Capitalism and Neoliberalism Have Made the World Better

Cato's Johan Norberg on politics, progress, and why he remains optimistic.

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"People think the world is in chaos. People think that the world is on fire right now for all the wrong reasons," says author and Cato Institute senior fellow Johan Norberg. "There is a segment of politicians who try to scare us to death, because then we clamber for safety we need the strong man in a way."

But despite the political situation in Europe and America, Norberg remains optimistic. His new book, Progress: Ten Reasons to Look Forward to the Future, shows what humans are capable of when given freedom and the ability to exchange new ideas. "In the 25 years that have been considered neo-liberalism and capitalism run amok what has happened? Well, we've reduced chronic undernourishment around the world by 40 percent, child mortality and illiteracy by half, and extreme poverty from 37 to 10 percent," explains Norberg

Reason's Nick Gillespie sat down with Norberg during the International Students for Liberty Conference to talk about his book, the current political climate in the West, and how technology is creating a younger generation that will look past politics for answers to societal problems.

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Edited by Alex Manning. Cameras by Mark McDaniel and Todd Krainin.

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  1. Cracked.com of all places had a podcast on exactly this subject. It is incredibly common across the political spectrum to believe that 1) things used to be way better “back in the day,” and 2) we are on the brink of utter disaster. From a big picture perspective in terms of average quality of life for a human being anywhere on Earth, both of these things are objectively and demonstrably false. But it’s practically an axiomatic, unquestionable premise that society is circling the drain. It’s madness.

    I got in to it with a group of far-left anarchists on Facebook about this. I seriously would have had a better chance defending Stalin than I did saying that capitalism has been an extremely positive force in the world.

    1. Because there are only two possible approaches to the economy: completely unregulated free market capitalism with no possibility of any taxation. Or soul crushing communism.

      1. Because there are only two possible approaches to the economy: completely unregulated free market capitalism with no possibility of any taxation. Or soul crushing communism.

        Hmmm…. Well since this “unregulatard free market” thing you seem to keep referencing either is a reference to a thing that actually exists and DOES regulate itself or a reference to something that has never existed in any place other than the fevered imaginations of neo-marxists I guess I must be confused about whether you are one of those trolls with a marginal level of self awareness or the just the regular sort.

  2. I’ve read the book but have not watched this interview. Did Nick ask Johan about his call for carbon taxes in his book? Much of the book is meticulously footnoted. That statement about carbon taxes was not footnoted.

    Here’s the statement:

    Putting a price on emissions, with a revenue-neutral carbon tax, so that people pay for the CO2 they emit, would help.

  3. Interesting that both words (capitalism and neoliberalism) were coined as insults.

  4. A quote from the article: “In the 25 years that have been considered neo-liberalism and capitalism run amok what has happened?” When did this happen? Nobody ever told me about this! I guess I live on a better planet than the author. On my planet socialism and capitalism have worked together under a constitutional democracy to provide us with healthier food, better education, better tools to exchange ideas, etc. Someone said 90% of all inventors that have ever lived are alive today. As for the title of this article: “Capitalism and Neoliberalism Have Made the World Better.” This is true, but the author seems to say neo-liberalism and capitalism operate in a vacuum, and therefore, get all the credit.

    1. Funny, on my planet socialism killed more than 100 million people last century. It’s the ultimate weapon of mass destruction. Just ask the flamingos in Venezuela.

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  6. We “clamber” for safety?

    Proofread much, Reason?

    1. Seems right to me.

  7. What is “neoliberalism?” As far as I can tell it means support for fundamental economic interventionism and the regulatory state. Neoliberalism is a form of crony capitalism, pushing the economy in various directions and picking, or at least strongly suggesting, winners and losers. Not being socialist isn’t good enough, dammit.

  8. just as Phillip implied I am alarmed that someone can get paid $6887 in one month on the computer . published here…………. https://tinyurl.com/2dayjob-com

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