The Big Lie About Poverty

This story is exclusive content for The Western Journal subscribers.

In just a few years, extreme poverty — the most severe form of poverty in which people are unable to meet their most basic needs — could all but disappear from across the world.

That is, as long as the left accepts the reason for it.

Researchers Ronald Bailey and Marian L. Tupy detailed the approaching extinction in the 2020 book Ten Global Trends Every Smart Person Should Know.

According to the couple, the majority of our ancestors lived and died in abject poverty for most of history. After many centuries, things began to improve.


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In 1820, 84 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty. By 1910 that number had dropped to 66 percent, and by 1950 it was 55 percent.

As the world entered the 21st century, the unbelievable happened. In 2018, only 8.6 percent of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty.

The United Nations believes extreme poverty could be virtually eliminated by 2030.

So what prompted this abrupt turn?

Do you support capitalism?

Around the same time, towards the end of the 18th century, industrial capitalism emerged. According to the German historian Rainer Zitelmann, this was no coincidence.

Indeed, in an article for Forbes, Zitelmann credited this era of capitalism with increasing global life expectancy, reducing world hunger, and improving global environmental conditions.

“Capitalism is not the problem, as anti-capitalists tell us,” wrote Zitelmann. “In fact, it is capitalism that has very successfully solved many of the world’s most serious problems over the past two centuries.”

Indeed, despite these many advances and their obvious associations with capitalism, many on the left have lamented the Industrial Revolution and the tidal wave of free markets that followed. In her view, this period saw a worrying rise in wealth inequality.

To this day, even the left’s brightest stars lament capitalism. Take Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example. AOC once claimed that capitalism is “not a redeemable system in which we can partake in order to achieve prosperity and peace for the vast majority of people.”


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While the historical record of the past 200 years clearly proves that capitalism works for “the vast majority of people,” one need not refer to history to refute AOC’s claim. Even today, one need only point to the poorest countries. As it turns out, these are the countries with the least amount of economic freedom.

World Population Review finds that the following 10 countries have the highest rates of poverty in the world:

  1. South Sudan: 82.30 percent
  2. Equatorial Guinea: 76.80 percent
  3. Madagascar: 70.70 percent
  4. Guinea-Bissau: 69.30 percent
  5. Eritrea: 69.00 percent
  6. Sao Tome and Principe: 66.70 percent
  7. Burundi: 64.90 percent
  8. Democratic Republic of the Congo: 63.90 percent
  9. Central African Republic: 62.00 percent
  10. Guatemala: 59.30 percent

Eight of those 10 countries rank on the Heritage Foundation’s 2022 Index of Economic Freedom as either “largely unfree” or “oppressed,” a measure of how much control individuals have over (in other words, a measure of) their own work and property how capitalist every country is country is). The two outliers, Guatemala and Sao Tome and Principe, rank in the bottom half of the countries that are moderately free.

Countries classified as “free” and “mostly free” have far lower poverty rates.

The only notable exception to this rule is the communist country of China, which, despite being listed as one of the most economically oppressed countries, also has one of the lowest poverty rates.

Anti-capitalists shouldn’t necessarily see this as a win – although the Chinese Communist Party has exercised ownership of the means of production, it has encouraged private enterprise and used free markets to boost the economy since the 1990s.

The US does reasonably well on both its poverty rate – 18 percent – and its economic freedom – “mostly free”. However, it could be better if private companies and individuals were given even more freedom.

But Democrats like AOC and even President Joe Biden appear to be actively promoting and pursuing policies that further restrict those freedoms through regulation, taxes and other means.

In an interview with The Western Journal, Zitelmann said US citizens should avoid complacency. If freedom is not defended, it can disappear in the blink of an eye.

Venezuela, for example, was once a democracy with one of the highest standards of living in the world thanks to its wealth of valuable resources. Then came the socialists, who in a few years ” drove the country into the abyss and robbed it of its liberty and prosperity”.

The same happened with Argentina.

“100 years ago Argentina was one of the five richest countries in the world. Then came the Peronists with their redistribution policy, and no country has declined as much in 100 years as Argentina,” wrote Zitelmann.

“In other words, there’s no guarantee a rich country will stay rich, not even the US.” The Big Lie About Poverty

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