By Andrea Widburg
Just a few days ago, in a surprising departure from Christian doctrine, Pope Francis suggested that the earth (aka Gaia) has brought COVID-19 to the world as revenge for Climate Change. Apparently, she’s angry about all the North Pole glaciers that melted. (The Pope might have missed that, just last July, the North Pole had “extraordinarily thick ice” or that the winter sea ice is currently at its highest level in seven years.)
For Pope Francis watchers, this pronouncement was not a surprise. Argentina, where the Pope had his Catholic training and ministry, practices “liberation theology,” which is a fusion of leftism and Catholicism. In various Papal pronouncements, he’s preached economic Marxism and anthropogenic climate change, both of which seem somewhat far afield for a Vicar of Christ who should be concerned with the state of his flock’s souls.
For Easter, Pope Francis took another dive into Marxist economics. This time, in a letter to “Dear Friends” who are community organizers, he echoes other leftists around the world by saying that the fallout from COVID-19 means that world governments should begin to distribute a “universal basic income” to all citizens. Although it has some Catholic ideas woven through it, the letter’s language is mostly pure modern Marxism:
Market solutions do not reach the peripheries, and State protection is hardly visible there. Nor do you have the resources to substitute for its functioning. You are looked upon with suspicion when through community organization you try to move beyond philanthropy or when, instead of resigning and hoping to catch some crumbs that fall from the table of economic power, you claim your rights. You often feel rage and powerlessness at the sight of persistent inequalities and when any excuse at all is sufficient for maintaining those privileges.
My hope is that governments understand that technocratic paradigms (whether state-centred or market-driven) are not enough to address this crisis or the other great problems affecting humankind. Now more than ever, persons, communities and peoples must be put at the centre, united to heal, to care and to share. I know that you have been excluded from the benefits of globalization. You do not enjoy the superficial pleasures that anesthetize so many consciences, yet you always suffer from the harm they produce. The ills that afflict everyone hit you twice as hard. Many of you live from day to day, without any type of legal guarantee to protect you. Street vendors, recyclers, carnies, small farmers, construction workers, dressmakers, the different kinds of caregivers: you who are informal, working on your own or in the grassroots economy, you have no steady income to get you through this hard time … and the lockdowns are becoming unbearable. This may be the time to consider a universal basic wage which would acknowledge and dignify the noble, essential tasks you carry out. (Emphasis added.)
That is the kind of thing you’d expect from someone who’s never worked in the private sector, and never managed a payroll. It’s the kind of thing you’d expect from someone who’s steeped in the Marxist notion of wealth inequality, which posits a stagnant world in which people have no economic movement and are all trying to obtain pieces of the same financial pie.
The Pope is certainly correct that people with limited financial resources are suffering terribly from the lockdowns. The answer, though, is not to give them free money. It’s to stop the lockdowns, give masks to people, practice other common-sense ways to prevent contagion, and rely on developing more and better treatments for the virus.
For those wondering what’s wrong with a “universal basic income,” here are a few points:
- It’s printing money, which simply drives inflation. If everyone gets “X” dollars or pesos or euros, all prices will go up accordingly because there’ll be more dollars chasing goods.
- It’s hugely expensive, which creates a more significant burden on working taxpayers, even as UBI creates a disincentive for work.
- By giving everyone money, UBI diverts available funds from those who need them most.
The tried and true way to deal with poverty is a free market system in which the government, rather than playing favorites, polices the market for fraud and protects workers from being exploited. Couple this with low taxes and community-based welfare programs, and you have the pre-COVID Trump economy. That economy led to extraordinary economic growth that saw thelowest unemployment ever for previously disadvantaged groups, as well as real wage growth amongst the lowest earners.