Pope Francis Talks About Economics and Makes a Fool Out Of Himself
Compared to his predecessor Benedictus XVI, Francis I seems to have evolved on a few points, notably in his stance on gays and on getting closer to his faithfuls. However, when it comes to economics, he still lives in the Dark Ages, calling globalization harmful, decrying austerity measures, and describing our world as one of "savage capitalism."
For the sake of his credibility, Francis should focus on spiritual matters so he won't make a fool of himself. Speaking against globalization and austerity the way he did and calling our present system "capitalist" reflect the Francis's abysmal ignorance about economics.
According to the World Bank's PovcalNet tool, people living in extreme poverty (with less than $1.25/day) have decreased worldwide by nearly 50% since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995. More amazing is that the Eastern Asia and Pacific region has seen a 75% decrease in extreme poverty during the same period. While there is a libertarian case against the WTO, the freer trade encouraged by the organization helped those countries get out of poverty, decrease child labor, and empower women.
Second, regarding austerity, left-wing statists who favor of social programs like the pope does use a word they don't understand. It is clear that none of the G7 countries have had severe austerity as their debt-to-GDP ratios have been increasing since 2008. If they wanted "real" austerity measures, they would have followed the ageless principle of cutting spending. Of course, doing so causes excruciating short-term pain. But that way, the economy would be up again in no time, as Harding proved.
Since we haven't had austerity, we certainly can't call the system we have now "capitalism," especially considering how many economic regulations and regulations in general were enacted in the U.S. in the past decades. What we should be talking about is not savage capitalism but savage statism. Be it money stolen for social programs that disincentivize work, or for wars that cost a fortune in money and human lives, the government has replaced the market, i.e. you, me and every human on the planet, and picks and chooses winners and losers.
Next time you hear someone talk about savage capitalism, ask them for more details. Chances are what they will be describing – corruption, less freedom, waste – will have everything to do with statism, not with capitalism.