Monday, 27 October 2014

Capitalism In Crisis? Let's Put It Into Perspective

Consider these three statements:

1) The emergence of Islamic State has proven that the concept of rule of law is undermined and needs a complete reassessment.

2) The emergence of Ebola has proven that the medical profession is undermined and needs a complete reassessment.

3) The emergence of Young Earth Creationism has proven that the science of biological evolution is undermined and needs a complete reassessment.

Hopefully you agree with me that all three statements are nonsense. Islamic State, Ebola and Young Earth Creationism are solecisms that need dealing with, but they do not undermine the qualities of rule of law, the medical profession or the study of biological evolution. Yet since the recent financial crisis we keep hearing that the 2008 crash proves capitalism is undermined and needs a complete reassessment. Such a statement could easily be statement number 4 in the above list - it is equally false.

Here's what I did to show it quickly - I went to Google Images and searched for some graphs that showed our economic progress over a longer period of human history. Here is one for the world, mapping the growth for the past century:

Here is one that maps US per capita income since 1790:

To give you a proper perspective, the small downward blip in the top right hand corner is the recent financial crisis since 2008. When seen in the context of humans’ overall progression in the past few centuries, it’s only a tiny glitch on a several century-old progressive climb.

Lastly, to give you an even fuller context, here is a chart that maps the UK's upward slope of progression since the year 1250:

While capitalism isn’t without its blips and glitches, it’s remarkably easy to find the data to show that the fuller story of human progression in recent centuries paints capitalism as a major ally (along with science and increased population) in our huge advancements towards enhanced human prosperity, quality of life and overall well-being.