by Rod D. Martin
May 9, 2014
I have mentioned on occasion the new Pope’s advocacy of what might as well be liberation theology. My learned and esteemed Catholic friends have protested that the media has taken him out of context.
It seems doubtful they’ll be able to maintain that position today.
The Pope’s outright demand to UN leaders that governments “redistribute wealth to the poor” — what he called “legitimate redistribution” — may well demonstrate a heart for the crushing burden of poverty, and to that degree I could not applaud him more. But it also shows a breathtaking lack of understanding as to how that poverty came to be, and of the empirical certainty that his prescription will multiply it across the globe.
As I have written elsewhere, you can’t redistribute wealth that doesn’t exist. And wealth is created by producers, people who risk what they have to create more than there is. In doing so, they create jobs, because their vision is bigger than any one person can make real.
The Bible encourages this behavior in the Parables of the Talents and the Minas, and with ironclad laws such as “Thou Shalt Not Steal” and “Thou Shalt Not Covet” (a fancy way of saying “thou shalt not even think about stealing”). The Bible demands charity but never once suggests government redistribution. The one time an Israelite king — Ahab — nationalizes a private business — Naboth’s vineyard — he is judged for it. Harshly.
But the Pope need not read the Bible to understand what’s wrong with his critique: he need only look at this, an Economist cover story from last year which not only trumpets the startling news that nearly 1 billion people have been lifted out of poverty in just the past 20 years, but that capitalism is the reason why.
By the way, none of those billion people were in Cuba, Venezuela or North Korea. Precious few of them were in semi-Marxist, semi-fascist Argentina, the Pope’s home country, where the people were richer than Americans in 1900 and fourth richest in the world per capita in 1929, only to be pushed into third world status by the economic policies espoused by Pope Francis. You’d think he’d learn, but then, you’d think Argentina would learn too.
I wrote about this the last time the Pope called for that form of “social justice” which requires all of us to be poor together. I hope you’ll re-read what I said. There is nothing Christian about sharing poverty. Christianity is about redeeming the whole world and everything in it. Poverty is a curse, productivity is both a command and a cure, and this Pope is not helping anyone.