Some Catholic commentators are freaking out that House Speaker Paul Ryan, a Catholic, favors a more free market rather than increasing the size of the welfare state. But promoting economic growth does not treat the poor as an afterthought. And why do we think good feelings and a government program are the best way to help?
Michael Strain at Bloomberg explains:
At a nationally televised town hall last week, Paul Ryan was asked how he upholds the Catholic Church’s teaching that we should help the poor. Ryan, a Catholic, answered that his emphasis on economic growth, upward mobility and opportunity for all is how, as House speaker, he puts that teaching into practice.
Not all Catholics liked this answer, with some criticizing Ryan’s support for “trickle-down economics” and arguing that a focus on economic growth doesn’t satisfy the church’s social teachings because policies that advance growth treat the poor as an afterthought.
It is always a good time to remind progressives that economic growth is the best antipoverty program the world has ever seen. If you want to put a few hundred extra dollars in the pockets of the poor each month, then by all means redistribute that money from the rich. But it was economic growth, not income redistribution, that gave billions of people enough food to eat, moved children from squalor into classrooms, treated illness with antibiotics, and substantially reduced child mortality rates around the globe.