Tuesday, January 02, 2007


Thomas Sowell wrote in a recent column:
People in the media, in academia and among the intelligentsia in general who are obsessed with "disparities" in income and wealth usually show not the slightest interest in how that income and wealth were produced in the first place.

They are hot to redistribute the existing income and wealth but seem wholly unaware that how you do that today can affect how much income and wealth will be produced tomorrow. Any number of schemes for redistributing wealth have ended up redistributing poverty in a number of countries.

"Progressives" in the media and among academics and intellectuals claim to be interested in ending poverty but the production of more output is the only way to end poverty for millions of people.

It not only can be done, it has already been done in many countries, for all countries were once very poor by today's standards. But most self-styled "progressives" show virtually zero interest in economic history or in economics in general.
Read the entire essay. Sowell is absolutely correct. As I have said multiple times, poverty has a cure. But for the left--those "progressives" that Sowell identifies, to embrace that cure would require letting go their death-grip on an ideology whose economic redistribution plans have repeatedly been shown to be catastrophically ineffective and oppressive in the real world.

Indeed, their "progressive" ideology has, in fact, caused all the societies which believed in it to regress economically and politically; causing misery and death for many millions of souls.

If trillion of dollars in investment and aid hasn't been able to raise economic output in such countries, then what can? It turns out that democratic institutions and economic freedom have been shown to be the key determinants of growth and have "a positive influence on economic growth, while foreign aid does not."

In other words the alleviation of poverty is directly linked to economic freedom. The more liberty; the more people are free to pursue their own happiness, the less poverty.

Additionally, economic liberty and democracy together is far more effective than democracy alone in restraining nations from going to war.

The freest economies have a per-capita income of $29,219, more than twice that of the "mostly free" at $12,839, and more than four times that of the "mostly unfree."

It is economic freedom that is the true cure for poverty. Not taxes. Not regulation. Not government control of the economy and redistribution of wealth; but capitalism. And, it is important to note that economic freedom is unachievable without political freedom. That is the link between poverty and governance. It is not enough to have a superficial form of democracy like the Palestinians, Iranians or the Venezuelans. The proof of a free country is more than just getting to vote for various thugs and criminals once in a while. It is in being able to pursue your own, individual goals and happiness freely without interference or contrary demands from the state.

Programs that originate with the "best of intentions" end up doing exactly the opposite of what was intended. Yet, many people are so ideologically committed to one way of thinking that they not only refuse to change, but keep pouring money into programs that can be shown to actively harm the people they are meant to help--encouraging dependence rather than autonomy; a sense of entitlement, rather than a sense of personal accomplishment; and reinforcing stereotypes they were meant to end.

What makes matters worse is that the "champions of the poor and oppressed" (as progressives of the left like to think of themselves) then virtually demonize anyone who suggests an alternate strategy-- even when that strategy has been proven to work.

We see this time and again in their portrayal of Republicans as people who "hate the poor" or as racists, whenever they suggest that pouring money into some programs has not worked or even diminished the problem of poverty. The radical idea that maybe there may be other solutions that encourage independence and self-sufficiency are reflexly deemed as insulting, demeaning, or damaging to the self-esteem and feelingz of the poor.

Such programs are basically all show and no substance. They make the people who propose and maintain them feel good, but do little to change the underlying causes of poverty and, in fact, reinforce the dynamics that perpetuate it.

The true believers of the political left become hysterical and incapable of reasonable discussion at this point; and psychologically it is apparent that their beliefs on this subject serves an intense psychological need. They need to portray their enemies as racist, sexist etc. because their demonstrable behavior often belies their own glorious rhetoric.

Thus, it is often the case that the "champions of gays" will gleefully and deliberately "out" gay Republican who prefer anonymity; or call sucessful black people "uncle toms" because they are Republicans and not Democrats. Basically, anyone who sucessfully escapes the pit of poverty and the left's propaganda and begins to think for themselves outside the leftist/progressive box automatically become gender or race "traitors".

This is a very convenient psychological ploy that prevents these progressives from ever having to acknowledge their own innermost prejudices and biases, and hence they can easily convince themselves that their own racist, sexist behavior is appropriate--or even serves some "higher good". In the psychiatry business, we refer to this psychological maneuver as "projection". It requires considerable self-deception and this is usually achieved by "talking the talk" of equality, but "walking the walk" of egalitarianism.

In no time, "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness" has morphed into "from each according to his abilities to each according to his needs".

"From each according to their ability blah blah blah.." has NEVER worked anywhere it has been tried. The only result has been dragging everyone down to the level of poverty and misery and keeping them there. There are many people --both Democrats and Republicans-- who genuinely want to end racism and poverty. Many sincerely want to help the poor to have better lives. So, the question is: why not go with what works, instead of what doesn't and has never worked?

As I have said repeatedly on this blog, poverty has a cure--but it is not in the psychologically devastating social programs that promote victimhood and encourage a politically correct version of racism. It is not even more "compassionate" and condescending social programs that artificially encourage "self-esteem" or promote "Black history" or "Gay pride" or "Women's studies"; or an endless array of affirmative action programs. Nor is the solution to continue to pour $$trillions into some sort of quagmirish"war on poverty".

The cure is economic opportunity. The solution is capitalism.

In a post titled "Capitalism is Good For the Soul" I said:
One cannot escape noticing that the intellectual trend in the West is to continually bash capitalism, business, and free trade; while simultaneously enjoying the benefits of them.

Our academics rail against business. Our government constantly seeks to control it. Our youth are propagandized to death about its evils. Popular culture refrains from painting Islamofascists as the villians in movies out of political correctness, but does not hesitate to make big businessmen evil and grandiose.

One harmful result of this sorry situation is that there are few people--even among those who stalwartly defend the free market, who understand and appreciate the essential morality of capitalism.

The foundation of capitalism is human freedom in its most classical, liberal tradition.

Contrary to the many articles and books written about it through history by economists and scholars, capitalism's incredible production of wealth is only a side-effect that occurs when political freedom is present. It has been argued, and I agree, that both captialism and freedom themselves are prerequisites for moral behavior.

The moral case for capitalism is not taught at our universities, nor is it argued much in our culture. In fact it has been more or less universally accepted that systems such as communism and socialism are morally superior to capitalism--even though in practice such systems have led to the death and enslavement of millions, and to those unlucky enough not to die from them, they have led to the most horrible shrinking and wasting of the human soul.

All other economic systems besides capitalism routinely mouth moral platitudes about ending poverty; bringing justice etc. etc. But, the only economic system that delivers is the one constantly accused of causing poverty and injustice--capitalism.

Redistributing wealth--the method of choice promulgated by the political left--is a scam that so-called "progressive" con artists have played for many decades now. What they actually do is redistribute poverty because their goal of the scam, as Sowell brilliantly notes, is to give themselves "sweeping powers to control other people's lives, in the name of curing the ills of society."

Scratch a progressive leftist, and you will see that underneath the caring, compassionate exterior he or she presents to the world, is the con artist/tyrant whose primary desire is control over others.

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