Abraham Lincoln was fond of asking how many legs a dog had if we call the tail of the dog a leg. Four he would say, because calling something by a name does not transform it into something that it is not. In regard to Pope Francis he has a habit of calling his policy preferences “justice”, but is that in fact the case? Robert P. Barnridge, Jr., at The American Spectator, takes a look at the impact of simply labeling something as “justice” without an examination as to whether this is the case:
Arguments grounded in justicespeak tend to create straw-man arguments and fictional realities. The Joy of the Gospel, for instance, imagines that ours is a world free of market regulation, or nearly such. It worries about those champions of the “absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation,” those who “reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control.”
Of course, no one, except perhaps a few on the anarchist and libertarian fringes, opposes any state intervention in the economy, and to suggest as much is to needlessly indulge one’s imagination with phantoms that do not exist. Contrary to the Pope’s fears, a market of unequal wealth is not, as The Joy of the Gospel suggests, “unjust at its root.”
It is unfair to denigrate those who seek to liberate themselves from undue government regulation so that they can realize their full potential and creative genius. Is it reasonable for the Pope to chastise those entrepreneurs and small businesspeople who seek to do so as adherents of harsh “laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless,” as he does in The Joy of the Gospel? Who is he to judge?
One of the linchpins of Laudato Si’ is a particular permutation of justice, this time, “distributive justice.” “[W]henever this is violated, violence always ensues,” or so the Pope suggests. Yet, violence has been with humanity since the Garden of Eden, and if by distributive justice is meant greater market regulation and wealth confiscation from wage earners, then how, exactly, is this “just”?
This brings to mind what mid-19th-century French philosopher Frédéric Bastiat identified as one of the great conceits of socialism. In his reckoning, socialism seeks to appropriate the coercive machinery of the law in a way that makes people the playthings of central planners. Bastiat called this the “conversion of the law into an instrument of plunder.” This is the ultimate dehumanization.
The point is not whether what United States President Richard Nixon purportedly said about Cypriot President Archbishop Makarios III applies to the Pope — President Nixon was said to have referred to Makarios as “Castro in a cassock.”
It is that claims to speak for justice must not be taken at face value. Such incantations may or may not be attached to political projects that actually uplift the poor, but there is certainly no direct relationship between the two.
Go here to read the rest. The Pope tends to be a sloppy writer and a sloppy thinker, which is unfortunate. Whether what is proposed is actually just is the first thing that should be examined, and not simply assumed, especially when we are in complicated areas like the regulation of the economy or the role of State. The Pope hates markets and as a result greater regulation of the markets is clearly just in his eyes. However, that is not analysis, but merely prejudice, which is a poor basis for policy.