Picture: 123RF/SEZER ÖZGER
Picture: 123RF/SEZER ÖZGER

Ismail Lagardien appears to lean one way with his head and the opposite way with his heart when it comes to the Max Roser/Jason Hickel debate about global poverty (“When economists get blinkered by non-ideology,” April 6).

As I understand the debate, it is both about whether global poverty has fallen at all and about the extent to which capitalism/colonialism/free enterprise have contributed to the shift, one way or the other.

Stephen Pinker and others point to higher living standards, better health, lower poverty and many other measures by which society’s wellbeing may be measured. In my opinion these writers are more persuasive than Hickel, Thomas Piketty and their fellows.

Of course, these measures are global assessments. They are the average. They do not single out state failures, where poverty is inarguable. Yet it is in these failures that we may surely see the fatal consequence of the state usurping individual freedoms.

In today’s world we face a rising tide of demands for a share of perceived wealth, sometimes from those who have been unfairly excluded and sometimes from those who merely sense an opportunity. But never was wealth created without risk and work. And never was wealth created by the state.

If we want a just society we must recognise that redistribution is necessary. But it should be a redistribution of opportunity to work as far as possible. Our society should be a hothouse for new achievers who can create, not destroy, jobs. The state should do what it is supposed to do: enable, not disable.

Barry Hay
Parktown North

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