The Root Cause of Poverty

It started with one-line of a post at Crooked Timber:

...such tragedies are a normal and predictable consequence of capitalism.

Our own proprietor, Jonathan Wilde, comments on it with the question "Does Capitalism create poverty?" and Brian Micklethwait of Samizdata makes an argument about the root cause of poverty.

There is no such thing as a root cause of poverty. Rather poverty is the natural state of man. It is the nasty, brutish and short life of Hobbes's government apologetics. When humans first appeared as a distinct species it is the condition we were in, the basic necessities of life had to be considered in every waking moment. There were no siesmologists or civil engineers to design and build buildings to withstand earthquakes, nor doctors and nurses to tend to wounds and illnesses. There was no purified and bottled water to drink, no supermarkets from which to choose a wide variety of foods. There were no Salvation Armies, Goodwill, soup kitchens, or homeless shelters to help out after making mistakes or just being unlucky. One ate whatever he could kill or gather. When a person got sick, his body either fought off the infection or he died. Water was only as good as the local springs and rivers. The mistaken and the unlucky became the dinner of wolves and carrion birds.

No economic system can create poverty. No economic system creates wealth. An economic system can allow a person to create wealth, likewise an economic system can make wealth creation useless or even encourage destruction of wealth. The question is not whether an economic system allows the hardships of poverty - an existence only a misstep away from death, but rather, what economic system allows anyone to use thought, foresight, a little luck, and lots of hard work to create wealth and use that wealth for his own benefit?

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I delinked Crooked Timber

I delinked Crooked Timber some time ago. Intelligent idiocy gets tiresome.

Its not all bollocks. Chris'

Its not all bollocks. Chris' stuff, especially, is usually quite thoughtful, even if incorrect from my theoretical/ethical perspective.