Thursday, 28 November 2013

Pontificis Ignorantia [updated]

“When you are talking about matters determining whether we eat or
starve it's a moral disgrace to be as intellectually flabby as Pope Francis.”
- Taking Hayek Seriously

“Pope Francis has denounced ‘trickle down economics.’ "It's not based on
facts," says man in giant hat who talks to invisible Sky Person.”

David Lucas

The new pope understands neither capitalism nor the Quran.

This is abundantly clear from his first manifesto, Evangelii Gaudium ("The Joy of the Gospel"), praised by his followers as “a new Magna Carta” for his reign over the world’s umpty-tum billion Catholics, whose release achieved overnight headlines worldwide for its rants about the "new tyranny" of "unfettered capitalism," and how Islam and the Quran “are opposed to every form of violence.”

The Pontifex is wrong on both counts.

As Todd Zywicki says at the Volokh Conspiracy about the pontiff’s “wrongheaded economics”:

Ever since the Galileo incident, the Catholic Church has generally tried to be careful to get its science right before it opines on ethical matters related to science. It takes seriously questions of bioethics and has developed internal expertise on those issues. Yet when it comes to economics, the Church seems to have no qualms about opining on issues of economics without even the slightest idea of what it is talking about.

Or about the Quran…

The pope is ignorant about the Quran

The bloke in a dress says Islam and the Quran “are opposed to every form of violence.” Courtesy of the Dwindling in Unbelief blog, “here are some verses from the Quran that the pope assures us are completely nonviolent”:

  1. Slay them wherever ye find them, and drive them out of the places  whence they drove you out ... If  they attack you (there) then slay them. Such is the reward of disbelievers. Quran 2:191
  2. Fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is for Allah. 2:193
  3. We shall cast terror into the hearts of those who disbelieve. 3:151
  4. Men are in charge of women, because Allah hath made the one of them to excel the other. ... So good women are the obedient. ... As for those from whom ye fear rebellion, admonish them and banish them to beds  apart, and scourge them. 4:34
  5. Those who disbelieve Our revelations, We shall expose them to the Fire. As often as their skins are consumed We shall exchange them for fresh skins that they may taste the torment. 4:56
  6. Those who believe do battle for the cause of Allah; and those who disbelieve do battle for the cause of idols. So fight the minions of the devil. 4:76
  7. Choose not friends from them [unbelievers]. ... Take them and kill them  wherever ye find them. 4:89
  8. Take them [unbelievers] and kill them wherever ye find them. Against such We have given you clear warrant. 4:91
  9. The disbelievers are an open enemy to you. 4:101
  10. Choose not disbelievers for (your) friends in place of  believers. Would ye give Allah a clear warrant against you? 4:144
  11. The only reward of those who make war upon Allah and His messenger ... will be that they will be killed or crucified, or have their hands and feet on alternate sides cut off, or will be expelled out of the land. Such  will be their degradation in the world, and in the Hereafter theirs will be an awful doom.5:33
  12. As for the thief, both male and female, cut off their hands. ... An exemplary punishment from Allah.5:38
  13. Take not the Jews and the Christians for friends. ... He among you who taketh them for friends is (one) of them. 5:51
  14. The Jews ... We have cast among them enmity and hatred till the Day of Resurrection. 5:64
  15. I will throw fear into the hearts of those who disbelieve. Then smite the necks and smite of them each finger. 8:12
  16. Fight them until persecution is no more, and religion is all for Allah. 8:39
  17. It is not for any prophet to have captives until he hath made slaughter in the land. 8:67
  18. Slay the idolaters wherever ye  find them, and take them (captive), and besiege them, and prepare for them each ambush. 9:5
  19. Choose not your fathers nor your brethren for friends if they take pleasure in disbelief rather than faith. Whoso of you taketh them for friends, such are wrong-doers. 9:23
  20. The Jews ... and the Christians ... Allah (Himself) fighteth against them. How  perverse are they! 9:30
  21. O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites! Be harsh with  them. Their ultimate abode is hell, a hapless journey's end. 9:73
  22. O ye who believe! Fight those of the disbelievers who are near to you, and  let them find harshness in you. 9:123
  23. But as for those who disbelieve, garments of fire will  be cut out for them; boiling fluid will be poured down on their heads, Whereby that which is in their bellies, and their skins too, will be melted; And for them are hooked rods of iron. 22:19-21
  24. Muhammad is the messenger of Allah. And those with him are hard against the disbelievers and merciful among themselves. 48:29
  25. Those who take for friends a folk with whom Allah is wroth ... Allah hath prepared for them a dreadful doom. 58:14
  26. Tell their  brethren who disbelieve among the People of the Scripture ... that they verily are liars.59:11
  27. O ye who believe! Choose not My enemy and your enemy for allies. Do ye give them friendship when they disbelieve? 60:1
  28. O Prophet! Strive against the disbelievers and the hypocrites, and be stern with them. Hell will be their home, a hapless journey's end. 66:9

Even the popes’ predecessor knew better. Islam, said Ratzinger, was violent and “spread by the sword.” As does Pope Francis’s fellow Jesuit Samir Khalil Samir who, writing in his 111 Questions on Islam,  argues Westerners like his boss who assert that groups like the Taliban are acting in a manner contrary to the spirit of Islam “usually know little about Islam.” In the Egyptian-born Jesuit’s view, “On the sociohistorical level, from the Qur’an onward, the ordinary meaning of jihad is unequivocal. [It] indicates the Muslim war in the name of God to defend Islam.”

So perhaps this pope should read Mr Samir. Or Ratzinger’s early speeches. Or just survey the litany of recent history.

The pope is ignorant about capitalism

The pope thinks the world is awash with “unfettered capitalism”—which is news to those who actually can distinguish between free markets and phony crony capitalism.

But even his “analysis” of market activities themselves is so bad it would embarrass a choir boy. (Much of his mush is so bad it is literally indistinguishable from the rants of Karl Marx.) Robert Wenzel marks the pope’s paper, adding a few important corrections:

Says the pope: “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.”
Robert Wenzel comments: The powerful feed upon the powerless only when there is a government to protect the operations of the powerful. Under a free market system, businesses that do not provide goods consumers desire will fail.

Says the pope: “In this context, 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…”
Robert Wenzel comments: Free markets are not about "trickle down" economics. It is about businesses providing products that consumers desire. The Pope is deeply confused about the difference between free markets and fascist economics. He has a very pedestrian view, not supported by analysis [nor by
the facts of the astonishing improvements markets have delivered in improving the human environment which have “seen us banish starvation and famine from a large part of the Earth.”]

Says the pope: “While the earnings of a minority are growing exponentially, so too is the gap separating the majority from the prosperity enjoyed by those happy few. This imbalance is the result of ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation. Consequently, they reject the right of states, charged with vigilance for the common good, to exercise any form of control…”
Robert Wenzel comments: Incredibly, the Pope does not understand that it is government regulations that protect the major corporations from start ups and suffocate the process of growth and innovation. [In other words,
it is the very controls he espouses that make monopoly and cronyism possible.] Calling for government to  exercise more control is not much different than inviting the devil to deliver the Sunday sermon.

Waiting in the wings at Reason magazine, Matt Welch lets rip:

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:

_Quote_IdiotToday 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 comp etition" 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.

And 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 1991.

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

To see real grinding poverty, and understand how wrong he is, this pope simply needs to visit with his eyes open those countries whose leaders actually do value tyranny over markets, from many of which there is literally no escape. Like Cuba. Or Zimbabwe. Or Burma. Or North Korea...

There is no reason to believe this pope has a clue what he is talking about

By virtue of tradition, the pope demands unthinking obedience from his followers, offering solace to too many people weak enough to have to seek answers from pedlars of hope.

But those answers are bilge, which if taken seriously are deadly.

Here’s The Damned:

RELATED READING from around the traps:

  • “It seems the official position of Pope Francis is that the free market is a wicked enemy that must be restrained. With all due respect, he's mistaken. The free market has been a heavenly blessing... Actually, no economic system has brought more prosperity to more people than free-market capitalism. Neither socialism nor communism has increased prosperity, and are themselves ruled by tyrants.
        “Both have certainly brought more equality, which Francis believes is important. But it's an equality of misery.”
     Pope Francis Is Wrong: Free Market Is Not A Tyrant - I.B.D. EDITORIAL
  • Brain-teaser: Who said it…
    Karl Marx or Pope Francis? – Kieran Healy, CROOKED TIMBER
  • Thomas Sowell on the history of the rhetoric & economics of ‘trickle down economics’” “No such theory has been found in even the most voluminous and  learned histories of economic theories…”
    “Trickle Down” Theory and "Tax Cuts for the Rich" – Thomas Sowell, HOOVER INSTITUTE [19-page PDF]
  • “The economic reflections that loom large throughout the Pope's Evangelii Gaudium are very hard to defend.”
    Pope Francis and Poverty – Samuel Gregg, NATIONAL REVIEW
  • “It would make for some pretty amazing headlines if Pope Francis turned out to be a Marxist. Between his hints at rehabilitating liberation theology—condemned by his predecessors—and talk about casting off "the economic and social structures that enslave us," Marxism isn't totally out of the question… But you know whom he might plausibly be matched with, though?”
    Pope Francis's Theory of Economics – Heather Horn, ATLANTIC
  • The Pope doesn't understand the difference between truly free markets and Crony Corporatist Capitalism.
    Welcome to the New Corporatism – Samuel Greeg, ACTON COMMENTARY
  • “In Francis we see a charismatic advocate for Econ policies of type that have failed & failed & failed again.”
    The Pope, Again – Andrew Stuttaford, NATIONAL REVIEW

No comments:

Post a Comment

1. Commenters are welcome and invited.
2. All comments are moderated. Off-topic grandstanding, spam, and gibberish will be ignored. Tu quoque will be moderated.
3. Read the post before you comment. Challenge facts, but don't simply ignore them.
4. Use a name. If it's important enough to say, it's important enough to put a name to.
5. Above all: Act with honour. Say what you mean, and mean what you say.