In an interview this week, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez complained that the Democratic Party wasn’t sufficiently leftist because it hasn’t embraced her style of socialism. “There are a lot of true believers that we can ‘capitalism’ our way out of poverty,” she complained.
We doubt there are very many such believers remaining in the Democratic Party, given that 70% of those who identify as Democrats now have a positive view of socialism.
To the extent that there are any free-market capitalists left in the Democratic Party, it’s possible that they are true believers because they’ve seen the data, which make it abundantly clear that capitalism has been the greatest anti-poverty program ever conceived by mankind.
The Brookings Institution, a center-left think tank in Washington, D.C., found that, “for the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty.”
The report – which came out more than a year ago – showed that more than 50% of the world’s population lived in households with enough discretionary income to be considered middle class or rich.
More specifically, it found that there were 3.59 billion people in the middle class in 2017, and 200 million who are rich. At the other end, there are 3.2 billion they classify as “vulnerable” and 630 million who are poor.
Based on current trends, over the next decade, the middle-class population will climb by 1.7 billion while the number who are poor or vulnerable will go down by more than 1 billion.
The authors called it “something of enormous global significance” that “is happening almost without notice.” And they are right.
It’s a tipping point. But not the kind of tipping point that the left would ever want to acknowledge.
Meanwhile, other data from the World Bank show that the number of people living in extreme poverty plunged by 1.2 billion, even as the world’s population increased by 2 billion, from 1990 to 2015.
The reason the AOCs and Bernie Sanders of the world want to ignore these trends is because of what’s driving them: Free market capitalism.
The past several decades have seen an increase in economic freedom around the world. The Soviet Union collapsed, China opened up its vast market, trade barriers fell around the world.
The Heritage Foundation, which has been tracking global economic freedom for years with its annual Index of Economic Freedom, says that the global advance of free market capitalism has contributed to a doubling of the size of the world economy.
The index notes that there’s “a robust relationship between improvements in economic freedom and economic growth.”
What’s more, people living in economies rated “free” or “mostly free” have “incomes that are more than twice the average levels in all other countries and more than six times higher than the incomes in ‘repressed’ economies.”
You need only to look at Venezuela to see what happens when a country goes in the other direction – abandoning capitalism in favor of socialism. The animated chart below shows how Venezuela went from one of the richest countries in South America to the absolute poorest … after it embraced the kind of socialist policies AOC and Sanders want to impose here.
Yet despite all this evidence, capitalism is in disrepute. A global survey found that 56% of the 34,000 people surveyed in 28 countries said that “capitalism as it exists today does more harm than good in the world.”
In the U.S., Democrats are increasingly infatuated with socialism, and so are the young. One big reason for this disconnect is that these data never see the light of day in high schools, or colleges, or in the news.
It’s time for more leaders – in politics, in business, in academia – to shout about the benefits of capitalism for the poor and the middle class, and warn of the deprivations of AOC and Sanders’ brand of socialism.
— Written by John Merline
Note to Readers: Issues & Insights is a new site launched by the seasoned journalists behind the legendary IBD Editorials page. Our mission is to use our decades of experience to provide timely, fact-based reporting and deeply informed analysis on the news of the day.
We’re doing this on a voluntary basis because we think our approach to commentary is sorely lacking both in today’s mainstream media and on the internet. If you like what you see, feel free to click the Tip Jar over on the right sidebar. And be sure to tell your friends!