There is no Legitimate Redistribution

This past Friday Catholic Pope Francis spoke to United Nations leaders in Rome, and urged “the legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state” [ref].

I know many Catholics that I highly respect, and in many ways the Catholic Church has stood up for Biblical Christian values that many other religions have discarded in the pursuit of worldliness.  But in this instance the Pope is dead wrong.

The idea that there is such a thing as “legitimate redistribution of economic benefits by the state” is ludicrous.

The only legitimate government economic role is the protection of life, liberty and property rights. Beyond funding those purposes, government has no business taking lawfully obtained resources from anyone, never mind giving them to another.

Where Pope Francis gets his ideas from I don’t know, but they certainly don’t come from the Scriptures.

There is no Scriptural basis to call for wealth redistribution by the state. Nowhere in the Bible do Jesus or His Apostles advocate forcible government confiscation of private property for the benefit of the poor. On the contrary, wealth redistribution directly violates the commandment “thou shalt not steal”, and is the antithesis of “thou shalt not covet”.

In spite of this, Pope Francis has embraced the lie that Socialism works, and that Capitalism is somehow a problem.

The indisputable reality is that without Capitalism the standard of living of the entire world would still be in the dark ages.

Meanwhile, the only thing Socialism does is to guarantee a growing and eventually insuperable divide between rich and poor. Socialism protects government elites, crony big businesses and the wealthy by eliminating competition, erecting bureaucratic obstacles, hamstringing small business, destroying incentive and hampering upward mobility. Socialism ultimately does away with the middle class, as the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.

This is indisputable. You cannot show me a single case where government size and control has increased while the divide between rich and poor has decreased. On the contrary, more government power and control always correlate to greater income disparity.

That’s not the worst of it. Besides its economic failings, Socialism takes power away from the people, and concentrates it in the hands of a few. Inevitably and without fail or exception, those few become corrupted, and the power they’ve usurped is used illegitimately: to enrich themselves and their friends, to put down political opponents, to protect their position and power, and to subjugate the masses.

In fact, Socialism taken to its extreme form is directly responsible for the deaths of hundreds of millions of people in the twentieth century. The Soviet Union. Nazi Germany. The Peoples Republic of China. Cambodia. North Korea. All Socialist states. All murderous regimes.

In railing against Capitalism and for Socialism, Pope Francis criticized modern society as a “throw away culture” in which human beings themselves are “considered as consumer goods which can be used and thrown away” [ref].

I ask the Pope, and anyone who sympathizes with his point of view: What system of government has shown more disregard for the value of human life than the Socialist? Millions have been sent to their demise in prison camps, have been executed for political differences of opinion, or have been relegated to standing in class-segregated bread lines for their sustenance — by Socialist governments.

Indeed, the more power the government has, the more that individuals become faceless members of the masses, used and discarded by the elites to achieve their own ends.

On the other hand, in a free Constitutional capitalist society — the type of society established by the Founding Fathers, one where due process and the rule of law are the guiding principles — individuals are the masters of their own means and ends, free to advance based on their talents, efforts and the un-coerced cooperation of their free fellow citizens. Free to strive to ascend the economic ladder of opportunity if that is their desire, or to remain on the rung that suits them best.

Not so in a Socialist State, where the whim and caprice of the ruling class decrees both the ends and the means, arbitrarily rewarding friends and punishing foes by manipulating men and markets with laws, rules and regulations.

Ayn Rand masterfully explained the economic and moral problem with Socialism and its twin system, Fascism:

“Needless to say, under either system [socialism or fascism], the inequalities of income and standard of living are greater than anything possible under a free economy — and a man’s position is determined, not by his productive ability and achievement, but by political pull and force. Under both systems, sacrifice is invoked as a magic, omnipotent solution in any crisis — and “the public good” is the altar on which victims are immolated.” [The Fascist New Frontier, The Ayn Rand Column, p.98]

When Pope Francis advocates wealth redistribution for the “public good”, he isn’t very far removed from the doctrines of Karl Marx, a man revered by the worst mass murderers in recorded history, who declared that “the theory of the Communists may be summed up in the single sentence: Abolition of private property” [The Communist Manifesto].

Meanwhile, the Pope’s philosophy is entirely contrary to the principles of the Founding Fathers, men who enshrined as sacred the ideas of free enterprise, private property rights and limited government, and in doing so established the greatest land of liberty, opportunity and prosperity the world has ever known. John Adams, one of the greatest of those men, declared:  “The moment the idea is admitted into society that property is not as sacred as the laws of God, and that there is not a force of law and public justice to protect it, anarchy and tyranny commence.” [A Defense of the American Constitution, 1787]

No, Pope Francis, there is no such thing as “legitimate” redistribution of wealth. Redistribution is, in fact, a violation of the laws of God, and a form of tyranny that history has proven leads to death, destruction and poverty.

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Related Quotes:
“Welfare rights are pseudo-rights: They rely on the force of law to take private property for the use of others without compensation and without consent. Public charity is forced charity; it is not a virtue but a vice.”
— James A. Dorn, V.P. for academic affairs at the Cato Institute, director of Cato’s project on Civil Society

“The difference between [socialism and fascism] is superficial and purely formal, but it is significant psychologically: it brings the authoritarian nature of a planned economy crudely into the open. The main characteristic of socialism (and of communism) is public ownership of the means of production, and, therefore, the abolition of private property. The right to property is the right of use and disposal. Under fascism, men retain the semblance or pretense of private property, but the government holds total power over its use and disposal.” — Ayn Rand, “The Fascist New Frontier”, The Ayn Rand Column, p.98

“Under fascism, citizens retain the responsibilities of owning property, without freedom to act and without any of the advantages of ownership. Under socialism, government officials acquire all the advantages of ownership, without any of the responsibilities, since they do not hold title to the property, but merely the right to use it —at least until the next purge. In either case, the government officials hold the economic, political and legal power of life or death over the citizens.” — Ayn Rand, “The Fascist New Frontier”, The Ayn Rand Column, p.98