Tuesday, September 22, 2015
Pope Francis has been spouting all manner of political and economic
nonsense lately at least partly on the premise that it will help "the
Will correctly notes that the Pope's prescriptions would actually
be a disaster for the poor. Here is part of Will's
Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist, notes that coal supplanting wood fuel reversed deforestation, and "fertilizer manufactured with gas halved the amount of land needed to produce a given amount of food." The capitalist commerce that Francis disdains is the reason the portion of the planet's population living in "absolute poverty" ($1.25 a day) declined from 53 percent to 17 percent in three decades after 1981. Even in low-income countries, writes economist Indur Goklany, life expectancy increased from between 25 to 30 years in 1900 to 62 years today. Sixty-three percent of fibers are synthetic and derived from fossil fuels; of the rest, 79 percent come from cotton, which requires synthetic fertilizers and pesticides. "Synthetic fertilizers and pesticides derived from fossil fuels," he says, "are responsible for at least 60 percent of today's global food supply." Without fossil fuels, he says, global cropland would have to increase at least 150 percent -- equal to the combined land areas of South America and the European Union -- to meet current food demands.Will notes further the meager human life expectancy that obtained when the Catholic Church was at its most powerful: 30.
Francis grew up around the rancid political culture of Peronist populism, the sterile redistributionism that has reduced his Argentina from the world's 14th highest per-capita GDP in 1900 to 63rd today. Francis's agenda for the planet -- "global regulatory norms" -- would globalize Argentina's downward mobility.
What Will says is true, but it is only a symptom of the real problem with the Pope's notions. At least on the level of politics, that would be that theft violates the individual's right to property for starters -- and the theft would be perpetrated by the very entity that should be protecting that right. Furthermore, as Don Watkins and Yaron Brook recently pointed out regarding Inequality Hysteria, crusades like the Pope's are really crusades for injustice on a massive scale. Were so many people not convinced that ends, like helping the poor, justify the actual means, such as theft, we would neither have to entertain this garbage (again), nor would we already possess so much data on the results.