Sunday, December 15, 2013

Pope Francis and the Global Economy

When Pope Francis was named Time magazine’s “Person of the Year”, focus increased on his recent comments including:
  •  "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."
  • “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. A new tyranny is thus born, invisible and often virtual, which unilaterally and relentlessly imposes its own laws and rules.
  • Debt and the accumulation of interest also make it difficult for countries to realize the potential of their own economies and keep citizens from enjoying their real purchasing power. To all this we can add widespread corruption and self-serving tax evasion, which have taken on worldwide dimensions. The thirst for power and possessions knows no limits. In this system, which tends to devour everything which stands in the way of increased profits, whatever is fragile, like the environment, is defenseless before the interests of a deified market, which become the only rule.”
  • Financial reform … would require a vigorous change of approach on the part of political leaders … Money must serve, not rule! The Pope loves everyone, rich and poor alike, but he is obliged … to remind all that the rich must help, respect and promote the poor. I exhort you to generous solidarity and to the return of economics and finance to an ethical approach which favours human beings.”
  • Full text of the Pope's comments are available here: http://bit.ly/18YGBVZ.
MY TAKE
  • It is unlikely that Pope Francis is condemning capitalism or advocating socialism; but rather suggesting that a good idea can be taken to an extreme and unregulated “laissez faire” economics are problematic.
  • His comments may also be a tipping point in today’s era of big money in politics
  • However, change will require increased activism by individuals. Perhaps that is why he is also concerned about the “globalization of indifference.”

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