Without intending to do so, Goya CEO Robert Unanue, and, separately, an Argentine Jesuit, are revealing the error and falsity of Pope Francis’ embrace of collectivism and rejection of free markets.
As Mary L.G. Theroux reports for The Independent Institute, in Francis’ home nation of Argentina – a nation that once was one of the most prosperous in South America, but which Juan Peron and subsequent political controllers saddled with decades of collectivist policies and turned into an economic basket-case – a priest has teamed-up with a businessman and many more, local and international, marketeers to help the destitute during a time of particular trouble. Father Rodrigo Zarazaga is the priest, and, as Theroux explains, he:
…has partnered with businessman Gastón Remy and more than 200 local and foreign companies to establish Seamos Uno (Let’s Be One) to feed more than four million people who live in the ‘villas’ (slums) ringing Buenos Aires.”
This, despite the fact that Pope Francis has been critical of, and mischaracterized, the free market that allows this surplus in the first place.
…the Seamos Uno program is providing a sorely-needed lifeline with an effort combining Argentina’s top logistics companies filling 17,000 food boxes per shift, with global auditing giants Deloitte, KPMG, and PWC tracking deliveries being made by Catholic and Evangelical volunteers armed with an App developed by consulting firm Accenture.
Meanwhile, in the socialist dystopia of Venezuela, Goya’s CEO, Mr. Unanue, actually has expanding his charitable efforts beyond what we recently saw mentioned at the White House.
Behind the scenes, Goya is quietly coming to the rescue of the suffering citizens of another country that has quickly fallen from being South America’s wealthiest, to perhaps its poorest under its socialist regime: Venezuela. Working with the Catholic church and local organizations, Goya has ‘snuck in’ an estimated 180,000 pounds of food, and in June announced it would be sending another 220,000.
The point being not only that these people are doing good work (and, by the way, Theroux notes that when in 2011 Unanue worked with Barack Obama on an Hispanic education initiative, he did not receive the mountains of leftist criticism he received for his recent DC appearance), they are offering Pope Francis lessons he badly needs to learn.
They are showing him that capitalism is not materialism, that, in fact, the philosophy at the heart of capitalism is the opposite of materialism, and that his criticism of capitalism – and, by association, seeming embrace of state-run collectivism and “regulation” – is precisely the wrong approach to expand peaceful coexistence, good health, and spiritual liberty.
While Francis has not explicitly called for communism or socialism by name, he has embraced many of the primary collectivist tenets, and has promoted them in another, even less endearing way. He has lead people to an implied collectivist conclusion by insinuating that Natural Rights based market freedom is, somehow, sinful, and destructive to the world.
As Jack Kerwick writes for Beliefnet.com, it’s not just that Francis has not explicitly repudiated collectivism. Not decrying something does not imply that one accepts or applauds it.
The problem for Pope Francis is that he has, many times, gone out of his way to attack the fundamental precepts of markets, leaving only its antagonist – collectivism -- as the alternative within his implied worldview.
Kerwick observes that Francis has:
…referred to ours as ‘an economy of exclusion and inequality.’ ‘Today,’ he explains, ‘everything comes under the laws of competition and the survival of the fittest, where the powerful feed upon the powerless. As a consequence,’ Francis concludes, ‘masses of people find themselves excluded and marginalized: without work, without possibilities, without any means of escape.’
Which, to anyone who has the faintest clue about economics, is precisely the opposite of capitalism. As the Pilgrims discovered by switching away from collectivism and adopting property-based capitalism in 1620, it is political collectivism that brings about starvation, that allows only the fittest to survive, and that sees little chance of escape. Markets offer opportunities not only for survival, but for improvement, and for the surplus that allows for sharing and greater charity – hence the surplus that saw the Pilgrims invite their Indian neighbors to join them in the bounty of the first Thanksgiving, where, as Governor William Bradford stated in his own diary, they thanked God for giving them the wisdom to turn away from collectivism and adopt private market exchange.
Evidently Jesuit theologian Francis has forgotten or never learned the lesson of the Puritan’s first Thanksgiving.
Not only has Francis avoided that timeless, important lesson, he has praised government “regulation”, i.e., politicians and bureaucrats commanding people not engage in peaceful action, or engage in it the way the politicians command. Even as recently as June, Francis again sang his Siren song of environmental regulation in a 225-page encyclical. But at the end of all such “regulation” to supposedly “help” this mother Earth worldview is the threat of state-backed force of arms. And the result is impoverishment, less opportunity to help the environment, less recognition of private property – which is necessary to allow people harmed by toxins to sue for damage – and less opportunity to create new, more efficient, resources.
Francis has gone so far as to claim that a capitalist economy “kills.” But, as Theroux notes:
Both Mr. Unanue in Venezuela, and Rev. Zarazaga in the same Buenos Aires neighborhoods Pope Francis served during his years as a priest, are demonstrating a truth that has eluded the Pope: capitalism, far from being “the economy of exclusion” that Francis has termed it, rather provides the economic plenty that makes private charitable giving possible—and incents the beneficiaries of such plenty to share it, inclusively, with others.
And it is not just the centuries of economic evidence Pope Francis might want to read. It’s the moral, the philosophical, the spiritual – the theological lesson he desperately needs to grasp.
Contrary to what his histrionics imply or outright state, “unfettered capitalism” is not the same as materialism. It is collectivism that is materialist. It is collectivism that rejects individual will and God. Capitalism – real capitalism, not crony capitalism, more precisely termed “mercantilism” – is simply freedom. In fact, capitalism is Natural Rights based freedom to own oneself and the fruits of one’s labor, to engage in voluntary association and trade, and to mutually respect the rights of others. Any philosophical exploration of Natural Rights directly leads explorers to self-ownership, individual rights, free will, and the Christian God who requires human free will to choose Him as Savior. Any exploration of collectivism leads to universal use of force, rejection of free will, and rejection of God-given rights.
Without exercising free will, there can be no salvation, and political collectivism attacks free will, even as it destroys the great benefits market growth allows.
Rather than deriding capitalism, Francis might want to look at South America, where nations like Venezuela and his own Argentina have been hobbled by collectivism, and where the leveraged surplus of market-based profit is sneaking in to help the poor.
Perhaps, then, he’ll see the tragedy his collectivist mentality continues to create.