In this LearnLiberty video, the great economist and historian Deirdre McCloskey explains that modern prosperity was not caused by the exploitation of the poor by the rich, nor even really by an increase in investment but, rather, by the unleashing of innovationism – itself the result of a change in social attitudes.
Note: To say that modern prosperity was not caused by an increase in investment (or, to pick another example often given by economic libertarians, an expansion of trade) is not to deny that investment and trade are necessary for economic growth. Of course they are. McCloskey’s point (and I believe that she is correct) is that the timing, the geography, and the magnitude of modern prosperity cannot be explained as being caused by a change in the likes of investment or trade. Neither investment nor trade – as indispensable, as admirable, and as marvelous in their own right as they unquestionably are – were the sparks for our modern prosperity