I agree with Mark Perry (an economist who has bought me a beer), of Carpe Diem, that the reduction in the world poverty rate is the most remarkable achievement in human history.
The percentage of the world population living on $1 per day or less has dropped since 1970 from around 26% to just over 5%.
It’s hard to argue with those results. They are inflation-adjusted.
I can think of a couple things that might be easier to argue about regarding those results.
1. I can imagine some folks would say that 5% isn’t good enough.
2. I can imagine that some folks would argue about the cause of those results. I agree with Perry’s explanation as provided by Arthur Brooks: “globalization, free trade and international entrepreneurship.”
I can imagine that some folks would say it was the growth in government and aid. But, for them, I’d ask, what if you’re wrong? As Brooks says:
…if you love the poor, if you are a good Samaritan, you must stand for the free enterprise system, and you must defend it, not just for ourselves but for people around the world. It is the best anti-poverty measure ever invented.
I agree. I could be wrong and I think — for the benefit of the poor — I should keep that in mind and stay open to evidence to the contrary, because whether I’m right or wrong doesn’t amount to a hill of beans.
What is important it what really helps them.
I also think us supporters of free markets often forget this. The opposition paints us as the defenders of the rich, the “1%” and king-like CEOs, while we’re really advocating for the benefit of everyone, including the poor.