Pope Francis is making waves among conservatives with his ideas about unfettered capitalism. He sees unfettered capitalism as tyranny. He has an issue with the press’s focus on the stock market over someone dying for lack of healthcare, for instance. He’s upset about the powerful feeding on the powerless. He put down the so-called “trickle-down” theory. He sees much of the world as defenseless against the idol of profit. And so much more.
Conservatives, who are the ones that idolize unfettered capitalism, think he’s a heretic for all of this. World Net Daily (WND) jumped on the bandwagon recently with a cartoon and an article denouncing Pope Francis’ ideas. Neither artist nor author really show that they know what they’re talking about.
World Net Daily cartoon uses a saying not found in the Bible to portray Pope Francis as a socialist.
The cartoon in question shows Pope Francis with a can of red spray paint. He’s standing under the words “Teach a man to fish,” which he’s crossed out with the red paint, and written, “Give a man a fish.” Artist Mike Lester clearly does not know where that reference comes from. “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” is not in the Bible. Where it came from is murky, with many saying it’s a Chinese proverb. However, a British website says this is much newer, and came from author Anne Ritchie.
Furthermore, this isn’t what Pope Francis is saying. He’s condemning our love and worship of money above all else. There is a massive difference. Unfettered capitalism is “a new tyranny,” especially for the poor and middle class. Gains made from productivity over the last 30 years, at least in the U.S., have gone almost entirely to the top 10% of income earners. The entire economic recovery went to the top 1%. Real wages for the middle class have actually dropped. The little people who the wealthy stand on are turning into the slaves of unfettered capitalism. This is what Pope Francis rails against.
World Net Daily author says Jesus would have supported unfettered capitalism.
WND author Jonathan Moseley wrote a piece calling out pope’s anti-capitalist attitude. He used Luke 12:13-14 to explain Jesus Christ’s capitalist tendencies. The verses read: “Someone in the crowd said to Him [Jesus Christ], ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But He said to him, ‘Man, who appointed Me a judge or arbitrator over you?’”
Moseley calls socialism “heresy,” at this point. It’s true that Jesus would never have favored taking money or property by force. True socialism does eventually lead to a dictatorship, because the system can’t stop human nature, which is to compete when resources are scarce. But what Pope Francis suggests is not socialism. Reining in capitalism so that it does what it’s supposed to do, instead of benefiting a privileged few and hurting everyone else, does not equal socialism.
Moseley goes on with, “Jesus would sternly warn the brother against greed, dishonesty and defrauding his family.” Yes, he would. He did not believe in the greed seen in today’s unfettered capitalism. The brother hoarding his family’s inheritance is a prime example of the greed inherent in unfettered capitalism. He says that Jesus would never preach about what’s wrong with one person to another, and that Jesus spoke to individuals, not governments. So Jesus was obviously a capitalist.
Moseley defines both capitalism and socialism incorrectly. Socialism is not stealing from the rich to give to the poor. It’s an economy in which the community as a whole, or its government, owns and controls production. Conservatives often confuse socialism with communism, though. The latter includes both economic production and the political structure. Socialism applies only to the economy.
Capitalism allows people to own and control production, which is supposed to create more competition. Companies have to compete for customers and workers in this case. Ideally, that makes them keep their prices low, and their pay high. But unfettered capitalism leads to low pay, high prices, and either no competition due either to monopolies forming, or collusion between companies in an industry.
Moseley doesn’t know what crony capitalism is, either.
Moseley also thinks that crony capitalism is what comes from corrupt governments getting too involved in business. Again, this is not true. Crony capitalism is when business gets too involved with government. It’s when business success depends on how close businesspeople are to government officials. The closer they are, the more likely it is that they can get laws enacted, repealed, or changed in their favor. Moseley says crony capitalism is mostly what people in the third world experience, and he implies that we in the civilized first world do not see this very much. That, also, is not true.
The U.S. saw crony capitalism in repealing Glass-Steagall, and later when Dodd-Frank was badly watered down. Financial regulators don’t regulate; an issue that Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has brought up time and again in the Senate Banking Committee. Citigroup recently wrote legislation intended to strip the teeth out of what was left of Dodd-Frank. Crony capitalism only happens in the third world? Hardly.
What Pope Francis rejects is crony capitalism all over the world. He rejects the monopolies that unfettered capitalism creates. Moseley says that these are what the Vatican thinks is capitalism in general. That isn’t true. The pope rejects what the world has become. He rejects what capitalism has become. But to the conservatives that worship money, anybody who rejects unfettered capitalism embraces socialism by default.
Basically, Moseley, Lester, and WND have no idea what they’re talking about.