Has Capitalism Delivered?

Has poverty been alleviated? Has hunger been conquered? Has human misery been reduced? We have already noted that according to the World Bank and UN studies, globally speaking, over 1 billion people are unable to have two square meals a day and are haunted by hunger and starvation and over 2 billion are living below the poverty line. Sixty per cent of the human race does not have clean water or safe shelter. Despite millions of dollars of foreign aid, the wretchedness of the dispossessed has aggravated. Do not assume that poverty is only a Third World phenomenon. Even in America, the richest country of the world, poverty is very much a reality for almost 1/8th of the population. Economic inequalities are galore. Wealth and power are concentrated in a few hands. In real terms the common man’s wages in the US in the last 30 years have gone down while fortunes of stockbrokers and those dealing in bonds and stocks have improved manifold. The latest figures show that 14 per cent of the American population lives below the poverty line; and if one takes the racial component, amongst the blacks those below the poverty line are around 28 per cent.

California is the richest American State. In fact it comes 7th in order of the richest economies of the world, but the incidence of poverty is around 30 per cent.

In Europe, Germany is the richest and most powerful country, but even after ten years of integration Eastern regions show a degree of unemployment that is around 24 per cent.

So, the fate of the poor is not doomed only in the Third World countries. The predicament of the under privileged is almost universal, differing in quantum and degree. This is so because the dominant economic system is unjust and the prevailing paradigm is flawed. The system does not make the humans as the centerpiece and ignores the moral dimension. It is the economic dimension that dominates and makes the system out and out exploitative. Progress and prosperity are not only selective, the system is also unstable and fragile. Mankind’s future is tied by thread to a big financial bubble, and more and more air is being pumped into the bubble to keep it floating. When will it burst?  Nobody knows.


Source: Contemporary Economic Challenges and Islam, Khurshid Ahmed. Republished with permission. 

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