The Pope – Wealth Cannot Be Created

The Refuted Meme:

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The Pope – Wealth Cannot Be Created: There’s a finite amount of resources on this earth. Therefore, wealth cannot be created – only transferred from the prosperous to those in need.

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The Refutation

Pope Benedict did not say this. Although it sounds like something he would say. You might hear this kind of thing naively repeated in leftist circles who don’t understand basic economics.

The statement itself is a non sequitur – the conclusion does not follow from the initial statement. Yes, a finite amount of resource exist on the earth, but no, that does not mean that wealth cannot be created. The most obvious refutation of this is the simple observation that there are not an equal number of cars, TVs, air conditioners, smart phones, computers and washing machines as there were 100 years ago, right? Clearly, wealth is created.

10,000 years ago, all humans lived a subsistence lifestyle in absolute squalor. Today we live with abundance and wealth that could never have been imagined 10,000 years ago. Yet the earth’s resources have not drastically changed in the last 10,000 years. From the first human who created a dwelling, to the invention of the wheel, to the invention of agriculture, all the way to the industrial revolution and the information age, humans have been inventing things – mixing our labor with the finite resources of the earth and creating wealth.

Wealth is not a zero sum game, where one person must fall behind in order for another to get ahead. Wealth creation is a win-win where both the inventor and the buyer of the invention benefit from its creation and sale. The best way to spread the wealth created from this process is not to “transfer it” by force, which will only serve to destroy the wealth creation process. A system of free exchange and private property is the best way to spread this wealth. This requires the inventor to voluntarily trade his invention with willing market participants who will also benefit from the wealth created by the invention.

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