Walter E. Williams

Why is it that mankind enjoys cell phones, computers and airplanes today but not when King Louis XIV was alive? The necessary physical resources to make cell phones, computers and airplanes have always been around, even when caveman walked the Earth. There is only one answer to why we enjoy these goodies today and not yesteryear. It's the growth in human knowledge, ingenuity along with specialization and trade that led to the industrialization, coupled with personal liberty and private property rights.

For most of mankind's existence, he has been self-sufficient and spent most of his time simply eking out a living. In pre-industrial societies, and in some places today, the most optimistic scenario for the ordinary person was to be able to eke out enough to meet his physical needs for another day. With the rise of industrialization and development of markets, and the concomitant rise in human productivity that yielded seemingly ceaseless economic progress, it was no longer necessary for mankind to spend his entire day to meet his physical needs. People became able to satisfy these needs with less and less time. This made it possible for more people to have the time to read, become educated in the sciences and liberal arts, gain more knowledge and become more productive. The resulting wealth also enabled them the opportunity to develop spiritually and culturally through attending the arts and participate in other life activities that were formerly within the purview of the rich.

Contrary to the myths we hear about how overpopulation causes poverty, poor health, unemployment, malnutrition and overcrowding, human beings are the most valuable resource and the more of them the better. There is absolutely no relationship between high populations and economic despair. For example, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, formerly Zaire, has a meager population density of 22 people per square kilometer while Hong Kong has a massive population density of 6,571 people per square kilometer. Hong Kong is 300 times more crowded than the Congo. If there were any merit to the population control crowd's hysteria, Hong Kong would be in abject poverty while the Congo flourishes. Yet Hong Kong's annual per capita income is $28,000 while the Congo's is $309, making it the world's poorest country.


Walter E. Williams

Dr. Williams serves on the faculty of George Mason University as John M. Olin Distinguished Professor of Economics and is the author of 'Race and Economics: How Much Can Be Blamed on Discrimination?' and 'Up from the Projects: An Autobiography.'
 
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