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21 March 2013

Daniel Finn on Traveling to the Conclave (or not)

 Via PrayTell blog (neat stuff):
 Q. Pope Francis encouraged Argentinians not to spend money to come to his inauguration Mass, but to give the money instead to the poor. This request seems to have powerful symbolic value. But as an economist and ethicist, what do you think of this? Does this really help the poor? Or does it impede overall economic flourishing and the creation of wealth for those who work in the travel industry and in tourism in Rome? 
A. Pope Francis encouraged Argentinians not to spend money to come to his inauguration Mass, but to give the money instead to the poor. Leaving aside the important ethical issues here, what would be the economic effects of this suggestion?Let’s assume that 100 people take his advice and stay home instead of spending $2000 for the round trip flight and, say, another $1000 for a few days of food and lodging in Rome. That’s $300,000 that would go to the poor in Argentina. This would represent a lot of meals for the homeless, probably the sort of assistance the Pope has in mind. It would not, of course, alter the number of persons in poverty in the nation, although if magically every one of the hundred gave to the same organization to cover a comprehensive program, a few families might over several years get the broad set of services necessary to emerge from poverty.

Read the rest here.

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