Let’s be Frank about Francis

Samuel Gregg

In this article Samuel Gregg of the Acton Institute  and author of Tea Party Catholic: The Catholic Case for Limited Government, a Free Economy, and Human Flourishing gives a cogent, fair and informed critique of the economic content of Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation. He shows how the Pope’s conclusions are well meaning, but naive and not well informed. The good thing about Gregg’s article is that he is not condemning the general thrust of Evangelii Gaudium nor is he taking a doctrinaire and opposed view to the pope.

However he does point out regarding Pope Francis’ economic opinions  that it’s well, more complicated…

Prominent among these is the pope’s condemnation of the “absolute autonomy of markets” (202). This, he firmly believes, is at the root of many of our contemporary problems, not least because it helps rationalize an unwillingness to assist those in need.

If, however, we follow Evangelii Gaudium’s injunction (231–233) to look at the realities of the world today, we will soon discover that there is literally no country in which markets operate with “absolute autonomy.” In most Western European countries, for instance, governments routinely control an average of 40 percent of their nations’ GDP. In many developing countries, the percentage is even higher. How much more of the economy do we really want to put into the state’s hands? Is there no upper limit? In private correspondence with the British-Australian economist Colin Clark, for example, even John Maynard Keynes suggested that the figure of “25 percent [of GDP] as the maximum tolerable proportion of taxation may be exceedingly near the truth.”

Nor does there appear to be any consciousness in Evangelii Gaudium of just how regulated most of the world’s economies are. The rules and regulations that apply, for instance, to economic life in North America and Western Europe are fast approaching the status of beyond counting.

Read the whole article here. Philip Blond at Londons’ Guardian newspaper offers interesting insights on religion’s influence on economics and has surprisingly positive things to say about Catholicism and the principle of subsidiarity. Go here.

 

About Fr. Dwight Longenecker

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