has a fascinating chart that compares the number of people living in extreme poverty (the orange line) with the number of people not living in extreme poverty (the blue line).


If the lines extended further to the left, we’d see them grow closer together. For almost all of human history, most everyone lived in a condition of extreme poverty. The Industrial Revolution helped to lift many people above a subsistence-level standard of living. But the gains appear to have been limited. As we see, from 1820 to about 1950 the two lines remain almost parallel.

Then around 1970, a seismic shift occurred. Just as the neo-Malthusians began to predict the world would run out of food and we’d all starve to death, economic growth began to carry more and more people out of poverty.

We often take for granted how quickly the situation changed, but this chart helps to highlight the amazing (and hopefully irreversible) shift in human flourishing.

For more information about this chart, visit

tpp-mappWhat is the Trans-Pacific Partnership?

Five years in the making, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a trade agreement between the United States, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, and New Zealand. The twelve countries in this agreement comprise roughly 40 percent of global G.D.P. and one-third of world trade.

The purpose of the agreement, according to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, is to “enhance trade and investment among the TPP partner countries, promote innovation, economic growth and development, and support the creation and retention of jobs.” The agreement could create a new single market for goods and services between these countries, similar to what exists between European countries.

What exactly is a trade agreement?

A trade agreement is a treaty between two or more countries that reduces or eliminates barriers to free trade, such as taxes, tariffs, quotas, or trade restrictions. Three of the most common types of trade agreements the U.S. is involved with are Free Trade Agreements (FTAs), Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFAs), and Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs).

The United States has FTAs in effect with 20 countries. These tend to be expansions or additions to other agreements, such as World Trade Organization (WTO) agreement. TIFAs provide frameworks for governments to discuss and resolve trade and investment issues at an early stage while BITs help protect private investment, develop market-oriented policies in partner countries, and promote U.S. exports.

Which goods and services are affected?

“Globalization must do more than connect elites and big businesses that have the legal means to expand their markets, create capital, and increase their wealth.” –Hernando de Soto

6898950_7a0fd3b3d9_bWhen assessing the causes of the recent boom in global prosperity, economists and analysts will point much of their praise to the power of free trade and globalization, and rightly so.

But while these are important drivers, we mustn’t forget that many people remain disconnected from networks of productivity and “circles of exchange.” Despite wonderful expansions in international free trade, much of this has occurred between “outsiders,” with many partners still languishing due to a lack of internal free trade within their countries.

Much of this is due to an absence of basic property rights, as economist Hernando de Soto argues throughout his popular book, The Mystery of Capital. If the global poor don’t have the legal means or incentives to trade beyond families and small communities, so-called “globalization” will still leave plenty behind. (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Wednesday, October 7, 2015

The Crisis In International Religious Freedom
David D. Corey, First Things

The vital question is why the number of countries committing and supporting religious persecution is growing so rapidly. The number of CPSs has nearly doubled in a year. What lies behind this startling trend?

Supreme Court Justices Get More Liberal As They Get Older
Oliver Roeder, FiveThirtyEight

A typical justice nominated by a Republican president starts out at age 50 as an Antonin Scalia and retires at age 80 as an Anthony Kennedy. A justice nominated by a Democrat, however, is a lifelong Stephen Breyer.

African governments show improvements but progress ‘stalls’

Thirty-three out of Africa’s 54 countries have shown improvements in the way they are governed over the last four years, research has found.

Uber, Millennials And The Struggle For The Free Market
Tom Rogan, Opportunity Lives

Unfortunately, from Frankfurt to Paris, Madrid to Rome, Sao Paulo to San Francisco, London to New York and beyond, ride-sharing firms are under attack from increasingly aggressive enemies.

“How are we to be in the world but not of it?”

It’s the question at the center of Acton’s film series, For the Life of the World: Letters to the Exiles, and our response has a profound impact on the shape of our cultural witness.

In a lecture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Bruce Ashford frames the same question around our perspectives on nature and grace, asking: “What should be the relationship between God’s saving works and word and all of the rest of life?”

To answer this, Ashford explores five competing visions, and though he approaches each with a specific focus on education (given his audience), the basic theology applies to all other spheres of culture: (more…)

foodbank“I am a socialist. That’s why I run a food bank. I don’t believe in markets. I’m not saying I won’t listen, but I am against this.”

That was the reaction to one food bank director to the news that four market-friendly economists were going to help Feeding America, the largest network of food banks in the United States, allocate their resources. So what happened when America’s Soviet-style food banks began to embrace free-market economics?

51If4pLhXLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_It’s always a pleasure when Arthur Brooks, President of the American Enterprise Institute, comes to town; he’s an engaging speaker, a thoughtful leader, and really an all around fantastic guy. That’s why it was such a privilege to sit down with him last week in the Acton Studios after he delivered his latest Acton Lecture Series Address last Thursday to record this week’s edition of Radio Free Acton. We talked about the message of conservatism, how it often gets bogged down in facts and statistics, and how conservatives can better communicate their core principles to a public that is often quite skeptical of our motivations.

You can listen to the podcast via the audio player below, and stay tuned to the PowerBlog for video of Brooks’ ALS address, which will be posted a bit later this week.

Excellent Credit ScoreA few days ago a young friend asked me if I could recommend reading material on what a person should look for when dating. Being a serious-minded Christian gentleman he’d consider any serious dating partner to be a serious candidate for his future spouse. So what should someone read to get an idea of who to date/marry?

Having given it some thought, there are two things I’d recommend reading: Proverbs 31:10-31 and the dating partner’s credit score.

Let’s start with the last chapter of Proverbs. The book of Proverbs ends with a heroic poem, a type of Hebrew poetry that recounts a hero’s mighty deeds. Rather than recounting great battles or courageous military exploits, though, the poem describes the domestic and economic work of a woman in heroic terms. “A heroic poem for someone engaged in domestic labor is remarkable in the ancient world,” says Peter Leithart, “and shows something of how God regards the work of women.”

Blog author: jcarter
Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Funding growth, expanding opportunity: Novel funding mechanisms for schools of choice
Michael Q. McShane, AEI Ideas

Private school choice programs and the organizations that support them could do a much better job deferring the capital, infrastructure, and other fixed costs of participating private schools.

This is the simplest solution to help Africans live longer
Samuel Oti, Quartz

For many African countries and especially among poorer communities, when people die there is no trace in any official legal record or statistic.

How Do You Improve Worker Pay? Licensing Reforms, Not Unions.
James Sherk and Astrid Gonzalez, The Daily Signal

What do today’s workers need? The White House appears to believe the answer is “a union.” At a summit Wednesday the administration plans to showcase workers unions have helped. That is fair enough, but most workers don’t find unions relevant to their working lives. A much greater problem is the barriers the government itself erects.

The Military Isn’t A Low-Wage Option For Stupid People
Emily Domenech, The Federalist

Active-duty military troops far out-earn their civilian counterparts when compared to civilians with similar education.

Whether derided as a devil of modern industry or hailed as a saint of modern philanthropy, oil tycoon John D. Rockefeller remains a controversial figure.

Although the reality of the man is surely complex, those who attack his legacy tend to indulge in more than a few historical errors and economic myths, painting him as a supreme symbol of all that is wrong with industrialization and capitalism. And yet, despite some troubling tactics and cronyist maneuvering, the man himself is a symbol of much that is good.

As historian Burt Folsom explains, the real picture has a bit more color and brightness. Contrary to his critics, Rockefeller’s empire prioritized ingenuity above indulgence, gift-giving above greed, and economic transformation above static consumerism.

Rockefeller’s special gift to the world? “Cheap kerosene,” says Folsom, and “cheap enough that anyone could buy it.” (more…)