“Why are poor people poor?” is a question liberals love to ask. They have grown up in the splendor of the modern west, and have trouble understanding why they “have” and billions throughout the world “have not.”
A United Nations report released last week indicates that the organization believes that we are rich and others are poor because our taxes are too low. To remedy this, the UN hopes to raise $400 billion from wealthy nations to help those that are still developing.
Of course, the UN engages in precisely zero activities which people will voluntarily pay for, so this means that the United Nations will enlist its member nations to confiscate your hard earned money in the name of fairness and development. Because your taxes aren’t high enough already, Mr Businessman.
What is most alarming is not that the United Nations believes that it has the power to implore its member states to raise revenue for it via taxation (although that is alarming), but the fact that the UN is holding on to a misguided notion of economic development and growth. People in the first world are not wealthy because they have exploited the poor and hoarded limited amounts of wealth, but because free-market institutions allowed individuals to invest and innovate with confidence, creating prosperity in the process.
The greatest success story of the 20th century was how hundreds of millions of Chinese were lifted out of abject poverty to reach a standard of living comparable to western middle classes. It was not foreign aid, but the opening up of China’s markets, both to foreign trade and investment, and out of the hands of excessive government control.
One thing that is especially disheartening about this UN directive is that it includes a proposed tax on currency transactions. To make international trade more costly is the polar opposite of what will help developing economies grow and prosper.
Almost everything desirable in the world is positively correlated with economic freedom. Longer life expectancies? Check. More education, especially for women? Check. Political freedom? Not surprisingly, political freedom is more prevalent in economically free than economically repressed countries. Of course, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that an organization responsible for forced sterilizations and abortions in China might not have the best interests of humanity in mind when designing policies.
While contradicting the beliefs of the liberals who hold institutions such as the United Nations in high esteem, the fact of the matter is that economic freedom, individual liberty and secure property rights will pull the 1.29 billion people who live on less than $1.25 a day out of poverty.