Capitalism improves people’s lives and has changed the world for the better — but you won’t find many leftists admitting it any time soon.
Instead, free-market economics are often blamed for causing the world’s ills, instead of curing them. Take one look at how close openly socialist Bernie Sanders came to being the Democrats’ nominee in the last presidential election to see that capitalism is bizarrely demonized instead of celebrated.
It’s the same story in many European countries, while even our neighbors in Mexico appear poised to elect a far-left and socialist-leaning candidate as president on July 1.
“The rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poorer,” is the claim of anti-capitalists everywhere. But is it true?
Not according to the facts. It turns out that worldwide poverty is declining at an incredible rate, and Western-style capitalism is the main reason.
“The speed of poverty alleviation in the last 25 years has been historically unprecedented,” explained the Foundation for Economic Education, a pro-freedom think tank.
“Not only is the proportion of people in poverty at a record low, but, in spite of adding 2 billion to the planet’s population, the overall number of people living in extreme poverty has fallen, too,” FEE continued.
The numbers speak for themselves.
“In 1820, 94 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty,” pointed out Alexander Hammond, a researcher for HumanProgress.org. “In 1990, this figure was 34.8 percent, and in 2015, just 9.6 percent.”
We think of the 1800s as “olden times,” but in the large scheme of history and human events, it really wasn’t that long ago.
Most of human history, if we’re being honest, was marked by poverty and suffering by the vast majority of people on Earth. Lifespans were short and existence was brutal. Death, frustration, and sadness was the norm, not the exception.
Just 200 years ago, almost all of the world’s population was resigned to live in poverty with no way out. There were a handful of elites — mainly the aristocracy — who were able to live relatively well, but even that “luxury” living was rough and uncomfortable by our modern standards.
Then something changed — capitalism spurred advancement, and it wasn’t limited to just the elite.
“In the last quarter century, more than 1.25 billion people escaped extreme poverty. That equates to over 138,000 people being lifted out of poverty every day,” FEE explained. “If it takes you five minutes to read this article, another 480 people will have escaped the shackles of extreme of poverty by the time you finish.”
“In order to help the poorest, consider the impact free-market capitalism has had in the last 200 years in alleviating extreme poverty,” the foundation continued. “The Industrial Revolution turned the once-impoverished Western countries into abundant societies. The new age of globalization, which started around 1980, saw the developing world enter the global economy and resulted in the largest escape from poverty ever recorded.”
To put it simply, the rich may be getting richer … but the poor are also getting richer.
The foundation pointed to India as a prime example of how Western principles and capitalism are accelerating people out of poverty at a rate that is historically unprecedented.
“Since its economic liberalization reforms in 1991, India’s average income has increased by 7.5 percent per year,” FEE explained. “That means that average income has more than tripled over the last quarter century. As wealth increased, the poverty rate in India declined by almost 24 percent.”
“It is the people at the very bottom of the social strata who are getting richer faster,” the foundation summarized.
At a time when it’s in vogue to bash capitalism and embrace disastrous socialism, it’s important to step back and look at the bigger picture.
Life is getting dramatically, measurably better in almost every part of the world, and Western capitalist principles are at the center of that renaissance.
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