Thomas Sowell

In our own time, the economic effects of these cultural differences often dwarf the effects of differences in material things like natural resources.

Natural resources in Uruguay and Venezuela are worth several times as much per capita as natural resources in Japan and Switzerland. But income per capita in Japan and Switzerland is about double that of Uruguay and several times that of Venezuela.

Nobody likes to see poverty in a world where technology and economic know-how already exist that could give everyone everywhere a decent standard of living.

All you have to do is change people. But have you ever tried to do that?

The quick fix is to transfer wealth. But more than half a century of trying to do that with "foreign aid" has left a dismal record of failure and even retrogression in Third World countries.

Some countries have themselves made changes that lifted them from poverty to prosperity. Indeed, the affluent countries of today were once living in poverty.

But they didn't do it with quick fixes or by turning a dangerous power over to politicians.


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate