The Pope vs. Capitalism and Human Progress: Q/A with Cato's Marian Tupy


"The culture of prosperity deadens us," wrote Pope Francis in December's widely discussed papal exhortation, Joy of Gospel. "We end up being incapable of feeling compassion at the outcry of the poor, weeping for other people's pain, and feeling a need to help them, as though all this were someone else's responsibility and not our own."

The proprietor of, a website that aggregates and updates ongoing improvements in global living standards, says the pope is flat-out wrong in at least two ways. First, argues Marian Tupy of the Cato Institute, Pope Francis doesn't apprehend the massive increases in human well-being, especially among the poorest people on the planet. For instance, milk consumption per person in the developing world has increased over 50 percent in the past 30 years and the infant mortality rate has been halved over the same period.

Second, Tupy says that Pope Francis doesn't appreciate the leading role capitalism, free trade, and globalization has played in making all this happen. Instead, says Tupy, the pope rails against "autonomous" markets and "unfettered" capitalism, incorrectly implying that one person's gain can only come at another's loss.

"If you look at the history of our species, the fact that one day the world should be so prosperous, even though the population is increasing – that is really astonishing," says Tupy, who admits that most people share the pope's dim view of the world today.

The goal of HumanProgress is to present basic facts about improvements and to outline the reasons for those improvements. In countries with greater economic freedom, says Tupy, "the poor are richer, they own a greater share of national wealth, [and] there is less corruption." The pope, he concludes, "should be advocating for more economic freedom, not less." 

About 6 minutes.

Produced by Joshua Swain. Camera by Swain and Reason's Burton Gray intern, Alyssa Hertig.

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    1. Kinky!

    2. Or Communists hiding their allegiance behind the Jesuit title in general.

    3. Not with that hat.

  2. The Sevo signal is officially lit.

  3. This is what happens when you elect a Socialist!

  4. People probably shouldn't be looking to the Church for economic advice.

  5. What's up with Commie Pope? I mean, okay, I could see that forty years ago, but now?

    1. Because Latin America.

    2. Because collectivism.

  6. Let me know when they start auctioning off the treasures of the Vatican in order to end poverty.

    1. "in order to end poverty"

      Poverty is a relative and nebulous concept that means whatever some hack economist wants it to mean. We're on firmer ground if we look at something like undernourishment, and according to the figures, the number of undernourished today is close to a billion. There are more people undernourished today than at any other time in history. Is that because of Capitalism, free trade and globalism? Yes obviously to some degree. India's introduction of neo-liberal policies has been accompanied by a dramatic rise in child undernourishment.

  7. So I repeat: if His Infalliableness believes that capitalism , free markets and globalization have been a disaster for the poor, then he must believe that the poor were better off in the pre-capitalist days of the Middle Ages. Or in antiquity. Your average life expectancy may have been only 18 years, but hey, everyone was equal!

    1. "the poor were better off in the pre-capitalist days of the Middle Ages"

      The poor might not have been better off, but the upper hierarchy of the Catholic church was certainly more powerful.

    2. The Church was better off in the Middle Ages, relatively speaking, for sure. They ruled with terror, ignorance, brutality.

      The Pope is evil, as is his religion.

      There, I've said it, bring it on.

    3. Well, maybe more of 'em got into heaven then, you know camels and needles or something like that?

      1. Yeah and they usually didn't have to wait long. A bad winter would send 'em up there in droves.

  8. "The culture of prosperity deadens us,"

    We know this because primitive cultures and cultures in poverty are compassionate and peaceful.....holy shit, fuck this idiot.

  9. I don't think any Argentinian dishing economic advice should be taken seriously. Especially an 80 year old virgin.

    1. There's no way the majority of them haven't gotten down once or twice in their day... unless they just had no game.

  10. The pope is an ass. That shits in the woods.

  11. "milk consumption per person in the developing world has increased over 50 percent in the past 30 years"

    Not in China it hasn't!

    1. "Not in China it hasn't!"

      Indeed, in China it's gone up by 1400%.

  12. I think this particular pope means well, and I appreciate that he has eschewed the papal mansion in favor of a modest apartment. Having said that, a) he has no economic sense, and b) he could help those poor masses really easily by selling off the Vatican treasures and giving the proceeds away. I bet that won't happen.

    1. No. He does not mean well. He means ill. He is highly educated, worldly and exposed to plenty of information.

      I have very many friends (and a business partner) who are Catholic and religious, and they are wonderful people who are more or less aware of the world around them. They have various excuses because they are not intellectuals and have other issues in their lives that focus there attention away from the underlying philosophical issues. The Pope does not. He knows exactly what he is saying and doing. He is very evil.

      1. I have nothing to add to the overall conversation that was not said here, so, I'm just going to second this.

    2. If he were worth a shit he would come forth and admit that Catholism is nonsense and disband the Vatican.

    3. When you have a VAST staff, massive resources and the loyalty of thousands of intellectuals you have the ability to find the truth if you want it. The idea that the current problems are undue to "the unfettered market" is patently fucking absurd. Before the bailouts, before the Greek debt crisis, maybe you could blame "unfettered markets" but not now. That the pope does it means one of two things, either he knows the truth and wants to conceal it, or he wanted others to conceal it from him.

      He does not mean well. I hope he dies painfully and soon.

  13. Maybe you forgot something...the man is the Vicar of Christ, not the Vicar of Ayn Rand. And since the person who he is the Vicar for once instructed another that the way to heaven is to sell ALL your possessions and give the money to the poor, what would you expect him to say? And since that person also warned about the idolatry of money when he threw the money changing tables over, don't you think the Pope is merely following that lead?

    By the way, I might mention to you that he never mentioned capitalism, and the "free market" only once. His screed was more directed at the idolatry of money, regardless of ideology (surely you know that the Catholic religion has rejected socialism), as well as the growing inequality of wealth in the world, which even the Wall Street Journal is worried about.

    1. By the way, I might add that the Pope also said this:

      "A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules. Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power."

      Surely you agree with that one, right?

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