Monday, July 13, 2009

A "universal" economy

Not too long ago I offered a comment at Dave Winer's Scripting News blog, in which I noted that Sarah Palin appeals to the anti-Washington crowd that distrusts any elites, where they are liberal elites (New York Times, Washington Post) or conservative elites (Fox News Channel). In some corners of the anti-Washington movement, people are convinced that there is a great conspiracy to implement the New World Order, and Rupert Murdoch is as much a part of it as the Council on Foreign Relations.

Well, I'm sure that the conspiracy theorists are having a field day with the July 7 announcement of Pope Benedict XVI:

Pope Benedict XVI on Tuesday called for a radical rethinking of the global economy, criticizing a growing divide between rich and poor and urging the establishment of a “true world political authority” to oversee the economy and work for the “common good.”...

More than two years in the making, “Caritas in Veritate,” or “Charity in Truth,” is Benedict’s third encyclical since he became pope in 2005. Filled with terms like “globalization,” “market economy,” “outsourcing,” “labor unions” and “alternative energy,” it is not surprising that the Italian media reported that the Vatican was having difficulty translating the 144-page document into Latin.

One American Roman Catholic theologian detected what would set off the alarm bells in his country:

John Sniegocki, a professor of Christian ethics at Xavier University in Cincinnati, said one of the most controversial elements of the encyclical, at least for some Americans, would be the call for international institutions to play a role in regulating the economy.

“One of the things he’s saying is that the global economy is escaping the power of individual states to regulate it,” Mr. Sniegocki said. He said the encyclical also contained elements “very critical” of how the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank “have required cuts in social spending in the third world.”

It then quotes from the American Enterprise Institute's Michael Novak:

“I like limited government. I would much prefer to have many limited governments than one overriding authority.”

Of course, Pope Benedict is the head of a "universal" church that strongly believes in one overriding authority in religious matters. In that respect, it's not surprising that the Pope is comfortable with a similar arrangement in the secular political sphere.

However, I personally agree with the sentiments of William Pitt the Elder, who said:

Unlimited power is apt to corrupt the minds of those who possess it.

And even if the Palin supporters are unfamiliar with the quote, or with the more famous quote from Lord Acton, they would probably agree with the sentiment also.
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