ROME, Italy — Vatican foreign minister Archbishop Paul Gallagher has called for increased redistribution as a necessary means of overcoming economic inequality, the Catholic News Service reported Wednesday.
In his address before a high-level U.N. meeting on inequality and prosperity, Archbishop Gallagher asserted that “fighting rampant inequality cannot be achieved without fiscal redistribution and increasing the progressiveness of income taxation schedules.”
“Better taxation can redistribute a portion of the rents accruing to big corporations and help build up tax bases, especially in developing countries,” he declared.
The archbishop also noted how the global coronavirus pandemic has slowed humanity’s progressive elimination of extreme poverty.
The World Bank, for instance, has estimated the pandemic “drove an additional 97 million people into extreme poverty in 2020.”
“As wages have decreased, millions of individuals have been plunged into poverty, and this has set back poverty reduction targets by nearly a decade,” Gallagher said, adding that those already in vulnerable situations “were disproportionately affected by its fallout.”
Our World in Data (OWD) has noted that in the past, the immense majority of mankind lived in what would be described today as “extreme poverty,” a situation that has been steadily improving over the past two centuries thanks to industrialization and rising productivity.
“This is surely one of the most remarkable achievements of humankind,” OWD declared.
Moreover, the average person on the planet is now 4.4 times richer than an average person in 1950, an astonishing example of ongoing wealth creation.
In his address, the archbishop underscored the need for “climate stabilization and climate justice,” which includes the “decarbonization of our economies.”
In an October 7 essay in the Wall Street Journal, however, Bjorn Lomborg — president of the Copenhagen Consensus — offers a different perspective on the question.
Working to end global warming “could hurt the poor more than help,” Lomborg states, because of its negative impact on economic development.
Malnutrition deaths “have declined dramatically over the past three decades and will continue to drop rapidly over the next three,” Lomborg notes, a phenomenon overwhelmingly driven by economic growth.
“This puts the impact of global warming in context: For nutrition, climate change isn’t a disaster, but something that slightly slows down progress,” he adds.
“Growth policies can avoid 1.7 million annual deaths,” Lomborg concludes. “That is far more than any climate measures could provide.”