The argument for globalisation: It makes the poor rich

There’s a great deal of truth in this observation:

Incidentally, this is why I’m a particularly poor leftist when it comes to the West’s declining manufacturing base and attendant job losses. I wave happily goodbye as they sail across the ocean because I’m buggered if I can think of a better way to export prosperity abroad.

Except for one thing. Supporting the best method known of making the poor richer seems to me to make one a very good leftist indeed.

One of the reasons why I consider myself to be a lefty, as I’ve said before. I support markets, capitalism, globalisation, the Washington Consensus and all the rest precisely because they are the best method known to make the poor richer. Which does, I insist, make me a lefty.

12 thoughts on “The argument for globalisation: It makes the poor rich”

  1. God, that superfluous “abroad” at the end is killing me now.

    Anyway, I’ll knitpick about the Washington Consensus being the best solution. Lots more non-market support for manufacturing has been (and might continue to be) very sensible for the reasons discussed in that post.

    Unless the Washington Consensus has a lag of about 10-20 years I’m not sure much of the growth seen in the last decade can be attributed to it.

    Likewise, most growth has been seen in India and China which especially eschewed the policies suggested (although they certainly moved in their direction, I think that is a different argument).

    International development is really hard, which I think most people on the left miss. I think there’s too much focus on villains and not the basic fact that we don’t have a bloody idea how to reliably generate growth.

  2. Ah, but the Left are very much national socialists (ha ha), they’re only worried about the poor in the West. The fact that the poor here are infinitely wealthier than the majority of the rest of the worlds population doesn’t come into it. Thus a system that improves the lot of billions, while causing a relative (slight) decline in the incomes of a a few million, is the embodiment of pure evil as far as they’re concerned.

  3. Maybe it would have made you a leftist 150 years ago. I don’t think any of the Whigs or Manchester Capitalists would be welcome in any of our left of center parties today!

  4. There is an assumption floating around that the intention of a lefty is to make the poor richer. Apart from the fairly obvious and not identical view that the intention of most vocal lefties is to make the rich poorer, I would also add the usual cynicism that the intent of most involved in politics is to make themselves richer, rather than some actual principles.

  5. Call me cynical but I suspect he does not make a living in manufacturing.

    Not anymore, but for a few months I did. In rural north Hampshire of all places. It was awful. Now I’m safely ensconced in the service sector. I don’t like manufacturing, its boring and repetitive. But it gets results.

  6. Given how shit living standards for the poor have been (and still are) in Socialist states, imagine how crap life would have been there if ‘Lefties’ didn’t have that desire to make the poor richer.

  7. I don’t think Dizzy would have liked your calling him a “lefty” just because he favoured international trade as being mutually beneficial and wanted to raise the living standards of the poor.

  8. “Which does, I insist, make me a lefty.” I know you’re just teasing lefties when you say that. How do they reply?

  9. The Left has ever been about making the poor compliant and indentured to an all controlling centralised, dictatorial authority of Leftists.

    The Left is against private ownership of wealth… except for themselves… and insists individual wealth is an intrinsic and equal non-material thing, so ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ have no meaning in the context of the Left.

    Therefore the notion of the Left wanting to make the poor rich in material wealth is a contradiction of the basic tenet of the Left, the elimination of the very concept of rich and poor, and thus nonsense to suggest it as their aim, Mr Worstall.

    Why in any case would an individual need to be rich? What could they exchange for that wealth when the State provides them with what it has been decided by the Leftists they need?

    And with whom would they exchange it absent the right to personal wealth ownership, and since the State is the only mechanism of exchanging wealth envisaged by the Left?

    Of course there would be a Black Market, so it would make more sense to claim you are a Black Marketeer Leftist.

  10. I know you’re just teasing lefties when you say that. How do they reply?

    Like Left Outside, I’m a poor leftist. But for me, the answer is that to be a lefty in the economic sense, you have to recognize that inequality of wealth can reduce overall utility. And you have to care about it.

    Tim adds: Usually by screaming that I’m a neoliberal who should be cast into the outer darkness.

    But OK, let’s take your version, that lefties care about wealth inequalities. How do we minimise such? By making the poor rich. How do we go about doing that? Industrialisation, globalisation, free markets and capitalism. Thus I’m a lefty.

    And I don’t say it just to tease. I do actually think I am of the left for exactly this reason. And I’m very surprised indeed that more so called lefties don’t advocate the same things I do.

    I understand why Marxists don’t but that’s not the only lefty strand of thought.

  11. Interesting. Can’t one be on the right and also want everyone (and especially those without) to be better off? Why is that the exclusive domain of lefties?

    It seems to me, ie simply on the issue of economic left versus right, that the issue is less about desired outcomes, and more about how you achieve them?

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