Please watch this short video clip (it’s only 30 seconds long). It’s packed with real facts, with genuine data, in short, with the truth.
Governor (Ambassador) and maybe future US presidential candidate Nikki Haley says that:
- “In the last 70 years … [i.e. since after I was born] … over 4 Billion people have been raised out of poverty;
- For the first time in history … [in all of recorded human history] … less than half of humanity lives in poverty; and
- That’s not the result of socialism, it’s because of capitalism; and
- It’s only when free markets lift societies out of poverty that they can afford to fight disease, to educate their people and to make the environment healthy.“
That’s not going to sit well with tens of millions of Americans, millions of Canadians and maybe about one hundred million Europeans who actually believe that socialism works. Those people believe that US Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, British Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn and Canadian progressives like Jagmeet Singh and Justin Trudeau have something useful to offer. They do not. All they promise is to tax your hard-working neighbour in order to give you something for “free.” But most people know, in their heads, that nothing is really “free.” Most people understand that, somehow, usually through their taxes ~ including the corporate taxes that they, ordinary hard-working Canadians, pay indirectly ~ they must pay for all the “free” goodies to which they hope they are entitled.
Like Nikki Haley, both Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher were right, too:
Governor Haley, speaking about the past 70 years, includes the outputs of the Marshall Plan (mainly US aid to Europe) and the Colombo Plan (Commonwealth (mainly Australian and Canadian) aid to parts of Asia) which, in the 1950s, lifted tens of millions out of extreme poverty. But, the business of lifting billions ~ almost half of humanity ~ our of abject poverty was left to Deng Xiaoping (⇒) in China, who tossed Mao’s communism aside, and PV Narasimha Rao, Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Manmohan Singh (⇐ left) in India ~ the latter prime ministers by reversing the socialist policies of Pandit Nehru and the Gandhis (mère et fils). Unlike liberal-democracy, capitalism, in its various forms ~ some free(er) than others ~ was easy to “export” from Britain and America to the world. There are few cultural impediments, anywhere, to either efficiency or effectiveness.
But, a lot of people, especially young people, instinctively want to share and, therefore, mistrust the profit motive and fail to grasp the value of private property and of ‘creative destruction.’ The (very welcome) desire to share and help those in need is, I believe, both innately human and beneficial … but it isn’t efficient. What Adam Smith saw, in 1776, was that the willing division of labour and the “invisible hand” of the market combined to allow more people to benefit from the fruits of their own labours. He was certainly not opposed to benevolence and sharing, he just wanted people to prosper … and, after digesting his prescription, especially in Britain, then in Germany and America, they did. The lesson was not lost on generations of leaders all around the globe. But, equally, the allure of socialism (and worse, of communism), of getting something for “free” remains very strong, all over the world. It seems to be especially strong in the classrooms in the richest societies ~ perhaps because we have not had to endure the pains of socialism, as Venezuala, for example, is doing, right now.
Governor Haley is 100% correct: the free market works. It is highly imperfect because it’s a human thing and we humans are all highly imperfect, but there is no better way to achieve the utilitarian ideal of the greatest good for the greatest number. On the other hand, socialism and its ugly step-sister, communism, have been tried, over and over again and each time they produce only misery … until, finally, someone’s else’s money runs out.
It is very wrong, as Justin Trudeau, Chrystia Freeland, Bill Morneau and Mona Fortier …
… seem to want to do, to try to use industrial policy and economic and fiscal levers to advance social and even climate policy goals. Social policy is best advanced by hewing, relentlessly, to Adam Smith.
There are arguments for letting the market set a price for pollution. I believe that it is already doing so, albeit not quite in the way that many theorists and activists think. The market will work, largely unaided by politicians, when the demand ~ which is created by you and me and our friends and neighbours ~ for social justice for e.g. indigenous Canadians, for cleaner air and water and for less carbon makes supplying those things ~ including negative things ~ economically feasible. The government can push that process along, largely by educating people, but it cannot do the job ~ centuries of experience demonstrate that.
We live in an amazing time. Contrary to what Greta Thunberg says, we have little about which we need to be ashamed. Huge, dirty, coal-fired electrical plants have been instrumental in lifting billions of people out of abject poverty … now those plants need to be replaced by cleaner, greener power sources including solar and wind energy, natural gas and nuclear power:
The next 70 years can be even better. We can lift almost all of the world out of abject poverty and starvation. We can pull the infant mortality rate down to acceptable levels, globally. We can provide a useful education to 99% of the world, regardless of race, sex or anything else. We can have a healthy environment and we can mitigate the effects of climate change … or we can have socialism.
The choice is up to Canadians, but political leaders, established and aspiring leaders …
… have to offer clear, sensible, reasonable choices now, and on the next campaign trail.
I hope most of those would-be leaders will pay heed to Nikki Haley’s eminently sensible comments.