How the West (and the Rest) Got Rich – A Summary

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A summary of the article by Deirdre N. McCloskey in the Wall Street Journal, May 21-22, 2016 (Saturday/Sunday Publication)

By: Mark McGarvey

In our very political environment that continually reminds us how bad things are for so many Americans, everyone should read the article, “How the West (and the Rest) Got Rich.” Below, I have highlighted some key points of the article.

Americans earn on average $130 a day in the US. That’s the highest in the world. China is $20 and India $10. India, in the last few decades, captured by crippling Socialism, was at $1 per day.

Two centuries ago the average world income per person was about $3 a day. Now it is $33, which is Brazil’s current average and the average of the US’s in 1940.

Simply comparing the daily earnings average in different times or different countries doesn’t address the radical improvement in commonly available goods and services. Just go into a grocery store and look at the diversity of goods available, even available to a person of modest means. The cell phone might be the best example as everyone has a cell phone. We don’t hear anyone talking about the betterment of the human condition.

Many would explain that certain segments of the population got to their elevated position at the expense of others. Not true, as this article points out. It’s very dependent on “freedom and law”. The article states, “Liberated people, it turns out, are ingenious. Slaves, serfs, subordinated women, people frozen in a hierarchy of lords or bureaucrats are not.”

The article makes a profound point that when the Proletariat are free, they do not suffer but excel. They, “when honored and left alone, became immensely creative“. The article continued, “but note, too, that 95% of the enrichment of the poor since 1800 has come not from charity but from a more productive economy.”

This article is one of the best I’ve have read in a long time. I encourage everyone to read the full article which can be found at:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/why-the-west-and-the-rest-got-rich-1463754427

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