Bill Gates is going to give 95% of his wealth away to the third world. This is incredible charity, considering the sheer amount – about $46 billion. It is Charity with a capital ‘C’ – Gates has been top of the Forbes rich list for years.

Contrary to the Guardian’s report, which deliberately made it read as though Bill Gates was turning from capitalism as a “failure”, he actually said nothing of the sort. He praised capitalism for driving innovation, for providing the high quality of life we know today in the West, for taking poverty from the vast majority of Westerners. He understands the value in the capitalist system. Gates did, however, get one thing wrong about capitalism. He says that its only flaw, though it is an “incredible system”, is that capitalism provides no incentive to scientists to create medicines for the diseases of the poor.

I see things slightly differently. The REAL problem is that the poor are poor because they are located OUTSIDE of the capitalist system! Were they afforded the same political rights as those in the West: the protection of property rights, freedom from coercion, security of wealth creation – poverty would be eradicated as quickly as it has been in the West through the same system. After all, what else is different? Are there any less natural resources? Do they have fewer incentives to work? Are they short of ideas? No – their problems are entirely political. Its not a fashionable thing to say, but capitalism is the most valuable gift we can give to the third world. Contrary to the values of capitalism, they have no rights to land ownership, they have no rights to work for themselves, to start businesses, to innovate, to acquire, or to own.

It makes me flat-out angry to hear lefties spew their skewed versions of altruism with such disdain for the very system that allows the West to flourish as it has. Socialism didn’t build the great industries which feed the families of countless millions. Socialism didn’t create the multitude of small businesses which operate in villages, towns and cities across the West through simple trade values. Socialism didn’t make our huge advances in medical treatment or sanitary state. Socialism didn’t invent the personal computer that is so indispensable today. Socialism didn’t provide the longest era of relative peace in history. Socialism didn’t create the best system of peaceful cooperation ever seen. Socialism doesn’t allow a guy with nothing to come up with a great idea, develop it and start his own business selling it. Socialism doesn’t inspire people to invent. Socialism doesn’t give people the right to anything other than what the government tells them they can do. Socialism didn’t create Bill Gates, with the ability to voluntarily redistribute this remarkable volume of wealth.

Yes, capitalism is worth more than any amount of money we could ever give. We need to influence the third world politically if we want to really make a difference. Its an old adage, but more relevant than ever – give a man a fish and he feeds himself for a day, teach him to fish and he can feed himself for a lifetime. Or, in other words:

Charity is good, capitalism is better.

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John Wright

johnwright@softhome.net