I recently read an article by an economics professor about how rich we really are, and what were the real causes of that wealth. Her argument was that equality, liberty and justice is what propelled us in a world of infinite riches, and that it will go on as long as people are given a chance to be free.
She explains how all this began in the 17th century Holland and by the 18th century it had moved to England and the American colonies. By 2010 the level of enrichment was between 1000 to 3000 percent from the levels of 1800 in terms of average daily income.
Those who have gained the most was not the rich, as commonly thought, but the poor. If one looks only at the basic comfort in essentials it was them who gained the most. As for financial inequality, it was greater in the 1800 and 1900 than it is now. Paul Collier, an Oxford economist notes that only 50 years ago 4 billion people out of 5 billion lived in miserable conditions. In 1800 it was 95 percent of one billion.
According to this economist what caused this increase in wealth was liberalism, in the free-market European sense. When masses of ordinary people have equality before the law and equality of social dignity, and then left to their own devices, they will become creative and energetic.
I do not dispute the figures, but the rising tide never rises every boat and there are always some who are left behind. It is to them that a good social security net is essential. One may think that the rise of demagogues presently in various countries is in part due to governments entering into trade deals without a good enough social net.