RUSH: Well, they tried to make me the villain in the soap opera about the pope, but it just didn’t take off this time. They’re still out there trying. There’s a left-wing Catholic group with 6,000 signatures to a petition. They’re a left-wing, pro-abortion bunch of Catholics, which means they’re not really Catholic. Anyway, they’re trying to raise all kinds of problems with this, but they’ve not been able to. I have a column here in my formerly nicotine-stained fingers by Shikha Dalmia at Reason.com.
It’s entitled, “The Pope’s Self-Defeating Anti-Capitalist Rant.” The piece does not mention me, but it makes a point that I made when I first talked about the pope’s badgering of capitalism. And my point was, where does the pope think the Catholic Church would be without it? I mean, you can sit there and denigrate money all you want, and you can impugn the seeking of money all you want, but one trip to the Vatican, folks, and you realize it requires a lot of money.
It has required a lot of money, and it hasn’t come from the poor, although some hasbut not the lion’s share. Now, let me give you a couple of pull quotes from this piece. The theme of this is that redistribution’s great, taking from those who have more and giving to those who have less, on paper. In theory, oh, man, it just sounds so wonderfully compassionate! It’s actually the epitome of mean, if you ask me, just to take it down to base terms.
What gives government or anybody else the right to whatever somebody has earned? And why because somebody has earned it, are they required to give it back, to give it away? You know, this phrase, “Yeah, I did this ’cause I wanted to give something back.” You know, it’s a meaningless bunch of pap. When people do that, that’s just PR. That’s how you make people love you. That’s how you make people think that you’re good guy.
“Yeah, I’ve worked really hard all my life! I’ve been really fortunate here, and I want to give something back, which is why I’m asking other people to contribute to many charity so that I can give the money away. That’s how I’m giving something back.” It’s all just… I would never say it, ’cause I think it’s phony, this whole notion of giving something back. You know, a guest host of this program, the great Walter Williams believes in giving something back, but only if you’re a criminal.
The people really need to give it back or the thieves. Why are you compelled to give it back, if you’ve earned it? And, by the way, you are giving it back after you’ve earned it by spending it. You also happen to get something in the deal yourself when you spend it because you buy something, or you get a service. But this idea that, “I need to give something back! I’ve been one of the fortunate few.
“I won life’s lottery, and I won the genetic lottery. I’m a good-looking, great looking guy. The media talks about me all the time, I’m incredibly rich, and I need to give something back,” and people swoon. “Oh, he really cares.” And if you dug deep you’d find out he’s not giving anything back. He’s raising money from other people he gives back, or she, or whoever. But the point is if you’re gonna take from people, you can’t take it from them if they don’t have it.
To all of these anti-capitalists I would say, “You can’t redistribute what doesn’t exist. But to the left the golden goose is just always gonna be laying eggs. It’s just always gonna be there, and it’s immoral, it’s unfair, it’s not right. It just always gonna be out for people with a lot of money, and it’s never gonna end, and we’re gonna always have that source to be able to raid.” Well, why not praise it? Why not applaud this surplus? Why not applause this level of success and achievement? Why not encourage others towards it?
Oh, it’d be much harder to steal it if you did that.
It would be much harder to justify raising taxes to take what they earn. I mean, you have to delegitimize what people have first before you take it from ’em. You have to eventually convince people that they don’t deserve it, that they didn’t come by it honestly. They cheated, they lied, they stole. If you’re a Kennedy and you inherit it, that’s fine. If you’re a Clinton, and you’re marketing your presidency by getting $400,000 a speech, that’s really good.
If you’re Obama and having people write your books for you and earning lot, that’s really, really good. But if you really earn your money and have a lot, we’re gonna stigmatize you as a thief, as somebody without compassion. You really didn’t work for it anyway. Just a frustrating thing. Now, this person, Shikha Dalmia, also believed that “poverty is the default condition of humanity,” and it is.
Poverty is by far the economic circumstance most people are born into and live in, in the world. Again, the US is the exception. Poverty, the default condition, is the given. What needs explaining is wealth — and the greatest engine of wealth creation is the free market. The United States of America stands as proof. This is not somebody’s opinion. It is economic fact. The greatest creation of wealth, the greatest engine of wealth is the capitalism, the free market.
Government doesn’t have any money ’til it takes it from somebody, or prints it. But that’s not real money. The money government prints doesn’t have any value until it goes to the private sector, or it’s exchanged for goods and services. That is a key point, by the way. The money government prints does not have value. It says $100 on the bills, and that’s what it’ll buy once it gets into the market, but it’s the market that determines what a hundred dollars is worth, not the fact that it says $100 on the bill.
What’s it worth?
Well, whatever it’ll buy you wherever you happen to be.
It’s different from place to place. The market determines value, and the value that’s determined in the market is real. It’s not artificially set unless you live in a communist or socialist country. It’s not an opinion that capitalism is the greatest creator of wealth ever been devised. It’s fact. But because that doesn’t mix well with Big Government socialism and redistributive policies and government and politicians benefiting from taking care of people, it has to be denigrated.
It has to be impugned and insulted, and in the process wealth is also impugned and insulted and never explained. By raising productivity and lowering the price of goods, markets help the rich. Walmart has done more for the poor than any government program has. Walmart, discount stores. That’s why, by the way — in addition to this union business — the left hates Walmart.
They can’t compete with ’em. The government gives you health care with $500 Band-Aids. They don’t cost 500 bucks at Walmart. “By raising productivity and lowering the price of goods, markets certainly help the rich, but they help the poor more. CapitalismÂ’s most impressive achievement, Joseph Schumpeter noted, was not providing more silk stockings for the Queen, ‘but in bringing them within reach of factory girls.'”
You know what that statement means? The reason that the average American — I’m not crazy about that term — but the reason why a 32-inch flat-screen TV is affordable for the vast majority of people is that enough rich people paid $10,000 for it when it came out to get enough of them made so that the price would come down. The manufacturers of all these gizmos have to charge high prices at first to even hope to recoup all the R&D and manufacturing and marketing costs, and the rich are there to pay for it. They’re the first ones. If they really want something they’ll lay down whatever, 10 grand, for a flat screen, and it won’t be long before that flat screen is $1,200.
That’s what this guy means. It’s capitalism that does that. Substitute flat screens for silk stockings for the queen in that example. “Capitalism puts more discretionary income in the pockets of people to devote to charitable pursuits. It is hardly a coincidence that America donates over $300 billion annually toward charitable causes at home and abroad, the highest of any country on a per capita basis.”
How is that possible? It couldn’t happen if Americans didn’t have the money. How is it possible that Americans donate $300 billion annually, highest of any country on a per capita basis, it’s because of capitalism. Americans have the money. Well, I should say “had,” because the longer Obama’s in office, the less most people have.
“The church itself –” remember this is a piece on the pope here. “The church itself is a big beneficiary of this capitalist largesse, with its US wing alone contributing 60 percent to its overall global wealth,” of the Catholic Church. Not Latin America. Not the dust bowls of Africa or wherever. The United States of America contributes 60% of all money to the Catholic Church. And the United States of America is capitalist and free market economics. Well, it was.
So charitable donations, you name it, religious tithing, giving, Americans trump citizens of the world hands down. Nothing against people in the world; they just don’t have the disposable income. They don’t live in capitalist economies. They live in command-and-control socialist economies. They don’t have any money. They have barely enough to get by, and most of them don’t even have that. They exist on government programs, which is fast becoming the case here.
Some of the money, this 60% that goes to the Catholic Church from America, “Some of this money comes from donations, but a big chunk comes, actually, from directly partaking in capitalism: The church is reportedly the largest landowner in Manhattan, the financial center of the global capitalism system, whose income puts undisclosed sums into its coffers.”
This is inarguably true, and it’s just another reason why I was totally befuddled when I read what the pope was saying about capitalism and greed and selfishness and how governments need to work harder to level income inequality. If it weren’t for capitalism, the Catholic Church wouldn’t be anywhere near the economic force that it is. I really was stunned by it. What the pope wrote was exactly what you would read in any high-level American leftist economic school. I mean, even the term “unfettered capitalism.” There is no such thing, by the way. Hong Kong was the closest we ever had to it, before the ChiComs came in. The Brits gave it away.
But it just totally blew me away. It was one of the most uninformed things I could ever imagine reading from somebody so powerful and with access to the truth. This piece begins: “Pope Francis doesn’t have to thank capitalism, a system that has done far more to alleviate poverty, his pet crusade,” than his church has. This is Shikha Dalmia. Capitalism has done more to alleviate poverty than the Catholic Church has, he writes. But the pope should at least stop demonizing it, “not least because it enables the very activity that he cherishes most: charity.” The piece is right on the money.
RUSH: Let me give you some numbers here. The citizens of the United States of America in 2012 donated a total of $316 billion to charity. Catholic Charities USA distributed $4.7 billion. $316 billion donated to charity by the American people. Catholic Charities USA distributed $4.7 billion. The point is — that’s not to denigrate the church — that is to illustrate as the Reason.com writer said, the pope’s big cause is charity. Without capitalism, there wouldn’t be any. Without capitalism, the Catholic Church wouldn’t have any money to donate to anybody. Without capitalism, there wouldn’t be enough people with enough money to give it to the Catholic Church in the form of donations itself.
And as I say, I don’t want to beat a dead horse here. That whole economic treatise that he wrote, folks, it was so distant from economic reality. I mean, it really was juvenile, left-wing blog economics, which made me suspicious of the translation or of who actually wrote it. I don’t say this with any disrespect. I have total respect for the Catholic Church, by the way. That’s another reason why the whole thing just bamboozled me.