Interviews. Interviews. Interviews.
Pope Francis gave an interview to La Stampa.
In the newest interview, the Holy Father is asked about reactions to his odd economic observations in Evangelii gaudium.
Some passages in Evangelii gaudium attracted accusations from American ultra-conservatives. [For an Italian journalist, even for this publication, not being a socialist makes you an ultra-conservative.] What effect does it have on a Pope to hear himself called a “Marxist”?
Marxist ideology is wrong. In my life I have known many marxists who are good as people, and because of this I don’t take offense.
The words that struck the most were those about an economy that “kills”… [And the Pope pounces. He was waiting for this question.]
In the exhortation there is nothing that can’t be found in the social doctrine of the Church. [This is called "damage control". At least I think it is damage control. Let's find out...] I didn’t speak from a technical point of view, I sought to present a snapshot [una fotografia] of what is going on. The only specific passage was on “trickle-down” theories, [le teorie della “ricaduta favorevole”] according to which every economic growth, favored by the free market, results in producing on its own [di per sé] a greater equity and social inclusion in the world. There was the promise that when the glass was full, it would be transferred over and the poor would benefit from it. Instead what happens when it is full to the brim, the glass magically grows, and thus nothing comes forth for the poor. [WHOA! That doesn't follow, does it. What the Pope presents here is a picture of the pie growing, or here a glass, but as the glass grows it contains the water within, and never allows the water to spill over the edge. It doesn't follow that the growing glass automatically contains all the water. Leaving aside the problem of the term "trickle down", which is a disparaging political label, is there a good alternative to "trickle down"? A free market which grows the pie, grows the glass, is preferable to a model wherein when I get something, you are therefore deprived of having it as well. While this is a brief comment on the Pope's part, it conveys to me a mistaken notion. What's the alternative? A glass that doesn't grow? Bad situation, that. Zero sum.] This was the sole reference to a specific theory. I repeat, I didn’t speak as an expert on economy [da technico], but according to the social doctrine of the Church. And this doesn’t mean being a Marxist. [True, none of what he says here is Marxist.]
In any event, the Pope seems to be doing some needed damage control.
First, allow me to say that I was right: por si mismo is not “inevitably “. Here we find Italian “di per se”.
The Pope isn’t endorsing any system. He is speaking in generalities. Greed and corruption can effect any economic system. A free-market can, in fact, not result in a betterment of the lot of the poor on its own.
And there is no such thing as an “unfettered” free market. Nor should there be. There must be rule of law.
People who are active in the free market must take responsibility to make sure that the benefits do trickle down.
I think Pope Francis is overly negative in his view that the glass will grow bigger so that nothing can get out of it. Something is going to get out. Again, I suspect that the Holy Father has a limited perspective: the disaster that is Argentina, indeed South America.
I call to mind what Andrew Napolitano said in his mostly negative reaction to Evangelii gaudium: the Pope is frustrated (and thus attacks capitalism) because the poor aren’t getting rich quickly enough.
I respond that, if people acting in the free market act with a view for the poor, the trickle can be far far greater, far far swifter.
I prefer to understand this to be the Pope’s main point when he comments on “trickle down” economics.
Bottom line: Francis is right! A free market will not on its own solve problems. People have to take responsibility.
Still, the fact remains that a free market model is the worst model we could adopt to help the poor, except for all the rest.
I hope that when conservatives out there write about the Pope’s views they will weigh also the main point: por si’ mismo… di per se… by itself.