Still, it's nice to see a handmaiden of capitalism like Ramesh Ponnuru try and explain why the Pope doesn't understand it:
One can favor a much stronger safety net than the U.S. has and still disagree with some of what Francis has to say.I'd like to see him explain that last sentence. Is there a Democrat somewhere outraged by Francis' anticapitalism? I mean besides Joe Lieberman.
Most of the arguments in Ponnuru's essay are on the order of "is not" or "is too," but overall "so what" is his favorite recourse ("the pope appears to blame businessmen for sometimes downsizing their companies... Even in a well-functioning economy with low unemployment, that’s exactly what businessmen will and should sometimes do"). As you might expect, he is especially wounded by the Pope's denunciation of trickle-down economics, which he first minimizes as due to "some issues that have been raised about how these words were translated from Spanish," and then dismisses because "self-interest can yield unintended benefits for others." And isn't that was Christianity's all about -- unintended benefits?
Ponnuru saves the best for last:
Much of Francis’s economic thought, though, seems to rest on the identification of free markets with extreme individualism. A generation ago, the writer Michael Novak and others were instrumental in persuading many American Catholics that markets could instead enable a creative form of community. The pope’s remarks suggest that this type of evangelizing still needs to be done.If only some real Christians could talk sense to the Pope about how capitalism helps the poor! Maybe he'll listen to a Harvard professor who accuses the Pope of spreading "envy" and preaches Bible stories at him ("The Ten Commandments conclude with: “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house...'"). Well, he's got a point -- there are lots of ungrateful peasants in the Bible, but not one story about a rapacious corporation destroying a community for its own profit.
This excites Ann Althouse, who thinks the Professor "may win over even the Pope fans." Then will come the inevitable backlash, with cries of "THANKS FRANCIS" and Ratzinger on "Miss me yet?" billboards, culminating in a new Pope who's a Calvinist.
UPDATE. In comments, Spaghetti Lee: "Maybe I'm projecting onto the Pope here, but I'd like to note that he spent his adult life in 60's and 70's South America, which saw a series of right-wing, authoritarian and explicitly corporatist dictatorships seize power, the most infamous of which, in Chile, was at the behest of the sort of people who write Ramesh Ponnuru's checks. Needless to say, I think he's seen plenty of the glories of unrestrained capitalism for himself"