Jesus and Pope Francis and the Free Market

I posted this over on reason.com.

Jesus was clearly in favor of property rights; in the parables He told, the landowner was the good guy and the rabble who conspired to steal the landowner’s property were eventually thrown into hell.

The parables of the talents and the pounds puts “financial speculation” in a positive light; the guy who doesn’t engage in financial speculation gets thrown into hell.

His parable of the workers in the marketplace is interesting, too; a rich guy goes to the Ancient Near East’s equivalent of the temp agency several times during the day to hire workers. He contracts with each set of workers separately, and they all agree to the same wage–a penny for the day’s work. The guys who were hired in the morning started complaining that they had to work the whole day for a penny, while the guys hired at the end of the day got the same amount for only a couple of hours’ work. The rich guy (who represents God in the parable) is basically like, “Dudes, you agreed to this wage, and besides, it’s my money, so shut up!”

Even the celebrated case of Jesus telling the Rich Young Ruler to “sell everything he had, and give to the poor” is followed up with “and you shall have treasure in heaven.” Jesus wasn’t telling the RYR to be altruistic; he was telling him to make a wise investment!

No, I’m afraid that when Francis walks through the pearly gates, he will be surprised that everyone who sees him automatically does a facepalm.

 
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