Given the widely acknowledged fact that countries and populations enjoy wealth and prosperity precisely to the extent that they embrace capitalism, why does Pope Francis call capitalism “the dung of the devil” and jet around the globe aiming to rid the world of it?

Economists and other intellectuals have spelled out at great length the overwhelming historic evidence in support of the fact that capitalism—the system of individual rights, limited government, and rule of law—is the political-economic cause of prosperity. And one need not read lengthy books to get the message. Journalists regularly report on the relevant facts in bite-sized pieces that any active-minded person can fit together into an edifying mosaic over time.

In just the past few days, in anticipation of Pope Francis’s visit to the United States, several prominent thinkers have published articles packed with evidence showing the life-serving nature of capitalism. George Will, for instance, writes: “The capitalist commerce that Francis disdains is the reason the portion of the planet’s population living in ‘absolute poverty’ ($1.25 a day) declined from 53 percent to 17 percent in three decades after 1981.”

Alex Epstein writes that, thanks to technologies made possible by relatively free markets,

Since 1980, the world has increased its use of coal, oil, and natural gas by over 80 percent—because that is the most cost-effective way to produce energy. At the same time, the average life expectancy of our world’s 7 billion individuals has gone up 7 years—7 years of precious life! Every other metric of human well-being has also improved, from income to access to health care to nourishment to clean water access. The most growth has been among the poorest people in the world.

Specifically in regard to “climate change,” which is one of the Pope’s favorite “problems” to blame on capitalism, Epstein adds: . . .

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