Tuesday, February 24, 2009

A billion out of poverty

Not to beat the dead horse of unfettered free markets (wow, did I mangle a metaphor, or what), but Joe Rightwing is still looking on Constitution Avenue, not on Wall Street, for the crooks who caused the global financial crisis. In the years since Reagan and Thatcher, Joe brays, a billion people have been lifted from poverty. A triumph of free-market capitalism! Let’s overlook the little matter of a worldwide banking crisis!

The purpose of today’s blog is just to point to one fact: Most of the billion who recently waved bye-bye to poverty are Chinese.

That’s right. Not citizens of a market democracy, not denizens of the sub-Saharan developing world, not even Russians enduring the Al Capone style pre-capitalism we Americans got through eighty years ago. Chinese. Chinese who live in the most regulated, government-owns-everything nation on Earth.

Not that I’d want to live there. And I don't begrudge. Just making a point. What do you say to that, Joe?

And oh, by the way, the number of U.S. residents living in poverty rose from about 23 million in 1973 to 36.5 million in 2006. The percent of Americans in poverty has remained constant at 12.3 percent over the same interval. Write to me if you’re curious about source for these data.

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