Wednesday, April 11, 2018

You Keep Using That Phrase, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

Statue of liberty in a cage An article published this week in Foreign Policy brought to mind the memetic line of Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride, "You Keep Using That Word, I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means."

Writing under the headline "Economic Rights Are Human Rights," Yale University's Samuel Moyn shows by the second paragraph of his article that he doesn't know what he's talking about:

For 40 years, America’s human rights policy has focused narrowly on political and civil liberties and has been coupled with a free market libertarian agenda for the world. By neglecting social and economic rights and the vast disparities both within and among nations, U.S. policy has exacerbated many of the evils it set out to eradicate. It needs an overhaul.

A "free market libertarian agenda for the world" is exactly what has promoted economic rights and liberties for the past generation. By promoting free market policies around the world, poverty has been reduced to a tiny fraction of what it was only 40 years ago. People nearly everywhere are healthier, wealthier, and better educated than their parents and grandparents were.

Why only "nearly everywhere"? Because some countries have refused to liberalize their economies, thus perpetuating and deepening the poverty experienced by all but the political elites and their cronies in the limited business sector. Compare, for instance, Botswana and Zimbabwe -- neighboring countries but one is politically free and economically prosperous while the other is both politically oppressed and economically depressed.  The conditions on both sides of the Botswana-Zimbabwe border are inextricably intertwined.

Check out anything posted to if you are skeptical of my claims.

By the way, I clicked on the article;s link because I agree with the headline: Economic rights are, indeed, human rights.  In fact, I addressed that issue from a somewhat different angle way back in 1991, just as the economic freedom revolution began to advance around the globe.

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