Flat White

How the progressive left perpetuates poverty

11 April 2022

9:00 AM

11 April 2022

9:00 AM

Like many of us, I am always baffled by the nihilism and self-loathing attitude towards the West that dominates our offices, dinner parties, and restaurants.

Black Lives Matter protesters can loot small businesses during the middle of a pandemic. Climate Change activists can obstruct traffic streets while holding signs advocating for socialism or communism – causes that have killed 100 million people since the Russian Revolution.

In inner-city suburbs of Australia, I’ve seen murals where the Australian flag is being shot and lit on fire.

Instead of calling these people out for openly supporting movements that have committed some of the greatest atrocities of the 20th century, we celebrate them.

On the flip of a coin, when people are fighting for important things like freedom – the Canadian Trucker Blockade or the Melbourne Lockdown Protests – they are written off as far-right looneys and neo-Nazis.

The double standards are astounding. If you are on the wrong side of politics, be careful of these vicious representatives of our pseudo-collective conscience because they’ve turned virtue signalling into a blood sport.

Whenever I hear our modern-day saints – the Cardinals of the new 21st century Church – adding up the injustices and flaws in our society, I always ask them the same question I have asked several times in these very pages; ‘All objective data suggest we are fortunate enough to live in the most prosperous and inclusive society in human history. Can you name a better period to live in?’

As you could imagine, I am always met with crickets. None of these people, who have a bizarre fetish for victimhood and ostensibly solving social issues through meaningless conversation, can name any other time than now.

The jury is still out as to whether I will ever get a credible response. Though, I recently keep coming across an interesting answer worth sharing.

In retort to my question, I am repeatedly told that Vietnam’s economic boom over the past twenty years shows how socialism is superior to capitalism. Furthermore, they suggest we adopt this model to end all the problems the world is experiencing.

As the old saying goes ‘if it’s too good to be true, then it probably is’. Vietnam is not a shining beacon of hope for socialism. In fact, it’s the opposite.

According to the World Bank, ‘Vietnam’s shift from a centrally planned to a market economy has transformed the country from one of the poorest in the world into a lower middle-income country. Vietnam now is one of the most dynamic emerging countries in the East Asia region.’

The Vietnam success story started in 1986 when the government sought to liberalise their economy in 1986, under a policy known as ‘Đổi Mới’, which saw them switch to a socialist-oriented market economy. 

Before the restructure, central planning and isolationism were not effective apparatuses for helping the country recover from the Vietnam War. In 1985, the GDP per capita was US$231, about 70 per cent of its population was living below the poverty line and the economy was on the brink of collapse.

Change was needed and Đổi Mới’ is widely considered a success, with the poverty rate being reduced to 58 per cent by 1993.

Thanks to this strong foundation, Vietnam underwent dramatic economic changes in the early 2000s which expanded the roles of the private sector, saw the government sell state-owned assets and a Bilateral Trade Agreement signed with the United States. 

Following this, Vietnam almost immediately became one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

The World Bank reported that, ‘Between 2002 and 2020, GDP per capita increased 2.7 times, reaching almost US$2,800. Over the same period, poverty rates declined sharply from over 32 per cent in 2011 to below 2 per cent.’

In terms of infrastructure, the country went from 14 per cent having access to electricity in 1993 to 99 per cent in 2016. 

Health standards also rapidly improved, ‘Infant mortality rates fell from 32.6 per 1,000 live births in 1993 to 16.7 per 1,000 in 2017. Life expectancy rose from 70.5 to 76.3 years between 1990 and 2016.’

After being considered one of the most impoverished countries on earth just 30 years ago, the World Bank says it is now on track to become a high-income nation by 2045. 

Many economists credit the move towards a globally-oriented market economy for rescuing the country, showing how quickly capitalism can generate wealth, education, and a better quality of life for entire populations. 

And to those who still think capitalism is soul crushing – like The Guardian who ignored all objective data in 2015 reporting ‘Vietnam 40 years on: how a communist victory gave way to capitalist corruption’ – the Pew Research Centre found 95 per cent of Vietnamese people support capitalism. 

This leads me to two possible conclusions. The progressive left is blinded by their pursuit of equality and cannot see the unintended consequences, or they are misanthropes who do not want humankind to prosper unless it’s through their monolithic worldview.

I hope it’s the former.

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