The Most Important Graph in the World

The Most Important Graph in the World

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The conundrum between consuming more resources to alleviate dire poverty and the need to stop growth to save the planet, is going to need all our combined wisdom and efforts. This article from Reason outlines the issues at stake.


Source: Business Insider
There has been a massive increase in wealth throughout the world in the last two centuries. As societies get wealthier, life generally gets safer, not just due to reductions in disease, starvation, and vulnerability to natural disasters, but also due to reductions in political brutalization. People get rights. Roughly 800 million people in the world, many of them in Africa, still live in absolute poverty and experience the kinds of existential challenges that only free markets can solve.

In summary, the piece points out:

  • The awesome ability of free markets to improve the lives of the poor. 
  • A massive increase in wealth throughout the world over the last two centuries.
  • The “great enrichment" elicits different responses in different parts of the world. "When I show this graph in Asia," Haidt writes, "the audiences love it, and seem to take it as an aspirational road map… But when I show this graph in Europe and North America, I often receive more ambivalent reactions. 'We can't just keep growing forever!' some say. 'We'll destroy the planet!' say others. These objections seem to come entirely from the political left, which has a history, stretching back centuries, of ambivalence or outright hostility to capitalism.”
  • Capitalist prosperity changes human conscience. In pre-industrial societies, people care about survival. As societies get wealthier, life generally gets safer, not just due to reductions in disease, starvation, and vulnerability to natural disasters, but also due to reductions in political brutalization. People get rights.
  • Roughly 800 million people in the world, many of them in Africa, still live in absolute poverty and experience the kinds of existential challenges that only free markets can solve. Denying dirt-poor people access to cheap fossil fuel energy, for example, can mean a death sentence to a newborn child on life support in an electric-powered incubator in rural Africa.
  • Part of the reason why the Industrial Revolution started in England was that the country had to switch from almost depleted wood to coal as a source of energy. Industrialization, and subsequent enrichment, saved European forests, and it can do so in Africa as well.
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  • Brian Westwood

    Somebody once told me that if the economy were fair, nobody would've fallen into poverty.

  • Mario Cavagnaro

    Why are the wealthy hated by so many? Human nature, plain and simple. People have always been and will continue to take advantage of any given opportunity to better their own situation, whilst those that 'miss out on the opportunities given', will always look to blame all others but themselves for not being in the same situation.

  • Pedro Paulo Gomes

    I have nothing against people having a lot of money but at some point it's not about buying objects that you want or have a certain life standard but acquiring as much political power as possible and that is wrong!

  • Daniel Cinquine

    We need a resource based economy or something similar. As long as we live in a monetary system those with more money will use their economic advantage to get richer by taking advantage of the poor.

  • Lee Yung Shun

    This just pisses me off so much. It reminds me how year after year that life won't change.

  • Tom Livanos

    The easiest way to improve the world is by destroying it and creating a perfect one in its place.

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Arjun Rajagopalan

Science Guru

Arjun has spent four decades as a surgeon, educator and medical administrator. Fellow, Royal College of Surgeons of Canada and Member, Association of Surgeons of India, he has been associated with Sundaram Medical Foundation as the Medical Director since its inception and opening to the public in 1994. He did his residency training in General Surgery from the Loyola University Medical Center, Maywood, Illinois. After a 22-year stint as Trustee, Medical Director and Head, Department of Surgery at Sundaram Medical Foundation, he handed over the reins of the hospital but continues to provide advice and insights as Advisor and Trustee. Following his retirement from active practice, he has now embarked on a wider mission of forming a community of people, from all spheres of activity, who are interested in these three areas: thinking, teaching and talking. 

   

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