It should come as heartening news that 2004 was one of the most prosperous years in history. Not because the U.S. economy grew by a solid 4.3 percent, but because developing countries experienced an explosive 6.1 percent economic growth.I wouldn't have been surprised to see this in the Wall Street Journal, but in the San Francisco Chronicle? A paper published in one of the last holdouts of Leftist Socialism? Maybe there's hope yet.
According to a recent study by the World Bank, 2004's growth reflected "an expansion without precedent over the past 30 years." Equally encouraging, the report notes that "the rapid growth of developing economies ... has produced a spectacular, if not historic, fall in poverty."
Amazingly, the World Bank report did not get much coverage in our mainstream media. It seems the press was more interested in covering the evils of globalization than in taking notice of how world trade -- which grew by an astounding 10.2 percent this year -- is driving economic growth.
When Americans do hear about the World Bank, it's usually because an unruly mob is protesting against it. The protesters are long on rhetoric but short on facts.
But it's not just protesters who are misguided. Many of our nation's teachers also don't realize why poverty in developing countries is declining at such a rapid rate. Far too often, teachers are uneasy when they realize that free markets are the best way to help those in poverty.
For example, most Americans would be surprised to learn that millions of poor people who live on less than $1 per day would be better off if they could go into debt. [...]
It is undeniable that 2004 was a great year for the poor. The World Bank's prediction that global poverty will continue plummeting is particularly encouraging. But if we are ever to wipe poverty from the face of the Earth, our next generation of leaders must first understand what makes the global economy tick -- the fundamental relationship between free trade and economic growth.
Monday, January 03, 2005
The Poor Get Richer
I almost fell over when I read the title of a recent San Francisco Chronicle online (sfgate.com) article: Ignorance shrouds capitalism's profound impact on reducing poverty. Here are some excerpts: