For decades most people knew Bono as a musician with the group U2 and a social activist. But today many of his fans would be surprised to hear him promote some of the benefits of capitalism.
At a World Economic Forum, he made this observation. “Capitalism is not immoral—it’s amoral. It requires our instruction. Capitalism has taken more people out of poverty than any other ‘ism.’ But it is a wild beast and, if not tamed, it can chew up a lot of people along the way.” As you can see, he isn’t a complete supporter of the free market but is willing to give some appreciation for what capitalism has done to reduce extreme poverty.
Hugh Whelchel, Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics, begins his essay with this quote from Bono. He then goes on to document something I have talked about with a number of economists and theologians on the Point of View radio talk show. Capitalism has been able to raise more than one billion people around the world out of extreme poverty.
On one of my radio programs, I quoted a Barna survey of Americans. Three-fourths of those surveyed believed that world poverty had increased. Only 7 percent thought it decreased. Scott Todd in his book, Hope Rising, reminds us that in 1981, a majority (52%) of the developing world’s population lived in extreme poverty. That percentage has been cut by more than half.
Hugh Whelchel reminds us that a recent Gallup poll shows that a majority (51%) of young people favor socialism over capitalism. The increased visibilities of members of Congress who openly describe themselves as socialist suggest that the percentage of young people embracing socialism might increase.
These young people need to pay attention to Bono and the world economic statistics that demonstrate the power of a free market to relieve poverty.