Pope Francis Blames Capitalism for World Hunger, Yet Again

by | Nov 4, 2021 | Headline News | 7 comments

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    This article was originally published by James Garagnon at The Mises Institute. 

    Last month on “World Food Day,” Pope Francis yet again graced us with some economic words of wisdom in three tweets, effectively blaming free enterprise and capitalism for the continued existence of world hunger:

    How unfortunate that Francis, who should really try sticking to theology, doesn’t understand basic supply and demand, or the pernicious effects of inflation caused by central banks. Repeating common leftist caricatures of the free market has been a recurrent theme of his pontificate.1 Before bashing capitalism, though, Francis should note that the move toward freer markets, in India and China especially, resulted in the huge reduction in extreme poverty we have witnessed over the last few decades.

    Charts 1 and 2: Reduction in global extreme poverty since 1990


    Nearly 80 percent of all people lived in extreme poverty during the early twentieth century, compared to 10 percent today.

    Charts 3 and 4: Reduction in global extreme poverty since 1820


    What Francis fails to grasp is that, as Henry Hazlitt put it, “the real problem of poverty is not a problem of ‘distribution’ but of production. The poor are poor not because something is being withheld from them, but because, for whatever reason, they are not producing enough. The only permanent way to cure their poverty is to increase their earning power,” i.e., to make them more productive.

    There are two components to reducing poverty:

    • Capital accumulation, which is achieved through saving, investment, and entrepreneurship. This can only occur in an environment with sufficient respect for private property and freedom of contract and exchange. This is what allowed the Industrial Revolution to take place, prior to which mass extreme poverty was the norm for everyone throughout history.
    • Specialization and participation/integration in the division of labor.

    Chart 5: Prior to the Industrial Revolution, mass poverty was the norm

    Source: Hans-Hermann Hoppe, A Short History of Man: Progress and Decline (Auburn, AL: Mises Institute, 2015), p. 82.

    What should rich nations do to help poor nations become wealthier? They should start by immediately and unilaterally eliminating trade barriers such as tariffs, quotas, and regulations, which protect inefficient domestic industries from foreign competition, and which prevent poor nations from benefitting from the advantages of specialization and participation in the global division of labor (doing this will also reduce the cost of living and foster international peace). Rich nations should also stop all “foreign aid,” which serves only to keep corrupt, socialistic governments in power in the recipient poor nations by funding cronies and wasteful big spending programs.


    I doubt very much that Pope Francis knows much at all about economics. That is no crime. But, to quote Rothbard, “it is totally irresponsible to have a loud and vociferous opinion on economic subjects while remaining in this state of ignorance.” In fact, it is precisely the lack of understanding of economics and the function of markets in alleviating poverty among many nations’ technocrats and ruling elites that meant they thought they could simply put the economy on pause for over a year without significant consequences. Well, sadly, global extreme poverty rose in 2020 for the first time in over twenty years. Ideas have consequences.


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      1. see title

      2. It may very well be the fault of capitalism, but it’s also the fault of you old religious leaders. You are pedophiles, thieves, and liars living off the backs of innocent people. You fill our heads with a pack of nonsense and you get away with your crimes against humanity. Abolish the monarchy, the Vatican and all religions. If there really is a God, let him deal with this big mess. Quit asking us for money to. You religious leaders have so much money you live in palaces, eat the best foods, wear expensive jewelry and you claim to care about God and the poor? Who do you think you are fooling? You’re a bunch of old fools using an old system that doesn’t work for our new generations.

      3. All caused by overpopulation. That’s a FACT! Humanity is like bacteria in a petri dish, they just consume as much as possible then die… You have to be an absolute moron to have kids in this age…

        • Enough people thinking like that is what got us COVID-1984’d.

          They’re out to cull the ‘useless eaters’. Which is never their enlightened seves of course.

      4. If only the Catholic Church didn’t promote numerous children in families, less people would suffer hunger. The Pope doesn’t have a clue, though. He is a commie/socialist, after all. And I’m a Catholic.

      5. And that old fool dressed in a sheet is also to blame for the world’s poverty. And the sexual abuse done to our children etc. Thousands of fingers are pointing at him. The Pope, what a joke.

      6. The ballooning of the world’s population is a direct result of dumping by America of excess food on Africa, India etc. This practice began in the 1950s and that was the time when Africa’s population started to go exponential.

        Stop giving them a free ride and instead encourage them to develop local markets, property rights, the law, entrepreneurship and women’s rights. Also prevent their best educated from fleeing to the US, as happens now. There is zero incentive for Africans or Afghanis to improve their countries if they know they will get a free meal from the West sitting on their asses, or a free meal ? ticket from just getting smuggled into the West.

        And all this comes at the expense of having white European babies, as Women in the West are made to work and pay taxes for women in the third world to have 5, 6 etc children.

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