Thursday, June 18, 2015

Red Pope's Encyclical Parfait of Social Justice

Pope Francis is earning the moniker, the Red Pope.  The pontiff’s encyclical is a parfait of global warming hysteria, social justice, and anti-capitalist sentiments topped off with faux concerns for the poor.

Capitalism has been a boon for humanity.  The Industrial Revolution ushered in an age of prosperity.  This explosion of innovation is a direct result from profit and property rights.  The unskilled and the poor were provided opportunities other than subsistence farming, which was the predominate means of living prior to the 1800’s.  Here is an excerpt from Economics and Liberty:

Here we have the economic history of the world in one picture, as summarized for us by Gregory Clark in 
A Farewell to Alms:

The basic outline of world economic history is surprisingly simple. . . . Before 1800 income per person--the food, clothing, heat, light, and housing available per head--varied across societies and epochs. . . . the average person in the world in 1800 was no better off than the average person of 100,000 BC.  Indeed in 1800 the bulk of the world's population was poorer than their remote ancestors. . . . Life expectancy was no higher in 1800 than for hunter-gatherers: thirty to thirty-five years. . . . average welfare, if anything, declined from the Stone Age to 1800.  The poor of 1800, those who lived by their unskilled labor alone, would have been better off if transferred to a hunter-gatherer band.  The Industrial Revolution, a mere two hundred years ago, changed forever the possibilities of material consumption.  Incomes per person began to undergo sustained growth in a favored group of countries.  The richest modern economies are now ten to twenty times wealthier than the 1800 average.  Moreover the biggest beneficiary of the Industrial Revolution has so far been the unskilled.  There have been benefits aplenty for the typically wealthy owners of land or capital, and for the educated. But industrialized economies saved their best gifts for the poorest.[Introduction, pp. 1-3]

In other words, for most of human history and in most places in the world, almost all people lived very near subsistence.  But, something happened around 1800 in some places, and the masses of people in those places began to break away from subsistence living and to prosper.

This is the Great Fact of history, as Deirdre McCloskey refers to it in 
Bourgeois Dignity.  This Great Fact seems to be something most people are unaware of, even among the people who are living in those places in the world where most people live far from subsistence.  It is a fact which seems to be missing from the curricula materials in our schools.  It even seems that this missing fact contributes to many people taking our own prospering for granted.  So, I suppose it should be no surprise that many people seem to believe ideas that are inconsistent with the explanation for why, in some parts of the world, the masses of people began to prosper and continue to prosper today.

 Pope Francis falls into that category.  He believes rich nations somehow owe a debt to the world’s poor simply because they are more prosperous.  Here is an excerpt from the Guardian:

Pope Francis has called on the world’s rich nations to begin paying their “grave social debt” to the poor and take concrete steps on climate change, saying failure to do so presents an undeniable risk to a “common home” that is beginning to resemble a “pile of filth”.
The pope’s 180-page encyclical on the environment, released on Thursday, is at its core a moral call for action on phasing out the use of fossil fuels.
But it is also a document infused with an activist anger and concern for the poor, casting blame on the indifference of the powerful in the face of certain evidence that humanity is at risk following 200 years of misuse of resources.
Up to now, he says, the world has accepted a “cheerful recklessness” in its approach to the issue, lacking the will to change habits for the good of the Earth.
“Climate change is a global problem with grave implications: environmental, social, economic, political and for the distribution of goods,” the papal statement says. “It represents one of the principal challenges facing humanity in our day.”

The true driver of poverty in the third-world is not indifference; its corrupt governments and a lack of access to electricity.  Businesses need assurances like the rule of law and dependable energy to prosper.  That isn’t going to happen when dictators disguised as social justice warriors are running your country.  Can anyone say Venezuela?

The Red Pope would be a better advocate for the poor by holding up the first-world as an example, instead of trying to tear it down. 



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