Saturday, 29 October 2011

A message to the "Occupy" movement: most of the 99% are doing just fine

Amongst the many infantile inequities to be contrasted with a predictably banal supposedly left-wing alternative that are levelled against capitalism is it’s inequity of benefitting the rich at the expense of or at least the poor. This is very prominent at this moment in the advent of the financial and economic crisis both in 2008 (and the bank bailouts) and currently in the Eurozone as well as most pertinently the consistent above average unemployment rates. At least one manifestation of this is the ‘Occupy’ movement across condemning this unequal inequity of global capitalism and corporate “greed”.

One of their more popular slogans is their claim to be representing the “99%” in their condemnation and a call for more to done to help alleviate their suffering by partially at least curbing the “excesses” of the corporate world and higher taxation which for them has been so absent in the past decade or so as to be criminal. However as is established by Charles Kenny in Foreign Policy (,0):

“At the same time, the top 19 countries in the world in terms of decade-long growth saw their GDPs more than double over the ten years from 2000 to 2010. And that top 19 included some really big countries -- not least India and China -- so nearly 2.6 billion people benefited from all of that economic dynamism.

Yet within the club of economies that doubled in size were no less than eight from sub-Saharan Africa, the region traditionally written off as a hopeless economic backwater. Indeed, that region took 17 of the top 40 spots in the decade's global GDP growth rankings; its GDP is 66 percent larger than it was in 2000. Populations have expanded there, too, by around 28 percent over the decade -- but even accounting for more people, the average income in the region is about a third higher than it was 10 years ago.”

What is more devastating for the protestors and to be frank much of current academic and mainstream media opinion (the BBC most certainly included) is that their policy mindset which deliberatively seeks to undermine private ownership and property rights are what are at the root of much of the crippling poverty we see and lament today.   

Which Robert Guest argues persuasively in his book "The Shackled Continent: Power, Corruption and African Lives" submitting that if African governments did a better job of upholding the rule of law and enforcing contracts and safeguarding property rights in other words allowing freedom to replace force then their people would be richer.  The countervailing approach of the protestors is one which has been followed up until now by most African governments since independence has retarded private sector growth and productivity and foreign investment. This is further scrutinised by Johan Norberg in his book “In Defence of Global Capitalism” and his documentary “Free or Equal”.

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