What economic system has lifted humanity out of the dirt?

(Cross-post from my other blog Freedom Is Moral.)

That would be capitalism.

I, for one, am thrilled to not live as my great-great-grandparents did. I’m not into subsistence agriculture, loosing half my children in their infancy, or facing a life expectancy of 30 years.

John Mackey has expanded that idea in his book, Conscious Capitalism.

Carpe Diem has a quote from the author in their post, Quotation of the day: Capitalism has lifted humanity out of the dirt and is greatest value creator in history of the world

Capitalism is the greatest creation humanity has done for social cooperation. It has lifted humanity out of the dirt. In statistics we discovered when we were researching the book, about 200 years ago when capitalism was created, 85% of the people alive lived on $1 a day. Today, that number is 16%. Still too high, but capitalism is wiping out poverty across the world. 200 years ago illiteracy rates were 90%. Today, they are down to about 14%. 200 years ago the average lifespan was 30. Today it is 68 across the world, 78 in the States, and almost 82 in Japan. This is due to business. This is due to capitalism. And it doesn’t get credit for it. Most of the time, business is portrayed by its enemies as selfish and greedy and exploitative, yet it’s the greatest value creator in the world.”

~John Mackey, co-author of the new book “Conscious Capitalism”

You can find the book at Amazon here.

I glanced at some of the reviews. Check out the “1s” for the expected and unrestrained hate directed to anyone who defends freedom or free enterprise. Check out the “5s” for a sense of where the book is going.

From the description, which is a quote from the book:

“We believe that business is good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity. Free-enterprise capitalism is the most powerful system for social cooperation and human progress ever conceived. It is one of the most compelling ideas we humans have ever had. But we can aspire to something even greater.” —From the Conscious Capitalism Credo

I have the book on my reading list.

3 thoughts on “What economic system has lifted humanity out of the dirt?”

  1. I think it’s kind of a reach to say that our good fortune is primarily the result of capitalism. I don’t think the economic system had as much to do with it as the value of the discovery of cheap oil energy. According to the movie “Crude Awakenings” one barrel of oil is equivalent to 12 men working one year. This was a real change 153 years ago.
    The 1’s in the Amazon review list a number of pertinent facts that are worthy of checking out.

    1. Good point. Democracy, a stable political system, private property, and predictible courts that enforced contracts all played a part as well.

      To extend the discussion, how was it that the oil was discovered? And extracted? And why did people refine it? And sell it? And put it to so many incredible good uses? People wanted to make a buck at every step of the way.

  2. A few other things had a big impact on getting us out of the dirt: the industrial revolution, steam power, and railroads. Those pre-date finding oil.

    Then the transcontinental railroad, which was in place very shortly after commercial development of oil and if I’m guessing correctly, well before it was widely produced.

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