Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Although he stops short of explicitly questioning the Pope's altruistic morality,
Walter Williams raises quite a few good questions in his recent
rebuttal to Pope Francis' recent demonization of capitalism:
Capitalism is relatively new in human history. Prior to capitalism, the way people amassed great wealth was by looting, plundering and enslaving their fellow man. With the rise of capitalism, it became possible to amass great wealth by serving and pleasing your fellow man. Capitalists seek to discover what people want and produce and market it as efficiently as possible as a means to profit. [One example] would be J.D. Rockefeller, whose successful marketing drove kerosene prices down from 58 cents a gallon in 1865 to 7 cents in 1900. ... Here's my question to you: Are people who, by their actions, created unprecedented convenience, longer life expectancy and a more pleasant life for the ordinary person -- and became wealthy in the process -- deserving of all the scorn and ridicule heaped upon them by intellectuals, politicians and now the pope? [link dropped]Capitalism really does provide better for the common man, and Williams makes it clear that there is no factual basis for demonizing it, when considered in that light. One might rightly even come from the read questioning the pontiff's benevolence.
But that will not be enough.
Unfortunately, one need only consider what the Church did in the face of the Renaissance, when the superiority of reason as a means of knowledge became clear, to predict how the Pope will react to such criticism -- or to see that Williams sold the farm when he conceded that, "capitalism fails miserably when compared with heaven or a utopia". Francis and his apologists will simply say they don't oppose capitalism so much as want to "perfect" it -- with their "guidance", of course. Phrases from my past Catholic education, such as "reason grounded in faith" come to mind.
The steps from reminding the "common man" that capitalism is good for him -- and that it is not wrong for him to have something just because someone else somewhere doesn't -- are small, but they should be taken proudly and openly. And one should not cower in the face of a person widely (but wrongly) considered a moral authority in doing so. Our republic did not lose so much freedom all at once, but in many small steps made in the same direction, away from freedom, by people who claimed they only wanted to "improve upon" our system for the sake of others. And these steps were taken under the noses of people who, although they might have realized that they violated the principle that men have rights, often tolerated them because they did not recognize their own moral right to freedom.
We do not laugh and say, "Relax! You still have a house!" when someone calls in the exterminator at the sight of a few termites. Nor should we shy from or pooh-pooh a refusal to compromise capitalism (and sacrifice our rights in the process) in the face of the inevitable demands that we accept "just a little" government interference for any reason, let alone in the name of making the real world look closer to what someone else imagines it could be.