Before I begin, let me just say that this article is not intended as an attack on Catholicism. It is merely a rebuttal to the flawed economic claims of Pope Francis.
Pope Francis recently gave an address that sought to paint tax cuts and the pursuit of profit by the wealthy as anti-Christian behavior. He claimed that tax cuts are a “structure of sin.” The Pope inaccurately stated that the poor are getting poorer, claiming that “the poor are always poorer, and today they are poorer than ever.”
Breitbart reported statistics that contradict the pope’s claim. Thomas D. Williams highlighted the following data:
“As a Brookings Institution report not in late 2018, however, the world is currently experiencing “the lowest prevalence of extreme poverty ever recorded in human history — less than 8 percent,” and that number falls with each passing year.
According to the widely used “international poverty line,” people are considered to be in “extreme poverty” if they live on less than $1.90 per day or its equivalent.
In the world today, less than 10 percent of the global population lives in extreme poverty, whereas just 30 years ago (1990), some 37 percent of the world lived in extreme poverty. Two centuries ago, nearly everyone in the world lived in extreme poverty.
While in the year 1800 almost 90 percent of the world’s population subsisted on less than $1 a day, that percentage had been constantly falling, dropping below 20 percent in the year 2000 and below 10 percent in the present day.”
Francis then pivoted to attacking tax cuts, saying, “every year hundreds of billions of dollars, which should be paid in taxes to fund health care and education, accumulate in tax haven accounts, thus impeding the possibility of the dignified and sustained development of all social agents.”
Does Pope Frances believe it is okay to take money from people who earned it? Does he think it is moral to forcibly take from the wealthy and give to others? Those are rhetorical questions; he clearly believes that, judging by his statements. That seems immoral, doesn’t it?
Many Christians on the political Left claim that scripture advocates for big government redistribution programs.
Author Herbert Schlossberg wrote the following in his book “The War Against Economics:”
“Having convinced themselves, rightly, that the biblical tradition has much to say about economics, the church intellectuals make theological statements serve as substitutes for economics. They enlist in what [economist Luther von] Mises referred to as the century-long battle against economics but without realizing what they are doing.”
Such Christians, Schlossberg continues, combine an attempt to induce such feelings of guilt “with willful ignorance and contempt for any actual factual understanding of economic processes.” He correctly states that their ignorance only makes things worse, not better.
There are theologians on the Left that go as far as to claim that Jesus himself was a socialist. In his excellent book, “Render Unto Caesar: Was Jesus Socialist?” author Lawrence Reed took issue with the claims made by Francis and others. He wrote, “‘Wait a minute!’ you say. ‘Didn’t Jesus answer, ‘Render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s’ when the Pharisees tried to trick him into denouncing a Roman-imposed tax?’ Yes indeed, he did say that. It’s found first in the Gospel of Matthew, 22:15–22, and later in the Gospel of Mark, 12:13–17. But notice that everything depends on just what truly did belong to Caesar and what didn’t, which is actually a rather powerful endorsement of property rights. Jesus said nothing like ‘It belongs to Caesar if Caesar simply says it does, no matter how much he wants, how he gets it, or how he chooses to spend it.’
The fact is, one can scour the Scriptures with a fine-tooth comb and find nary a word from Jesus that endorses the forcible redistribution of wealth by political authorities. None, period.”
Pope Frances is doing harm to the very people he is trying to help. Capitalism has led to billions of people escaping extreme poverty. Never in human history have so many people had it so good. If governments enacted the economic policies the Pope is calling for, extreme poverty would return on a massive scale.
The profit motive drives innovation and creates more jobs that thus reduce poverty. Government redistribution doesn’t do that.
Somebody needs to send the pope a copy of an Economics 1010 textbook. He clearly needs an education in finances.