Successfully Fighting Poverty

From North, and quoting from his article The Source of All Blessings (and Curses)

Socialists refused to explain the Industrial Revolution in terms of capital markets, freedom of contract, the defense of private property, and free trade. Natural resources: that’s what made the difference. That was why Russia back in 1965 was going to overtake the West, one of these days, Real Soon Now. Or South Africa would, if a man like Nelson Mandela could ever gain political power. Or Rhodesia would, if a man like Robert Mugabe could ever displace Ian Smith.

But there was this nagging problem: Hong Kong, which has no natural resources. Its people got very wealthy after 1945. Hong Kong was a bothersome factor for the socialists of the world. Its success had to be explained in terms of something other than natural resources, which it did not possess. It also had to be explained in terms of something other than socialism, of which there were few traces.

So, the socialists solved this problem by not discussing Hong Kong. “Hong Kong? Never heard of it.”

Socialist are power-seeking ignoramuses.

Yes, even more so than Muslims. Muslims are not so ignorant as to consider it a great victory to rip apart their children in their womb, nor do they insist that men can be women by merely saying that it is so.

There is thick-headed and stubborn… and there is willfully delusional.

Moreover: Islam has been around for 1,400 years, and even I am pretty sure that it can stick around for a few more centuries, even as the Gospel slowly pushes it out of its fortresses and high places.

In contrast, I doubt that politically organized socialism will survive past the 21st century. Islam can survive, even thrive, in a decentralized and chaotic environment: not so the stodgy, rigidly hierarchical, insistently bureaucratic, uber-statist Socialist.

Christians had better be better than either of these roads to hell, though!


Which would be the better policy to fight poverty:

Invest 10% of all profits?
Give 10% of all profits to the poor?

We know the answer: #1. Capital formation is the most powerful force in man’s history for the elimination of poverty.

The Bible, like all other religious books, does not command the reinvestment of profits. It commands charity.

Is there a cognitive disconnect here?

Actually, I don’t think so.

Charity is meant to humble the giver, as well as to provide seed money to the weak. The successful Christian is not innately separate from the unsuccessful Pagan. God showed favour to us – unearned favour – and charity reminds us of that.

I regard John Wesley as the person who did more to relieve poverty than anyone in history. He showed the way to wealth to millions of poor people who had not read Adam Smith. He preached this of money: Earn all you can. Give all you can. Save all you can. (Sermon #50, “The Use of Money” [1744], Part 6.)

Wesley preached to the poorest people in the British Isles. He spent most of his adult life on horseback. He preached sobriety, hard work, and thrift to those poverty-stricken people who came to be called Methodists. He changed the face of England. Within a century of his death, Methodists had become middle class. Then the denomination went theologically liberal. This would not have surprised Wesley. He had warned against the effects of riches in Sermon 126 (1790).

His followers experienced what religious orders and monks did throughout the Middle Ages: they got rich by practicing systematic frugality. That was why, every few centuries, there was a wave of religious reform among the mendicant orders that had sworn vows of poverty. Too much money was rolling in. The monks were enjoying the life style of the rich and famous.

Money is very useful.

But don’t let it kill you with its soft silk cushions and pretty, shallow pleasures.

2 thoughts on “Successfully Fighting Poverty

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