Letter to Pope Francis: World Needs Freedom to End Poverty

This is my open letter to Pope Francis that is being published the week of his visit to America.  I share it to shed light on the causes and cures of world poverty.

Your Holiness, Pope Francis:

Welcome to America!

I share your deeply-held concern for the poor of the world.  My concern for global poverty and destitution was so great that I left a good job in the world of high tech and decided to write books.  I also started Lameiro Economics LLC, a company focused on bringing practical economic knowledge about freedom, economic growth, and prosperity to America and to the world.  It has also fueled in part my interest in presidential campaigns and the presidency.

To begin with, I want to say we both want to help all people, especially those who can’t help themselves or who were born into adverse situations.  I think we both agree that we have a moral obligation to help the poor and destitute.

Of course, the obvious question Catholics, Christians, and the other citizens of the world face is precisely how to tackle the formidable problem of poverty.  I have studied that problem over the last 55 years of my life, since I visited Rio de Janeiro in 1960, lived there, and personally fed poor people in the streets.  That experience in Rio triggered my compassion and passion to help the poor.  You can’t help but be moved by seeing true poverty up close and personally.

Over the years and while working in my career, I have looked at global poverty from my many different points of view.  Without a doubt, my study and experience leads me to conclude unequivocally that the only way to prosperity for the world is through freedom … religious freedom, political freedom, and economic freedom.  Freedom is absolutely essential to alleviating the poverty of the world.

In my book, Renewing America and Its Heritage of Freedom, I make the moral case for freedom.  I truly believe that God is the Author of our liberty.

In my theoretical and empirical studies, I have learned that freedom is best implemented through free enterprise within nations and through free trade among nations.  I might add there is good evidence that free trade also leads to the lessening of tensions among nations and works as a solid and practical barrier to wars.  Free trade leads to peace.

Unfortunately, another philosophy called socialism (or Marxism) has labeled free enterprise as “capitalism,” an intentionally negative term that has stuck with economic freedom for many years.  This term seems to imply free enterprise is all about “capital” or money and greed.  It’s not.  It’s about freedom instead.  In stark contrast to economic freedom and free enterprise, socialism is a practical failure wherever it’s tried.  I have found that socialism always leads to moral and economic bankruptcy.

Let me share a few examples and reasons why economic freedom and free enterprise (or capitalism) is better for the world’s poor.  It’s also far superior to socialism, Marxism, communism, and other forms of Statism or totalitarianism.

  1. 25 years ago (1990) about 50% of people in developing areas around the world lived on $1.25 per day or less.  According to one report, 20 years later (2010), this number dropped to only about 22%.  Translated into practical impact on people, these numbers mean that approximately 700 million fewer people were living in extreme poverty around the worldThe reason for this dramatic positive impact is simple.  It can be traced back to capitalism and free trade. [For more information, please see Stephanie Slade, "If Pope Francis Wants to Help the Poor, He Should Embrace Capitalism," Hit & Run Blog, Reason.com, September 21, 2015.]
  2. In America, economic freedom works to lift the entire economy.  According to Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, from the year 1000 to 1820, World per capita GDP went up 47%.  However, from 1820 to 1998, in the United States, real per capita GDP rose 22 times.  2200% is an incredible number.  From 1850 until 2010, our life expectancy rose from 38 years to 78 years.  [For more information, please see Arthur C. Brooks, "Chapter 4: A System for Good Samaritans," The Road to Freedom (New York, NY: Basic Books, The American Enterprise Institute, 2012).]  In about 200 years, economic freedom made America the richest, most prosperous, and most generous nation on the face of the earth.
  3. Michael Novak points out The Universal Hunger for Liberty in his book by that name.  The same freedom that made America prosperous can help nations all over the world.  Extreme poverty can end, if the world chooses freedom.  [For more information: Michael Novak, The Universal Hunger for Liberty (New York, NY: Basic Books, 2004).]
  4. Economic freedom includes freedom to develop the world’s energy resources.  The poor need energy to lift themselves out of poverty.  Climate change socialists will hurt the poor by limiting fossil fuels that the global poor desperately need to get out of poverty.  Economic development requires energy.
  5. The idea that climate change is a planet-threatening crisis is not based on science as thousands of scientists have indicated.  A so-called climate change crisis is no more accurate than were the previous so-called global cooling crisis or the so-called global warming crisis.
  6. Because freedom has built-up America’s economy, America has been able to take in 32 million immigrants in the last 30 years.  Also, it might surprise some that of all worldwide migrants, 20% have come to America.  Today, over 13% of the population in the U. S. consists of immigrants. That means there are over 42 million immigrants in America.  [For more information, please see article by: Katie McHugh, "Ted Kennedy's Real Legacy: 50 Years of Mass Immigration," Breitbart.com, March 30, 2015.  Also, please see: Mark Antonio Wright, "U.S. Immigrant Population Hits Record High of 42.4 Million," NationalReview.com, September 22, 2015.]
  7. America continues to do far more than its share to help the poor of the world.  According to a Wall Street Journal editorial, the U. S. government’s annual aid to developing countries is $31 billion.  In addition, Americans give $39 billion more in private aid.  On top of that, America provides another $108 billion through private capital flows that impact economies. ["The Politics of Pope Francis," The Wall Street Journal, September 21, 2015.]

I hope you will agree that all of us need to work together to promote, protect and defend religious freedom, political freedom and economic freedom.  The world needs freedom to end poverty.

I hope you enjoy your trip to America.

Respectfully,

Gerard Francis Lameiro, Ph.D.

Author, Philosopher, Economist, Engineer

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