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Thursday, February 16, 2017

Matthew Lau: The Pope doesn’t understand capitalism, but he’d definitely like Adam Smith


A defining characteristic of the current papacy is the fight against poverty, but alas, were we to take economic advice from the current Pope, the world would surely be much poorer. Good intentions unaccompanied by good knowledge make for bad advice, and unfortunately, Pope Francis has spent the first part of 2017 supplying yet more evidence that he is a poor economist.

A long-time critic of capitalism, Pope Francis spoke to members of the Australia-based Global Foundation in January to call on financial and political leaders to “to control and monitor the effects of globalization” and “correct its orientation.” He noted that following the fall of communism, then pope John Paul II “warned of the risk that an ideology of capitalism would become widespread.”

Now, laments Pope Francis, “the dangers that troubled St. John Paul II have largely come to pass.” 
In another speech in February, Pope Francis said that “capitalism continues to produce discarded people” — an ill that, according to him, is thankfully curtailed by taxes which promote “solidarity” and “mutual care.” He then told the over 1,000 listening to his address that “we must work toward changing the rules of the game of the socio-economic system.”

But capitalism, despite the Pope’s insistence that it must be dismantled, has served humanity spectacularly well. This rise in the quality and length of lives following the Industrial Revolution is so pronounced that even the wealthiest people a century or two ago would be considered wretchedly deprived compared to the comforts even most poor people in developed countries have today...

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