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Poverty is being overcome, and the UN responds with a classic straw man

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The great news is that poverty is in retreat almost everywhere.  Geoffrey Lean reports on a study from Oxford University’s Poverty and Human Development Initiative which suggests that 11 of the 22 developing countries it studied will have eradicated poverty within two decades, with others following at a slower pace.  The UN Human Development Report finds that governments will have halved the share of the world’s population living in poverty between 1990 and 2015, three years earlier than expected.  This is brilliant news.  It means, among other things, that every day 12,000 fewer children under the age of five now die than in 1990.  Now from the UN comes the straw man.

The UN report, which uses the Oxford research, concludes that the answers “challenge preconceived and prescriptive approaches” of both Left and Right, confounding both “collectivist, centrally managed precepts” and “unfettered liberalization”.  The most successful countries seem to have drawn from opposing philosophies. All, says the UN, have embraced markets and increased trade. Bangladesh, for example, has doubled its total share of world trade – and increased its proportion of global textile exports sixfold – over the last two decades. Yet they have all also had “a strong, proactive state” and devoted particular attention to health and education.

No.  The Right were correct, and it was through economic liberalism, not state planning or direction, that these advances have been made.  There was no “unfettered liberalization” that opposed attention being devoted to health and education.  On the contrary, part of the point of achieving wealth through trade and markets is to have funds available for things like health and education.  What the Right opposed was state ownership of industry and state direction of the economy by central planning.  This is a straw man set up by the UN body so they can claim that neither the Left nor the Right approach was correct.  They are wrong: the Right approach of market liberalization has been successful.


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