A Billion People Out of Poverty
Excerpt from Steven Pinker's Enlightenment Now: The Case for Reason, Science, Humanism, and Progress
News headline you won't see today:
You also didn't see it each day for the last 25 years, on each day of which it was also true. Courtesy of:
The point of calling attention to progress is not self-congratulation but identifying the causes so we can do more of what works… So what is the world doing right?
Market economies, in addition to reaping the benefits of specialization and providing incentives for people to produce things that other people want, solve the problem of coordinating the efforts of hundreds of millions of people by using prices to propagate the information about need and availability far and wide, a computational problem that no planner is brilliant enough to solve from a central bureau…
Though intellectuals are apt to do a spit take when they read a defense of capitalism, its economic benefits are so obvious that they don't need to be shown with numbers. They can literally be seen from space. A satellite photograph of Korea showing the capitalist South aglow in light and the Communist North a pit of darkness vividly illustrates the contrast in the wealth-generating capability between two economic systems, holding geography, history, and culture constant…
[Another] cause is globalization, in particular the explosion in trade made possible by container ships and jet airplanes and by the liberalization of tariffs and other barriers to investment and trade… Notwithstanding the horror that the word elicits in many parts of the political spectrum, globalization, development analysts agree, has been a bonanza for the poor. “Some argue that globalization is a neoliberal conspiracy designed to enrich a very few at the expense of the many. If so, that conspiracy was a disastrous failure or at least, it helped more than a billion people as an unintended consequence. If only unintended consequences always worked so favorably.”
See also this dispatch from, goodness, almost exactly ten years ago: Eat the Rich: Chipping Away at One of the Worst Ideas of All Time.