Take a Bow, Capitalism

A fortune-teller studied the hand of a young man and told him, “You will be quite poor and very unhappy until you are 37 years old.” The youth said, “Then will I become rich and happy?” The palm reader replied, “No, you will still be poor, but you’ll be used to it by then.”
One thing we are used to when it comes to poverty is the hopeless situation of the third-world poor – that war, disease, illiteracy, etc. will forever doom them to a life of bare existence.  (As a matter of fact, according to a  recent survey – ninety-five percent of Canadians believe that over the last quarter century, worldwide poverty has not only increased, but two out of three believe it has doubled).  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  As Steven Radelet writes in his book, The Great Surge: The Amazing Ascent Of The Developing World,

“Those in the media are a bit like vultures, feasting on war, scandal and disaster.  Turn on the news, and you see Syrian refugees, Volkswagen corruption, California forest fires, and so on.  Yet perhaps the most important thing that is happening remains unreported. And what is it?  It’s this.  We are living in a time of the greatest progress of the global poor in the history of the world.  Never before have the living conditions and future prospects of so many poor changed so rapidly and dramatically.”

Here are some third-world facts and figures:

● In the past 25 years, the extreme poverty rate has been cut by more than fifty percent, with now over one billion people no longer economically characterized as such.

● In the past 25 years, the number of children who die before age five has plummeted.  In 1990, the total was 12 million a year, today it is down to four million a year.

● In the past 25 years, the number of young girls who are now attending school and receiving an education has more than doubled, going from under 40% to over 80%.

✓Note – One off-shoot of this rise has been a drop in third-world birthrates.  For instance, in Bangladesh, women who once averaged six children each are now down to three; knowing that those to whom they give birth are now more likely to both survive and thrive.

And to whom does credit go for this dramatic reverse?  “Entrepreneurial capitalism has taken far more third-world people out of poverty than that of anything else.”  This quote is not from a right-wing conservative, but from Bono (singer, celebrity, and global anti–poverty activist).  He made it while speaking at the Global Social  Initiative Summit at Georgetown University.  Bono further added that if free-enterprise was adopted by all third-world countries, over the next twenty-five years the remaining one billion poor could also be lifted out of their current extreme poverty state.

The bottom line?  Jesus was the perfect earthly example of this.  He helped run a small wood-working business in Nazareth; whose income from building and selling quality crafted products supported he and the family.