Radio commentator Rush Limbaugh attacked Pope Francis' letter, condemning the pope's comments on the "new tyranny" of "unfettered capitalism" as uninformed and somehow planted by the Marxist movement.
"This is just pure Marxism coming out of the mouth of the pope," Limbaugh declared. The commentator noted that, until this letter, he had admired Pope Francis. Now, however, he must distance himself. On economics, the pope is "totally wrong, I mean dramatically, embarrassingly, puzzlingly wrong."
In "Evangelii Gaudium," an "apostolic exhortation" sent to the entire Roman Catholic Church, Francis insisted on a renewal of the Catholic Church and a political battle against poverty and inequality to combat a soulless economic system. "The worship of the ancient golden calf (cf. Ex 32:1-35) has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy lacking a truly human purpose," Francis wrote.
"This totally befuddled me," Limbaugh admitted. "There has been a longstanding tension between the church and communism," he continued, referring to a previous pope, John Paul II, who is widely credited with helping President Ronald Reagan and Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher defeat Soviet communism in the 1980s. In this light, Pope Francis' attack on capitalism seemed out of place.
Limbaugh insinuated that the letter's true origin could not have been Francis himself. "Somebody has either written this for him or gotten to him," the radio host alleged.
"There's no such unfettered capitalism – that doesn't exist anywhere," Limbaugh argued. Instead, "'unfettered capitalism' is a liberal socialist phrase to describe the United States," he explained.
Limbaugh claimed that "liberals" and "modern age democrats" misunderstand the workings of business. According to him, they think business owners cheat their customers and abuse their employees, building up tons of money. Business owners, in their view, "deny their employees a livable wage, they deny them healthcare, they deny them benefits, they produce products that kill and maim and sicken, or they produce products that destroy the environment."
But history does not show this to be the case, Limbaugh countered. "There is nothing the world has ever devised that has elevated more people out of poverty than capitalism," he claimed. Pointing to the United States, the radio host claimed that Americans produced an economy that created the highest standard of living in history, provided enough food to send overseas, and gave enough extra wealth to provide disaster relief for other parts of the world.
"There's been nothing like the United States ever in world history, and certainly not for this length of time," the radio host proclaimed. "The United States and an honest and objective look at its history is all the proof you need to see the absolute benefits of capitalism."
Nevertheless, the pope called for two reforms long touted by Marxists, Limbaugh explained.
Francis urged politicians "to attack the structural causes of inequality, and strive to provide work, healthcare, and education to all citizens," Limbaugh said. Unfortunately, the radio host argued, these policies do not work. He pointed to President Obama's efforts in the past five years, arguing that "all he's done is create massive debt and destroy jobs."
"No government can create jobs, not in the private sector," Limbaugh said. "All they can do is hamper job creation. Now, if the government wants to deregulate and get out of the way, then job creation will take place."
The radio host argued that in capitalism, individuals determine the value of money, work, and various products, so trade is as fair as it can be. The cobbler can offer his shoes at his own price, and so he has an incentive to work. If the government does this, he may lose that incentive.
The pope also called on rich people to share their wealth, Limbaugh noted. But this will not lift the poor out of their condition, he argued.
"Socialism, Marxism, constrains people, it limits people, it prevents people from realizing their potential as human beings," Limbaugh claimed. In America, however, capitalism enables anyone to make their dreams come true, if they work hard, he claimed. "For most of the people in the world, dreams are nothing but that – they start as dreams and end as dreams – and that's why people around the world have sought to come here."