Taking a day off from cheering on the every move of his hero Michael “Oiky” Gove, the loathsome Toby Young has hit on another morale-boosting wheeze for all those out there on the right who share the same unique view of the world as Himself Personally Now, and that is to claim that capitalism is better than any other system because it has made such a significant impact on poverty.
Lay off the collapso before writing, eh?
To this end, he has sought solace from across the North Atlantic, and particularly the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), which sounds relatively benign until you realise that it is just another neocon front which numbers among its alumni such centrist and inclusive people as Paul Wolfowitz, Newt Gingrich, and John “Wiggy” Bolton. Its favoured speakers include “Dick” Cheney.
This does not deter Tobes, although for some reason he fails to mention any of the above-named. “The chart that proves capitalism is better than socialism” he announces, continuing by quoting Mark J Perry: “one of the most remarkable achievements in human history – the 80 per cent reduction in world poverty in only 36 years”. Your bullshit detector may now be sounding.
And there is a very good reason for that sounding off: that reduction in poverty is “from 26.8 per cent of the world’s population living on $1 or less (in 1987 dollars) in 1970 to only 5.4 per cent in 2006”. The thought enters that those living with the benefit of ample incomes pretending that getting more than one 1987 US Dollar a day lifts you out of poverty is just a teensy bit incongruous.
That is certainly not how poverty is defined in the UK, or in the wider EU. The European Commission definition begins thus: “People are said to be living in poverty if their income and resources are so inadequate as to preclude them from having a standard of living considered acceptable in the society in which they live”. That, it is screamingly obvious, means more than $1 a day.
What the AEI proves is that, providing you set the bar low enough, you can pretend that poverty has been all but eradicated, whereas it has not. In the UK, for instance, by the definition of poverty generally accepted, around 20% of the population are considered to be in poverty. The national poverty rate in the USA, using a different definition, was around 15% last year.
To no surprise at all, these figures are rather higher than the AEI and Tobes would have us believe. Even in third world countries, one 1987 US Dollar a day will most likely not provide food, shelter, clothing, clean water, education and transportation. So before Toby Young tries to pretend that capitalism has achieved the goal he says it has, he should take his head from up his arse and do a reality check.
His contention is the most shameless bullshit. No surprise there, then.