June 6, 2014
UNFORTUNATELY, THIS POPE IS CATHOLIC, NOT ANGLOSPHERIC:
Scholar Who Taught John Paul II To Appreciate Capitalism Worries About Pope Francis (Jerry Bowyer, 6/05/14, Forbes)
Given Pope Francis' recent comments about economics, including a tweet endorsing 'legitimate redistribution', it seemed worthwhile to look back a few decades to the modern Pope who seemed to have been most sympathetic to free-market capitalism and most critical of socialist economic systems, including the Latin American version known as liberation theology. Michael Novak's memoirs, Writing From Left to Right, helped me understand how Michael and others helped guide John Paul II to come to an appreciation of capital which he had not learned earlier. [...]Jerry: "Do you think that Pope Francis has any close friends who understand the virtues of the free market system?"Michael: "John Paul II had a hard time coming to those because he did not have experience with them under the Nazis or under the communists for most of his life."Jerry: "But he had a friend who helped him."Michael: "He had a great love for America and admired many things and he was always open to new ideas, and it troubled him when he heard anti-market things, state-oriented things. And in that sense, he was ready. He applied himself diligently, step by step, to learning how this new system works. He asked in one of his letters, a letter called The Hundredth Year-"Jerry: "Centesimus Annus, correct?"Michael: "Correct. He asked in there, having described that the cause of wealth, of wealthy nations, is intellect, ideas, know-how. That's the primary cause of wealth, no longer the land. Lincoln got, a century earlier, the patent and copyright act making property and inventions and ideas-"Jerry: "The fire of invention... "The fuel of self-interest and the fire of invention," right?"Michael: "Yeah. He saw that that was the main cause of wealth, and therefore that it represented a break between thousands of years of an agrarian economy in which land was the most important value, [and] all of a sudden [it is] ideas. That meant the kind of equality that-you didn't have to be born a great landholder to be able to become very wealthy. You could have, however humble you were, [have] certain ideas that you could patent or copyright if they would be useful to the human race, and from these [comes] wealth [like] Bill Gates has from Microsoft. Almost every corporation among us, even Coca Cola, is built on a new idea, [but] they deliberately didn't patent it to keep it more secret."Jerry: "And a different kind of man prospers from the two systems, right? To hold land you need soldiers, but to hold knowledge you need diligence and intelligence."Michael: "And men and women who love what they're doing, who work for you more inventively so the product keeps improving. And then you want to pay them very well, too, you want to give them bonuses and a share in profits and they rise, too, with the rise of the firm, and that breeds a new kind of spirit in the firm. So, slowly, John Paul II came to understand the role in the market but even more than that the role of invention and discovery and of enterprise."
Posted by Orrin Judd at June 6, 2014 7:22 PM