Vox vs. capitalism

May 10, 2022

By Tim Worstall

Vox wants us to all to know that Bill Gates isn’t right about everything. We think we can agree with that. However, they go on to insist that capitalism caused many to most of the problems we’ve recently had with Covid. That’s not something  rational people should be willing to agree with.

Is there inequality in this world? There sure is, and there was inequality in the deaths caused by Covid. But it’s a mistake to go on to say that the inequality itself killed people. It isn’t true that more people died in less equal places.  It is true that poorer people died more than richer everywhere. It’s not inequality, it’s poverty.

This makes these statements simply incorrect:

“the pandemic that capitalism would exacerbate its impact”

“Our economic system was very much responsible for how the crisis unfolded.”

“But the real question Covid-19 has surfaced isn’t when markets fail to solve big problems — it’s when markets create or contribute to them. “

“I do not see how we can prevent future pandemics unless we start with a radical rethink of the entire economic system.”

OK, we get it. Abolish capitalism, and the world will be a better place.  It’s an odd idea given that we’ve just used capitalist drug development to create a vaccine faster than in any previous pandemic in the entirety of human history. We are being told that those foreign vaccine companies — the Serum Institute in India, for example –  can’t get access to the patents. But, in reality, those foreign vaccine companies have stopped making vaccines because there’s no one who wants them. Capitalism, in the words of George W. Bush, just did a helluva job.

There are those who simply will not accept this – or perhaps will use any excuse to try to abolish capitalism and free markets. They see an opportunity here.

The problem with the analysis is that it’s not inequality that killed, it was poverty. So, what’s the best known method to reduce poverty?  Capitalisms and free markets, which, we are being told, need to be rethought, even abolished. Poor logic, indeed.

Vox markets itself as “explaining the news,” and that’s a noble ambition. It gets some 20 million visits a month by doing so. But it would be aided by examining the arguments being presented and even critiquing them. Instead, it accepts the statements of activists.

There are people who would abolish capitalism and free markets out there. They are using the excuse of Covid to advance their arguments. Unbiased journalism would involve an examination of the claims, not mere repetition. Especially since what we found out is that poverty kills, not inequality. Capitalism and free markets are the reason poverty declines.



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