Pope Francis released his first encyclical on Tuesday. In addition to restating opposition by the Catholic Church to abortion, the new Pope criticized free market capitalism and advocated wealth redistribution.
He said “some people continue to defend trickle-down theories which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world. This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naïve trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power and in the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system. Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting.”
So-called “trickle down” is not an economic theory. It is a pejorative term used by socialists and others in favor of wealth distribution to describe laissez-faire capitalism. A product of the Enlightenment, laissez-faire capitalism was “conceived as the way to unleash human potential through the restoration of a natural system, a system unhindered by the restrictions of government,” writes Toufic Gaspard. For political economist Adam Smith and other classical economists, the concept was inextricably connected to natural rights.
Laissez faire recognizes the individual is the central unit of society endowed with a natural right to liberty, including the right to economic activity between consenting individuals so long as this activity does not impede the rights of others. In his book The Theory of Moral Sentiments, Smith used the metaphor of an “invisible hand” to describe unintended effects of individuals involved in economic organization and self-interest.
Although laissez-faire capitalism flourished in the United States, it was undermined early on by proponents of the American School and Alexander Hamilton, who proposed direct control of the economy by a central bank and tariffs that favored the industrial North over the agricultural South (eventually resulting in the so-called Civil War).
Until recently and despite the unrelenting attack on laissez-faire economics the American economy reigned as an undisputed engine of prosperity. The political attacks of Pope Francis and other socialists are the latest effort to undermine free market capitalism and replace it with a socialist system that has demonstrated repeatedly it is incapable of creating the sort of prosperity society requires to prosper.
Natural law and a natural system of liberty is now under concerted attack. Criticism of “the sacralized workings of the prevailing economic system,” as Pope Francis defined free trade and the natural law of laissez-faire capitalism, is highly misleading.
In fact, the United States has never enjoyed pure laissez-faire capitalism, but has suffered under varying degrees of crony capitalism, more accurately described as corporatism — or as Benito Mussolini termed it, fascism. In the recent past, the destructiveness of self-serving business and government relationships and state-run monetary policy directed in the shadows by a globalist financial elite were mitigated by the engine of prosperity. However, we have now entered a dangerous period as the global elite and corporations work in concert to erode the fiscal and moral underpinnings of the economy. The country now teeters on the verge of financial and social ruin.
As a tutored Jesuit and Argentine, Pope Francis is a student of the Jesuit Reductions, the Catholic program of the 17th and 18th centuries to Christianize, tax and govern the people of Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia and America. In Paraguay under the Jesuits, according to the New Advent Catholic Encyclopedia, the “economic basis was a sort of communism” ruled over by the caciques, or tribal leaders, at the behest and guidance of the Padres.
“The Jesuits aimed to set up [in Paraguay] a completely communistic system, in the sense that no individual rights were recognized and there was no private property,” writes John Findlater in The Revolutionary Movement: A Diagnosis of World Disorders. “Everything belonged to the State, and was supposed to be shared in common. But in reality much the greater part of the proceeds of good sold was always remitted to the Camarilla [advisers to the Spanish kings]; and the Guaranis [Indians of Paraguay, northern Argentina, and southern Brazil] got only the bare necessities of life in return for their toil and sweat.”
In modern times, the well-honed process of confiscation and accumulation by the state is far more sophisticated, but the end result is almost identical — in the wake of looting by multinationals and globalist organizations such as the IMF and World Bank, millions of people are locked in poverty while a distinct minority revel in untold riches. Pope Francis and the Catholic Church blame free trade capitalists for this state of affairs, not the state and its system of crony capitalism in the service of a parasitical corporate and transnational elite.