Wednesday, January 26, 2011


We estimate that between 2005 and 2010, the total number of poor people around the world fell by nearly half a billion people, from over 1.3 billion in 2005 to under 900 million in 2010.

This is huge.  In the last five years, a number of people greater than the entire population of the United States has escaped desperate poverty.  The increase in total human well-being is larger than if everyone in this country had their income doubled.  Even if every bad thing that people say about the global economy was true, it would have been worth paying that price to make this happen.

This amazing improvement in people's lives did not come from aid or charity.  It came from trade.  The best thing that you can do for poor people in other countries is to buy things that they are making.  Thanks to trade and the global economy, and the side effects from more wealth flowing into poor countries, more people than you can possibly imagine now have better lives, better jobs, more self-respect, and a better future.

Anyone who wants to stop trade to protect a few American workers threatens this prosperity.  It is morally wrong to produce something in the United States when it could be produced more cheaply in a poor country.  Doing so means taking money away from poor people and giving it to rich people. It also means wasting the planet's resources; paying American wages means subsidizing an American's ecological footprint.

The world is changing in a lot of ways, and almost all of them are improvements.  This century, like the previous two, will generate more prosperity than we can possibly imagine, and this time the gains will be shared with almost everyone on the planet.

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