Religious Economics

Now I am no economist, and I would not dream of trying to patch together a coherent argument out of what I do understand of the subject, but I can’t help but be skeptical about the Vatican Economist. Yes, the Vatican has it’s own Economist, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, who decided to air his views on the recent worldwide economic downturn during an interview on a Vatican TV station.

During the interview Tedeschi declared that the economic crisis in the US and elsewhere in the world was caused by

“people who do not “believe in the future” and have few or no children”

He elaborates;

“The true cause of the crisis is the decline in the birth rate,”

Tedeschi claims that the entire sub-prime crisis was caused by the ‘0% birth rate’ in Western countries. Something about that just does not sit right for me.

According to the World Bank the year-on-year  population growth rate in the USA in 2008 was 0.915%. The rate of population growth in the USA has been fluctuating between 1.39% and 0.86% since 1964. But what is so bad about that? A lower birth rate is (in part) the product of a higher level of education and better medical care available to the population. If I get a better education I can secure a better job and will have access to better health care than someone living in Somalia (which has a population growth rate of 2.9%.).

The comparison is stark, merely comparing birthrates is not going to provide an answer here because the circumstances in the USA are dramatically different to those in Somalia. I think that Tedeschi has over-simplified a highly complex problem in an effort to further the agenda of the organisation of which he is a member. The Vatican has an interest in telling people to have more children which goes beyond concern for the world’s economy.

I would like to reiterate the fact that  I am not qualified to talk about the ECONOMICS of this issue, but I must point out the glaringly obvious hippopotamus in the room. Tedeschi is a VATICAN economist. He is an instrument of a hulking great medieval institution which has cannonised its opposition to the use of birth control;

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that any form of birth control, other than natural family planning (the rhythm method) is a sin. This teaching comes from several sources, but begins in the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible, Genesis. God’s first commandment to human beings, immediately after they were created was to have sex, through the command to multiply and fill the earth. The command was clarified in the second chapter of Genesis, where it was made clear that husbands and wives were to engage in sexual relations to produce children.

From godandscience.org

Imagine for a minute that you are a Vatican official charged with spreading Roman Catholic dogma in a way that doesn’t cause as much embarrassment as having a rabid archbishop claim that Europe is trying to kill all the Africans by giving them HIV infected condoms. What cultural concern would you appeal to?

Because of the Vatican’s vested interest I think that their advice should be carefully considered before it is adopted. Be very, very skeptical of the motives of anyone in the Vatican telling you that you should have more children.

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2 responses to “Religious Economics

  1. Thanks Clint,

    The thrust of my argument is that the Roman Catholic church is vehemently opposed to contraception. They want us to be making babies so that their deity can be happy, we sure don’t want him to get upset and smite a goat or anything.

    If they can push their agenda, I think they will do so whenever they get the chance. Therefore, don’t take advice on economic policy from an association which wants you to procreate when their advice is to procreate, not unless they provide some convincing evidence that having more expensive, hard to feed children would actually be a good thing.

    Is that more clear?

  2. I am not clear what you mean here:
    “Imagine for a minute that you are a Vatican official charged with spreading Roman Catholic dogma in a way that doesn’t cause as much embarrassment as having a rabid archbishop claim that Europe is trying to kill all the Africans by giving them HIV infected condoms. What cultural concern would you appeal to?”

    I’ll probably get it once you tell me what my options are from the entire set of possible cultural concerns!

    Also, you hint at the vested interest of the Vatican in their members having more kids – I would humbly suggest you make this point more explicitly – they want you to multiply because regardless of the burden on you from all that progeny, if they can keep hold of those little minds (usually by getting them young, and instilling the fear of god in them – see what I did there “fear of god”, nice hey!) that will translate into a greater number of contributions in their collection plates and more power to do what they want.
    At least that is how I see their vested interest – perhaps you meant something of a different shape or colour.

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