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'Great Divider' could learn from worldwide poverty reduction

By: The Gazette editorial
June 11, 2013 Updated: June 11, 2013 at 7:50 am
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As President Barack Obama wages class warfare, promoting economic policies designed to share Joe the Plumber's wealth, good old-fashioned crass capitalism leaves him in the dust. Worldwide poverty is heading the way of dinosaurs. It's not because of redistribution schemes to transfer wealth away from developed countries. It's because of economic growth inspired and paid for by profits.

Even before Americans elected him president, Obama sought to ease global poverty by taking from the rich and giving to the poor. During his short tenure as a United States senator, Obama initiated only one bill. When Obama introduced the Global Poverty Act of 2007, he wanted government to take $845 billion from Americans and give it to the United Nations for distribution to less successful parts of the world. A version of the bill passed the House but was never funded.

Since then, Obama has tried to establish domestic equality by raising taxes and mandating equal access to the country's limited health care supply. He clearly has no vision of growth; only a Malthusian belief that one person's fortune comes at another's expense.

In a world with a fixed supply of wealth, only redistribution from haves to have-nots can ease human suffering. But, as most defenders of free markets understand, wealth is not fixed. It is created by men and women who are free to invent, buy, sell and trade with minimal interference from governments. Wealth grows when individuals have freedom to spend and invest capital at will. Human interactions protected by the Constitution have made the United States the most economically successful country in history.

The Economist reminds us that Harry Truman decried poverty in his 1949 inaugural address, explaining "more than half the people in the world are living in conditions approaching misery."

Truman and other world leaders did little to ease poverty, but something amazing occurred in the past two decades. More than 1 billion of the world's 7 billion people emerged from extreme poverty between 1990 and 2010.

Cutting extreme poverty in half by 2015 was a target of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals of 2000. Largely considered pie-in-the-sky at the time, the goal was met five years early - despite a lack of funding for Obama's Global Poverty Act.

Global poverty has eased because capitalism has emerged as a dominant force throughout much of the world, just as our country moves in the direction of less-free markets, higher taxes, more regulation and more central control of wealth. Worldwide poverty has eased mostly because of liberalization of markets in China, Russia, Brazil and other countries that learned the hard way the effects of constraining economic activity and international trade.

"The biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalizing markets to let poor people get richer," states The Economist.

The article explains that economic growth accounts for two-thirds of worldwide poverty reduction. In China, responsible for 75 percent of the world's extreme poverty reduction, inequality is soaring. Yet, along with inequality the country enjoys near-elimination of abject poverty and starvation. Not everyone gets rich, yet almost everyone has food, shelter and clothing because a relative few have used market freedom to create great fortunes.

"Most of the credit," the article states, "must go to capitalism and free trade, for they enable economies to grow - and it was growth, principally, that has eased destitution."

That's why The Gazette has opposed President Obama's blatant demands to take from the rich and give to the poor. When the rich get richer, the poor have more work and more wealth.

Few individuals succeed at an expense of the poor. They succeed by creating wealth, which is nothing more than an abundance of goods, services and commodities humans want and need to improve their living conditions.

History and current events tell us unrestrained markets - with freedom to create and control wealth - comprise the best social services network and safety net the world has known.

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