Yet another pope gets it horribly wrong 16

The Washington Post reports that Pope Francis (born Jorge Mario Bergoglioco in Argentina), issued a long (50,000 word) statement  on November 26, 2013, in which he  expressed disgust with capitalism and advocated redistribution as a sure formula for eliminating poverty.

It is a highly audacious – in our opinion impudent –  display of economic ignorance.

Pope Francis … sharply criticized growing economic inequality and unfettered markets in a wide-ranging and decidedly populist teaching that revealed how he plans to reshape the Catholic Church.

“Unfettered markets.” If you don’t chain ’em up they will attack you?

In his most authoritative writings as pontiff, Francis decried an “idolatry of money” in secular culture and warned that it would lead to “a new tyranny”. …

A statement rich in baloney. (1) No one sane worships money (not even the many  cruel and lascivious Popes who accumulated it passionately in pre-Enlightenment times did that). It is a medium of exchange. It is wanted for what it can do, what it can acquire, not for what it is. That’s why the poor are in need of it. (2) He decries poverty, yet he scorns money. (3) Market economies do not lead to tyrannies. But governments that redistribute money are exercising a form of tyranny.  And wherever economic equality  is enforced, it is always an equality of misery. Except for those who do the distribution. They invariably redistribute a big whack to themselves.

[Pope Francis] showed a willingness to use tough language in attacking what he views as the excesses of capitalism.

“The excesses of capitalism”? Wherever on this earth there is prosperity, wherever the poor are least poor and have the best chance of getting richer, capitalism is the magic that does the trick; and it is only in a free society, where the free market – or “capitalism’ – operates, that the poor are least poor and can most easily become richer.

Using a phrase with special resonance in the United States, he strongly criticized an economic theory — often affiliated [sic] with conservatives — that discourages taxation and regulation.

Yes, we conservatives do dislike, and would discourage, governments taking money from those who earn it and giving it to those who don’t. And we don’t think bureaucrats know better how to run our businesses than we do.

The Pope’s statement is then quoted directly:

“Some people 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. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”

Since he does not understand that wealth is created, but conceives it to be a fixed “pie” that some get too big a slice of leaving too little for others, he thinks that those capitalists “affiliated” with a “trickle-down” theory (his use of that phrase greatly impressed the reporters who see it as a sign that Bergoglioco knows what he’s talking about) have made some sort of promise or prediction that their riches will bring about “greater justice and inclusiveness in the world”. He means “social justice” – a meaningless phrase, dear to the hearts of egalitarians, statists, and collectivists in general. But the poor in – say – America, are not poor because someone, or a class of people, has been unjust to them. And what can he mean by “inclusiveness”? If he means participation in the market, it is open to all in a free – but not an egalitarian – society. Perhaps he has a picture of ragged starving people begging at the gates of a castle, as in the centuries when the Catholic Church ruled over Europe.

Although Francis has previously raised concerns about the growing gap between the wealthy and the poor, the direct reference to “trickle-down” economics in the English translation of his statement is striking. The phrase has often been used derisively to describe a popular version of conservative economic philosophy that argues that allowing the wealthy to run their businesses unencumbered by regulation or taxation bears economic benefits that lead to more jobs and income for the rest of society. Liberals and Democratic officials have rejected the theory, saying it is contradicted by economic evidence.

It is not contradicted by the evidence. All the evidence points the other way. Every experiment in redistribution, ie socialism, has failed. And how does encumbering business with regulation and taxation help society? Is a heavily taxed business more or less likely to employ more people? As for regulation, the Obama administration has issued and continues to issue such a volume of it, that if it could reduce unemployment and restore prosperity it would surely have done so spectacularly by now!

Then comes the really dangerous part of the Washington Post article:

Some scholars say the Pope’s statement should invariably shape the thinking of today’s Catholics.

There’s no way a Catholic who is a serious intellectual can ever again not address the issue of income inequality, of the structural sins of our economic system. This is so front and center,” said Michael Sean Winters, a fellow at Catholic University’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies. …

Francis’s words may ripple across many fronts.

‘The structural sins of our economic system.” Capitalism, or the free market, or “the natural order of liberty” as Adam Smith called it – is sinful!  If millions of Catholics are going to have to believe that …

But wait. Will Catholics who are literate in economics and therefore supporters of the free market have to “address the structural sins of our economic system”?

The pope’s statements — especially if they continue — could impact U.S. politics. Several potential contenders for the presidency in 2016 are economic conservatives who are also Catholic, and liberal Catholic groups have in the past taken aim at what they view as the overly stingy policies of Republicans who have little regard for the role of government in redistributing income.

A government that doesn’t redistribute is being “stingy”, you see?

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), a recent proponent of those policies and a devout Catholic, has said before that he tries to uphold Catholic teaching “as best I can” and believes his policies match Catholic teaching because they emphasize small institutions close to the people — for example, churches — over the role of state or federal government. A spokesman for Ryan declined to comment Tuesday on the pope’s statement.

Hard to imagine what he could possibly say to reconcile irreconcilables. If this nonsense from Pope Francis is now “Catholic teaching”, will someone like Paul Ryan have to choose  between being a Catholic and being a Republican?

There is a lot more nonsense to be read in the article  – including a reminder that the Church is against Communism!

John Paul II’s warnings on economic inequality were swallowed at times by his war on Communism, a far more dangerous problem in the church’s eyes because of its anti-religious bent …

So atheism is even worse than the “unfettered” market in papal eyes.

Also reported is the Pope’s belief that the 2001 economic collapse of his native country, Argentina, was due to a failure of free market capitalism. For a description of what actually happened – authoritarian central control, hyperinflation, rising debt, bad decisions, and extreme corruption – listen to the first 13 minutes or so of this lecture.

Winters said a key to understanding Francis is that he’s from Argentina and was archbishop of Buenos Aires in 2001, when the country’s economy collapsed.“When you see people trying to bless capitalism, he has a very real, vivid experience of capitalism and what it has brought to his country, and it’s not a happy experience,” Winters said.

We cannot of course review all the evil that the Catholic Church has done over the last 1800 years, to which this mischief is now to be added. (Yes, it might sometimes have meant to do good, but as Christians say, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.) But we will give one reminder since we received only yesterday an email from a retired academic, commenting on the Pope’s statement, that provides a particularly vivid example of the Church’s iniquity in recent history.

Alexander Firestone writes:

How did Hitler become German chancellor? The one man most responsible, apart from the Nazis themselves, was Eugenio Pacelli, Papal Nuncio to Germany at the time and later Pope Pius XII. And he did it consciously and deliberately. Throughout Weimar Germany from the Kaiser’s abdication in 1918 until Hitler became chancellor on 30 January 1933, elections were generally free and fair in Germany. The three largest political parties were [1] the Communists (KPD) who in every election got 20% of the vote, concentrated mostly in a few large cities like Berlin and Hamburg; [2] the Socialists (SPD) who always got another 20% of the vote, also concentrated in major cities. Both parties had their loyal followers who never wavered. But the largest party was [3] the Catholic Center Party which regularly got 30% of the vote, heavily concentrated in Catholic Bavaria and the Rhineland. They got zilch in heavily Protestant areas like Saxony and Prussia.Thus, most governments were headed by Chancellor Heinrich Brüning, leader of the Catholic Center Party a generally conservative, but not extremist group.

In the election of June 1932 the communists and socialists each got their standard 20% and the Catholic Center got its standard 30%. A government was formed with Brüning as chancellor consisting of the catholic center, the socialists, and a few votes from the remaining parties; mostly small and mostly representing agricultural interests in largely Protestant areas, to get over 50%. In that election the National Socialists [the Nazis] got 12%, an all time high for them, at the expense of some small agricultural parties. The coalition did not work well. Thanks to the depression, unemployment was high and taxes could not be raised further, but the socialists demanded ever larger welfare programs. Brüning did the only thing he could; print more money, basically surrendering to the socialists. That summer Eugenio Pacelli became Papal Nuncio to Germany and chair of the German Catholic Council of Bishops.

Eventually, Brüning had to call for new elections, and he did so for December 1932. German electoral law specifies that elections may be held on any day of the week except Sunday. Therefore, there must be a last Sunday before an election. The practice had been (actually going back to Bismark’s time) for a letter to be read in every Catholic church in Germany on the Sunday just before an election providing church guidance to all German Catholics on how to vote. That letter is written by the Papal Nuncio, blessed by the Pope, and definitive for all Catholics. Since 1918 the letter recommended voting for the Catholic Center Party but did not require it. It also forbade voting for the Communists. After 1923 it was modified to forbid voting for the Communists or the Nazis. Pacelli abolished the Catholic Center Party, calling a Catholic party “unseemly”, even though it was the largest party in Germany. Pacelli also rewrote the Catholic Church letter. The recommendation to vote for the Catholic Center Party was dropped, but the provision forbidding (as a mortal sin) a vote for the communists was still there. The provision forbidding a vote for the Nazis was also dropped. On a vote for the Nazis the letter was silent.

In the December 1932 election the Communists and Socialists each got their standard 20%, and from the usual places, and the Nazis increased their vote from 12% in June to 44% in December. Analysis of voting patterns shows that they increased from 12% to 14% at the expense of the little agricultural parties AND they got the entire 30% from Bavaria and the Rhineland that had once gone to the Catholic Center Party. The German Catholics of Bavaria and the Rhineland got the message and voted as they were supposed to. Always helpful, the Communists announced that they would vote against any government in which they did not get the economics, labor and foreign ministries. Of course, with 44% of the votes themselves, the Nazis had only to bribe a few of the little agricultural parties to get over 50%, which they did. There was a lot of twisting and squirming in December and January, but on 30 January 1933 President Hindenberg did the inevitable and asked Hitler to form a government. That is how, in short, Eugenio Pacelli made Hitler Chancellor of Germany.

As a comment on the idea that capitalism ruined Argentina, TAC Associate Robert Kantor adds this:

The latest speech by the Pope makes explicit what has been known for a long time, namely, that the Church is and has always been anti-capitalist, preferring the top-down economic control and redistributionist policies that have proved such spectacular failures in Marxist and fascist countries. At the turn of the 20th century, the United States and Argentina both served as powerful magnets to immigrants from Europe. Both seemed to be a land of the future. Argentina, which has had the kind of strong central government (i.e., semi-fascist) the Pope seems to find so congenial, is still the land of the future — and always will be.  

  • rogerinflorida

    This guy is only the latest in a string of idiots in high religious positions, check out the drivel pushed by recent Archbishops of Canterbury for some examples. Post 1945 Argentina is a great example of the kind of politics that is, and will, drive the US to collapse.
    Of course on the other hand the libertarian utopians with their “laissez faire” nonsense are equally wrong. The antebellum slave states of the US are perfect examples of laissez faire carried to it’s logical end, the capitalists who ran the place decided that the perfect level of wages was zero; i.e. slavery. In a previous post you extolled the virtue of private property, I absolutely agree with you that private property is the foundation of freedom, liberty and prosperity, but only if the property is diffuse throughout the community and is available to those who wish to work for it. However it is indisputable that the capitalist class will seek to impoverish the general population in order that they may accumulate more of the total capital of society. Thus we have the typical spectacle of Steve Ballmer, CEO (or some damn thing) of Microsoft who can afford a private yacht costing $800 million (a Nimitz class aircraft carrier can be yours for $5 billion) while claiming that he cannot afford American engineer’s wages and needs to import hundreds of thousands of H1-B and L1-B indentured servants (serfs) from India to develop his crappy products. He is joined in this endeavor by other super rich capitalists such as Zucherberg, Ellison and many others. Anybody who thinks this is not happening is just willfully blind.
    Only Govt. stands a chance against these pressures and then not very effectively, working and middle class people in the US have literally no voice or real representation.
    For an extensive study into the relationship between profits, wages, GDP and prosperous against failed economies, I recommend a study of the works of Henry C. K. Liu.

    • Jillian Becker

      There is no such thing as “the total capital of society”. Wealth is created. In the 1960s the Valley now known as Silicon Valley was full of apple orchards. There was little wealth in it. Ten years later it was one of the most prosperous regions of America. The San Jose newspapers which had been thin in the 60s became fat with job offers by the middle of the 70s. All kinds of jobs – computer experts, engineers, groundsmen, secretaries, telephonists, managers … Why ? Because a few thinking people working in their kitchens or garages had made inventions that the world found it wanted. Next point. You name some people whom you despise for their success. You think that some of them produce shoddy goods. You don’t like the employment policies of some of them. Of course capitalists want to accumulate capital. Every capitalist would no doubt like to have a monopoly. But the point is that in a free society they will inevitably have competition, and that is to everyone’s benefit. If one produces shoddy goods, he’ll be beaten in the market by someone who produces better goods. Next point. Riches are good. Wealth is not a problem. Poverty is a problem. You almost sound like a leftist gipped by the politics of envy – only I’m pretty sure you are not on the left, so I would ask you to rethink your protectionist-sounding ideas. Government should not interfere in the economy. Not even a little. Ever. The middle class is poorer now for Obama’s regulatory interference. I recommend to you the works of Bastiat, von Mises, Hayek, Friedman … At least on the idiocy of religious leaders we are in agreement. And that the US under the present administration is in danger of going the way of Argentina at the turn of the century, I would also agree.

      • rogerinflorida

        There absolutely is a “total capital of society”, it is certainly a changing number, hopefully increasing. The state of Silicon Valley in the 60’s compared to today is irrelevant. of course wealth is created through entrepreneurial effort and activity that adds value. The value of any item is directly related to the amount of human labor that has gone into it’s production, notice I don’t say cost or price. I do not despise those I mentioned, how could I? I don’t know them, but I do despise some of their actions. There will always be conflict between Capital and Labor as to how the cash resulting from the sale of a product or service will be allocated, that is inevitable and continuing. The open borders supporters in the working and middle classes should form a new political party: “TIFOT”: Turkeys in favor of Thanksgiving.
        As for your astounding belief that Govt. should not interfere in the economy: To take one example; pollution from coal fired power plants kills hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Thanks to Govt. mandated pollution controls and record keeping requirements that figure is greatly reduced from years ago, do you seriously think that the coal or power companies would have installed that equipment themselves?In the 1960s there was some alarm expressed at the amount of logging and clear cutting for livestock that was going on in the Amazon rain forest. The concern was over the fact as then understood that the ARF produced about a third of the world’s oxygen. one of the leading clear-cutters, the American billionaire Daniel K. Ludwig was asked about this, his response; “nobody is paying us for oxygen”. That is your laissez faire in a bloody nutshell.
        I have read all those but find the works of Keynes and Galbraith more convincing, although I am a huge fan of Milton Friedman.
        Supporting libertarianism is a hopeless cause, no libertarian is ever going to be elected, we have already been through their nonsense and have no desire to go back to it.

        • Jillian Becker

          So you are making the old mistake of “the labor theory of value”. The mistake Marx made on the first page of Das Kapital. And you like Galbraith and Keynes. Yet you are a huge fan of Milton Friedman who contradicts both of them. I like debate, but this one is already absurd. I see no point in arguing with you.

          • rogerinflorida

            Then refute it! But you can’t because it is an absolute truth of economics, you are absurd in your libertarian utopianism.

            • Jillian Becker

              I cannot believe you are ignorant of the great works refuting the labour theory of value – most notably those of the Austrian economists Böhm-Bawerk and Carl Menger. I’m not going to expound their works to you. Start with Menger’s “Principles of Economics” as every student must.

              To be really nice and helpful to you – you can find Menger’s “Principles of Economics” up on the von Mises Institute website for free, and here he is writing about value:
              http://mises.org/etexts/menger/three.asp

            • rogerinflorida

              Thanks for the link, I have downloaded it and will study it. Not this weekend though, got something much harder and more exhausting to do: Grandchildren for 3 days!

    • REALBEING

      Government, any government made up of groups of people with agendas has always had a poor track record at achieving any headway against the majority of your proposed, tangled “pressures.”

      Instead, these folks revel in leaving these pressures in place. They only “work” on the problems, as it behooves them to have an objective….one that is never reached. They are kept in power.

      IMHO, the only major deterrent we face as humanity is control of our own personal attitude, AND our personal capacity, (or incapacity) to create value…anywhere.

      “Some day….some way…I must teach myself to get out of my own way!”

      To me, this sentence is of the utmost importance for all individuals to understand as their means to greater achievement, instead of deference to other’s hold over our attitude…that being, a “government.”

    • liz

      “Only Govt. stands a chance against these pressures..” Seriously???!!!
      You mean like how Obama and Co. are so valiantly standing against the temptation to completely take over the entire economy and turn us ALL into “serfs”?

      • rogerinflorida

        Liz,
        The people of the US voted for this guy, twice! I don’t just mean the blacks, they are stupid for the most part, enough white people voted for this cretin to get him elected. I have heard all the explanations and none of them make me feel better.
        And yes, only govt. has the power to stand against the monopoly capitalists.
        Hey, I am sick of this as you are, unfortunately Liz we have to make a choice, not between the most good, but between the least bad, it hurts, but there you are.
        And really Liz, we were FUBAR economically before Obama showed up.

        • liz

          Yes, we were heading in this direction for a long time, but now we’re on steroids.
          I’m not saying “monopoly capitalism” is good, but it is way better than the Marxist inspired mess we’re in now.
          Peter J. Wallison, in a speech on repealing Dodd-Frank, argues that there should be “..a thorough reorientation of the U.S. housing finance system away from…govt. control…This does not mean that we should have no regulation. What it means is that we should have only regulation that is necessary when the self-correcting elements in a market system fail.”
          I think that principle applies to the entire system. The system of course isn’t perfect, but the solutions for fixing it should never be the ones the deranged Leftists come up with.

        • REALBEING

          Yes….the “stupid” folks certainly did vote him and his ways in, twice. And, Roger, I must inform you that black people haven’t cornered the market on stupidity, as all of Humanity is equally guilty of this.

          Not all voters are “stupid.” Most I believe are misinformed and /or purposefully, or not-so-purposefully ignorant of the facts. (Thank you…..mainstream media!)

          These folks are basically not interested enough to investigate the mostly poor selection of candidates we are given. And if the entire block of voters were somehow to investigate fully, they likely wouldn’t vote for ANY candidate on the list!

          The Industry Of Government, Department Of Good Old Boy, Candidate Selection Group, owns the process of candidate selection, making the American voter a slave to it. IOW, The System IS the problem. Of course, you already know this, but I’ve inserted it to help develop my point.

          Personal responsibility is at an all-time low, IMHO. If you’re as old as I am, you’ll know that it seemed to begin back about sixty years ago, and at the very least, the last two elections proves this beyond the shadow of a doubt!

          One of our most important jobs as parents is to teach personal responsibility to our children, the future voters.

          In the Name of everything that The Founders believed sacred, how can parents teach something this vital, if they haven’t experienced this depth of responsibility themselves, being caught up in their own self-indulgences, and misconceptions about life?

          I dislike being the carrier of bad news, but I feel that it will get much worse in this country before it gets much better, for anyone!

          IMHO, the majority of Americans (not just voters!) have become, through a natural declination wrought by irresponsibility and ignorance of testing beliefs against hard fact, a country of bandits, freeloaders, and looters.

          One “marker” for my proof can be found in their adherence to a “soul-saving” superstition, (religions) and, the King of all stupidity, the acceptance of ill-logic, without qualified, unbiased research!!

          Another marker would be the acceptance of the age old tradition of a “something for nothing” attitude, which it’s popularity has transformed into a habit, for most. This habit was taught to the new generation by the charlatans of the last, by their actions, and not necessarily by their words.

          These past folks have, in turn, been hoodwinked by the prior generations of the hoodwinked, generated by a direct relationship to the amount of irresponsibility, (called Socialism, by most) injected into it……by….you guessed it….the irresponsible, who came before them!

          (You shall know them by their actions, their in-actions, or their mantra “Why should I do something when I can get you or someone else to do it for me?”)

  • REALBEING

    The pope should keep to his specific line of work….running a superstition-based organization, leaving the objective, reality-based work of economics to those who really understand whats going on.

    This way he avoids sticking his neck out and proving the old adage true which goes “Its better to keep ones mouth shut and be thought a fool than to open it, removing all doubt.”

    • liz

      Yes, this definitely removes all doubt, not only that the Pope is a fool, but that Christianity itself is the original petri dish from which sprang the whole foolish notion of collectivism.
      Interesting how quickly Obama took advantage of this Papal blessing in his latest speech! Nothing like having the Pope to back you up, just like Hitler!

      • REALBEING

        In the past as in the present, most of mankind deposits it’s collective hopes and wishes in the superstition bank ruled by the shepherds of the ethereal branch of collectivism.

        Like any other Department Of Collectivism, it’s prime directive is the nurturing of basic fears for the specific purpose of owning human being’s loyalties. They provide a so-called service to the faithful, but for the collectivist’s own purposes…control, and in some ways, total ownership of the now, mostly closed-minded, fearful, guilt-filled people.

        The diversion of religion robs it’s followers the chance to live by their own inner compass of self-reliance. They’ve been directed instead to abdicate to someone outside of themselves to take over….

        • liz

          Exactly – and who knows how many faithful Catholics will now obediently swallow this pile of leftist excrement because the infallible Pope has spoken.