In the midst of the row about welfare reform, I finished J P Floru’s excellent new book, Heavens on Earth: How To Create Mass Prosperity.

JP surveys the salient history of eight relevant countries: the USA, Germany, the UK, Hong Kong, China, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore. In every case, people were lifted out of poverty by wealth creation through free enterprise. Mass prosperity was not created by the equal sharing of misery, by redistributing what others had, but by strong property rights, sound money and economic liberty under the rule of law.

Some of the countries surveyed have profound shortcomings of personal and political liberty and JP deals with those, but the key message is the same: it is economic freedom which alleviates poverty. Economic planning, socialism, never meets its goal. State collectivism is a disaster. Prosperity isn’t magic: capitalism is the only way to sustain economic progress.

What a pity then that capitalism has been spoiled by easy money and socialised commercial risk in banking, but that is a subject for another day. JP’s book is an excellent reminder that humanity knows full well how to lift the poor out of poverty: we just need the courage to get on with it against an extremely difficult backdrop.

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