What leads to prosperity?

Ian Walsh discusses the common misconceptions about prosperity, as well as how it really comes about.

We should always remember this. Increases in productive capacity and technological advancement do not always lead to welfare and when they do, they do not automatically do so immediately. The industrial revolution certainly did lead to increased human welfare, but if you were of the generations thrown off the land and made to work in the early factories, often 6 1/2 days a week, in horrible conditions, you would not have thought so. You were, in virtually every way, worse off than you were before by being thrown off the land, and so were your children. A few industrialists and the people around them certainly did very well, but that is not prosperity, nor is it affluence.

And a gain of affluence which lasts less than two centuries and ends in ecological disaster which kills billions, well, our descendents may not call that a success, or nor may they think it was worth it.

Prosperity, in the end, is as much about power and politics as it is about technology and productive ability. The ability to make more things does not ensure we are making the right things, or that the people who need them, get them. Productive capacity which is not shared is not prosperity.

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