"ON POVERT AND POVERTY TRAPS"
Tim Worstall posted (21st September) on the Adam Institute Blog HERE
This is a thought provoking, 5 paragraph article on Poverty Traps by Tim Worstall, which I highly recommended, both as a post and as a worth your while Blog site.
“Three hundred years ago all countries were poor. Now some countries are not poor and some countries still are. It’s thus logically certain that it is possible to escape whatever poverty traps there are. For some places have done it. It’s also equally true that there must be things that prevent that economic growth from happening for some places haven’t had that economic growth. Thus we can assert, without possibility of contradiction, that sure, there are poverty traps but there’s nothing inevitable about them at all. It is possible to escape for some have done so.”
Poverty has long been with the human race, and so has the comparative well-off status of a minority of every population in history.
Some leftist political theorists argue that little has changed since early society. Marx called it the “class struggle” and advocated the radical changes he considered were necessary for affluent economies to be created by design that would bring about equality. He (and Engels) steadfastly refused to provide details of the design of the societies that would bring the promised equality about, other than the seizure of power by the proletariat in violent revolution. Lenin transcribed that blank sheet into the necessity of an armed-vanguard of the proletariat to enforce the will of the dispossessed against the violent resistance of the bourgeosie. Recent history has shown the awesome consequences of the implementation of the schemes of Marx, Engels, Lenin, Stalin, Mao, Kim, and assorted Eastern Europeans apparachicks, Third World “Liberators” - all dictators, and others.
The facts are evident. For almost almost all human history per capita incomes remained stubbornly below the rough equivalent of $1 a day per person. Some social scientists disregard these facts and find in their versions of the deep past of human history, mandatory altruism, equality (women included?), and all living within the sustainable limits of the enironment, as the common-lot of humanity, until, that is, the rise of per capita incomes in a smallish corner of North-West Europe from the 17th-18th century, driven by the re-appearance of early-types of market transactions that had largely disappeared in the collapse of the Western European Roman Empire in the 5th century and the triumph of barbarian warlords, later evolving into feudalism.
From this period in the late 15th century, per capita incomes began to rise comparatively, in historical terms, at first slowly, three centuries later, steadily and cumulatively doubling. They continued to do so as market relations spread, creating an unprecedented rise in living standards. Wealth spread unequally up and down the social scale, as before, but for the universal poverty-stricken majority the evolutionary process produced the richest majority of millions that had never been experienced on earth before, since the speciation of the Apes from a common ancestor, to what became eventually, c.200,000 years ago, the Homo sapiens, who now dominate the Earth.
Moreover, billions of humans are now experiencing living standards never before experienced in terms of education, health standards, daily food consumption, high levels of the consumption of necessaries, and of conveniences, longer life spans, mobility across the planet, spending choices and such like. If you have lived through three generations of your family you know what real austerity meant compared to your grandchildren.
Of course, these affects are unequally spread, but the point is that they are spreading across the board at an historically astonishing rate, including within the life-times of those still in poverty (consider China, India, Brazil and parts of Africa untouched hitherto by freer markets and public spending previously diverted to endemic corruption).
Of course, its not all roses, sweetness and light, and freedom from fear and insecurity, let alone freedom from endemic fanaticism and plain ignorance. There is still a long way to go; hundreds of millions are still trapped in appalling levels of poverty, insecurity, persecution, untreated diseases, local wars, injustice, the absence of freedom in place of slavery, corruption, and such like.
This makes the elimination of poverty the main priority. I am convinced for all these reasons that poverty is the most important target for this and the next century, even more important than the hopeless elimination of inequality by confiscatory destruction, inevitably by violence, of the so-called 1 per cent - it'll spread much lower down the incomes scales.
Those tens of thousands of desperately poor migrants from the impoverished and war-torn South who seek a preferred life among the ‘poor’ of the rich countries, put our relative ‘poverty’ into perspective. Few poor in the rich countries risk their lives to migrate to the poor countries.
Dealing with poverty is far more important than inequality.
Tim Worstall makes the point eloquently, as per usual.