Issues & Insights

Here’s A Tipping Point The Left Wants You To Ignore

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

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  • Yes, we should be shouting this from the rooftops. But facts alone will not sway the left; we must shout that profits, wealth, business is moral – more so than altruism which is the moral basis today of the left’s hatred of Capitalism and which underlies the inability of the right to defend it fully on moral grounds.

  • Well we have entered another world with a new tipping point:

    90% of the stock on Wall Street is in the retirement accounts and pension plans of the middle class!

    WE own the means of production already and we did not need the “dictatorship of the proletariat” nor communism nor socialism for it to happen. It happens naturally under capitalism as the poor become richer and finally own their company in their pension plan.

    • Hi! Socialist here. I read recently that a “whopping 84 percent of all stocks owned by Americans belong to the wealthiest 10 percent of households. And that includes everyone’s stakes in pension plans, 401(k)’s and individual retirement accounts, as well as trust funds, mutual funds and college savings programs like 529 plans.” (NYT, Feb 8, 2018).

      So, I’m hoping you can tell me the source of your, apparently conflicting, information.

      Thank you and God bless!

    • Retirement accounts and pension plans doesn’t mean you own anything. It doesn’t even mean you can tell your financial manager which entities you want to invest in. No, it ain’t happening “naturally”.

  • Funny how most of the growth of the global middle class has been powered by China, which aggressively inserts itself into picking winners and losers. Not completely unlike how the growth of the U.S. was powered by government support for things like railroads, inland navigation projects, free land giveways made possible by government forces, agricultural research, free public education, public universities, rural electrification, dam and water projects, the interstate highway system, etc. etc. etc. But yeah, those rugged individualist capitalists did it all themselves.

  • If you really believe capitalism is superior to socialism in every way, you should forget about Bernie and look at the US military. The military is a completely socialist organization. It’s paid for by your tax dollars, and doesn’t turn a profit. Why should war be decided by the government instead of the free market? The capitalist solution would be to replace the military with private mercenaries, so if individual citizens have a problem with other countries, they can just go to war with them at their own expense without using my tax dollars.

    If you think that’s ridiculous, and the military is a special case that doesn’t count, that’s all Bernie and AOC are saying about health care.

    • Actually, the military outsources a lot of services, using free market companies to manufacture their MREs, weapons and munitions. Being part of our government, they aren’t expected to earn a profit; they are classified as OVERHEAD, part of the expense of governance.

    • The US Military is not a Socialist entity. It is a totalitarian regime. People volunteer and swear to uphold the Constitution of the United States. If you show cowardice in the face of an enemy, you can be shot. If you disobey an order, you can be shot. If you break the UCMJ you will be breaking rocks with a sledge hammer at correctional facility. If you expect to have your feelings respected, it’s not for you. It is in no way socialist, it is a meritocracy of the most heartless sort. Publicly funded does not mean socialist.

  • What is not quite stated outright here is the pervasive effect of institutional academic self-interest on what gets transmitted from one generation to the next. The progressive movement originated in academia, and every “cause” it has taken up allows “solutions” that require more 4 and 4+ year college graduates to be hired by government. There is *no* incentive for academia to spread this good news about market allocation of resources (which is called “capitalism”). Their institutional incentives are *all* on the side of getting more government jobs for their graduates, and more government subsidies for their own institutions! Thus, they teach “activism” that favors those things.

    To admit that market allocation of resources (“capitalism”) has produced this bounty of wealth and health for mankind is deeply contrary to academia’s institutional and individual interests. We must build out a separate educational system that is *not* institutionally historically based in government jobs, in order to see the successes of market allocation transmitted to younger generations.

  • Why would a communist “educational system” teach anything positive about capitalism? Why would a capitalist system pay for/subsidize a marxist “educational system”? The NEA is marxist. Academia is overwhelmingly marxist, we now have a corporate state where the corporations are headed by globalist marxists.

  • I’m for capitalism, so don’t take this as support for socialism, but let’s get real. The system we have now is so infested with cronyism that it’s only a shell of what it could be. I’m 35 and have a small business. Everyday is a challenge. I don’t get any breaks. Look at Amazon ripping off the post office to push down their shipping costs, and then NYC was going to give them massive tax breaks to move there. Why isn’t Google broken up for being a free speech denying monopoly? The banks got an outrageous bail out for taking too much risk. What did they learn? That they could do it again without so much as a slap on the wrist. But if I mishandle one customer’s credit card info, I can lose the ability to process payments. I’m young enough that I get the appeal of socialism to my age group and younger. When you have nothing, and nothing’s coming your way you get the feeling the system is broken. The media pushes for socialism, and there’s no major voice out there preaching why it’s a bad idea. I think that the best way to make Capitalism great again is to admit that it needs to be cleaned up. We need to break up some of these tech monopolies, and put some restrictions on the tech giants. And next time the banks break our financial system we need to let them go die in a gutter.

  • Socialism is a marvelous system that benefits everyone, until you run out of other people’s money.

  • I’d like to examine the author’s proposition that capitalism was conceived as an anti-poverty program conceived by mankind. I think I can argue that capitalism was never conceived at all but is a side affect of a rule by natural law that protects property and freedom. Cheers.

  • “Capitalism” is a set of myths, some objectively true, some not. Same thing for “socialism”, “Communism”, “Communitarianism”, “Libertarianism”and any other system of belief which aims to direct or encourage human behavior. It seems pretty clear that the mythical power of capitalism with a dose of liberty and a small dose of community affinity is better for the average working mutt than socialism, but the people who want power don’t care abut that. Ms. O-C and her crew want to be in charge, telling people what to do. They really believe that they can direct people into better, more productive and happier existence than the people can get for themselves in a lightly regulated capitalist exchange system. There is no convincing these socialists, you have to beat them at the ballot box at best, or beat them on the field of battle at worst. The people to be concerned about are the faux-capitalists. These phony-crony types want to ditch all the risk and keep all the income over expense, and use the government to ensure that result. That is really what Ms. O-C hates, and I am with her on it.

    • Of all the economic systems we know, only capitalism doesn’t require a “leader“ to ensure that the system’s guidelines are followed by its followers, i.e, no myths!

      The reason for that is obvious – it’s a voluntary system.

  • It’s true. Modern-left governance pushes society toward a Third-World structure (cf. trends in California, my home state that has me burying face in hands about five times a day). That’s as opposed to more moderate forms of Democratism that were the rule when I was working for the party.

    Don’t be deluded into thinking anybody currently running to be the Democratic nominee for the presidential race is moderate. Not one of them is even close.

    Once I saw the party go for identity over governing experience in ’08, and then saw what they did to Jim Webb, that was it for me. The writing had been on the wall for a while. I was out of there pretty late. But it was apparent at that point that there was no stopping this slide into separatist identity politics, perpetual victim-ginning, disastrous economic policy based on self-parodying ’60s-style stereotypes of Oppressors versus Oppressed, and cynical measures to appeal to specific demographics like open-bordersism and “justice reform” that has turned various locales into a free-for-all for shoplifters, burglars, and drug dealers. There is just no way to look at this party anymore and say “yeah, that’s who I want running the city and the nation.”

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