When it comes to “diseases of poverty,” Bryan Caplan knows that the right prescription has nothing to do with redistribution and everything to do with creating conditions that foster capitalism and economic growth. He marvels at the inattention of populist pundits and politicians to the realities of economic history:
“It’s almost like the last two centuries never happened. Quick recap: During the last two hundred years, living standards exploded even though the distribution of income remained quite unequal. How is such a thing possible? Because total production per person drastically increased. During this era, no country escaped dire poverty via redistribution, but many escaped dire poverty via increased production.”
I linked to an article yesterday about prerequisites for prosperity in my post entitled “Ending Terror With Economic Empowerment.” The author of that article, Harry Veryser, might just as well have said that those conditions are prerequisites for enhanced public health, since as Caplan notes, economic development and public health are inextricably connected.
Dr. Ron Paul makes this same general point in “Liberty, Not Government, Key To Containing Ebola.” He gives great emphasis to the destructive effect of war on the ability of any country to develop an effective health care system:
“It is no coincidence that many of those countries suffering from mass Ebola outbreaks have also suffered from the plagues of dictatorship and war. The devastation wrought by years of war has made it impossible for these countries to develop modern healthcare infrastructure. For example, the 14-year civil war in Liberia left that country with almost no trained doctors. Those who could leave the war-torn country were quick to depart. Sadly, American foreign aid props up dictators and encourages militarism in these countries.”
As Paul says, powerful government often inhibits a country’s ability to prosper and improve public health. The ebola epidemic offers a case in point, not simply with respect to controlling the spread of the disease in Western Africa, but in the counterproductive calls for government bans on travel to and from the region. Shikha Dalmia lays out the case against such a ban, which include its questionable efficacy in preventing the disease from traveling, the insurmountable obstacle the ban would present to private relief efforts, and the instability it would create in the region. Dalmia calls out Republicans for their hypocrisy in this regard:
“Republicans would do themselves and everyone else a big favor by suspending their calls for a travel ban and sticking to their alleged opposition to heavy-handed government intervention.“