A Paltry Improvement

If you’re so rich, why are you so ... so much against the system in which you grew rich?

That is a legitimate question when you talk with certain people. People like George Soros, billionaire. And Ted Turner, billionaire. And Warren Buffet, billionaire. And Bill Gates, billionaire. And various movie stars, millionaires.

The list of such people is long. They have made a lot of money. They did so because they made the most of our capitalist system. Now that they have the money they bitch about that system.

Each of the men above swipes at the system, badmouths it. Movie stars berate it and kiss Castro’s hem. Soros seems to hate the system. So does Turner. And last week Bill Gates told a group of big time economists that capitalism is failing much of the world. I hope they are not so blind as him.

Bill Gates, can you not see the billions - yes billions - of poor people who have seen their condition improve because of capitalism? Do you not see that it is capitalism that has delivered all those Asians and Chinese to Microsoft’s doorstep? I bet you don’t sell much in Cuba and North Korea.

These men look at the world’s poor and destitute. And they conclude it is capitalism that causes the poverty and misery. It makes a lot more sense to blame the lack of capitalism for the poverty.

It makes more sense because the poorest people tend to live in the parts of the world where there is the least capitalism. It makes more sense because billions of dollars of aid over 60 years has failed to lift people from poverty.

It makes more sense because communism failed to lift people from poverty. Or if it did - before it collapsed - it did so in meager fashion. Even though the communists felt obliged to slaughter millions in vain to try to make their dismal system work.

Handouts did not work. Communism - forced sharing - did not work. Heavy socialism did not work. If you don’t believe this, read up on the history of India and China through the 20th century.

As India and China adopted more capitalist and free market ideas, voila, their people began to prosper. As many African nations spurned such ideas, their people wallowed ever deeper in the muck of extreme poverty.

There is more capitalism in the world today than ever. And the percentage of the desperately poor in the world has never been lower. People who love to criticize capitalism cry “But there are a billion people living on less than $1 a day!” Yes, there are. Or there were in 2004. But in 1990 there were 1.25 billion.

That may seem like a paltry improvement. It is not so paltry when you add another 1.3 billion. That was the growth of the world’s population in those years. In other words, the number of people in the world grew by 1.3 billion. While the number of the most desperately poor declined.

That sort of trend has never occurred in the history of humanity. What has brought it about? It was not socialism. Anyone can see that. It was not communism. It certainly was not handouts from the UN and developed countries.

Psssst. It was filthy old capitalism. Economic freedom. The freedom to own property and to start businesses. The freedom to make money.

China is a sterling example of this. The communists operated thousands of collective farms. They regulated markets. They ordered armies of farm workers and buyers and sellers to do the government’s bidding. Still, millions of their people starved. So they finally tossed in the towel. They let farmers grow food on their own plots and sell what they grew. That simple step solved the problem millions of communists, struggling with it for 50 years, could not. It ended the food shortages.

There is a system that created billions of customers for Turner’s networks. And for Buffet’s insurance. And for Gates’ software. And for Soros’s financial instruments. And for the stars’ movies and TV shows. That system is capitalism.

That secret needs to be passed along. Starting at the top, evidently.

And maybe we should try to plant a revolutionary idea in the minds of these guys: Use your billions. And use your influence. To promote capitalism. That will help more poor folks than anything else you can find or do.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com

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