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If You Hate Poverty, You Should Love Capitalism

Nelson Mandela once famously said, “poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid it is man made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.”

He has the second sentence right – but the first couldn’t be further from the truth. Poverty is hardly something inflicted on others, but rather it’s the natural state of mankind. If you do nothing, you will be poor – simple as that.

For most of human history, people lived in abject poverty. And how could they not? The level of wealth we enjoy today is the result of thousands of years of backbreaking work, as each generation builds upon that of the past. Tens of billions of humans have walked this planet before us, and dirt poverty was all they knew. Examining why today is such an exception to that rule is far more fascinating. What systems, policies, and technologies allowed this anomaly?

Quite simply: capitalism.

If you though that capitalism was all about greed, you’re partially right, but intentions and results are seldom the same. Even if socialists have better intentions, better intentions don’t make a better economic system. The world’s dramatic reduction in poverty begins not at a time when there was some random surge in altruism, but rather when the world began to embrace economic freedom and free market capitalism.

But how? Allow American Enterprise Institute President Arthur Brookes to explain below:

And reductions in poverty are hardly the only benefit of capitalism. It’s generally socialist and communist governments that tend to be authoritarian. Those same governments are no friends of economic freedom. And for that reason, the world’s rise in economic freedom also coincides with a decline in mass killings of civilians by governments.

If liberals care about the poor, why do they have such a favorable view of socialism? I suppose they’re more interested in what sounds good than what actually works.



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