Potpourri on John Paul II
by Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor
It was perhaps not so much a coincidence that in 1978 Karol Wojtyla became John Paul II, the first Polish pope of the Catholic Church, just as the Polish people were bravely beginning to seek their freedom from the tyranny of the USSR. Having died on April 2, 2005 at the age of 84, Pope John Paul II will long be remembered as the pope who inspired the people of Poland and the Solidarity labor movement there and freedom-seekers elsewhere to peacefully resist and finally overcome the occupation by the Soviet Union.
Traveling to all parts of the earth, John Paul II promoted human rights as a central theme of his papacy. The new pope should carry this theme forward. Let us imagine that the next pope were a geo-libertarian.
Pope John II has been hailed for his promotion of human rights world wide. A geo-libertarian Pope would carry this further. A libertarian pope would proclaim the moral right of each human being to his own person. He will tell the world that it is not enough to end chattel slavery. People should also not be slaves to governments. Human rights require that each person be zher own master.
Pope Pius X in 1910 in his "Singulari Quadam" declared that the social question of labor and its wages are not simply economic but deeply moral and religious. Previously, Pope Leo XIII declared in 1891, "so is it just and right that the results of labor should belong to those who have bestowed their labor." A libertarian Pope would make it clear to the world that moral logic requires that the worker keep zher full wage. "Thou shalt not steal" applies to government as much as the thief, indeed to prevent government from becoming a thief.
In his Laborem Excercens of 1981, Pope John Paul II declared that the key to evaluating an economic system is the treatment of workers and their wages. What is a "just" wage? It is the pure free-market wage of a worker, when there are no taxes or restrictions on peaceful and honest labor, capital, profits, and exchanges. What the worker adds to production, is justly and fully zher wage. When government by forces takes away some of the wage, it takes the bread from the mouth of the worker who produced it, and creates an unjust wage, less than the full product of the worker.
The pope is not only the leader of the Roman Catholic Church and the Bishop of Rome, but also the head of Vatican City, an independent state within Rome. Vatican City is the only country in which there are no taxes. There are no tariffs between Italy and Vatican City. A geo-libertarian Pope would advocate the tax-free policy of the Vatican to the rest of the world. But "no taxes" implies that there also be no privileges or subsidies, for if one person receives a subsidy, this implies that another person is being forced to provide it.
Nature, population, commerce, and the works of government put value to land, which the owner did not create. Those who choose to have title to land obtain a value for which, if they are not to be privileged, they should pay rent to the creator of that value. It is no different from those who choose to buy shoes paying the shoe-maker.
The Bible says that God is the earth's landlord (Exodus 9:29; Psalm 24:1, I Corinthians 10:28). The "fulness" of the earth is its benefit, as measured by its rent. But how can we tenants of the earth pay rent to God as maker of the land? We pay land rent to God by applying God's will on earth as it is applied in heaven.
In his 1890 article in The Christian Advocate, "The Single Tax, What It Is and Why We Urge It," Henry George explained the passage in the prayer called "Our Father" or "The Lord's Prayer," "thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven":
"What would be the result in heaven itself if those who get there first ... parceled it out in absolute ownership among themselves, as we parcel out the surface of the earth? Since we cannot conceive of a heaven in which the equal rights of God's children to their Father's bounty is denied, as we now deny them on this earth, what is the duty enjoined on Christians by the daily prayer...?"
In his 1899 speech, "Thy Kingdom Come," George wrote, "When Christ taught that prayer, He did not mean that humans should idly phrase these words, but that for the coming of that kingdom humanity must work as well as pray!" Just as the first comers would not take all the land and its rent and become a privileged elite, leaving the next entrants to heaven as poor landless tenants, so too on earth, we should not privilege those who have land from conquest or first taking or from governmental land-title privilege.
A geo-libertarian Pope would call for the end of taxation and the beginning of a world-wide use of geo-rent for public revenues. The Pope would call for all people to implement the wisdom of Ecclesiastes 5:9, "The profit of the earth is for all." The profit of the land is economic rent, the market rent of land if let to the highest bidder, geo-rent that by justice would be paid to the relevant community instead of imposing the indignity of wage-tax slavery.
Let us hope that the next pope will move forward from the human rights legacy of John Paul II and carry religion and morality to their logical conclusions: the application of justice to the labor of man and the profit of the earth.
-- Fred Foldvary
Copyright 2005 by Fred E. Foldvary. All rights reserved. No part of this material may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, which includes but is not limited to facsimile transmission, photocopying, recording, rekeying, or using any information storage or retrieval system, without giving full credit to Fred Foldvary and The Progress Report.
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