Henry Hazlitt opened his book “The Conquest of Poverty” stating that “the history of poverty is almost the history of humanity. Ancient writers left us specific descriptions of it. Poverty was the normal rule”.
Famine, Hazlitt recalls, was the order of the day even in countries like England and France, where it is inconceivable today. The possibility of overcoming all that misery thanks to the market economy and freedom is what the 2015 Nobel Prize winner in economics, Angus Deaton, has called “the great escape”. According to Deaton, “today’s standards of living are much higher than a century ago and more people are escaping death in childhood and living long enough to experience that prosperity.”
In our Latin American countries, where serious historical analysis is scarce and populations are prey to populism, it is rarely understood that the benefits that human beings have been thanks to peaceful cooperation and voluntary exchange. From the shoes we wear, the foundations of our houses, the telephone with which we communicate, the refrigerator or the vehicle that transports us, are the product of exchange. We Latin Americans can acquire these goods due to our ability to produce other goods and services, receive a salary and, therefore, have the purchasing power to buy what we import and which has been produced in a collaboration scheme where there have been millions of transactions.
This was what Leonard Read reflected in his famous essay “I, pencil”, where he demonstrated that no person in the world would be capable of producing a simple lead pencil on their own, that is, without making use of the specialized knowledge of others. and exchanges with others. The lack of appreciation for human ingenuity that has taken us out of the caves and has transported us to a modern world, where life expectancy and the quality of it are today much higher than those of the noble classes of antiquity, submerges many Latin Americans in an absurd story that rejects the system of economic freedoms.
The truth is that these are nothing more than personal freedoms to be able to undertake, acquire goods and sell them, work, hire, fire, have property without it being threatened, freedom of competition, absence of arbitrary privileges given to interest groups, stable currency , trade openness, moderate taxes, limited government, and reasonable regulations.
All of this is what populist socialism seeks to destroy when it comes to power by labeling it “neoliberalism.” This shows that, in Latin America, unfortunately, liberal democracy did not triumph, since democracy is used as a masquerade, a true farce to advance liberticidal projects that seek the appearance of popular legitimacy. That is why it is so difficult to find a serious concern for the limits to the power of the State, for the rule of law, the protection of personal and individual rights, the existence of a truly free press and a civil society capable of articulating to confront the abuses of the can.
This is how liberticide advances, with or without majority support, but always obtaining the same result: misery and oppression in the name of equality and social justice.