Re: A Challenge To All Extropians/Free Martketeers

Erik Moeller (
Mon, 27 Apr 1998 19:27:53 +0200

Dan Fabbulich, referring to the poor:

>I also happen to think they'll be just fine under capitalism,

OK, let's see whether the poor are fine under capitalism today. It has been
often expressed on this list that the US are "not great, but certainly the
best system there is".

The facts (I cite from "Fifty Facts about Poverty" by Nancy Leidenfrost, see for the complete list together with
the references):

* In 1991, the United States had approximately 35.7 million
people living below the poverty level. This represents 14.2
percent of the Nation's population (U.S. Bureau of the
Census, 1992).

* One in five children (14.3 million) lived in poverty in
1991, the highest number since 1965. The majority of poor
children are white; most have a parent that works; and most
live outside large cities, in rural and suburban America
(U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992).

* The United States, compared to other countries, ranks 20th
in infant mortality (UNICEF, State of World's Children,
1992, U.S. Data from NCHS, 1991).

* The United States, compared to other countries, ranks 17th
in the world in percentage of
1-year-olds fully vaccinated against polio (UNICEF State of
the World's Children Report 1993, 1992, U.S. Immunization
Survey, 1985).

* The United States, compared to other countries, ranks 14th
in life expectancy and 4th in literacy (Howell, B., 1990).

* The United States has one of the highest degrees of
inequality in distribution of income (Smeeding, T.M.,
O'Higgins, M., & Rainwater, L., 1990). (I have more sources on this, if
anyone wants them, just ask. -- EM)

* The United States has higher child poverty than seven other
major industrialized western countries (UNICEF, State of the
World's Children Report 1993, 1992). The U.S. child poverty
rate is dramatically higher than those of Canada, Germany,
Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, and the United Kingdom.

* America's wealth as measured by the gross national product
(GNP) reached an all-time high in 1990. Between 1979 and
1989, GNP grew by more than one-fourth, but child poverty
increased by 21 percent (Johnson, C.M., Miranda, L.,
Sherman, A., & Weill, J.D., 1991).

* About half of the Nation's poor in 1991 were children under
18 years of age (40.2). Children are almost twice as likely
to be poor than any other group of Americans, including the
elderly (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992).

* In 1991, the poverty rate among children in female-headed
families was 55 percent, more than five times the rate among
married-couple families (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992). (so much for
equal chances -- EM)

And for those who believe that the poor are not "really poor":

* Poor families are less likely to have nutritionally adequate
diets than nonpoor families. Children who have inadequate
diets lag in growth and have more frequent, more severe, and
longer-lasting infectious diseases. Inadequate nutrition,
including iron deficiency (with or without anemia), may also
affect cognitive development and social behavior, with
undernourished children being more apathetic (Kotch, J., &
Shackelford, J., 1989).

* Poor children are believed to experience mental and
emotional problems more frequently than nonpoor ones (Gould,
M.S., Wunsch-Hitzig, R., & Dohrenwend, B., 1981). The 1987
report, Children's Mental Health: Problems and Services,
noted the relationship between poverty and minority group
membership and environmental stresses. These stresses posed
risks to children's mental health (Dougherty, D.H., Saxe,
L.M., Cross, T., & Silverman, N., 1987).

Those were just extracts. Go check out the whole file.

What am I asking for? Socialism? Certainly not, although many Extropians
still seem to believe that if one isn't a free market capitalist, he must
automatically be a defender of the big evil governments and possibly a
potential socialist (or a real one). These facts just show that a
deregulated economy tends to produce more poverty and inequality than a
correctly [!] regulated one. Add automatism to this, and you got the High
Tech Middle Ages.

Erik Moeller