Pope of the Left

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socialism-vs-capitalism2

 

Pope Francis during his visit to South America, his home ground, gave vent to all those beliefs that  should send a shiver down the back of anyone who believes in free enterprise and views the State with extreme skepticism.  Andrew Stuttaford at National Review Online gives a good summary:

Even by the standards of this pontiff, Pope Francis’s speech yesterday in Bolivia to a crowd that included the country’s president wearing a jacket emblazoned with the face of a mass-murderer (Che Guevara, in case you needed to ask: we can at least be sure that Speaker Boehner won’t do that when he introduces Francis to a joint session of Congress), was a doozy.
The Guardian exults (of course it does), quoting this amongst other delights:
“The new colonialism takes on different faces. At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain ‘free trade’ treaties, and the imposition of measures of ‘austerity’ which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor.”
Not for the first time with Pope Francis, we see traces of conspiracism (a demagogic standard, I’m afraid to say) in his use of the phrase ‘anonymous influence’ and the suggestion of dark works by ‘corporations’ and ‘loan agencies’. The distaste for ‘free trade’, complete with scare quotes of course, harks back to the Peronist preference for economic autarchy that marked the Argentina of his youth.
And so does another extract from the same speech in which the Pope seems to call what he refers to as a “truly communitarian” economy, often a buzz word for those, such as Perón, who claimed or claim to be looking for a ‘third way’ between communism and capitalism, a third way that, in Argentina’s case, ultimately led to disaster.
Turn now to a 2013 blog post from Jacob Lederman reacting to posters that appeared across Buenos Aires after Francis’s election, posters that read, “Francisco I, Argentino y Peronista”:
The fall of the first peronist government is said to have been precipitated by Peron’s break with the church but in fact I have always thought that the two shared many common attributes: top down structures, a measure of paternalism which can be discursively rendered a form of communitarianism, and a strong inclination toward the mystical.
Look at the speech, and we see that Francis has no time for what he refers to as “the bondage of individualism”.
And he seems unimpressed by the remarkable (and, of course, incomplete) achievements of the free market (however approximate, however imperfect) in not only coping with a vastly expanded global population (ahem) but in pulling so many out of poverty across the world. All that appears to count for little with a figure who, economically and politically speaking, appears to view much of the modern world through the lens of the exhausted ideologies of the mid-20th Century.
Let us say NO to an economy of exclusion and inequality, where money rules, rather than service. That economy kills. That economy excludes. That economy destroys Mother Earth.
To him this is the system (“a subtle dictatorship”, apparently, a description which left me wondering how he would describe Cuba) that has “irresponsibly” (an interesting word to use, in this context: some sort of central planning, I suppose, is to decide what is or is not “responsible”) accelerated “the pace of production, while using industrial and agricultural methods which damage Mother Earth in the name of “productivity”….
The Green Revolution was bad?

Go here to read the rest.  In Pope Francis, sadly, we have a Pope only of the Left.  Non-leftist Catholics might as well not exist as far as Pope Francis is concerned.  It is interesting that one of the words that Pope Francis uses to condemn his opponents is ideological.  The Church has never had a pope more politically ideological than the current incumbent.

 

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24 Comments

  1. At times it appears as the anonymous influence of mammon: corporations, loan agencies, certain ‘free trade’ treaties, and the imposition of measures of ‘austerity’ which always tighten the belt of workers and the poor.”

    Quite apart from it’s debt service payments, the central government of Greece was running a budget deficit of 10.4% of gdp in 2010. The current account deficit (merchandise trade + trade in non-factor services) was 12% of gdp. Greece had managed between 1995 and 2010 to increase it’s public sector debt load from 105% of gdp to 122% of gdp. Greece has run deficits without fail for 20 years and the typical dimensions of same during the period running from 1995 to 2008 the United States never saw until the financial crisis and the Obama binge. Eventually, the bond market cuts you off at the bar.

    For all the babble about ‘austerity’, public expenditure in Greece in real terms hasn’t changed since 2007 even as the economy has imploded, they’ve been given concessionary interest rates, and a wide swath of their creditors took haircuts. As we speak, an array of public agencies now owns the bulk of the debt and European governments have to make good on guarantees to these agencies when Greece formally defaults. So, how’s the soft loan window been working out for everyone the last five years?
    ==
    I’m beginning to think Francis fancies that bread comes from the bread truck.

    http://www.firstthings.com/article/1993/05/004-the-skimpole-syndrome-childhood-unlimited

  2. Art Deco

    Greece has a debt to GDP ratio of 175.1. Japan has a debt to GDP ratio of 240% (and runs a government deficit of 8%) Yet, the yield on Japan’s 10-year bonds is 0.44%. The market (and the Bank of Japan in particular) cannot get enough of Japanese debt.

    The difference? Japan has its own currency and can use debt monetisation any time it is so minded Actually, a modest amount of inflation would do its economy the world of good.

  3. Pope Francis seems to have similar worldly concerns as Judas who criticized Jesus for allowing the sinful woman to anoint Him with precious oil rather than give the money to the poor. Judas had his priorities wrong and did not understand Jesus and His mission. How history repeats itself!

  4. “The difference? Japan has its own currency and can use debt monetisation any time it is so minded Actually, a modest amount of inflation would do its economy the world of good.”

    The real difference is that Japan has the third largest economy in the world with a population noted for innovation and productivity.

  5. The difference? Japan has its own currency and can use debt monetisation any time it is so minded Actually, a modest amount of inflation would do its economy the world of good.

    Japan has had three periods of hypertrophied deficit spending since 1960: one from 1977 to 1984, one from 1994 to 2006, and one beginning in 2010 and continuing. The ratio of debt stocks to domestic product did not reach disagreeable levels until 1996. Much of the debt accumulation is attributable to the ambient notion that Keynesian demand management might be of use in priming economic development, rather than in modulating the variations in output one sees over the course of the business cycle. Hasn’t worked.
    ==
    Greece is a recidivist offender, having defaulted on its public debt in 1966. Japan has a recent history of having executed successful fiscal consolidations and bringing its debt binges to a close.. Greece has not and it’s debt load (quite modest 35 years ago) has gotten almost monotonically worse since the country joined the EU in 1981.
    ==
    Japan’s debts are denominated in its own currency. Also, the bondholders are almost entirely domestic. Its domestic population would have to find alternative savings vehicles they prefer for the Japanese government to be cut off at the bar. There has been little monetization of the debt. Only 9% is on the balance sheet of the central bank (v. 25% in the U.S.).

    Japan can also devalue its currency when the situation demands and is famous for it’s flexible compensation practices which keep unemployment rates low in almost any circumstance. Japan also has no analogue to trade and industrial unions on the Gompers / Lewis model (much less the Scargill model). Japanese unions are company unions who have skin in the game re company performance.

  6. The real difference is that Japan has the third largest economy in the world with a population noted for innovation and productivity.

    The aging of the Japanese workforce is taking its toll. Japan has a high savings rate and government debt issues are a savings vehicle, so there is more tolerance for debt issue.

  7. Seen on Facebook.
    .

    “I’m a Republican because everyone cannot be on welfare.”
    .
    “Government-funded, scientific (for what it’s worth) research proves that one in three liberals is as stupid as the other two.”
    .

    Santa Claus is a liberal. God Almighty is a conservative.” FYI: He set it up and he is eternal, omniscient and omnipotent; and His Kingdom is not in the here-and-now.

  8. Pope Francis economic ideas would create a huge moral hazard by giving everyone in the world confidence that someone else is there to take care of them. With this kind of guarantee many more folks would opt for welfare to take advantage of such “generosity”. And we have a real life example now with Greece which takes advantage of being in the EU.

    When Pope Francis comes here I hope someone will take him on in a major way about the unworkability of his economic ideas, his unproven ideas about the climate and his satanic ideas about Catholic morality.

    Pope Francis is a walking, talking moral hazard for everyone.

  9. “When Pope Francis comes here I hope someone will take him on in a major way about the unworkability of his economic ideas. . .”
    .
    Unfortunately, Michael, I am not sure it would do any good to talk to him, or even show him. He doesn’t get it–about “economy” and “money” and the work that goes into making money and putting a roof over your head. He’s never had to experience it for himself. And even some people who do, still don’t get it. It has been my experience in 20 yeas in the Church that the hierarchy really does not value money, wealth, morality, or a solid work ethic. They just seem to think that money magically appears in the collection plate with no idea of what it takes for us to put it in. They just seem to think “the poor” are people who have been stolen from by “the rich” and do not stop to consider that just maybe a lot of “the poor” brought it on themselves with economically ruinous sinful behavior and bad choices.
    .
    I am have pretty-close-to-being-special-needs son who’s future (economically and otherwise) is not certain, and I must tell you, it gets harder and harder to give money to the Church.
    .

  10. If Francis, the ever-talking Pope, wants to really understand economics, somebody ought to shove this book into his hands. “The Mystery Of Capitalism” by Hernando Desoto. If Pope Francis would read “Mystery” and take it to heart, he would understand why capitalism works in some countries and doesn’t in other. Hint: it has something to do with idiotic government regulations and crony capitalism. Something nearly every South American country has in abundance.

  11. Hint: it has something to do with idiotic government regulations and crony capitalism. Something nearly every South American country has in abundance.

    IIRC, de Soto identifies a number of features of Latin American political economy which are troublesome:
    =
    1. Fuzzy land titles. Poorly delineated and documented titles make that real estate useless as collateral and also inhibits investment in real estate itself.
    =
    2. Rapid fire regulation. de Soto was quite particular about revisions to administrative procedure to require periods of public comment and other impediments to increasing the quantum of (haphazardly enforced) regulatory verbiage. His account of the contrast between the business climates in Switzerland and Peru is instructive. In Switzerland, he seldom had any contact with the government. In Peru, you keep up your political contacts at all costs for the day you win the inspector-calls lottery. Others in business go off the books.
    ==
    3. Rococo procedures imposed on the public. One of de Soto’s initiatives in Peru was to get one-stop business registries established.
    ==

  12. “They just seem to think “the poor” are people who have been stolen from by “the rich” and do not stop to consider that just maybe a lot of “the poor” brought it on themselves with economically ruinous sinful behavior and bad choices.”

    A priest at a local parish I occasionally attended talked about poverty in a homily. He said the poor where in no way responsible for their situation. Never, not under any circumstances. BTW, that priest has very poor work habits. Routinely does not show for scheduled daily Mass. Will go out of town and not let others know when he is coming back even if he is scheduled to be present.

    This is what we are dealing with.

  13. The story about Job in the Old Testament sheds light on this world situation as a microcosm. Job’s Free Will to trust in and love God first and foremost saved him from Satan’s machinations. The beginning of the story was a conversation between the two, which is ever amazing.
    .
    There are sounds of more and more voices about the world’s material problems with dubious solutions which lead to a few powers over the many compliant others – for example, bury that free will to produce for others as a living for all concerned. These modern voices, emanating from greed and limits of knowledge, give neither God nor the Devil their due and pander to lusts for ‘life’ while murderous deaths of babies and Christians and spiritual starvation are gravely pandemic.
    .
    The Book of Job is a dramatic map. The Gospels tell of how God tries so beautifully to save His people. Two millennia have passed. Job’s trials are happening, but not to Job.

  14. To: DJ Hesselius and Stephen E Dalton
    I agree that talking to Pope Francis about the benefits of capitalism would be useless. My main point is the general public needs to know how far off base our Pope is on economics and other matters. There is a strong tendency for conservative politicians to suppress dissent and for Bishops or priests to be fearful of repercussions. Hopefully, some academics will take this on. And, of course, we can always count on Bill O’Reilly and web sites such as The American Catholic.

    On giving money to the Church I agree cutting back is the way to go due to loss of product value so to speak. I donate to conservation Catholic websites which have stepped in to do the job the Catholic Church has largely abandoned, i.e., teaching the truth.

  15. Amongst his problems with economics is that he sees it through a prism of oppression and resentment. The sad fact is, we’re dealing with a remarkably myopic and parochial pontiff who has had the least background in dealing with the wider Church since–ironically–St. Pius X.

  16. Amongst his problems with economics is that he sees it through a prism of oppression and resentment.

    Nailed it. He manifests in his salient utterances no sense that production is a co-operative activity with mutual benefits incorporated.

    The sad fact is, we’re dealing with a remarkably myopic and parochial pontiff who has had the least background in dealing with the wider Church since–ironically–St. Pius X.

    St. Pius X had some compensating virtues.

  17. A priest at a local parish I occasionally attended talked about poverty in a homily. He said the poor where in no way responsible for their situation.

    I would not generate dichotomies based on observable situations when traveling from one central city neighborhood to another in North America. The great mass of humanity is highly impecunious because they live in a matrix where output per worker is at a particular level and they are going to experience want know matter how diligent they are. The thing is, social work projects such that Francis might favor addresses that situation only at the margins. Only economic development addresses such situations, and the main contribution of the Church to that is to remind people of the purposes of economic activity and of where it nestles in the strata of priorities and under what circumstances common practices are immoral. I doubt Francis has the depth for that.

  18. Art Deco wrote, “Japan’s debts are denominated in its own currency… Japan can also devalue its currency when the situation demands.”

    My point precisely. After all, the only difference between a banknote and a government bond is that banknotes are issued in smaller denominations and do not bear interest. They are both instruments of government debt.

  19. My point precisely.

    No it isnt. Japan hasn’t run a current account deficit since 1980. Greece ran not a single surplus between 1979 and 2014, Japan’s domestic savings conjoined to popular preferences were sufficient to finance their public sector deficits. Greece was dependent on foreign borrowing for the public and private sector.

  20. I have always thought that God has a robust sense of humor. The most charitable interpretation of this papacy might be as a divine practical joke. The Church will survive. We have had bad jokes as Popes before. It is disheartening however, after the hard work of John Paul II and Pope Benedict in rebuilding the Church in the wake of the havoc of Vatican II. Poor Pope Emeritus! His lips are sealed, but no doubt this is disheartening to him also.

  21. “St. Pius X had some compensating virtues.”

    Clearly, and I did not meant to suggest otherwise. The point of commonality was a lack of experience in the wider world.

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