Monday, January 02, 2006

The Relevance of Poverty

A favorite lie of the left when trying to debunk the factually and philosophically proven merits of freedom and capitalism is too point to wealth discrepancies "the gap between the haves and the have nots is increasing" or "how can a society be considered just when the gap between rich and poor is ever widening?" Both are out of context representations of justice and fairness.

If discrepancies in wages are seen to be a mark of corruption and unfairness then by this measure of justice North Korea is more just than South Korea and China is more progressive than Hong Kong. Is this what the left is really saying? The answer is yes.

Instead a nation’s fairness is objectively measured by its access to opportunity. A nation which bars arbitrary discrimination and coercion is a just nation.

Another mistake of this lie—that fairness is based ending wage discrepancies—is the fact poverty is relative! For instance would you rather be lower middle class in Alberta or lower middle class in New Dehli? The Albertan would have clean water, heat, a bed, an old car, basic cable, regular ground beef—as opposed to extra lean—and generic beer meanwhile in New Dehli poverty means no education, lack of clean drinking water, and possible starvation. With these differences in mind doesn’t it seem juvenile and intellectually shallow to typify lower wage earners as being poor in North America? Or even more so; what does it mean to be poor? Does it mean to live without satellite television or does it mean to live without clean water?

And with this in mind it should be noted that all socialist attempts at limiting earning discrepancies—rent control, unionization, affirmative action…-- in fact only succeed in limiting opportunity and as a consequence reduce the overall living conditions of the masses (see France). More poignantly who benefits more from innovation; the innovator or the masses? Sure Ford was rich beyond anyone’s wildest imagination but because of his abilities mankind was free for the first time to travel cheaply. Who benefited the most from the invention of the forklift? How about the guy who increased his ability to lift pallets ten fold and thus his wage increased ten fold based on his ability to operate a forklift. This is why a Chinese laborer is paid ten cents an hour to dig a hole with a rudimentary pick while the Canadian makes 30 bucks an hour using a bacco to dig holes. The bacco increased his efficiency by a thousand percent! The average man is the biggest recipient of innovation. Sure the innovator is rewarded handsomely for his efforts, but his efforts raise the overall living and earning conditions of society as a whole—something very hard to quantify with money.


At 3:31 PM, Blogger The Reclusive Antiquarian said...

“The inherent vice of capitalism is the unequal sharing of blessings; the inherent virtue of socialism is the equal sharing of miseries.” - Winston Churchill

Sort of related, The Economist had an interesting article "Why the rich must get richer" which looked at how people tend to view discrepancies in income and prosperity.


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