80% of world poverty already eliminated in our lifetimes
Things really are getting better. We often feel the downside of globalization. This is one of the big upsides.
Good news kind of sneaks up on you. The problem that was impossible to solve just is overtaken by events. This happened recently to our energy crisis in the U.S.
The Economist ran an interesting article on the same subject a few months ago. Economic growth banishes poverty. Most of the reduction in poverty came from China and India. Those populations are so enormous that they carry lots of weight. They still are not free markets in the sense we use the term, but they relaxed the state controls and things got better. Economic reforms in China cut the poverty rate from 84% back in the bad old days to only 10% now. (Of course, we have to point out here that we are talking real poverty. By American standards, most Chinese still live in poverty.)
It seemed impossible a generation ago. Experts called for all sorts of radical redistribution and aid schemes. We didn't need those things. In fact, I bet if we had enacted all that we would be much worse off today. If aid worked, Tanzania would be richer than Singapore.
If we can keep growth going, we will eliminate absolute poverty within a few decades. Of course, we will redefine the problem by then. It would be a great world success if the world's poor could enjoy a standard of living similar to the U.S. poverty line. That might be a little farther down the road.
Looking for the roots of poverty is not always much use. Poverty was the way of all the world until a couple hundred years ago. Our ancestors from the dawn of history until that time lived in what today would be appalling poverty. Even the "rich" were poor by today's standards. Louis xiv had a beautiful palace with lots of servants, but he didn't enjoy the physical comfort that a lower middle class American can command today, not to mention his lack decent medical care or even an adequate toilet. He soaked up much of the wealth of one of the wealthiest countries in the world and still lived like shit. The question is not why some people are still poor, but why so many no longer are.Posted by Christine & John at December 31, 2013 12:42 PM