In his appeal on behalf of the poor and less fortunate, it is unfortunate that the Pope rarely emphasizes the primary cause of poverty, i.e., the lack of productivity of a country’s people under a free market, free trade, constitutional, law-and-order system.
The Pope’s emphasis is almost always on charitable giving and caring for the less fortunate. While this is certainly important, charitable giving rarely has a permanent effect. Charity, more often than not, is simply consumed.
Prosperity requires work, entrepreneurial effort, investment, specialization, trade, law-and-order, personal property rights, honest government, time, etc.
While necessary, charity has only a short-term, immediate effect – and, in fact, it enhances strategic poverty by encouraging dependency and sloth.
As Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly recently stated, “Pope Francis … urged everyone to ‘protect the vulnerable in our world and to stimulate integral and inclusive models of development.’ That is a challenge to all Americans to help the downtrodden, but how to help them is the issue. Most Americans are very generous, but we must be careful not to make problems worse in the name of compassion.”
While it is understandable that most people rarely understand these fundamental laws of economics – these cause-and-effect relationships – it is discouraging when highly intelligent leaders fail to rise above the parochial understanding of the fundamental causes of poverty and prosperity.
The Pope and President often speak in disparaging terms about businessmen and their profit motive. They say businesses should be focused on job creation for the poor. Frankly, that’s the wrong focus. Businesses should focus on serving the needs, wants, and expectations of customers and clients – at a profit (surplus). Without profit, the funds are not available to foster growth, entrepreneurialism, jobs and strategic prosperity.
For a clear understanding of its causes and effects, read The Poverty of Nations – A Sustainable Solution by Dr. Wayne Grudem and Dr. Barry Asmus. In plain understandable English they explain the economic, sociological, political, Biblical, and leadership factors that account for poverty and prosperity – and that would have a strategic positive effect throughout the world.