… is from page 37 of my colleague Tyler Cowen’s 2018 book, Stubborn Attachments:
Although recent media coverage has focused almost exclusively on within-nation magnitudes, recent world history has been an extraordinarily egalitarian time. It is above all else a story about how global economic growth helps the poor.
DBx: Without a doubt.
The greater the numbers of people with whom we each trade, the wealthier is each of us. Anyone who lives on a self-sufficient farm is dirt poor. People who trade only with a few dozen others in a small village are also very poor. In a contrast that could not be more stark, a world in which billions of people trade with each other is a world of immense prosperity for everyone who is part of the global economy.
Those on the political left often miss this reality by focusing on interpersonal differences in material prosperity rather than on the rising levels of prosperity for everyone. People on the political right increasingly focus on the particular economic disruptions that trade causes in rich countries and then leap from these observations to the mistaken conclusion that the rising prosperity of the world’s relatively poor people comes only because of the falling prosperity of the world’s free(r)-trading rich people.
Both those on the political left and on the political right implicitly assume that wealth is either fixed in amount or, at least, that the amount of wealth that exists is independent of human institutions, choices, and actions. In the eyes of both “Progressives” and Trumpian conservatives, economic policy is about grabbing more for favored groups because, in the eyes of both, the greater is the amount of wealth possessed by unfavored groups the less is the amount of wealth possessed by favored groups. So the economic policies endorsed by both the “Progressive” left and the Trumpian right are gussied-up schemes of grabbing.