So let's play a little game shall we? Yes, we are indeed the evil cabal that has imposed neo-liberalism upon the world in recent decades. Yes, it is indeed all our fault: the current recession, the globalisation, the insistence upon light regulation, privatisation, freer trade if no one is quite ready for free trade yet. Yup, it's us, the neo-liberals, teaming up with the Illuminati, the Rosicrucians and whoever Dan Brown is going to write about next to bend the globe to our will.
So what's it all about then? Other, of course, than the intense pleasure of the exercise of power over mere mortals?
Via Bluematter, that's the result of a new paper.
- Defining poverty as less than $1/day, world poverty rates fell by 80% from 27% in 1970 to slightly more than 5% in 2006.
- The corresponding total number of poor fell from 403 million in 1970 to 152 million in 2006.
- Similar findings apply if other poverty measures are used ($2/day, 5$/day, etc)
We want the abolition of global poverty and we've been working towards it in our excessively evil manner. By pointing out that while poverty of the most gut wrenching sort might be the natural state of mankind it is indeed possible to do something about it. That something being the creation of wealth with which to alleviate that poverty which is why we've been shouting about the need for the globalisation, the insistence upon light regulation, privatisation, freer trade if no one is quite ready for free trade yet, even if there is the occasional hiccup along the way in the form of a recession or even two.
Being slightly more serious than the above jocular tone what the global economy has managed (and yes, much of what it has managed has been to do with that now most unfashionable neo-liberalism) over that 36 years is that our living standards have around about doubled, even while they've taken a 5% or so hit in these last couple of years, and global poverty has fallen by 80%. That's the largest drop in poverty in the entire history of our species, longer, since back before Lucy was a glint in her father's eye.
So if you do want to insist that the last few decades have been the triumph of neo-liberalism then just remember: it's been the best ride and the best bargain that humanity has ever had. Might actually be worth continuing it too.....