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.  

The left stamps on the Cuban heels 1

In our post Torture and death in Cuba (February 27, 2010), we said we would watch hopefully to see if the death of the political prisoner Orlanda Zapata Tamayo, who went on hunger-strike in a Cuban prison and was ultimately tortured to death, would “galvanize the pro-democracy movement”, and if it did, to what result.

Now Investor’s Business Daily brings us this report:

The death of a dissident on a hunger strike last month is still sending shock waves to Cuba’s regime. Cuba’s global support is falling away

It may be the end of the Cuban regime, but something changed when Orlando Tamayo Zapata, a political prisoner, died in a hunger strike last month. Tamayo, a construction worker, was arrested in the 2003 “Black Spring” wave of arrests against 75 democracy activists, drawing a sentence of 25 years. His hunger strike called attention to the plight of Cuba’s political prisoners.

When the Castro regime let him die, they assumed that his demise was the end of it and he’d be forgotten, same as all the others.

But it didn’t happen that way. Inside Cuba, other dissidents began hunger strikes. The Castroites also beat up dissident wives known as Ladies in White, who marched to protest the arrests of the 75.

There are signs that the regime is running scared since the death, but the biggest impact seems to be coming from abroad.

Outgoing President Oscar Arias of Costa Rica unexpectedly lashed out first against Tamayo’s death. Brazil’s center-right opposition, in the heat of a coming election, blasted Brazil’s outgoing president, Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, for backslapping with the Castro brothers in Havana the day the dissident died. Opposition politicians in Spain and Argentina also criticized their own governments for aiding the regime. And in Spain, a poll by Elcano Royal Institute released Thursday showed that 72% of Spaniards believe there’s not enough international human rights pressure on Cuba.

Another blow came Monday, when Chilean President Sebastian Pinera declared: “My government will do whatever it can to re-establish democracy in Cuba.”

Even more striking, Chile’s opposition socialist parties condemned for the first time Cuba’s treatment of its political prisoners. In the past, the socialists had always looked the other way.

Now the cultural establishment is stepping up: Prominent entertainers like actor Andy Garcia, singer Gloria Estefan, actress Maria Conchita Alonso and others are leading rallies and showing films that are critical of the Castro regime.

Chilean novelist Isabel Allende appealed for the release of the political prisoners. [That really surprises us – JB]

In Spain, film director Pedro Almodovar and novelist Mario Vargas Llosa wrote an open letter to Castro called “I accuse the Cuban government.”

With so many stars of the International Left leading the way, even the American Dictator found it politic to follow:

In light of this, President Obama’s added voice to growing global calls for human rights in Cuba is powerful, even if it’s just following the crowd. It means that the international apologists on the left who’ve justified Castro over the years are growing scarce, leaving Castro’s regime isolated — and perhaps answerable for its crimes.

Nothing succeeds like failure 1

It cannot be said that the mess Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made of foreign relations amounts to a failure, because it is highly possible that the mess is what Obama wanted her to achieve, in which case it’s a success.

Her latest betrayal of an old ally is in connection with the Falkland Islands, for the retention of which Prime Minister Thatcher fought and won a fierce war with Argentina.

Ken Blackwell writes this about it at Townhall:

During an official visit to Argentina, Mrs. Clinton referred to the Britain’s Falkland Islands as “Las Malvinas–the Argentine name for them. She said the U.S. was willing to mediate the conflicting claims of Argentina and Britain to the collection of rocky crags that have been British since 1833. The Falklands have been British a decade longer than Texas has been American. Argentina still claims these crags–and is even keener to have them back now that oil is rumored to be bubbling beneath the stormy seas of the South Atlantic.

Every one of 3,000 living souls on the Falklands is British–and defiantly so. …

Is the Obama administration determined to undo everything Ronald Reagan accomplished? In 1982, Argentina’s rogue government got into trouble because of its insane economic policies. The military junta then in charge in Buenos Aires in 1982 started yelling “Remember the Malvinas!” They hoped to distract their tormented people from their hardships at home by naked aggression abroad. The Argentine military invaded the sparsely populated Falkland Islands–there are almost 800 of them, most of them uninhabited.

The Argentine junta reckoned without the Iron Lady, Britain’s Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. There was never a doubt that Mrs. Thatcher would respond to this brazen aggression with force.

She quickly assembled and sent to sea a Royal Navy battle fleet. She personally went to the fleet’s embarkation point to see off the young warriors. Not since World War II had Britain’s people been so united about anything. …

The Falklands War was short, sharp, and bloody. …

Thousands of young Argentine draftees, poorly trained, poorly supplied, and even more poorly led, were quickly rounded up on the islands. Britain lost 255 dead in this war while 649 Argentines were needlessly sacrificed to the Buenos Aires dictators’ vainglory. As a result of this humiliating defeat, Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri and his fellow thugs were soon sent packing.

Back then, the Reagan administration quietly but firmly backed Britain with critical intelligence and re-fueling stations. But now, we face another possible crisis over the Falklands. And all because of Hillary Clinton’s clumsy attempt at “even-handedness”–which is in fact ham-handedness.

Britain loyally supported us in Iraq. She is our strongest ally in Afghanistan. Tied down fighting at our side, Britain would be hard-pressed to eject the Argentines should the left-wing government of President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner decide once again to invade the homes of those staunchly British Falklanders.

The Argentines are crowing over the Clinton Coup. He’s never seen “such substantial support” from the U.S., says Argentina’s Ambassador in Washington Hector Timerman. Buenos Aires’ official mouthpiece, Ruperto Godoy called Mrs. Clintons’ comments “very significant, very important.”

Blackwell recalls some other notable failures/successes:

Hillary’s comments are indeed significant. She is buying trouble for us around the globe. From a failed “Re-Set” button with the Russians, to a dangerous appeasement of Iran and China, from bribing the PLO on the West Bank with $900 million to shutting down missile defense for Eastern European democracies, from siding with the dictator in Honduras, to opening the door to a second Falklands War, this administration’s foreign policy is in shambles. And we’re only 14 months into it.

Sharper than a serpent’s tooth 0

European leaders are feeling how sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless US president.

According to this Washington Times report, Europe is rapidly losing its enthusiasm for Obama.

To Europe’s dismay, Mr. Obama can’t find the time to attend this year’s annual U.S.-European Union Summit – something Mr. Bush always managed to do. Mr. Obama’s decision to skip the summit offended Europeans, who saw it as a deliberate snub of the European Union – their favorite project to centralize government and internationalize the governance of human affairs great and small. Given Mr. Obama’s embrace of such ideas domestically, Europeans were understandably puzzled that he would not rush to link arms with them in the summit.

Further souring relations was Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates’s blast at much of Europe for dithering on defense. At last month’s meeting of NATO officials, Mr. Gates said the “pacification of Europe” (meaning Europe’s turning away from war and defense spending as necessary policies to keep the peace) was making it difficult for the allies to “operate and fight together.”

“The demilitarization of Europe,” he argued, “where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it, has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st.”

Europe (with the exception of Britain) has contributed little to its own defense ever since the end of World War II. It has depended heavily on the US to “keep the peace”. (The funds that European states might have needed to spend on defending themselves have been lavished on welfare.) This is perhaps the first time strong objection to that state of affairs has come from an American administration:

Mr. Gates is absolutely right … The in-your-face nature of his words is striking. No Bush administration official … ever publicly criticized Europe’s lack of military spending and support for NATO so bluntly. … Now we have a secretary of defense arguing that European fecklessness threatens world peace.

Yet it’s surely ironic that Obama’s Secretary of Defense should be saying this, since Obama himself favors disarmament, has taken active steps to weaken America’s military superiority, and has expressed an ideological ambition to rid America of its nuclear arsenal.

European interests are plainly of little concern to Obama, and his foreign policies are increasingly rousing Europe’s irritation, most recently Britain’s, the staunch ally of America in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars:

It is one thing to start a quarrel with France or even the EU, but Mr. Obama has managed even to offend the British. Many commentators in the UK now accuse Mr. Obama of harboring anti-British sentiments. The State Department’s recent announcement that we would remain neutral in the Falklands Islands dispute between the UK and Argentina has only fueled that perception. …

In general, Europe’s unwarranted expectations of Obama have been disappointed, its adoration scorned, its proffered gifts of wisdom spurned:

With regard to the Obama presidency, illusions are shattering across Europe. There, as here, the left’s exaggerated hatred of Mr. Bush was matched only by their naive embrace of Mr. Obama. They now increasingly realize that although Mr. Obama may admire Europe’s domestic polices on health care and energy, he has little practical use for the European Union’s pretensions to world influence and leadership.

But he does seem willing to give them precisely what they’ve requested for years: A diminished U.S. role in the world. Mr. Obama is pulling back on the projection of American power. Leaving the Europeans to their own devices (and ignoring their summits) is merely part of that program.

Their confusion is understandable. They expected that waning American power would mean less criticism from Washington and more European influence over U.S. policy. It didn’t work out that way….

Europe may never get over its disdain for Mr. Bush. But they may someday come to realize that things were not as bad under Mr. Bush as they thought. At least he showed up to their meetings.