What exactly is in Pope Benedict XVI’s new encyclical on the economy and labor issues is not yet known. Catholic leftists and progressives, though, are already trembling with excitement. Three glaring errors have already appeared in these heavily panting anticipations.
An accurate presentation of real existing capitalism requires at least three modest affirmations:
1. Markets work well only within a system of law, and only according to well-marked-out rules of the game; unregulated markets are a figment of
2. In actual capitalist practice, the love of creativity, invention, and groundbreaking enterprise are far more powerful than motives of greed.
3. The fundamental systemic motive infusing the spirit of capitalism is the imperative to liberate the world’s poor from the pre-modern ubiquity of grinding poverty. This motive lay at the heart of Adam Smith’s important victory over Thomas Malthus concerning the coming affluence—rather than starvation—of the poor.