Ironically, these classic elements of central planning and top-down, big-government bureaucracy come on the 20th anniversary of Centesimus Annus, a 1991 encyclical on economic life written by Pope John Paul II as the Cold War was ending. Socialism had arisen a century earlier in response to the dehumanizing character of the Industrial Revolution, but the so-called solution it offered had made things worse. As Pope Leo XIII noted at the time:
“The Socialists encourage the poor man’s envy of the rich and strive to do away with private property, contending that individual possessions should become the common property of all … but their contentions are so clearly powerless to end the controversy that, were they carried into effect, the working man himself would be among the first to suffer.”
And that’s exactly what many working men and women are doing right now -- suffering, that is, not working -- due in large measure to the big-government solutions pushed by the current administration. However, as John Paul II wrote, “the free market is the most efficient instrument for utilizing resources and effectively responding to needs.”
Administration officials, though, apparently lack this historical perspective. So they keep repeating the mistakes of the past. They interfere with the market and try to reach deeper into the pockets of taxpayers.
Yet the best thing they can do is less. They can grow the economy if they step back. They can stem the tide of layoffs if they lay off. Will they?