Thursday, 15 January 2015

Dopey Popey

Pope Francis I has reacted to accusations of Marxism in a book of interviews entitled This Economy Kills. Pope Francis has lamented the "unjust" and "evil" economic system before, notably in the Evangelii Gaudium (in Chapter 2, Section 1), a veritable deluge of vituperation directed at a "system" he does not even name. (So maybe it is the socialist aspects of the mixed economy he dislikes, although the common impression seems to be that it is the free market.) It would help if he outlined some arguments rather than an array of assertions (because that is exactly what he does, read for yourselves and see), but I guess job security obviates the requirement to think (or maybe that's actually a requirement in the business of organized religion).

To counter the Pope's vapid and vacuous assertions, here's some actual substance on the benefits of trading freely:
  1. Your appendix is about to burst, but trade is restricted so your best substitute for a doctor is your local butcher. Or, you need a spanner to fix your shower, but because free trade is bad, you should not get one made in China but have to pay a lot more for a domestic one - and why stop there? Why not force you to make the spanner yourself? Is free trade conducive or not to life and prosperity in these instances?
  2. You live in Haiti and it is truck by a magnitude-7 earthquake. But free movement is restricted so you cannot go to the US (say) but have to suffer cholera and homelessness instead. If this is an instance of "this economy" killing, it surely can't be the free market part of it.
  3. You work for a penny a day in some Bangladeshi factory. Your employer is a Western multinational, but is thrown out of the country because "this economy" apparently "kills". What happens to your job and wages? Do you go to the domestic firm which pays $25 an hour plus benefits? I bet there is no such firm, because if there were then that's where you'd have been working in the first place.
For sure, free markets are not perfect, but these are some thought experiments which at least make the argument that a free economy is far better than the Dopey Popey makes it out to be. He, on the other hand, seems to think that a litany can replace reason if only expressed forcefully enough. If he listened to me, I would challenge His Holiness to name a single country that has gone from misery to prosperity without a large measure of economic freedom.

The Pope today decried the mockery of belief, saying that "one cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith" (then what have Charlie Hebdo's readers been laughing at?). Notice that again he offers no argument. Notice also that he himself insults when he laments economic freedom without argument. What the Pope insults in these instances is the faith in reason, which is really the only sacred faith.

No comments:

Post a Comment