Thursday, August 30, 2007

Be Careful What You Wish For

From Spiked:

Imagine an egalitarian world in which all food is organic and local, the air is free of industrial pollution, and vigorous physical exertion is guaranteed. Sound idyllic?

But hold on… Life expectancy is 30 at most; many children die at or soon after birth; life is constantly lived on the edge of starvation; there are no doctors or dentists or modern toilets. If it is egalitarian it is because everyone is dirt poor, and there is no industrial pollution because there are no factories. Food is organic because there are no pesticides or high technology farming methods. As a result, producing food means long hours of back-breaking physical work which may end up yielding little.

There is – or at least was – such a place. It is called the past. And few of us, it seems, recognise the enormous benefits to humanity of escaping from it. On the contrary, there is a pervasive culture of complaint about the perils of affluence and a common tendency to romanticise the simple life.
This tendency most clearly evinces itself in the patronizing attitude of many residents of the advanced western world to extreme poverty around the globe. A lack of potable water, of a good educational system, of easy access to capital, of strong physical infrastructure, of a transparent legal system and sound government -- in some people's minds these conflate to a paradise -- unless it is they who are living in such misery.

This is why the best thing we can do for the rest of the world -- for peace, prosperity, and justice -- is to do our best to help other nations adopt our free-market, capitalist system of government. For all its myriad flaws, it is the best system there is for delivering from physical wants and needs, and allowing people to pursue happiness as they see fit.

Go read the whole thing.

Hat Tip: Reason blog

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