Ahistoric, Unscientific Papal Prejudice Is Okay When it’s About Capitalism, Anyway!

Jesus Christ. |||Pope
Evangelii Gaudium
about the “new
tyranny” of “unfettered capitalism
” might just be the
biggest thing to hit the lefty blogosphere since Mitt Romney
uttered the instantly immortal, irrelevant phrase “binders
full of women

about time
,” says Daily Kos diarist Egberto Willies.
Pope or Greatest Pope?
” wondered Wonkette’s
Commie Girl. “Pope
Francis Strafes Libertarian Economics
,” celebrated
Slate’s Matthew Yglesias. It’s like that time Sinead O’Connor ripped up a picture
of the Pope
, only this time the Pope is Sinead O’Connor,
and the picture is capitalism!

I don’t wish to stand in the way of people enjoying other
people’s prejudices, but Francis’s hyperbolic rants about the role
and allegedly dictatorial power of free markets are embarrassing in
their wrongness. Cheering them on is like donating money to a
Creationist Museum, only with more potential impact. To take one
papal passage out of dozens:

Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the
survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the
powerless. As a consequence, masses of people find themselves
excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities,
without any means of escape.

"Without any means of escape," the man said. ||| The EconomistMore people have escaped
poverty the past 25 years than were alive on the
planet in 1800
. Their “means of escape” was largely the
introduction of at least some “laws of competition” in endeavors
that had long been the exclusive domain of authoritarian,
monopolistic governments. Here’s
The Economist

In 1990, 43% of the population of developing countries lived in
extreme poverty (then defined as subsisting on $1 a day); the
absolute number was 1.9 billion people. By 2000 the proportion was
down to a third. By 2010 it was 21% (or 1.2 billion; the poverty
line was then $1.25, the average of the 15 poorest countries’ own
poverty lines in 2005 prices, adjusted for differences in
purchasing power). The global poverty rate had been cut in half in
20 years.

The country that cut poverty the most was China, which in 1980
had the largest number of poor people anywhere. China saw a huge
increase in income inequality—but even more growth. Between 1981
and 2010 it lifted a stunning 680m people out poverty—more than the
entire current population of Latin America. This cut its poverty
rate from 84% in 1980 to about 10% now. China alone accounts for
around three quarters of the world’s total decline in extreme
poverty over the past 30 years.

don’t forget Africa and India

In Africa, inflation-adjusted per capita incomes rose by an
astonishing 97 percent between 1999 and 2010. Hunger in India
shrank by 90 percent after the country replaced 40 years’
worth of socialist stagnation with capitalist reforms in

I actually like the new guy, otherwise. |||To look upon the miracles of this world and
lament the lack of “means of escape” is to advertise your own
ignorance. To call it a “tyranny” is to do violence to any
meaningful sense of that important word (much like Francis’s
predecessor did with his silly “dictatorship
of relativism
” crack). And to make such absolutist
statements as “everything comes under the laws of
competition and the survival of the fittest” is to admit up front
that you are not primarily interested in spreading truth, but
rather in exciting popular passions. Which I suppose makes

It’s a free world; Pope’s gonna Pope & all that. I don’t go
to the Vatican for global economics, and Catholics probably don’t
seek out Reason for spiritual guidance. And the new kid in
the Vatican actually seems pretty good to my outsider eyes. But
prejudice against global capitalism isn’t some kind of twee affect
coming from the mouth of one of the globe’s largest religious
institutions. It’s an out-and-out attempt to rewrite measurable
history to fit theological imperatives. Liberals who congratulate
themselves on mocking creationists while co-signing factually
laughable claims about the world they actually live in are not
exactly demonstrating a consistent adherence to the Scientific

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/26/ahistoric-unscientific-papal-prejudice-i

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