- FOUNDATION FOR ECONOMIC FREEDOM - Oct 5, 2020 -
Brad Polumbo -
Pope Francis’s criticisms of free-market capitalism don’t mesh well with available facts, empirical evidence, or a basic understanding of how economics actually works.
Since becoming the head of the Catholic Church in 2013, Pope Francis has not shied away from the political domain.
On Sunday, the religious leader used the COVID-19 pandemic to renew his criticisms of free-market capitalism.
“The fragility of world systems in the face of the pandemic has demonstrated that not everything can be resolved by market freedom,” Francis wrote in part of a lengthy religious text. “To care for the world in which we live means to care for ourselves. Yet we need to think of ourselves more and more as a single family dwelling in a common home. Such care does not interest those economic powers that demand quick profits.”
“In today’s world, many forms of injustice persist, fed by… a profit-based economic model that does not hesitate to exploit, discard and even kill human beings,” Francis lamented.
The Pope decried the free-market “dogma of neo-liberal faith” that views “the magic theories of ‘spillover’ or ‘trickle’ ... as the only solution to societal problems.” He went on to write that “market freedom cannot supersede the rights of peoples and the dignity of the poor.”
Francis reiterated his belief that “if one person lacks what is necessary to live with dignity, it is because another person is detaining it.” He concluded that “the right to private property can only be considered a secondary natural right, derived from the principle of the universal destination of created goods.”
There’s a lot to unpack here. But breaking down the Pope’s arguments one-by-one shows that his criticisms of free-market capitalism don’t mesh well with available facts, empirical evidence, or a basic understanding of how economics actually works.
1. Blaming Free-Market Capitalism for the COVID-19 Crisis
This is probably Pope Francis’s weakest argument of all.