Ryan McMaken on "Conservative" Reaction to Papal "Economics"
- Indeed, most of the Pope’s comments about the poor are not about markets or states, but are about the proper Christian attitude toward the poor. Because of this, I fear that much of the negative reaction to the Pope remarks stems not from any devotion to free markets (because of course, few conservatives actually care about free markets) but actually from a disdain for poor people. At the heart of the Christian religion is a doctrinaire requirement that believers give alms and regard themselves as obligated to be charitable toward the poor. But anyone who has spent any time with right-wing activists and pundits (many of whom fancy themselves as great paragons of Christianity) know that there is a deep-seated contempt for poor people who are are often regarded uniformly as lazy or somehow deserving of their fates. Any genuine concern for poor people expressed in such circles is regarded as “socialist” talk even if one is in no way suggesting that alleviating poverty is a matter for state intervention (which it is not). Of course, the fact that so many conservatives are so utterly ignorant of how economies work, blinds them from the fact that so much poverty is caused by the federal government they’re always saluting, pledging allegiance to, and generally getting all weepy about every time someone mentions the American flag. Yep, everything would be fine if those single-mothers, who are more or less at the mercy of the boom-bust cycle caused by our wise overlords, would just pull themselves up by their bootstraps and become stock brokers.
The question posed in that title is left unanswered, but it was answered at least partially by Ivan Illich, who noted that, "[t]he result of much economic development is very often not human flourishing but 'modernized poverty,' dependency, and an out-of-control system in which the humans become worn-down mechanical parts," which we see as countries get richer.