Capitalism's global war on poverty

A US research group wants a war on poverty and pollution to match the war on terrorism. The group, the Worldwatch Institute, says the division between rich and poor amounts to global apartheid. bbc

It might surprise some to know that I basically agree with the above statement. However, I wouldn’t agree with any of the policies the Worldwatch institute advocates in order to ‘fix’ this state of affairs.

We have one goal but two visions. We are divided not so much by what kind of world we want but by how we get there.

For instance, Worldwatch points out that governments and semi-government forces in many third world countries war for control of national resources, but NGO's like Worldwatch also oppose any efforts to bring private industry and capitalism into these same countries, which is likely the only thing that will really improve life in the long term for these poverty stricken nations, i.e. foreign investment.

My main disagreement with the worldview of many of these NGO's is that the solutions they promote are really just warmed over international welfare programs based on the same old half-baked marxist blather.

Daniel Bitler from the World Wildlife Fund made it clear what sustainable development really means to committed political environmentalists. "Sustainable development is setting the necessary social and ecological limits to economic growth," he declared. In other words, poor people like Issac and his children should not aspire to the opportunities and wealth enjoyed by the citizens of developed countries. This vision is based on the false Malthusian notion that the world's resources are limited, condemning a large portion of the world's people to misery and poverty in perpetuity.

As I outlined in a previous post, there are a variety of factors that keep some countries poor. Lack of free markets, property rights, and individual freedom is usually number one on the list. The answer to global poverty is not redistribution of global wealth in the name of equality, which would in fact result in untold misery to both rich and poor as the economic engines of western countries are plunged into depression, but capitalism and free markets. It took 200 years for the United States to 'get rich' as it were, and it wasn't part of a central plan. It was a convergence of historical precedents carried down through western civilization: secure property rights and rule of law.

What's intriguing to me is the time warp, ideologically, that liberal activists seem to be stuck in. Bemoaning American over-consumption, demanding that the poorest countries be given our wealth, while insisting that trade is exploitation. Their proposals defy common sense and nature. They also sound more like the low level communist literature of the thirties than of modern think tanks and politicians.

The people of the third world deserve freedom and prosperity. There is in fact no good reason that Zimbabwe or Haiti cannot be a rich country except for the type of burdens created by their own governments. Which are in fact political obstacles, not economic ones. Do we help them to develop the tools to create wealth or do we keep them in an apartheid state of welfare subservience by insisting that the only solution to poverty is international socialism?

Destroy poverty: let capitalism do its job.

Posted by Eric Simonson at November 8, 2004 11:07 PM