Is Capitalism the Solution to Poverty?

by | Aug 3, 2016 | Blog

As Conscious Capitalists we say that “capitalism has lifted more people out of poverty than any other socio-economic system ever conceived”.  This is a powerful assertion, but what does it really mean, is there data and can we defend the statement?

Consider the following data

The Economist – Towards the End of Poverty

Hans Rosling’s 200 Countries, 200 Years, 4 Minutes

With the recently concluded Republican and Democratic conventions we’ve heard two competing (and incredibly divisive) visions for our country and the world.  For disclosure, I am personally disgusted with both of these visions so the alternatives are worth considering, but that is perhaps a conversation for another day…

So the real question is how do we the people transcend the divisive political discourse.  Check out Arthur Brooks suggestion.  (I am excited that Arthur Brooks will be a featured speaker at the Conscious Capitalism CEO Summit this October. 

Arthur Brooks: A Conservative’s Plea – Let’s Work Together

As you consider the idea of poverty and what we should, and as importantly, should not do about it consider the following questions:

  • What is the difference between Absolute Poverty (i.e. – survival mode; food, clothing, shelter) and Relative Poverty
  • What type of poverty do we have in the US?
  • Is the solution to Absolute and Relative Poverty the same?
  • What do Conscious Capitalists have to say about poverty and flourishing humanity? Check out the Conscious Capitalist Credo for a hint. 
  • Arthur Brooks says “There are five reasons 2 billion of our brothers and sisters have been pulled out of poverty since I was a kid.” The reasons he states are: globalization, free trade, property rights, rule of law, entrepreneurship.  Agree or disagree? Is there data to prove the point?
  • Arthur Brooks also says “Capitalism is not just about accumulation; at its best it is about “aspiration… the aspiration that comes from dreams that are embedded in the free enterprise system.” 
  • How do you feel about describing Capitalism as being about “aspiration”? About “innovation”? About “entrepreneurship”?
  • Arthur Brooks’ quote from Barack Obama is “Free Markets have created more wealth than any system in history.  They have lifted billions from poverty”. 

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