socialists is the goal here, not necessarily remedying their financial situation. Individualism is bad for Socialists of all stripes. The very system that has raised most of the world out of abject poverty also gives its inhabitants individual freedom--which is anathema to Socialists. I think the ones in the know are afraid that the poor will continue to become independent and that this will weaken their power.

  • ||

    Markets and globalization have lifted billions out of poverty and lessened global inequality. So what's behind the pope's agenda?

    If you're the pope for the poor, you're pretty screwed if there are no poor.

  • Suicidy||

    Same thing with the democrats being the party of the poor. Their power is derived from keeping everyone poor. Except for party members in good standing.

  • mulp||

    But who would Republicans attack if there were no poor people in America? How would they win elections?

    Republicans never run on building better transportation because that would require charging higher prices to use the highway system and require paying millions of new workers. Instead they call for charging less and for fewer workers maintaining the roads so the roads get worse and worse, but they blame the rising number of unemployed on Democrats who want to tax more to pay more people to work so they won't be poor.

    What is the Republican plan to move people from poverty to being middle class workers fixing the highways to be modern like they were in the 60s and 70s, and to fix the water and sewer systems so they don't leak, returning to the reliability of the 60s, and so on?

    As best as I can tell, Republicans expect people to fix everything that is wearing out for free, as acts of charity. FedEx and UPS should not be burdened with paying to fix the roads. Charities should fix the roads for those corporations so the have higher profits.

  • straffinrun||

    A Love song for when the Pope goes to Venezuela

    Met the old pontiff in the grocery store
    The snow was falling Christmas Eve
    I stole behind him near the empty shelves
    And wiped my ass upon his sleeve
    He didn't recognize my crack at first
    Then my thighs flew open wide
    He went to pound me then he spilled his myrrh
    and we laughed because he lied

    We took no groceries to the checkout stand
    The food was looted up and sacked
    He stood there lost in his disillusionment
    As the economy collapsed

    We went to have ourselves a drink or two
    But couldn't find an open bar
    We bought a six pack from a corner whore
    And we drank it off her scar

    We drank a toast to socialism
    We drank a toast to Mao
    And tried to reach beyond the emptiness
    But neither one knew how

  • macsnafu||

    Ahhhh! You ruined a favorite song of mine!

    Poor Dan.

  • Vampire||

    If the pope and his ilk were concerned about preaching the teachings of Jesus, he'd be riding around preaching voluntarism, and reject the state, which is nothing but a violent coercive monopoly.

  • Drake||

    Glad I'm not Catholic. I would have a hard time pretending to respect this Peronist dumb-ass.

  • ||

    Most Catholics in the West don't even bother to care. There's no pretending going on.

    The percentages of French and Italians that go to Church has been dwindling for quite some time. Slightly better in Spain and Portugal. Stronger in Poland.

  • Win Bear||

    Church attendance in Europe is irrelevant; the Catholic church gets most of its money directly from the state, and that is all it cares about. Until those laws get repealed across Europe the Catholic church doesn't actually need anything other than CINOs (Catholics in name only).

  • Jerryskids||

    Look at where the Pope comes from. 500 years ago when the British were exploiting the New World by sending settlers over to develop an economy, the Spanish were exploiting the New World by stealing all the gold and silver. The Spanish stole all the money, the English stole the means of making money. In hindsight, it may seem easy to see how silly the Spanish were in thinking money = wealth rather than the things money can buy = wealth but I'm not so sure there are very many places that understand the difference and certainly damn few in Latin America thanks to their Spanish heritage.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    Racist!!!


    /sarc

  • Drake||

    In 1900 Argentina was one of the richest countries in the world. 14th in per-capita GDP. After decades of Peronist stupidity they are 63rd.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    At least they reduced the ranks of the bourgeois. The middle-class, with its meritocracy, and its individualism, and its entrepreneurship, is evil. Better to increase the ranks of the poor than to suffer all those productive bourgeois.

  • Drake||

    Exactly! Look next door at Chile - they are suffering under the yoke of capitalist prosperity.

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    Racists ! ............don't think I'm doing this right.

  • Florida Man||

    Screaming racist is always right. As soon as you do no one can challenge your premise.

  • Vampire||

    All who believe in the pope's socialism can eat my jism, as it runs down their mouth and drips on their catechism.

  • Rich||

    Francis himself has noted that "neither the Pope nor the Church have a monopoly on the interpretation of social realities or the proposal of solutions to contemporary problems."

    "Of course, interpretations and solutions other than Mine are incorrect and evil."

  • Berha123||

    true

  • sarcasmic||

    Like all Communists, Francis feels that it is better to be equally poor than to be unequally rich.

  • Florida Man||

    Well look at America. Our fat poor don't know where their next 2000 calorie meal is coming from. FOOD INSECURITY!!! We need us some communism to straighten that out.

  • thom||

    The most important thing is that we protect the poor from the well stocked produce aisles that Wal Mart is now trying to bring to America's food deserts, because those poor people should totally be buying their produce from local, organic farmers.

  • Florida Man||

    Why not? It's only $20 for a farm fresh cucumber. Why won't these stupid poor people make the right choices?

  • BigT||

    Some cucumbers might be worth $20 to the right person.

  • ||

    "to think of containing growth by setting some reasonable limits."

    How retarded is this? The only way to do this is A) pray (pun!) people setting the limits are "reasonable' and can come up with a definition of what reasonable is (there is none) and B) is if the government takes over every single part of the economy. Then it can do whatever its dumbass heart desires.

    Pope's a commie looks like.

  • BigT||

    "to think of containing growth by setting some reasonable limits."

    Pope don't want too many people getting electricity in Africa, it seems.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    "We're going to make sure people in need get more by demanding everyone produce less!"

  • Robbbbb||

    Typical of a liberal / socialist, the agenda becomes more important than religious dogma, in many cases replacing religion altogether. That this pope can ignore the tremendous gains and benefits that free market capitalism has brought to all levels of society demonstrates that he is not infallible and thus needs to be considered as more of a politician than the leader of the flock of Christ.

  • ||

    Popes rarely play the infallibility card. I think they have only done it twice. The current Pope's comments on economics are not infallible.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    a leader of part of the flock of Christ

  • Almanian - Micro Trumper||

    You know who else promised to help the poor through socialist means...

  • Florida Man||

    Obama?

  • Rich||

    For a precise answer, we need to know if that is "promised to help, through socialist means, the poor" or "through socialist means, promised to help the poor".

    But I'll venture "Bernie Sanders" in either case.

  • John Galt||

    Pol Pothead?

  • John Galt||

    Creepiest pope ever.

  • Rich||

    The "Uncle Joe" of popes?

  • John Galt||

    More like the 'Chester the Freedom Molester."

  • CatoTheChipper||

    He's the Barack Obama of popes.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    I'm sorry, but I can no longer buy the claim that Francis is "confused". If he were spouting this nonsense on its own, it might be plausible. But, he's outright attacking those with actual understanding and knowledge. The only logical conclusion is that, for whatever reason, he's on the opposite side of liberty.

  • Win Bear||

    The only logical conclusion is that, for whatever reason, he's on the opposite side of liberty.

    For whatever reason? He's the head of the Catholic church. They have never been big on liberty.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    He's the head of the Catholic church. They have never been big on liberty.

    Right.

    It's interesting to consider that the Catholic church began to lose power just as trade began to pick up and ancient ideas returned/came to Europe. Protestantism is both a catalyst and product of the Renaissance and pre-enlightenment. Capitalism, free markets, individualism, and the middle-class all came into existence--or prominence--at the expense of the Vatican's power and influence. Is there any wonder that the head of the Catholic church would hope to roll back some of that progress?

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Point taken. I might add a Jesuit to boot.

    Of course, I think the point still stands. Francis isn't confused. He's on the other side. He may be a nice guy and a swell fellow, but he's still a statist. People should stop trying to kid themselves.

  • JeremyR||

    So you're saying the Pope is Catholic, then.

  • AdamJ||

    Quick takeaway:
    The Pope is dumber than Bono.

  • Florida Man||

    At least Bono learned from reality and now supports free markets to help the poor.

  • Florida Man||

  • Long Woodchippers||

    I also recall that Bono spent a lot of time asking other people to donate their money when God asked him, "What are YOU doing?" Having been chastised, Bono then devoted much more of his own money and also time, being hands on in the process of getting aid to the needy.

  • ||

    under his plan we'll all be equal. now if you'll excuse him, he needs to put on his pope hat and pope shoes and get back to running his hierarchical organization.

  • Florida Man||

    You mean he needs to fly back to his gold laden palace, so he can talk down to us about equality.

  • Win Bear||

    as by the example he's set by eschewing the lavish trappings of the papacy.

    Jet-setting around the globe and making grandiose speeches while pretending to be humble by living in the lavish Vatican guest house?

    Sorry, but I don't see taking the Pope as setting a good example for the simple life or eschewing material wealth

  • Rich||

    There goes Win Bear again -- attacking the messenger.

  • Vampire||

    Hey! Win Bear wins bears biotch!

  • Win Bear||

    Yes, you're absolutely right: when someone preaches humility and simplicity and lives an obscenely wealthy, ostentatious, and arrogant life, that is hypocrisy, and the messenger deserves to be condemned and ridiculed for it.

  • Florida Man||

    Hey Stephanie, Go Gators! Also better luck next year Kentucky.

  • Stephanie Slade||

    Hell yeah!

  • Chip the Chipper||

    I haven't said this in a while, but I love you people. I love that there at least a few good men and women out there.

  • Rich||

    And a Good Morning to you, too, Chip!

  • Florida Man||

    Take solace in the fact that most people don't vote, which means they don't take the government seriously and don't exercise their right to tell others what to do.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....ince-wwii/

  • Vampire||

    That's why there needs to be a choice rejecting government on the ballot.

  • Res ipsa loquitur||

    I for one welcome my new Socialist/Communist/progressive/Pope Ruler who will bring us back to the Dark Ages where the Church ruled !

  • SusanM||

    OT: Black and Blue (again) from TrendyPrevarication

    http://thinkprogress.org/justi.....ystanders/

    In a video uploaded to Facebook by the group Mass Action Against Police Brutality, the officer repeatedly strikes the unidentified woman, yelling “Back up, back up, shut the fuck up!” The woman scuffles with the officer as bystanders yell for him to stop and for the woman to calm down. As people on the bus approach the officer, imploring him to stop, he pulls out his gun and points it towards them. Witnesses yell at him to drop the gun, as the woman tries to push the officer’s baton away and he stands with his finger on the trigger.
  • ||

    I'm still enjoying the amusement value of watching a bunch of Marxists proclaim the pope as an authority on economics.

  • IrishEddieOHara||

    Yeah. Almost as good as watching right-wing morons declare the pope a leftist when all he is doing is promoting Catholic Social Teaching.

  • Eric Bana||

    It is so irritating to hear people say these things. Their solutions are also incredibly dumb. If they think too many people are poor and too many people are rich, all they need to advocate for is basically some type of minimum guaranteed income. That's it. Straight-up wealth transfer. That would be tolerable to listen to. The problem is, they think markets themselves often naturally lead to shortages, gluts, inflated prices, too-low prices, not enough material goods, materialistic hedonism, etc. So then control of the means of production and provision of services and so on comes into play (universal healthcare, ag subsidies, trade limits and caps, subsidized loans, etc.) and everything goes downhill from there. Egh.

  • Itchy Puss||

    Jesus Christ, himself, sounds more like a communist than a capitalist or a libertarian.

    Christ, along with the Buddha, preached that together we can solve problems.
    Capitalism/Libertarian-ism preach "do for you and fuck the rest".

    That being said, I'm a big fan of capitalism. It is the only system that allows for social mobility.
    It needs to be regulated (something that you libertarians are no fans of). And, we need safety nets.

    I think this Pope ignores the good job that America did in eliminating extreme poverty within her borders.
    Our poor live in air-conditioning, have decent healthcare, have food, are educated, and welcome to move up social classes.
    No communist country has done that.

    Like I said, I'm a fan of capitalism. But you can't just let the crooks, the callous assholes, etc. bring it to a hault.

  • Drake||

    You have not read much scripture. Jesus was pretty uninterested in politics and concentrated on personal faith and behavior.

    He never downplayed the importance of the Tenth Commandment, which like the Tenth Amendment, is widely ignored these days.

  • Itchy Puss||

    Matthew 19:24

  • Itchy Puss||

    Clearly, Christ didn't discuss that industry should be owned by the collective or any other traditional communist economic tragedies. But what is clear is that collectively we should take care of each other (safety nets).

    And, as for "Thou shall not covert thy neighbors' goods", well, capitalism is built upon this. People thrive to have the house on the hill, six cars, eight digit bank accounts, and ATM cards that are bottom-less pits.

    Christ was all about politics. He was executed by the local priest who were effectively the elitist and the politicians of the Jews.

  • kbolino||

    And, as for "Thou shall not covert thy neighbors' goods", well, capitalism is built upon this.

    Oh, it is? The system of private property, which holds that every man's rights are not to be violated by the depredations of others, is built upon covetousness?

    No. Capitalism is built around the notion that property is sacrosanct. You may covet your neighbor's goods, but you will not be allowed to have them. Contrast this with socialism, which holds that not only may you covet your neighbor's goods, but it is right and just for you to obtain them.

  • Vampire||

    If you read what Jesus had to say, he was pretty much an anarchist.

  • Eric Bana||

    If you read what Jesus had to say according to the Bible, you could easily come to thousands of different conclusions about what in blazes he was saying, which is precisely what has happened among his fervent adherents.

  • Vampire||

    Nah, take a look at what the dude said. Simple to figure out. Thou shalt not steal, means what it is. It's not "Thou shalt not stealeth......except when thou is a politician"

    And him labeling tax collectors as sinners, means extortion is a sin, because thou shalt not steal, especially at sword point.

  • kbolino||

    But you can't just let the crooks, the callous assholes, etc. bring it to a hault.

    The instrument that grants them the power to do this is the government.

    Capitalism/Libertarian-ism preach "do for you and fuck the rest".

    No. Capitalism is not preachy; it is just a state of being. Libertarianism holds that the person best suited to make decisions about his own life is the individual himself. It is statists who preach that the crooks and callous assholes should be making all of the decisions.

    It needs to be regulated (something that you libertarians are no fans of)

    It is regulated, by the choices people make. Don't like it? Don't buy it. For more substantial disputes not rectified so easily, we have the courts and the system of law to remedy abuse.

    And, we need safety nets.

    And there have always been safety nets, and in free societies, there always will be. But nothing in life is free. If you want the charity of another, you will typically have to earn it.

  • kbolino||

    But you can't just let the crooks, the callous assholes, etc. bring it to a hault.

    The instrument that grants them the power to do this is the government.

    Capitalism/Libertarian-ism preach "do for you and fuck the rest".

    No. Capitalism is not preachy; it is just a state of being. Libertarianism holds that the person best suited to make decisions about his own life is the individual himself. It is statists who preach that the crooks and callous assholes should be making all of the decisions.

    It needs to be regulated (something that you libertarians are no fans of)

    It is regulated, by the choices people make. Don't like it? Don't buy it. For more substantial disputes not rectified so easily, we have the courts and the system of law to remedy abuse.

    And, we need safety nets.

    And there have always been safety nets, and in free societies, there always will be. But nothing in life is free. If you want the charity of another, you will typically have to earn it.

  • kbolino||

    fucking squirrels...

  • LynchPin1477||

    Capitalism/Libertarian-ism preach "do for you and fuck the rest".

    That's not what capitalism/libertarianism preach at all. Not even close. The preach voluntary, mutually agreed upon exchange. That almost *necessitates* cooperation on a massive scale. Which is exactly what we see in and across capitalist economies the world over. What capitalism/libertarianism does *not* preach is adherence to a strict set of ideologies. It doesn't matter what the religion/politics of my mechanic are, so long as he provides me the services I want and I pay him a price that he can accept.

    It needs to be regulated (something that you libertarians are no fans of)

    Libertarians are in favor of strong protections for property and other rights. That is a form of regulation. They also recognize that competition in the market place is itself a form of regulation.

    But you can't just let the crooks, the callous assholes, etc. bring it to a hault.

    We agree on that. But libertarians recognize that government regulation is perhaps the biggest avenue for the crooks and callous assholes to take control of various sectors of the economy.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    In capitalism, one becomes rich by making the most people the most happy.

    If you can't deliver to others, you won't prosper

  • Notorious UGCC||

    The Pope has made a lot of cringe-inducing and silly statements.

    But as Ms. Slade notes, these statements often contain escape hatches - paens to scientific progress, and (particularly important) acknowledging the leading role of the laity in carrying out the social teaching of the Church.

    What progs and cosmos don't seem to get is that this flexibility is in contrast to the uncompromising Church teachings on abortion and marriage. Catholic laypersons - including market-oriented Catholics - retain discretion to choose a variety of means to carry out the social-justice objectives of Catholic economic teaching - means including encouraging economic development.

    In contrast, abortion (for instance) is an objective wrong which the state simply doesn't have the option of legalizing - there's no discretion for lay politicians to use the cop-out of "we're trying to reduce abortion by legalizing it, man!"

    And since the free-market arguments the Pope chooses to rebut tend to be straw men - "ha ha, they say capitalism is a panacea which solves all problems!" - then market-oriented Catholics have room to say, "yes, Your Holiness, people who hold those views are certainly wrong - fortunately we argue, not that it solves *all* problems, but that it solves *many* problems, though the spiritual damage often associated with all economic systems certainly call for a response, not from government, but from civil society and the Church, as with charity and so forth."

  • Independent_Forever||

    Great article and right on point! I share much, if not all, of these same thoughts and questions and wonder WHY the church can't send out a clear message on many issues like this. Could you imagine the world without the United States ever existing? Think about it. I'm not saying we don't have our problems and faults as a nation BUT the reality is without nations like ours this world would be overrun by despots and tyrants and people would be in even worse circumstances. Just look around where these other so-called other systems exist and we can watch, firsthand, the plight of the people who live there...actually, we see them leaving as fast as they can and trying to migrate elsewhere--WHY? Just for the scenery...I think not. There is a reason why millions of people try to get into this country and others like it and it's NOT just for the beautiful landscapes....it's for liberty and freedom all of which is derived from a truly FREE SOCIETY and not one ruled over by some select few political elitists who think they know best..

  • ||

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  • PlaystoomuchHALO||

    The key word is "if" and history shows that organized religion has little, if any, interest in helping the poor, and a great amount of interest in keeping them that way.

    Poor, uneducated, short-lived people are much easier to control, and religion is ALL about controlling people.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    Also, the Judge spoke of the *absolute primacy* of the individual over the state.

    The free-market Catholic Acton Institute is a bit more nuanced on Church doctrine:

    "Authority in general is a topic of fundamental importance. CCC states: “Human society can be neither well-ordered nor prosperous unless it has some people invested with legitimate authority to preserve its institutions and to devote themselves as far as is necessary to work and care for the good of all. . . . Every human community needs an authority to govern it. . . . Its role is to ensure as far as is possible the common good of the society.” (nos. 1897-1898) CCC further qualifies that authority is legitimate “only when it seeks the common good of the group . . . and if it employs morally licit means to attain it.” Such “common good” is also the standard for an acceptable political form: “Regimes whose nature is contrary to the natural law, to the public order, and to the fundamental rights of persons cannot achieve the common good of the nations on which they have been imposed.” (no. 1901) The modern Catechism also recognizes the non-intervention of governments into other divinely mandated spheres: “It is preferable that each power be balanced by other powers and by other spheres of responsibility which keep it within proper bounds.” (no. 1904)"

    http://www.acton.org/pub/relig.....urch-state

  • blik||

    Nearly one million Americans experience homelessness in a given week. A country in which annual income of the top 1% is approx. 50-100x greater than the lower 99%, where the 1% owns more wealth then the entirety of the lower 99%, where workplace productivity has doubled since 50s, yet average wages have failed to keep up with inflation. What in the hell are you people going on about?

  • Eric Bana||

    This may be a bit off topic but is still fairly relevant and indeed very important. It may be good for you to know, blik. Local, state, and federal spending on anti-poverty programs in the U.S. easily total $900 billion (a conservative figure) per year. Divide that by the poorest 20% of the U.S. (62 million), and you have anti-poverty spending at a little more than $14,500 per person annually. For a family of four in the poorest 20%, that totals $58,000 per year. Even supposing an outrageously high administrative cost of 20%, the amount spent would be over $46,000 on a family of four annually.

    Clearly the U.S. government spends plenty on combating poverty. Poverty should easily be non-existent in the U.S. To reiterate, anti-poverty spending in the U.S. is more than enough to eliminate poverty, so spending does not need to increase. How that money is spent needs to be changed.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    Agreed. I think there's some tax theory out there that argues it's better to give everyone a small stipend to survive and those who want to do more than survive will work and do well. We essentially already do this, but the idea is to simplify it, etc.

  • Vampire||

    It's called advocating freedom of choice and private charity, versus being robbed at gunpoint to fund a grossly inneficient vehicle for dealing with poverty called the gov't.

  • blik||

    The only problem with this idea is that it flies in the face of reality, specifically I don't see the private sector doing shit to address poverty and or the stratification of wealth in the US.

  • Eric Bana||

    Do you think annual government spending on anti-poverty programs should be more than $58,000 for a family of four in the poorest 20%?

  • kbolino||

    The private sector does more than the government ever has to help the poor: it employs them and provides them with goods and services. The most vulnerable and marginalized people can't be helped effectively by the private sector because the government has made it illegal to do so (minimum wage, mandatory benefits, mandatory overtime, labor laws, forced unionization, job "safety", environmental "safety", food and drug regulation, etc.). And yet even so there is effort by the private sector, in the gray and black markets, and in the businesses most hated by the left, to help them anyway.

    You are just so greedy that instead of accepting the terms of the private sector, you want to take the money and wealth by force. You will not be happy until everyone is poor, because your envy will not allow anyone to be richer than you.

  • blik||

    No, I don't want to take money by force, I want my tax dollars to go towards something meaningful instead of trillions in tax cuts for fortune 500 companies.

  • kbolino||

    I [don't] want my tax dollars to go towards ... tax cuts

    Please take Accounting 101 and then try again. You could also respond to something I said, instead of just writing irrelevant nonsense.

  • LynchPin1477||

    I don't see the private sector doing shit to address poverty

    Except that the private sector has been the source of almost all the innovations that have lifted people out of poverty and spread that to the masses.

    We need to differentiate between the private sector/free market and a market captured by entrenched interests via government regulation.

  • blik||

    the only people that have been lifted up by capitalism are people who own the means of production.

  • kbolino||

    You work for free?

  • LynchPin1477||

    So the entire population of the industrialized world, as well as the populations of southeast Asia and India, were/are lifted up by........?

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    D- on the troll scale

  • Vampire||

    Sorry, gov't and the central bank do more to impoverish individuals. That is reality.

    An individual, if paid in pre 1965 quarters at today's poverty rate of $11,700 would have enough purchasing power to pay for college, or even a Maserati if they wanted to.

    You saying the gov't is more efficient and effective at fighting poverty is nonsensical.

  • blik||

    how so? how is US exchange rate the consequent of statist policies enacted over the last 50 years, and not unbridled capitalism?

  • kbolino||

    What "unbridled capitalism"? The Sherman Anti-Trust Act is 125 years old.

  • Vampire||

    Unbridled capitalism??? LolZ. Ever hear of legal tender laws? They force an exchange partner to accept a media of exchange against their will.

    There is a difference between pre 1965 quarters and those of today. They contained 90% silver, while the debauched ones of today are now junk metal.

  • LynchPin1477||

    how is US exchange rate the consequent of statist policies

    Um, fiat currency much?

  • blik||

    Do you have a reference for the $900B figure or that figure falls under the same eligibility requirements, because I have a hard time believing the US spends less on defense.

  • Eric Bana||

    http://object.cato.org/sites/c...../PA694.pdf

    http://www.cato.org/publicatio.....verty-fail

    Even if you find some programs objectionable to include in the $900 billion figure (which is lower than the figure in the paper), it does not include Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment benefits.

    Just to clarify, this money clearly is not distributed directly to the poorest in the U.S. That's really the majority of the problem. Spending levels are plenty high to easily eliminate poverty in the U.S. The money is simply spent very poorly and ineffectively.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    One Million is a big number. Presumably you picked a week rather than a day to include more people. Even at One Million, that's less than 0.5% of the American population. Lots of people to be sure, but let's get real about the numbers.

    It's like the old argument about the percent of people 'living in poverty' that is always severely inflated by part time workers, students, and new entrants to the workforce who all represent a normal state of transitional poverty.

  • blik||

    I'd rather no go around telling the homeless to "get real", seems a bit detached to me. Interestingly enough, homelessness in the US has a high degree of turnover as well, so anywhere from 3.5-4M people are affected each year. Which seems to suggest a systemic issue with wealth distribution in this country as compared to chronic homelessness, specifically a large portion of the US population is close to homelessness at any given time. I remember hearing somewhere that more than a quarter off the US population is on average 6 weeks worth of paychecks away from homelessness. And I'm sorry, but I vomited in my mouth about the "transitional poverty" bit.

  • kbolino||

    Which seems to suggest a systemic issue with wealth distribution in this country as compared to chronic homelessness

    Indeed, it is illegal to pay people less than $7.15 per hour (nominal, the real cost to the employer is more than that) for labor in this country. This is the result. The government has made it illegal to distribute wealth to these people. What did you expect?

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    The fact that reality makes you vomit in your mouth helps to clarify the rest of your comments.

  • LynchPin1477||

    But it's not even a bad thing when you realize

    1) Poverty in this context is relative, not absolute
    2) This is a statement about income mobility, which is a good thing

    People have to start somewhere. They usually start out closer to the poverty line and then move up. I see nothing objectionable about this as someone who followed that exact path.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    Yes, that is the whole point. There seems to be a big misconception that 'wealthy' people come from wealthy families and are only wealthy because of this greater advantage.

    It's certainly true that this happens, but most so-called wealthy people started off at the bottom of the income scale and worked their way up.

    And, most people people in the 1%, while obviously more wealthy than others, are still nowhere near being 'rich' despite being routinely labeled as such. Most are high income earners who still have to go to work each day, whether they like it or not, just like the rest of us working stiffs.

  • blik||

    Are you fucking joking me?! Ha, the 1% is nowhere near being rich? Here's the worlds smallest violin. It's funny why the uber-rich would go to work at all. Then compare themselves to the plebs working 12hr days with 4hrs of commute, just so they can live pay check to pay check. Get fucking real you bougey fuck.

  • ||

    'The only problem with this idea is that it flies in the face of reality,'

    A progs favorite sentence.

    'Unbridled capitalism'.

    A progs big scary word.

    Nah. You get real.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    @bllk, Perhaps you could come up with a number that defines 'rich' instead of justing whining. It takes just under $400k/year in household income to be in the top 1%. Nothing to sneeze at, but hardly rich, and especially since that's often two incomes contributing to the household

    If you think that's 'rich', then fine by me, but the reality is most people think of 'rich' as someone who doesn't work and can spend money quite frivolously.

  • LynchPin1477||

    His was that the 1% still needs to work. I'm not actually sure that is true after a few years...depends on how they save/invest their money and what lifestyle they want to maintain. But average income drops pretty quickly so I would absolutely believe it about the top 10% or so.

    Then compare themselves to the plebs working 12hr days with 4hrs of commute

    Calling bull shit on that one being in anyway, shape, or form common.

  • LynchPin1477||

    A country in which annual income of the top 1% is approx. 50-100x greater than the lower 99%

    This is wrong. Average income of the top 1% in the U.S. is $717,000, and average income of the rest is $51,000. That is a difference of 14x.

  • kbolino||

    While the correction is nice, it is still irrelevant noise. If the rich get twice as rich and the poor get 1.5 times as rich, we should all be rejoicing, not lamenting the growing "gap" like innumerate morons.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    While true, it is also true that we happen to be a nation of morons.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    The only way for the income gap to become smaller is for the people at the top (those presumably with more skills) to increase at a lower rate than those at the bottom. The only time that happens is when the economy is contracting. A widening income gap is a feature of a growing economy.

    If the rich increased their income by 2x, and the poor by 1.5x, yes the poor should be very happy, because they have 50% more, regardless of what anyone else has.

  • blik||

    average income of the top 1% is approximately 2.5M per year.

  • blik||

    i think you're taking the lower bound per annum.

  • kbolino||

    And 2.5M divided by 300M wouldn't even net a penny. Why do you obsess about the income of the rich? It doesn't matter how much they make, it matters how much opportunity everybody has. And the #1 reducer of opportunity, BY FAR, is the government.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    @bllk. You're off by a factor of 6x. It's under $400k. http://taxfoundation.org/artic.....e-tax-data

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    My bad. The number I posted is the point at which one enters the top 1%, and not the average. The average is about $1.1 million. That chart, however, doesn't show the breakdown above 1%. If you can find those numbers, you'll see that the vast majority of people in the 1% are far below that average, just as the majority of people in the top 5% are far below the average of the top 5%.

    Consequently, most people in the Top 1% are still in the lower ranges of that group and their average income is inflated because the super wealthy are also included with them.

  • LynchPin1477||

    The number I always see is $717,000

  • Mike M.||

    You know that Francis is an anti-American, anti-capitalist demagogue because Block Yomomma is inviting him to the White House. They're socialist soul bruthas.

  • Notorious UGCC||

    So we've talked about how capitalism helps the poor, now do you know what really helps capitalism? The traditional family. I mean the household of a man, his wife, and their children, with the man being responsible for the support of the household.

    That doesn't mean that the wife and kids spend their days vegging out in front of the TV while Dad works. The wife and kids can work, too, if needed, but the father bears the responsibility for keeping a roof over everyone's head and keeping his family fed (like Jed).

    Look on the world of intact families and compare it to the world of broken families, and see who contributes more to the economy. A culture encouraging the traditional family will encourage economic growth.

    (Cue the obligatory straw-man objection that "some families are broken through no fault of their own! How dare you say that *everyone* ought to be in an intact family!")

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    that's a correlation argument, not a causation one, along with being a chicken and the egg issue.

  • Eric Bana||

    I don't think a father bears any more responsibility than a mother. Women are capable of supporting families as well, and I think couples can choose for women to work and keep a roof over everyone's head and keep the family fed.

  • kbolino||

    You are putting the cart before the horse. Effective exploitation of capital is what drives mankind forward. If the nuclear family is the best means for achieving that end, then it will be the way most people choose to organize their lives. Indeed, many of the factors acting against "stable families" are anti-capitalist in nature. However, there have been many people who made great contribution to the development of mankind despite "living in sin" or otherwise avoiding the "traditional" lifestyle. Capitalism also enables people the freedom to live as they please.

  • Individual||

    Pope Francis is an expert in both free markets and game theory. His goal is to increase the reach of the church and his biggest market is the poor in underdeveloped, mostly communist countries, who buy his message that rich countries aren't doing enough to help them. As far as the very rich are concerned by guilt tripping them he is likely increasing donations to the church. If he were to do the opposite of what he is doing, praise Capitalism and decry the leadership of poor countries, he would not get the entry or recognition in his biggest markets.

    So, it's not that Pope Francis doesn't understand free market capitalism it's that his market doesn't and telling them what they want to hear promotes the reach of the Catholic Church.

  • Eric Bana||

    I disagree. I basically have no doubt Pope Francis is honestly economically illiterate.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    Most people are, and even very well educated Americans often have the economic comprehension of a chimpanzee.

  • Individual||

    This may be correct, but his message results in maximum benefit to both him and the church.

  • BillCarson||

    you're wrong. From everything I can tell, his comments will lead to a decrease in donations, not an increase. As a Catholic, I have learned to be very suspicious about monies being "kicked upstairs" from the parish I gave to and put into the hands of Rome or into the hands of the local bishop. I can't be the only person who thinks like this.

    If Francis were to come to America and attack capitalism from an ignorant perspective, I would be sure to never give another donation to "Peter's Pence", the periodic collection of monies going straight to Rome. I mean, if he hates capitalism and thinks it's horrible, then he should want money from me, a guy once poor who made it in life because, not in spite of, capitalism.

  • BillCarson||

    sorry, should have said at the end that he should NOT want money from me.

  • CatoTheChipper||

    It is quite significant that the Jesuit Jorge Mario Bergoglio chose the name Francis when he became pope.

    First, Jesuits have been political since the days of Ignatius and, more recently, were pretty much the source of liberation theology which synthesized Marxism with Catholicism and inspired several Latin American guerrilla groups. I doubt that Francis is an ideological Marxist, but think he holds Marxian ideas in high esteem.

    Second, he chose Francis because St. Francis of Assisi preached that poverty was not an evil to be remedied, but a virtue. His was a mendicant order: his followers aspired to poverty.

    His Holiness understand that the surest way to attain the virtue of universal poverty is for the world to adopt socialism. This is where Francis differs from Marx: Marx thought socialism would bring about material abundance for the proletariat. Francis believes that socialism's failure to attain the material prosperity anticipated by Marx is not a bug of the system, but a feature.

    This also explains why His Holiness was so flummoxed when he was asked about his concern for the middle class. Obviously, his preference is that it should be reduced to poverty, but he could not just come out and say so. So he made a word salad saying, as best as I can tell, that he had never thought about the middle class. As we all know, French for middle class is bourgeoisie, which seems to be scorned by Francis as much as Marx.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    Curious that he is/was a Jesuit and not a Franciscan...

    I like the guy even though his economic ideas are batshit crazy.

  • pronomian||

    Why doesn't this hypocrite demand the vatican sell off it's wealth and holdings to give to the poor? Oh, wait, it doesn't apply to "the church," one of the biggest thieves during it's history.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    The church is certainly very wealthy, but I'm not sure about their history of being thieves. Corrupt at times for sure, at least by modern standards, but I'm not sure you can make a plausible case that their wealth has come from theft.

  • IrishEddieOHara||

    You are just another in a long line of anti-Catholic, know-nothing bigots! The wealth of the Church has been given freely by people just like me over the centuries. What? Do you think that the priceless are of Michelangelo was put on the Sistine Chapel at the point of a gun?

    You're crazy (and a bigot)

  • Richard McCargar||

    The man in a dress is a Marxist. Nothing more.

  • BillCarson||

    I have 8 years of Jesuit education. Unfortunately, 9 of 10 Jesuits are leftists. The pope knows nothing about economics and maybe doesn't want to know anything. Many Catholics and others will pay a huge price for his ignorance. Most unfortunate!

    Good piece!

  • IrishEddieOHara||

    And you know nothing about Catholic Social Teaching or what Jesus taught about how to care for others. This is a typical hit piece from right-wing goon squads who blather on about Jesus, but would crucify Him again if He came to town insisting that we actually care for the poor rather than talk about it while driving BMWs.

  • Frankjasper1||

    So can we expect you to give up all your wealth except for the bare necessities in order to help the poor? Would like to see what your financial situation is like and what you are doing. Though i suspect you want others to help the poor and not really apply it to yourself

  • IrishEddieOHara||

    QUOTE: "Though I suspect you want others to help the poor and not really apply it to yourself"

    Jesus told us that when we do our alms and help the poor, we are not to "sound a trumpet," i.e. to broadcast it for all to see.

    Therefore, all I will say is that you are wrong. Very, very wrong.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    Considering that wealth was tightly controlled by the wealthy and the state in the time of Jesus, he wouldn't immediately recognize how wealth is made available in innumerable ways to the average Peter, Paul, and Mary.

    But, once Jesus did the math and realized that our world has substantially more wealth despite an exponentially higher global population, I'm guessing he would come to understand the system and help articulate how all that capital could be even more efficiently used to help lift more people out of poverty rather than complaining about the abundant resources that man has created in his absence.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    I think He already understands everything, being omniscient and all.

  • IrishEddieOHara||

    Capitalism may be the economic engine to lift the 1% out of poverty, but it has done nothing more than make wage-slaves out of the rest of the world. If you think that Capitalism is such a ducky idea, why don't you go back to the halcyon days of the early 20th century and see how the coal miners, steel mill workers, and automotive worker-drones felt about the great opportunity to become rich?

    Conservatives would happily remove all the government restraints on industry (at the behest of their corporatist thug-buddies) so that workers could once again work for peanuts. This would enable profits to max out and CEO wages to go through the roof.

    "Oh, but look at all the private businesses that Capitalism has allowed to grow and flourish!" I hear you say. Really? Is a man really free, is it truly a free-enterprise system when a man has to go into credit debt up to his eyeballs to start a business? Is it truly a free system when banks own everything man has, and by the use of usury, keep him indebted for the rest of his life to pay off the loans they so happily made him? G.K. Chesterton and Hilaire Belloc wrote eloquently in the last century about this "wage-slavery" and how the playing field is tilted for the bankers and other money-lending crooks who are running this circus.

  • IrishEddieOHara||

    In a truly free economy, men would be able to start a business and not be in such debt that their whole lives were on the table if the business failed. There would be no such nonsense as the government subsidizing the large corporations to the tune of billions of dollars. It should make you gag every time you see an NFL billionaire get billions of dollars from the harried tax-payers in this country to build a new stadium.

    It is also not a truly free market when certain businesses are allowed to become so large (think
    Wal-Mark, Lowe's, Home Depot, etc.) that they can drive out the family owned businesses in a town and then hire people at slave wages.

    This and much more is Capitalism. It is the flip side of Socialism, for in both systems, the money is held by a very small few and the rest are subject to the whims of the economic ruling class. Capitalism is based on greed, lust for power, and an uneven playing field in which the biggest and best earners are those who step all over people.

    The true Catholic model is the Distributist Economic Model which G.K. Chesterton, Hilaire Belloc, and Fr. Vincent McNabb championed in the last century. It stands for small, privately-owned businesses, guilds, and craftsmen, and against usury and large corporations robbing us blind. Our Holy Father is simply stating Catholic teaching, and lest you forget, Jesus gave some very severe warnings against those whose god is money.

  • Frankjasper1||

    Slaves didnt really have wages. How do you propose that small privately owned businesses produce such things like airplanes, cars, tvs, and food in bulk that we can all enjoy it?

  • IrishEddieOHara||

    Right now, airplanes are made by small companies that work cooperatively. For instance, one company will produce the engine components. That company then turns their product over, with all the other companies doing the same thing, to other companies who make the final engine product. That product is in turn shipped to the company which is assembling the plane.

    I think we are conditioned to think that only a very large company can produce bulk of products. Why not many smaller companies which are limited to 100 or 200 employees, so that the ownership is spread around? I am in favor of owner/employee companies where each employee owns an equal share. Thus, the responsibility for production, good quality, and all the other things to produce a good finished product are equally shared, as would be the profits from the company to support the families of the owners.

    Maybe it wouldn't work -- but we haven't even tried it yet, have we?

  • Long Woodchippers||

    Who's going to set the limits? Who's going to decide how big is too big? It has to be some government guy who usually has little idea about the task he's given.

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    A double dose of derp...well done "eddie are you kidding?".

  • Akira||

    You're mostly correct, but you make the mistake of believing that the USA is and always has been a free market capitalist society. It is not. Very few industries are left entirely up to market mechanisms.

    Some goods have minimum prices set on them. Some goods have maximum prices set. Some goods are kept artificially expensive through taxation; others are kept artificially cheap through subsidies. Sure, big companies gain monopolies and squeeze as much money as they can out of consumers. But nobody considers the fact that laws, regulations, and licensing make it damn near impossible for any competition to spring up. Is it any wonder that many industries are dominated by monopolists?

    Looking at the USA as an indictment of free market capitalism is sort of like buying a Lego set, throwing the instructions away and declaring, "I can build this better", and then complaining and blaming the instructions when the finished product looks nothing like the picture on the box.

    And of course, you should take note of the fact that socialism has always caused both the economy and human rights of the host country to go down the toilet.

  • kbolino||

    If you think that Capitalism is such a ducky idea, why don't you go back to the halcyon days of the early 20th century and see how the coal miners, steel mill workers, and automotive worker-drones felt about the great opportunity to become rich?

    They did become rich. When you compare the lot of the average man in 1950 with that of the average man in 1900, the change in standard of living is staggering. No amount of regulation could have made that happen; it took blood, sweat, and capital.

    You live in this comfortable, modern world and sneer at what it took to build it. People didn't work in the factories because they had no choice. They worked in the factories because they wanted to build a better life than their parents and grandparents had.

    As to the amount of debt a person "must" incur, that is at heart the nature of risk-taking. Starting a business is a risky venture, but for some reason modern people think "risky" means something other than "a high probability of failure". Nobody forces you to take on the debt; the beauty of capitalism is that you can earn a living in any way that someone else finds valuable. However, if you choose to take on debt, then you must live with the consequences.

  • Frankjasper1||

    Why would you work at a place that doesn't pay you anything?

  • Frankjasper1||

    I don't know... i and pretty much every american has it pretty good. Best overall standard of living in history.

    I always find it odd when people continually refer to the 1% having everything and we are the 99% burfle. So what if i am at 1.1%, 1.5%, 2%, 10%...they dont have it very good? It is like these people think the 1% is some sort of private club or something plotting to take over the world. They are quite the boogeyman

  • Frankjasper1||

    I don't know... i and pretty much every american has it pretty good. Best overall standard of living in history.

    I always find it odd when people continually refer to the 1% having everything and we are the 99% burfle. So what if i am at 1.1%, 1.5%, 2%, 10%...they dont have it very good? It is like these people think the 1% is some sort of private club or something plotting to take over the world. They are quite the boogeyman

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    I assume that you realize that even though there were many terrible working conditions in the US during the late 1800s and early 1900s, that most of those people literally chose to live that way rather than take their chances back in Europe or on the farm. To them, it was an improvement, and it's a basic flaw of historical revisionism to apply our cultural values to another time.

    Just as an example, take a look at the world's population over time before the industrial revolution and spread of capitalism. The population didn't stay so low because families had 2 kids. It was quite the opposite. Famine was normal throughout most of history and today it's considered abnormal. People didn't work on farms out of sense of communing with nature. They did it for survival and when options, like big cities, became available, they migrated in droves. The same has been happening in China for awhile now as well.

    Anyway, feel free to scream and shout, but you might want to stop some time and make the effort to actually understand why you're talking about.

  • Akira||

    Isn't it frustrating that every economic/political philosophy other than militant redistribution of wealth is characterized as some evil "trickle-down" scheme?

  • Grant||

    They don’t teach Econ 101 is seminary . . . and I’m beginning to wonder if the Pope has read the New Testament. Jesus’ consistent message is libertarian . . . individual freedom, compassion and personal responsibility. Sounds like free market economics to me.

  • In League with the Dark Ones||

    You know who else was "enamored of the idea of "small-scale food production systems ... using a modest amount of land and producing less waste, be it in small agricultural parcels, in orchards and gardens, hunting and wild harvesting or local fishing""?

  • Animal||

    Bokonon?

  • jgradgus||

    Stephanie, you may be a "devout Catholic" but you appear to be somewhat ignorant of Catholic Social Teaching, and of the encyclicals of Pope Benedict XVI, Pope St. John Paul II, Pope Paul Vi, Pope Pius XI, and Pope Leo XIII. The Catholic Church is all in favor of a free market. It is not in favor of greed, dishonesty, and injustice. Pope Francis wants an ethical, virtuous free market, and he wants all of us (nations, which are made up of people) to be more charitable to the less fortunate. Try doing 3,500 words on that.

  • Bellbiv||

    The problem with either position is in absolutes, neither work. To postulate that "pure unadultered Capitalism" enriches the poor is ridiculous! Southern Slavery didn't raise the blacks into a Middle Class...The Gilded age of pure Capitalism and 72 hour work weeks did not create a middle class...It was the combination of Capitalism and ensuring rights and common sense to the working class after WWII that created the greatest Middle Class ever.

    Look at our Capitalism today! China can produce something for a dollar a day??? Awesome, shut down these $10 an hour plants in the U.S. and send those jobs to China! NOW that Chinese are demanding up to $400 a month, suddenly the talk is of bringing jobs back to the U.S.

    Capitalism of today has Companies with a couple hundred employees having a net worth in the tens of billions.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    The article didn't promote "pure unadultered Capitalism", which makes your argument a strawman...

    Also, if you want to talk about the creation of a relatively large and prosperous American middle class, you are correct to identify the post WWII era. However, it wasn't the ensuring of rights that yielded that advancement (the US was still largely segregated and women had very few opportunities), nor was it some notion of 'common sense.

    Instead, it was the complete destruction of America's industrialized competition during that war that gave Americans such a great opportunity for advancement. That AND capitalism fueled the rapid material growth of the middle class.

    It's always fascinating when people pick an historical anomaly and pretend it's some kind of standard....

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    Chattel slavery is not really part of capitalism. Although the slave owners were certainly capitalists, the plantation was more a feudal system. Which, BTW, the agricultural establishments of socialism/communism resembles.

    The middle-class is the business owners, entrepreneurs, and professionals. Workers are working-class. Capitalism expands the middle-class but not everybody is middle-class. Still, the working class of a capitalist system are much better of than those of a mercantile, socialist, or feudal society.

    There were a lot of factors that contributed to the great gains after WWII but regulations didn't contribute to capital gains. Yes, some workers had it really good. But others did not. The people who couldn't afford those expensive union-built cars were not so much better off.

    Capitalism of today has Companies with a couple hundred employees having a net worth in the tens of billions.

    I'm sorry, but this is just pure envy. What difference is it to you what the market capitalization is for these companies? Does it take anything from you? No. You're just letting envy cloud your economic world-view. And this is typical.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    I'm convinced that the driving emotion, or notion, of socialism and progressivism is covetousness pure and simple. Marx was a jealous man. He was ostracized for his politics and denied the teaching position that he thought he deserved. He had more kids than he could afford and depended on the charity of Engels to live. It is no coincidence that many neo Marxists are likewise jealous and angry about their station in life. Almost everything I read about economics from progressives and other quasi-socialists contains some envious statement about how much the 1% or other group has and how evil it is for them to have it. They are not concerned about the poor all that much but about themselves and that someone has more wealth than they do.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    I would also add academics often harbor great resentment towards 'the rich' because, in their not so humble opinions, 'the rich' aren't adding as much value to humanity as they are with their research.

    I have met some academics that freely acknowledge, and even dare to thank, those who make it possible for them to do their research. However, I have met many others who really hate the fact that society (measured in terms of income) finds 'business people' more valuable.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    Do these academics subscribe to the Labor Theory of Value? Or do they just believe that their contribution should be worth more to the market?

    I recently watched a video that claimed that zero-sum is the natural and common way of looking at economics. It made me wonder whether the LTV were not the "natural" way of thinking about value and that putting value distinction in the realm of the customer is learned.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    Regarding their frustration, I don't think it's a fully formed thought and it is really just anger and resentment. The ones I know all work very hard and are all essentially workaholics who do nothing but research and teach. But instead of thinking hard about their frustration they instead focus on the faults with the business world and politics and then see themselves as a victim of an unfair system. This is especially so in academic fields that don't have any good alternative jobs outside of academia, so they are trapped in their professions. I really don't have much sympathy for them, however. It was their choice...

  • catladycommittee||

    I am not entirely sure if Francis' ideological influence is that of Peronist (remember, he's Argentinian), socialist, or distributist. The latter, distributism, has been an articulated part of the Church teaching for a long time at least since the era of Pope Leo XIII and whose advocates include G.K. Chesterton, who is hardly a socialist or a progressive.

    Peronism, which is the official ideological background of Argentina's Justicialist Party and its factions including the ruling Front for Victory, is often seen less of a socialist than a corporatist. Argentina's public policy under Nestor Kirchner and Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, largely populist, is still very different from the socialism of Venezuela's United Socialist Party. Considering Francis' younger days, he has seen and experienced the Peron era, as well as the days of military dictatorship, and the neoliberal policy of Carlos Menem and return to Peronism under the Kirchners. So I would not be at all surprised if he was involved in the Peronist movement as a young man before entering the Jesuit order and priesthood.

  • Peter Verkooijen||

    Rerum Novarum - Benito Mussolini - Juan Peron - Pope Francis

  • jack adams||

    The Catholic Church has always had problems with science ( ask Galileo) including Economics since so few members of the clergy were educated in anything other than theology. This Pope comes to the Papacy equally ignorant of why he comes from a country of so many resources squandered by the Peronist populist agenda. He should have just stayed in Buenos Aires and belted out a few bars of Madonna's version of Evita's equally ignorant understanding of where wealth comes from and where it gets squandered Pope John II helped defeat the evil of Communism because he understood what it meant in his native Poland. This Pope embraces totalitarians like the Castro boys as he rides in his car on an island this is really the largest prison to the human spirit on the globe today.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    Your historical knowledge of the Catholic Church is about on par with Francis' knowledge of economics.

  • jack adams||

    your knowledge of my knowledge of the Catholic Church is on par with Francis knowledge of how many civil rights activists were excluded from his suck-upathon with the totalitarians he visited today. A Church, and its latest anointed vicar, elected by a college of pedofile protectors, which has been lead by corrupt Popes like the Borgias and other criminals has no standing to make comments about an economic system alien to the world of obscene waste of money called the Vatican.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    just keep digging that hole

  • biljay||

    The pope is changing marketing strategy to stop the declining church membership. He is promoting social justice and saving the environment.

  • Mark22||

    The Vatican and BP...

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    In other words he wants the catholic church, the Democrat party, and Occupy Peoria to be one and the same.

  • Devil's Candy||

    Dear Author,

    You will be relieved to know that myself, along with a large and rapidly growing number of people, do not give a dead rat's ass what the pope thinks about anything.

    Kindest Regards,

    Reason Reader

  • Mark22||

    If the Pope wants to help the poor, he should dissolve the church hierarchy and Vatican, apologize, and resign.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    Nothing special, he's just one of the tired, poor, huddled asses from latin america who are yearning to take up residence in your town and vote Marxist.

  • granite state destroyer||

    Traditional Christianity and capitalism are not compatible. The Catholic Chuch has been anti-free market since day one. The Catholic Chuch does not see inequality as a problem at all, in fact the more poor people there are, the more church gains in membership. Asking the Pope to embrace free markets is like asking Ayn Rand to embrace God.

  • Lorenzo Valla||

    Not really. Jesus fed thousands with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, he turned water into wine, etc. These lessons can be taught as precursors to capitalism quite easily as he started with a little bit and turned it into something more. He obviously did it supernaturally, according to the stories, but he always had something to work with and made something more.

  • Hyperbolical (wadair)||

    Good Point. The Parable of the Talents is another example of the expectation that people increase what they have by work or investment.

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  • RockLibertyWarrior||

    Fuck the pope, wasn't he some Marxist at one point? This isn't a surprise, why not sell all the gold in the Vatican if you want to help the poor, hypocrite. These fucking cock suckers never fail to amaze me.

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  • Ryan K||

    I agree with all the author's economic comments. To me, the Pope is a disgrace and helping to spread collectivist ideas and false economics. However, I disagree with the author's fundamental point that Capitalism and religion are compatible. First and foremost, proving the the moral and economic superiority of Capitalism can only be argued with facts, which requires reason. The essence of religion is faith. Using faith as his thinking method, the Pope opens the door to say anything he wants regarding anything (including economics and politics) and who is to argue? He expects blind acceptance on faith.

    The other factor that makes Capitalism incompatible with religion is morality. Religion teaches that altruism is the proper moral system. Altruism insists that the purpose of our lives in to live for the sake of others and sacrifice whenever possible. This is completely at odds with Capitalism, a system that rewards and demands individuals to pursue their own self interest.

    Reason self-interest and Capitalism are elements of life. Faith, altruism, and collectivism are elements of death.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    In capitalism, there is an exchange of goods or services for money. I get money by giving other people what they want. It's the socialists who envy and want to steal from others.

  • vincentblack133||

    I can agree that today people are made dependent on money. Moreover these who can’t sell themselves for good price have to live in poverty. This is a problem of capitalism, as not all the people are ambitious and want to achieve monetary goals. But today you simply can’t live in the world in developed countries without that desire to have much money. People are made to live in credit with a necessity to improve their credit score to become a good player of this financial game. People are also offered to make UK payday loan comparison to get an idea that they have a choice and can find better conditions of becoming financially dependent.

  • doonardon||

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  • dmoney||

    Such a shame that the Catholic Church is so destitute and has no money to help. There's zero money that can be squeezed out of the Vatican to help those in need. So, so sad.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "If Pope Francis Wants to Help the Poor, He Should Embrace Capitalism"

    But if he embraced Capitalism, they might stop being poor. Then how would he help the poor? He *wants* to help the poor!

    Much like Mother Theresa, Pope Francis loves *poverty*, as it is the *means* for him being able to do what he *wants*.

  • Long Woodchippers||

    Then they could get back to their number one priority, which is helping people get to heaven. What happens now, on Earth, is only temporary, and we can't take it with us.

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  • JRS1001||

    "If Pope Francis Wants to Help the Poor, He Should Embrace Capitalism"
    The biggest " NO SHIT" statement of the year.

    I think that a lot of American Catholics and many of the College of Cardinals are regretting the election of this mindless socialist to run one of the most powerful institutions on the planet.
    Pope John-Paul II must be rolling over in his grave knowing that after help defeat communism that a communist is now the pope

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  • aajax||

    I think this is the kind of capitalism that rankles the pope and others: http://bit.ly/1h0Oel4

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