The Pope and American capitalism
By Brent Sloteroff, Staff Writer
Pope Francis’ visit to the United States marked a historic trip by the Holy Father. The American people came from all over just to get a glimpse of him. He met with the President, Vice President, Congress, United Nations (an office clerk from Kentucky?) and many more people of influence (minus the clerk from Kentucky) while here. He spoke about some tough issues such as climate change, gay marriage, wealth inequality, immigration and religious freedom. Although I did not see him live, I enjoyed watching the Pope speak over my TV. He is a poised man who genuinely cares about the well being of others and never fails to choose love and gratitude over hate and evil.
The Pope was emotional as he prayed in front of the 9/11 memorial; he said that grief here is palpable and that as he looked out over the memorial he remembered the many heroes who rushed into the buildings to help. He constantly stopped his motor brigade to bless a young child or offer his hand. When asked about homosexuality, an issue that the Church has had many choice words about, he calmly paused and replied, “Who am I to judge if they are seeking the Lord in good faith?” He is a wonderful leader and an inspirational man who millions love, and it is easy to see why.
However, there is one gray area for which I have trouble siding with the Pope on, and that is his stance on American capitalism. I had many questions for the Pope on his position on American capitalism, a topic he openly does not fully approve of nor fully understand, it seems. His home land of Argentina, once a top ten wealthiest country in the world, now sits as one of the lowest in terms of per capita income. A beautiful place that once was filled with prosperity has struggled immensely in the last decade or two with proper shelter, healthcare, poverty and education.
The economic freedom of this country has greatly benefited the Church and the many schools it supports. From billions of dollars’ worth of donations to fundraisers hosted by America’s elite, capitalism has benefited millions of the American people. With the Presidential race in full swing we are now starting to see candidates release their tax plans, many of which preserve capitalism and incentivize the notion. What interests me is that the Pope does not fully see the benefits of capitalism. To me, I feel the Pope views the American free market as purely crony capitalism, a market based and survived on the top wealthiest and their exchanges with each other.
I firmly believe that if the Pope had a better understanding of the American free market he would see that it does not need to be redistributed or abolished, but it needs more participation. Participation in the economy stimulates and creates more opportunities for all. In order to increase participation (e.g people who have jobs or are actively looking for one) we have to give corporations the ability to create that opportunity. By bogging them down with the world’s highest average corporate tax and miscellaneous fees we further hinder their abilities to create new jobs in a highly competitive marketplace. Yes, the people and government worry relaxing on taxes will only increase the pay of a organizations senior management, but why not monitor and regulate their pay as strictly as we do other things?
The Pope can easily see the value of capitalism to society and the Church if he looks closely. He can see the power of capitalism if he truly breaks it down. If I had the chance, I would ask the Pope two simple questions: which has taken more people out of poverty, charity or capitalism? Which has created more wealth for everyone, self-interest or altruism?