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Theodore Dalrymple on the Pope’s Economics

While sympathizing with the impulse to find consumerism disotasteful, Dalrymple points out what ought to be obvious by now:

He writes, inter alia, that ‘Today everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed on the powerless.’ This is demagoguery of the purest kind, the kind that ruined the Pope’s native Argentina seventy years ago and from whose effects it still has not fully recovered.

‘As a consequence,’ continues the pope, ‘masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.’

If we put the two sentences together, a certain conclusion is inescapable: if only the powerful stopped cannibalizing the powerless, the latter would have work, possibility and the means of escape. To change slightly the framework of reference, four legs good, two legs bad.

The Pope is loose and inaccurate in his thinking.

There is something undignified about mass consumerism at its worst.  ”…a life of consumption of ever more material goods is profoundly unsatisfying and in the end self-defeating.”  And indeed, this is traditional Catholic thinking about economics.  But if it’s economic opportunity and the human dignity it affords, zero-sum economics isn’t the way to get there.

Posted in Culture, Economics, Religion.

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