Like any vocation, capitalism is a pyramid, with a few successful people at the top. It is like an army or a ship, where there is one commander. It is similar to sports and entertainment. Just as there is only one CEO at a company, there is only one Kobe Bryant and one Taylor Swift. There is only one Pope. By definition, success reflects inequality – in aspiration, talent, effort and luck. Equality of opportunity is a worthy goal. Equality in outcomes is not possible. It cannot be otherwise. Those on the left who scream loudest about inequality are themselves often at the pinnacle of a career – a success they would not have had in a flat society.
“Inequality” is a political “hot-button” word. It plays well in societies addicted to sound-bites and with people who lack perspective. What exactly do the words “inequality” and “redistribution,” and the phrase “fairness economy” really mean? Humpty Dumpty provided an answer when he said to Alice, “When I use a word it means exactly what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” Humpty Dumpty was referring to “glory,” but one may substitute any number of words whose definitions, in their ambiguity, are convenient for hedging politicians and moral relativists.
We must remember democratic capitalism has, over time, done more to reduce poverty than any other economic system, form of government, religion or church, including the Catholic Church. Two years ago, The Economist estimated that one billion people had been removed from the ranks of extreme poverty over the previous twenty years because of trade and free-market capitalism. (Extreme poverty, as measured by the World Bank, refers to those living on less than $1.25 per day.) In 2011, researchers at the Brookings Institute concluded that “…the world – even Sub-Saharan Africa – is in the midst of rapid poverty reduction.” They credited economic growth brought on by globalization. The collapse of the Soviet Union ushered in better standards of living for millions of East Europeans. China’s incorporation of capitalist ideas into Communism has, according to researchers at Yale, recorded “great feats in poverty reduction.”
Leave a Reply