NationalPost.com – FP Comment/Nota Bene – From Capitalism’s Triumph By Michael D. Tanner in National Review (Online), Sept 18
24/09/13. By Michael D. Tanner, Special to Financial Post
“Entrepreneurial capitalism takes more people out of poverty than aid.” That statement came not from a tea-party leader or a congressional Republican, but from Bono, singer, celebrity, and global anti-poverty activist, speaking to Georgetown’s Global Social Enterprise Initiative last year.
As we mark the second anniversary of Occupy Wall Street, it is worth recalling just how much Bono is right and OWS, at its anti-capitalist core, is deeply and profoundly wrong.
Throughout most of human history, nearly everyone was poor. Even our wealthiest ancestors enjoyed lower standards of living than ordinary people today.
What was the difference? Capitalism and its offspring, the Industrial Revolution. As Charles Murray explains, “everywhere that capitalism subsequently took hold, national wealth began to increase and poverty began to fall. Everywhere that capitalism didn’t take hold, people remained impoverished. Everywhere that capitalism has been rejected since then, poverty has increased.”
Milton Friedman points out that “the only cases in which the masses have escaped from … grinding poverty … in recorded history are where they have had capitalism and largely free trade. If you want to know where the masses are worst off, it’s exactly in the kind of societies that depart from that.”
And capitalism doesn’t just produce wealth, it creates opportunity. In a capitalist system, an individual’s future is not fixed by caste or hereditary social status. Consider that 80 percent of American millionaires are from the first generation of their family to obtain such wealth.
In fact, many of the earliest critics of capitalism disdained it because it allowed merchants and others to rise above what was considered their natural station.
Capitalism threatened the old social order. And it still does so today.
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