The newest issue of The Economist features a story that suggests we are nearing the end of abject poverty – the dire, horrid poverty that leaves people stuck in agonizing, short lives. The good news is that we know how to fix this problem:
A lot of targeted policies—basic social safety nets and cash-transfer schemes, such as Brazil’s Bolsa Família—help. So does binning policies like fuel subsidies to Indonesia’s middle class and China’s hukou household-registration system (see article) that boost inequality. But the biggest poverty-reduction measure of all is liberalising markets to let poor people get richer. That means freeing trade between countries (Africa is still cruelly punished by tariffs) and within them (China’s real great leap forward occurred because it allowed private business to grow). Both India and Africa are crowded with monopolies and restrictive practices.
This is not to say that there will not continue to be those who need help economically, but rather that extreme poverty can be eradicated. The best tool: capitalism. “[T]he same economic principles that helped the developed world grow rich…could pull the poorest of the poor out of destitution.”
PovertyCure is one initiative that knows the potential of business, free markets and human creativity in the fight against poverty. By relying on the human person, who is called to be creative, we can continue to eliminate poverty around the world, while maintaining human dignity.
When we put the person at the center of our economic thinking, we transform the way we look at wealth and poverty. Instead of asking what causes poverty, we begin to ask, what causes wealth? What are the conditions for human flourishing from which prosperity can grow? And how can we create and protect the space for people to live out their freedom and responsibilities?
By focusing on creative means of putting people to work and removing restrictive barriers that harm businesses, we can continue to make headway in the fight against extreme poverty.