Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Globalization and Capitalism Work

Reason's Ronald Bailey tells us that "The Poor May Not Be Getting Richer But they are living longer, eating better, and learning to read" and cites as evidence a study by World Bank economist Charles Kenny entitled "Why Are We Worried About Income? Nearly Everything that Matters is Converging".

But you'd never think it from the Anti-Capitalist, Anti-American, and Anti-Globalization factions out there (and that covers what - 98% of the world's policy "experts"?) who decry all that is going on in the world and are crying for tariffs to save jobs from outsorcing, taxes to feed the poor, and more regulation of corporate "greed" to compensate for the horrors of living in today's "tough times".

How can these people maintain this position with a straight face? Simple. Our standards have changed. The very successes that capitalism has brought about now work to empower its enemies, as they point to the growing gap in wealth between the "haves" and "have nots". In appealing to people's base emotion of envy, these people miss the fact that, for all the problems we have, we live in the greatest period of global prosperity that has ever been.

Kenny's study points out that life expectancy and infant mortality rates in developing countries have closed the gap with developed countries, they have grown closer in literacy rates and enrollment in primary schools, the percentage of children in the workforce has dropped worldwide, female literacy has approached that of males, and any number of a host of other objective measures have improved.

So, as capitalism and globalization have triumphed, the quality of life of the world's poorest have improved dramatically. Remember this the next time someone decries the capitalist system or globalization for creating disparity in wealth. Ask them to tell you honestly if they think it better that we achieve equality of income or if it is better to have some fantastically rich (and make no mistake, we in America and Europe - by historical standards - are on average fantastically rich) and the baseline quality of life for the poorest among us be better than it has been at any point in human history.


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