Pope Francis Rips 'Trickle-Down' Economics

Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 05:44 PM

By Cathy Burke

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Pope Francis on Tuesday harshly criticized "trickle-down" economics and an unfettered free market, saying a socioeconomic system that leaves the poor with no means to support themselves is a grave sin.

His remarks on economics — part of a longer missive — could place him at odds with many free-market Republicans, The Hill reported.

"Some people continue to defend trickle-down theories, which assume that economic growth, encouraged by a free market, will inevitably succeed in bringing about greater justice and inclusiveness in the world," he wrote.

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"This opinion, which has never been confirmed by the facts, expresses a crude and naive trust in the goodness of those wielding economic power . . . Meanwhile, the excluded are still waiting."

At one point in the 50,000-word missive — the first work of his own since becoming pontiff — the Pope takes aim at the rich and corporate world for pursuing "self-serving tax evasion," and called on political leaders to adopt financial reforms that lift up the lower classes, The Hill noted.

"How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person dies of exposure, but it is news when the stock market loses two points?" he wrote.

Since taking control of the church in March after the resignation of Pope Benedict XVI, Francis, who comes from Buenos Aires, has adopted a populist focus, with the new writing following that trend, The Hill noted.

In particular, Francis takes aim at income inequality around the world, including in the United States, where record levels of income inequality illustrate that the wealthy have mostly recovered from the financial crisis while the lower and middle classes still struggle.

He called the current socioeconomic system "unjust at its root," arguing that leaving the poorest with no means to support themselves is a grave sin, The Hill noted.

"Just as the commandment 'Thou shalt not kill' sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say 'thou shalt not' to an economy of exclusion and inequality," he wrote. "Such an economy kills."

The papal statement, known formally as an apostolic exhortation, also discusses a wide range of other topics, the Washington Post reported, including the need for "broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the Church."

Polls have shown U.S. Catholics are more supportive of government's taking action to improve living standards and say the wealth gap is historically high, but are divided over the size of government and whether the nation's biggest problem is unfairness or over-regulation of business.

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