by Jon Sanders
Director of the Center for Food, Power, and Life, Research Editor, John Locke Foundation
I want this post to piggyback on my previous one, in which I pointed out the obvious that “Art Pope and his family have done more actual, practical good for the poor in North Carolina than all but a very few others in this state.”
My post discussed Pope’s charitable giving as well as his practical service to the poor in putting low-priced stores in their neighborhoods, helping them stretch their earnings and save time. His critics want desperately for the people of North Carolina to view that practical work as evil, “preying” on the poor to make a buck.
Well, not only are they wrong as I explain — but in Stossel’s view, they are doubly wrong. Stossel’s take is that capitalists’ greatest act in helping the poor is not even in charitable giving, but in being successful businessmen. Successful businessmen make money. How? By finding better and better ways to provide people with things they want and need, fostering more and more exchanges that grow wealth in society, resulting in more and greater “social benefits for all.”
The whole piece is worth the read, but I shall commit the small indiscretion of cutting to the chase:
Even rock star Bono from U2 has come to understand that. He used to call for more government spending on foreign aid. Now he says: “Aid is just a stopgap. Commerce, entrepreneurial capitalism take more people out of poverty.”
Bingo. If Bono gets it, Turner should, too.
I applaud those who give to charity, but let’s not forget that it’s capitalists (honest ones, not those who feed off government) who do the most for the poor. They do more good for the world than politicians — and more even than do-gooders working for charities.
Stossel and Bono are channeling Gary Becker and Milton Friedman. Becker said:
The greatest beneficiaries of capitalism are those at the bottom of the income ladder. That’s why I favor capitalism. Were that not the case, I would not be in favor of capitalism. Milton Friedman feels the same way.
As explained and illustrated in the link, that belief is also what animates my work and the work of my colleagues here at John Locke.