Monday, September 21, 2015

What Pope Francis gets terribly wrong

Markets are the greatest anti-poverty tool we have (Reason):

"Entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid." With those 10 words, spoken to an audience at Georgetown University in 2013, philanthropist rock star Bono demonstrated a keener understanding of economic reality than the leader of global Catholicism.

The U2 frontman clearly has it right—and Pope Francis is wrong to suggest that poverty is growing, or that capitalism, free markets, and globalization are fueling the (non-existent) problem. In just two decades, extreme poverty has been reduced by more than 50 percent. "In 1990, almost half of the population in developing regions lived on less than $1.25 a day," reads a 2014 report from the United Nations. "This rate dropped to 22 per cent by 2010, reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 700 million."

How was this secular miracle achieved? The bulk of the answer is through economic development, as nascent markets began to take hold in large swaths of the world that were until recently desperately poor. A 2013 editorial from The Economist noted that the Millennium Development Goals "may have helped marginally, by creating a yardstick for measuring progress, and by focusing minds on the evil of poverty. Most of the credit, however, must go to capitalism and free trade, for they enable economies to grow—and it was growth, principally, that has eased destitution."
More from Mercatus: "Capitalism isn't flawless. But it far outperforms any known alternative at peacefully uniting the peoples of the world in the practical and moral enterprise of producing dignity and extraordinary wealth for the masses" And more still from USA Today: "What the United States has accomplished under a free enterprise system at home and abroad proves that business is not part of the problem; rather, it is a big part of the solution." Rich Lowry in the Politico is scathing: "In his interviews and writings, the pope blames capitalism for a host of ills, from income inequality to the degradation of people to the despoliation of the planet. Of course, no human system is perfect, and the pope wouldn’t be the pope if he didn’t warn against soulless consumerism. Where he loses credibility is in making a material case against capitalism. When it comes to the miracles of widespread prosperity and enhanced well-being wrought by capitalist development, the pope is a denier."

No comments: