Economic growth is a widely debated topic that is constantly gaining more attention. As a result, it has been widely criticized with a number of arguments including a problem with a gap between the rich and poor, the environmental consequences, as well as a number of others. The wide majority of these arguments are based on morals and a lack of knowledge in the concept of free-market economics, which clearly makes their arguments irrelevant and unqualified to even be presented in such a debate. Economic growth has been clearly proven throughout history to lead to a grander standard of living for everyone.
In order to even discuss economic growth some things should be defined. A country is considered developed when it can meet the core values of development. The core values are “fundamental human needs” (Todaro and Smith 21). They consist of “sustenance, self-esteem, and freedom from servitude” (Todaro and Smith 21). These core values are generally state that if a country is developed to the point where its people have the ability to meet their basic needs, to have a feeling of self-purpose and worth, and a general freedom that allows them to make choices, a reasonable consensus can be reached that the mentioned country is developed (Todaro and Smith 21).
The critics of economic growth often argue that economic growth produces negative consequences. They argue that economic growth negatively effects the environment; however, they fail to understand that most of the environment is replaceable, and that in which is not usually has very little significance in the first place. The economic thought would be, if it had more significance the entrepreneur would identify that and capitalize on it. These critics are obviously blinded by their own ignorance to make such an argument. The real consequence of economic growth is an increase in technology that supports a higher standard of living for a larger population. Entrepreneurs capitalize on what people are willing to, and can afford to buy. If people want food but can not afford it, one will generally find an entrepreneur trying to find a way to produce the food in a way to make it affordable in order to gain his own wealth.
If one observes the steps the United States took in order to become the wealthiest nation, one can see that economic growth is a good thing. The United States began as an agricultural economy, and as it aged, the country became more industrialized with more wealth. People no longer relied on their crops, but relied on a profession. They then had left over capital. As people began to have more capital, they began to afford a higher standard of living that the entrepreneurs were quickly prepared to provide. This example shows how economic growth is a good thing.
In the beginning of the United States there was a higher demand for economic growth because people wanted to meet their basic needs. Once their basic needs were met, they continued to demand a standard of living that was reasonably equal to the majority of the country. Today, there is less of a demand for growth, but a high amount of criticism against wealth. This criticism is caused by the ignorance of those that criticize. Those who argue that the wealthy are too wealthy or the poor are too poor, do not understand that their comparison of what exactly is the poor or wealthy is wrong. The wealthy man who is dying of cancer is not as wealthy as a factory worker with good health.
The wealthy man who is dying with cancer can not buy himself a cure, so one could argue that he is not wealthy enough to live. Another example of a failure in the comparison criticism is that a poverty level person in the United States is at the middle class level in China. There tends to be a more criticism of wealth, the wealthier and higher the standard of living gets.
Once people have a decent or developed standard of living they no longer are concerned about their basic needs, but can become concerned with other’s basic needs. This is a moral issue. Economics addresses morals from the stand point of “put your money where your mouth is.” Most people who argue the moral issue do not do that. With economic growth, the entrepreneur can help the people to earn a surplus of income, and while doing so, he can help to increase technology that will make a higher standard of living more affordable. The criticism that one can be too wealthy compared to everyone else, can easily be rejected on the basis that it is in the wealthy person’s best interest to reinvest that wealth in order to increase it, creating more wealth and additional technology that will help to increase the standard of living for everyone.
The lyrics presented in the prompt certainly show both a demand for economic growth and a criticism of wealth. In showing these two arguments they present an actual problem that developed and underdeveloped countries face. The lyrics by Rage Against the Machine present the idea that a developed country should try to do something about the suffering of a developed country. They do this through music that a developed country would listen to, because the country has less concern for basic needs, and searches for other things to enjoy in life. Music is a good way to communicate their message because it instills emotion. This emotion is not driven my economical reasoning, it is driven by illogical conclusion that is accepted as logical, due to the listener’s economic ignorance. The other set of lyrics by The Talking Heads demonstrates the idea that by encouraging economic growth in developing countries, jobs in developed countries will be lost, and there could possibly be a decrease in the standard of living for the developed country. This raises the issue of trading between developed and developing countries. Developed countries need to keep some kind of jobs; however, developing countries need jobs and money in order to become better developed.
Overall economic growth is clearly a good thing, and it may have problems, but it is much better than regulating growth and preventing an increase in technology and standard of living. People can criticize the wealthy because the wealthy give them what they think is something to compare themselves to. Without the wealthy being wealthy the rest of the population would have a lot of difficulty in raising their standard of living. Economic growth helps everyone and those that attempt to argue against it, are only supporting the argument that they themselves are ignorant of free market economics and the logical theory and evidence presented behind it.
Todaro, Michael, and Stephen C. Smith. Economic Development. 9th ed. Boston: Addison Wesley, 2006.