Who gets what

by Paul Burmeister

Is it interesting that Ramesh Ponnuru, a Roman Catholic and conservative, Bloomberg View columnist, claims that Pope Francis confuses the free market with abuses of extreme individualism? Ponnuru claims that history is on his side when he argues that free markets can "enable a creative form of community." Whatever that means must include a trust in self-interests of the rich naturally creating economic benefits for the poor. Does he mean self-interests unrestrained or uncorrected by government and regulation?
Tony Judt has questioned whether our free-market pursuit of economic self-interest has ever been connected to such things as altruism, self-denial, and collective purpose. He asks, from historical perspective, why have the potentially self-destructive systems of the free market lasted. . . . "Probably because of habits of restraint, honesty and moderation . . . values derived from longstanding religious and communitarian practices." If he were alive, Judt might clarify the Pope's argument and push back against Ponnuru's assertion that free markets can be trusted to build community.