It would be nice to be able to expect from popes and presidents a bit of gravitas, a modicum of seriousness, when they are instantiating their institutional roles. What they do after hours is not our business. So Pope Francis' clowning around does not inspire respect, any more than President Clinton's answering the question about his underwear. Remember that one? Boxers or briefs? He answered the question! All he had to do was calmly state, without mounting a high horse, "That is not a question that one asks the president of the United States." And now we have the Orwellian Prevaricator himself in the White House, Barack Hussein Obama, whose latest Orwellian idiocy is that Big Government is the problem, not him, even though he is the the poster boy, the standard bearer, like unto no one before him in U. S. history, of Big Government!
But I digress. Here are a couple of important points in rebuttal of Francis (emphasis added):
To begin, we note that “trickle-down” economics is a caricature used by capitalism’s critics and not its defenders. Those of us who embrace free markets do so not out of a belief that the breadcrumbs of affluence will eventually reach those less well-off, but, rather, out of a conviction that the free market is the best mechanism for increasing wealth at all levels. As for being confirmed by the facts, we believe the empirical evidence is conclusive. Compare the two sides of Germany during the era of the Berlin Wall or the China of today with the China that hadn’t yet embraced an (admittedly imperfect) form of capitalism. The results are not ambiguous.
To this I would add that it is a mistake to confuse material inequality with poverty. Which is better: everyone being equal but poor, or inequality that makes 'the poor' better off than they would have been been without the inequality? Clearly, the second. After all, there is nothing morally objectionable about inequality as such. Or do you think that there is a problem with my net worth's being considerably less than Bill Gates'? There is nothing wrong with inequality as such; considerations of right and wrong kick in only when there is doubt about the legality or morality of the means by which the wealth was acquired. My net worth exceeds that of a lot of people from a similar background, but that merely reflects the fact that I practice the old virtues of frugality, etc., avoid the vices that impoverish, and make good use of my talents. I know how to save, invest, and defer gratification. I know how to control my appetites. The relative wealth that results puts me in a position to help other people, by charitable giving, by hiring them, and by paying taxes that fund welfare programs and 'entitlements.' When is the last time a poor person gave someone a job, or made a charitable contribution? And how much tax do they pay? There are makers and takers, and you can't be a giver unless you are a maker, any more than you can be a taker if there are no givers. So, far from inequality being the same as poverty or causing poverty, it lessens poverty, both by providing jobs and via charity, not to mention the 'entitlement' and welfare programs that are funded by taxes paid by the productive.
You don't like the fact that someone has more than you? Then you are guilty of the sin of envy. And I think that Francis is aware that envy is one of the Seven Deadly Sins. Here is a question for socialists, redistributionists, collectivists, Obaminators: Is your redistributionism merely an expression of envy? I am not claiming that envy is at the root of socialism. That is no more the case than that greed (also on the list of Seven Deadlies) is at the root of capitalism. But it is the case that some socialists are drawn to socialism because of their uncontrollable envy, a thoroughly destructive vice.
There’s a more fundamental misunderstanding at work here, however. When Francis talks about “economic power,” he misapprehends a fundamental aspect of free markets – they only provide power consensually. Apart from government, no one can force you to buy a product or purchase a service. There’s a similar error in his citation of Saint John Chrysostom’s aphorism: “Not to share one’s wealth with the poor is to steal from them and to take away their livelihood.” The economics of capitalism are not zero-sum. Trade only occurs when both sides are made better off by the transaction. The wealthy don’t get rich at the expense of the poor.
Lefties hate business and especially big corporations. I give the latter no pass if they do wrong or violate reasonable regulations. But has Apple or Microsoft ever incarcerated anyone, or put anyone to death, or started a shooting war, or forced anyone to buy anything or to violate his conscience as the Obama administration is doing via its signature abomination, Obamacare?
On the other hand, did the government provide me with the iPad Air I just bought? You didn't build that, Obama! Not you, not your government, not any government. High tech does not come from politicians or lawyers, two classes that are nearly the same -- yet another problem to be addressed in due course.
Be intellectually honest, you lefties. Don't turn a blind eye to the depredations of Big Government while excoriating (sometimes legitimately) those of Big Business.