“An Audacious Promise: The Moral Case for Capitalism”


James R. Otteson:

Even if we do not all get rich at the same rate, we all still get richer. To see the importance of this point, ask yourself: If you could solve only one social ill–either inequality or poverty–which would it be? Or suppose that the only way to address poverty would be to allow inequality: Would you allow it? This seems a no-brainer: poverty is a far larger factor in human misery than is inequality. If we could have steadily fewer people suffering from grinding poverty, is that not something to wish for, even if it comes with inequality? This appears to be the position in which we find ourselves. The only way we have discovered to raise people out of poverty is the institutions of capitalism, and those institutions allow inequality. Keeping people in poverty seems too high a price to pay in the service of equality. One is tempted to say that only a person who has never experienced poverty could think differently.

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Craig Newmark

Craig Newmark

Associate Professor of Economics, North Carolina State Univ.

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