Fighting poverty, pope should promote wealth

Pope Francis is not a lawmaker so he does not have the power to enforce the doctrine he teaches. One wonders what he would enforce if he could. And one cannot help but wonder what kind of influence the pope has on the actions of actual lawmakers around the world. Perhaps it is not that great, but maybe he has some effect.

The pope recently spoke out about poverty and wealth and their relationship. We believe the pope wants to do good on Earth, so we will grant him some benefit of the doubt. One way to interpret what he was saying may be that he simply does not want humanity to forget about the poor, the lonely, the starving children, the abandoned elderly. The pope believes you can never have too much compassion and understanding, and that to help the less fortunate is divine work. That message is fine.

But Francis goes too far, we believe, when he starts to condemn wealth and those who have it. People who put forth effort, who create marvelous inventions, who excel in business acumen, or who simply work hard for many years while saving or investing should not be vilified. And one could reverse the scrutiny and ask: Why are the poor poor? What responsibility do they have to themselves and to ensuring that they do not burden others?

The pope argues that the world’s wealth should belong to “all,” but the problems with that philosophy were apparent in the economic failings of communism. When wealth belongs to “all,” then everyone — pretty much — is poor. When people are free to obtain as much wealth as they can, all of society benefits, although not all individual to the same degree. Still, the wealth produced drives even more wealth creation and goes into countless charitable endeavors, including church coffers and government-run poverty programs.

In the end, if Francis, or anyone, wants to see more human beings lifted up out of poverty, then he should support and promote the creation of more wealth. He should support the elimination of obstacles for businesses, including onerous taxes and regulations, that limit production and job creation. He should tout free trade unhindered by government interference. He should back the rule of law in corrupt and backward nations.

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