Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Pope Makes a Hard Left Turn!


So, the Catholic Church has a major problem right now. ...And the Pope is only a part of it

Anti-capitalism, pro-AGW, and anti-gun

By Robert Laurie -- Bio and Archives  June 22, 2015


By now, you’ve probably seen the Tweets, read the quotes, or listened to the proclamations coming from the Vatican. The Pope has decided to embrace the global warming faith, attack capitalism, decry the successes of western nations, and rail against guns, gun manufacturers, and those who support the industry. In short (abortion and gay marriage aside) he’s taken a turn to the hard-left. In the span of a decade, we’ve gone from a Pope teaming with Reagan to defeat the Soviet Union to a Pope who embraces the classist financial rhetoric of our old enemies.
That’s troubling, but it’s not really the problem. The Pope is free to say, believe, and claim whatever he likes. If Catholics don’t like it, they’re free to reject it and walk away.  As HermanCain.com’s resident Catholic, it’s a decision I’ve been forced to wrestle with myself.  Shut your mouth and stick with the church, or stand your ground and refuse?
I’ve made my decision, and we’ll get to it in a moment.
...But first, let me say that the Pope’s comments are only the beginning of the issue. The real problem lies deeper within the Catholic hierarchy.
In case you’re unfamiliar with what he’s been saying, here’s a sampling from the 24-hour climate change “encyclical” he posted on Twitter. If you’ve already read it, feel free to skip down:
There’s more, including a few things that any sane person would agree with, but you get the drift. Production and consumption are killing the planet, the Northern Hemisphere “owes a debt” to the Southern, and he’s taken the AGW bait 100% hook-line-and-sinker.
Yesterday, he dug his left-wing hole a little deeper by going after gun manufacturers, sellers, and investors.
  People who manufacture weapons or invest in weapons industries are hypocrites if they call themselves Christian, Pope Francis said on Sunday.
    Francis issued his toughest condemnation to date of the weapons industry at a rally of thousands of young people at the end of the first day of his trip to the Italian city of Turin.
  “If you trust only men you have lost,” he told the young people in a long, rambling talk about war, trust and politics after putting aside his prepared address.
  “It makes me think of ... people, managers, businessmen who call themselves Christian and they manufacture weapons. That leads to a bit a distrust, doesn’t it?” he said to applause.
  He also criticized those who invest in weapons industries, saying “duplicity is the currency of today ... they say one thing and do another.”
The left, obviously, is overjoyed. Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi spent the last three days praising this. Of course they ignore the Pope’s constant stand on homosexuality, gay marriage, and abortion, but all of a sudden they love his “scientific awareness.” This alone should serve as a warning that we have a major problem, since even as a Catholic I readily admit that the church and science have -at best - a tortured relationship. 
I could point out that issuing screeds about “financial inequality” while he’s seated atop the Vatican’s Scrooge McDuck-style money vaults might be an example of the exact same type of hypocrisy. Or, I could argue that a man whose organization currently maintains a massive fleet of luxury cars, boats, helicopters and jets, shouldn’t be lecturing people about the piety of limiting fossil fuel consumption. Heck, I could even ask how the Vatican City security forces are enjoying their armory of firearms made by Glock, Berretta, and Heckler & Koch.
But what would be the point? Of late, it feels like the Pope makes his decision on these matters, and the Priests, Bishops, and Cardinals who serve him line up in silence. If the entire church hierarchy is set against dissent, why bother fighting?
This brings us to the real problem I mentioned above.
I have it on good authority, from people I trust, that dissent is everywhere within the church. Just as politics divide people in the secular world, they divide people in the spiritual one. However, I’m also hearing that no one is willing to speak out because they’re afraid of losing their jobs.  ....And that’s the real problem.
Imagine if Moses had said “sure slavery is pretty nasty and all, but my family’s in charge so I’m just going to pipe down and let it slide.” Try to picture Jesus announcing that “crucifixion looks like it’s really going to be pretty awful. So I’ve developed a new plan I call ‘keep my head down and try to let this whole thing blow over.’”
The Bible doesn’t focus on a bunch of go-along-to-get-along weaklings. We don’t line the pews every Sunday thanks to a gang of mealy-mouthed cowards. Our faith hinges on people who were willing to sacrifice everything for what they believed. I expect a person who takes to the pulpit every Sunday to follow their lead.
I have no respect for someone who’s willing to stand up there and preach about the convictions of saints, apostles, and Christ himself - all while refusing to speak out about their own beliefs because they’re afraid to lose something as base and petty as a job.
That’s what stings.
I mentioned before that I’ve made my decision about the church. It’s this: I’m not interested in being part of a group which is trending both anti-capitalist and anti-West. I’m also not inclined to ally myself with Priests, Cardinals, and Bishops who are unwilling to speak their minds. This isn’t a rejection of faith, or of Jesus, or of God.  I’m not turning my back on the Bible or its teachings. I’m simply acknowledging that, until it corrects its course, a socialist Pope sits atop an organization that’s heading down a path I can’t - and won’t - follow.

The Two Popes

Economic freedom, individual liberties must not be sacrificed at the altar of religious or secular dogma, that climate change is an immediate existential crisis that can only be solved by top-down dictates and controlled wealth redistribution

Pope Francis issued a lengthy encyclical last week calling for radical change in human behavior to confront climate change. He presented climate change as the moral issue of our time. “Humanity is called to recognize the need for changes of lifestyle, production and consumption, in order to combat this warming or at least the human causes which produce or aggravate it,” the pope declared. “It is a mistake to rely on the ‘myths’ of a modernity grounded in a utilitarian mindset (individualism, unlimited progress, competition, consumerism, the unregulated market),” he added. While denying that anyone is suggesting a return to the Stone Age and conceding that “[T]echnoscience, when well directed, can produce important means of improving the quality of human life,” Pope Francis refused to dismiss doomsday predictions if society continues along its present path.
The United Nations Secretary General position has been referred to by some as that of a “secular pope,” because he is expected to speak out on issues of public concern as the moral conscience of the world. On the issue of climate change, the current “secular pope” at the UN, Ban Ki-moon, spoke strongly in support of Pope Francis’s encyclical and said that he is looking forward to Pope Francis’s address to the United Nations General Assembly this September. Ban Ki-moon has made climate change his own number one issue and attended a summit on climate change hosted by the Vatican last April. He has called climate change “a true existential threat to the planet.” Ban Ki-moon is pushing for all UN member states to complete a legally binding global agreement to curb carbon emissions in Paris this December.
Assuming for the sake of argument that the problem of climate change is as serious as both the religious and secular popes think it is and that human activity is largely responsible for it, the question is how to address the problem without destroying the global economy in the process. Pope Francis rejects free market economics and technology as solutions. Ban Ki-moon is more ambivalent.
Stepping beyond his realm of religious authority, Pope Francis has taken sides in the policy debate regarding how best to reduce reliance on fossil fuels that are creating heat-trapping gasses. Don’t rely on free market mechanisms such as cap and trade, he warns.
“The strategy of buying and selling ‘carbon credits’ can lead to a new form of speculation which would not help reduce the emission of polluting gases worldwide,” Pope Francis said. “This system seems to provide a quick and easy solution under the guise of a certain commitment to the environment, but in no way does it allow for the radical change which present circumstances require. Rather, it may simply become a ploy which permits maintaining the excessive consumption of some countries and sectors.”
This portion of the encyclical flies in the face of sound economic analysis and common sense. Carbon trading systems, which Pope Francis has specifically singled out for criticism, and carbon taxes are two ways to put a specific price on carbon that would have to be paid for one way or the other directly by the carbon emitter rather than indirectly as a negative externality by society as a whole.
As the World Bank explains:
“A price on carbon helps shift the burden for the damage back to those who are responsible for it, and who can reduce it. Instead of dictating who should reduce emissions where and how, a carbon price gives an economic signal and polluters decide for themselves whether to discontinue their polluting activity, reduce emissions, or continue polluting and pay for it. In this way, the overall environmental goal is achieved in the most flexible and least-cost way to society. The carbon price also stimulates clean technology and market innovation, fuelling new, low-carbon drivers of economic growth.”
Pope Francis is not swayed by such arguments. Technology is no answer to the problem of climate change, according to his encyclical. “To seek only a technical remedy to each environmental problem which comes up,” he said, “is to separate what is in reality interconnected and to mask the true and deepest problems of the global system.” Continuing this theme, the pope added that the “alliance between the economy and technology ends up sidelining anything unrelated to its immediate interests.”
Pope Francis’s prescription is more stringent and enforceable global governance. He calls for “global regulatory norms” and “stronger and more efficiently organized international institutions, with functionaries who are appointed fairly by agreement among national governments, and empowered to impose sanctions.” He also espouses “a better distribution of wealth,” which would include a massive transfer wealth from developed countries to the less developed countries on the theory that the richer countries are largely responsible for the plight of the poor and owe them an historical debt. The pope does not use the term “reparations,” but that is for all and intents and purposes what he is calling for.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon cannot afford to be as dismissive as Pope Francis is of market place carbon pricing mechanisms or of the importance of innovation as part of the solution to any environmental problems created by climate change and human activity. Nor would he be wise to push the notion of a global environmental authority with enforcement teeth.
The global agreement that the Secretary General is seeking by the end of this year is premised on national commitments to carbon reduction targets, which are to be accomplished through nationally crafted solutions that may or may not embrace market incentives and technology, depending on their particular economic, social and cultural circumstances. The World Bank, with whom the Secretary General has partnered, supports carbon pricing to bring down fossil fuel carbon emissions and make cleaner options more competitive. According to the World Bank, as of last September “[S]eventy-three countries and 11 states and provinces—together responsible for 54 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 52 percent of GDP—joined 11 cities and over 1,000 businesses and investors in signaling their support for carbon pricing.”
Choice of means to reduce carbon emissions at the national level, not top-down dictates from global bureaucracies, will be the only viable path if any sort of meaningful climate change agreement at all among UN member states is to be achieved.
Thus, if Ban Ki-moon were to come out and reject market place carbon pricing mechanisms such as cap and trade, he would be working at cross-purposes with his stated goal of moving the member states towards declaring their national commitments to carbon reduction as part of a year-end binding global agreement. In fact, he has in the past come out in support of putting an explicit price on carbon as one option for consideration.
Yet Ban Ki-moon does not want to publicly disassociate himself from the portion of Pope Francis’s encyclical that rejects free market solutions. In response to my question on this point at the daily press briefing at UN headquarters on June 12th, the spokesperson for the Secretary General minimized any differences between the religious and secular popes:
“I think the Secretary-General very strongly supports the Pope’s efforts to ensure that climate change remains at the top of the global agenda and to mobilize his authority, his moral authority, in that regard. The fact that the Pope and the Secretary-General may not agree on every line, on every approach, I think, doesn’t take away in any way the Secretary-General’s support for the encyclical… we are not dissecting the encyclical to see where we differ with the Pope… overall I think the Secretary-General spoke strongly in support of the encyclical and continues to do so.”
Pope Francis would have been more credible if he had not tried to cross the line from religious leader to secular public policy opinion maker in his encyclical. And the UN Secretary General will be more credible if he sheds the role of “secular pope” who over-moralizes the issue of climate change. Instead, Ban Ki-moon should stick to the fine art of quiet diplomacy and negotiation facilitation. He can provide member states and the private sector with a global perspective on the effects of climate change, including the assembly of data and more balanced scientific analysis. He and his expert staff can help the member states try to devise practical and efficient targets and means to achieve them within their respective capabilities. He can help encourage businesses to make investments in alternative energy sources and cleaner fossil fuel technologies. He can suggest how developed countries could partner with less developed countries in overcoming obstacles to beneficial change and coming up with smart carbon emission mitigation strategies, without insisting they owe an enormous debt to developing countries as Pope Francis has done. Without the greatest engine for betterment of the human condition that the world has ever known - the free market and its concomitant of technological change—much of the world today would be living in far more dire circumstances reminiscent of the rigidity, disease and poverty of pre-Renaissance feudal society.
Economic freedom and individual liberties must not be sacrificed at the altar of religious or secular dogma, including the dogma that climate change is an immediate existential crisis and that it can only be solved by top-down dictates and government-controlled wealth redistribution.