Earlier today I stumbled across a post at Ameliorations discussing a paper from the University of Connecticut’s Department of Economics titled Why doesn’t Capitalism flow to Poor Countries?. The post’s author, Chad Perrin of SOB, does an excellent job of summing up the paper’s conclusions and reframing the discussion from the academic language of the paper into nearly conversational language. It was truly an excellent post, which ended with the following poignant conclusion:
Leftism leads to poverty. Leftist leaders distract people from the causes of their poverty by promising bread and circuses (or, in modern parlance, “social programs”). The poverty-stricken populace thinks it’s getting something for nothing, so it increases support for leftist leaders as a means of “gettin’ mine” in an increasingly poor system. Voila: vicious circle.
However, I don’t see why he stops there.
The problem with government isn’t that the leftists are in charge. If it were, then the US economy would have been growing rather than shrinking under the current administration. The problem is: government leads to poverty. Right or left, the government is merely a tool for the people in power to reward their friends while punishing their enemies. Those on the left do tend to earn the trust of their constituents by promising “freebies” to the “little guy”, but the right earns its trust solely on taking those freebies away and giving them back to the “big guy”.
The true vicious circle is that between right and left. As both the post and the underlying paper point out, those on the bottom of the pile spend a fair amount of energy looking to get something for nothing. Therefore they tend to vote Democrat/Socialist/Leftist. Of course, those they elect can’t truly make their lives better, so then the people “revolt” at the ballot box and vote Republican/Rightist in order to “send a message to the politicians”. When the “new” politicians fail to make life better for the voters we return to step one. Meanwhile, those in power simply follow the trends, rewrite the speeches, and transfer allegiance to whichever side is most likely to come into power next. In this way they ensure that regrdless of whose name is on the door to power, they are always the ones waiting inside for the next occupant.
UPDATE 08/04/07: Mr. Perrin has posted a follow up response to this post which can be read at his blog, SOB.