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The Pope, Again



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As Kathryn notes (and we were discussing over at Ricochet), today saw the release of a major statement by the new pope.

One highlight (courtesy of an admiring Guardian):

Pope Francis has attacked unfettered capitalism as “a new tyranny”, urging global leaders to fight poverty and growing inequality in the first major work he has authored alone as pontiff.

Quite where “unfettered capitalism” is to be found remains a mystery.

And there’s this (via Volokh)

We can no longer trust in the unseen forces . . .

Childish, I know, but I am not the only person to have smiled at that. Smiles past, lets rewind back to the beginning:

We can no longer trust in the unseen forces and the invisible hand of the market. Growth in justice requires more than economic growth, while presupposing such growth: it requires decisions, programmes, mechanisms and processes specifically geared to a better distribution of income, the creation of sources of employment and an integral promotion of the poor which goes beyond a simple welfare mentality. I am far from proposing an irresponsible populism, but the economy can no longer turn to remedies that are a new poison, such as attempting to increase profits by reducing the work force and thereby adding to the ranks of the excluded.

Take the time to note another straw man rushing by (modern economies do not, in truth, leave that much to the invisible hand) and the demagogic reference to the creative destruction of capitalism as “a new poison,” but then focus on what clearly lies at the heart of the pope’s economic prescriptions, the belief in an economy even more tightly managed than ours are today, and with it, a belief in the skills, incorruptibility and fairness of a bureaucratic elite that would be touching, if it were not so troubling.

Troubling? Yes, and that’s probably too gentle a word. If this was just a discussion within the Roman Catholic Church aimed solely at how its members should behave, that, for the most part, would be up to them. But the pope’s words are rather more than that. In Francis, we see a charming and charismatic advocate (complete with large megaphone and the attention of a sizeable slice of the world) for economic policies of a type that have failed and failed and failed again, not least in the Argentina of his youth, the Argentina of Perón, the Argentina that he evidently still sees as some sort of model.

That’s not good news, nor is it likely to be the source of much joy.



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