Thursday, December 21, 2017

Poverty Minus the Meaningless Numbers

Poverty is a major problem around the world, but it is not evenly distributed. Some countries, such as China and Russia, have in recent decades succeeded in raising many of their citizens out of poverty. For example, the real incomes of a majority of Russians have doubled more than once since the beginning of the century, while in China the explosive growth of cities and of manufacturing has improved the fortunes of many millions of former peasants. The result, readily observable, is enviable political stability and widespread optimism and confidence (if not satisfaction) with the overall direction.

In the meantime, in the formerly wealthy but now virtually bankrupt countries of the West, and in the United States especially, homelessness has been steadily increasing, the number of people on public assistance has been setting new records, the opioid epidemic is claiming more victims every day and major cities, such as Chicago and Baltimore, have turned into shooting galleries to such an extent that Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emanuel has recently asked the UN to send in peacekeepers to stop what he has called “a genocide.” The result, again readily observable, is political instability and widespread dissatisfaction with the overall direction, as evidenced by such phenomena as Trump, Brexit, the electoral failure of major political parties in France, Germany, Austria and elsewhere, separatist rumblings in Spain and Italy and the manifest fecklessness of both elected national officials and the unlected EU ones in Brussels.

Continue reading...