What has lifted more people out of poverty, charity or economic freedom? It’s not even close.
Charity is wonderful, and I’ll be the first to say we have an obligation to share our gifts, be they material, intellectual or talent oriented. Yet whether our redistributionist endeavor is charity — and charity is voluntary redistribution — or the less noble, coercive, outsourcing of charity known as government programs, there first must be wealth to redistribute. But where does wealth come from?
If we go back to biblical times and beyond, a man might be considered wealthy if he had 70 goats. In point of fact, the standard for wealth was so different that the US’s average middle-class person today — with his car, TVs, computer, refrigerator and many other luxuries — would have been considered wealthy for most of history. And our average “poor” man, who also usually has an old car and various creature comforts, likewise has a material lifestyle that would have been the envy of our forebears. The reason for this is simple: there is far, far more wealth in the world now than in ages past.