Welcome to Poverty, Prosperity, and Opportunity!
In this course:
1. Learn about the causes of economic development and getting people out of poverty.
2. Learn what drives income and wealth inequality and what causes them to become exacerbated.
3. Learn how social enterprises and entrepreneurship can help communities grow and thrive, even when government policy gets in the way.
In the first lesson, we’ll define and explore poverty and prosperity. Through production, saving, entrepreneurship, and exchange, communities emerge from poverty and provide for their wants and needs. Through capital accumulation, economic growth can become a self-reinforcing cycle, but any economy at any stage of growth can participate in and benefit from trade and a global division of labor.
Next, we’ll gain some perspective on income and wealth inequality. We’ll see how, in a strict sense, all market economies will have some level of inequality as people choose various jobs and various goods and services to enjoy. Nevertheless, certain government policies can create “winners” and “losers” such that economic inequality can be exacerbated beyond what would exist organically in the market economy.
In Lesson 3, we’ll single out entrepreneurship as a critical driver of economic growth. Entrepreneurs lift themselves, their employees, and their customers out of poverty by creating wealth and jobs in their communities.
After that, we’ll cover some of the moral questions about economics and the market economy. It turns out that, despite frequent mischaracterizations, there is a surprising amount of cooperation and mutual benefit inherent in the division of labor and voluntary exchange.
Finally, we’ll analyze the drawbacks to using government policy to “fix” poverty. The best solutions to social problems are found in effective entrepreneurship, whether or not the entrepreneur has an explicit "social goal". Often, government programs cause the very problems they are intended to fix. These unintended consequences result in even more government programs and interventions until a giant, tangled web of laws and bureaucracies totally stops and even reverses economic development.
By the end of this course, you will be able to explain and identify the causes of economic growth and what hampers economic growth. The existence of poverty in the world won’t be a mystery, as you will be able to see what’s preventing entrepreneurship from being unleashed, or what government interventions are preventing people from participating in international trade and the division of labor. Economic inequality won’t be a mystery either, as you will have a new, balanced view, in which inequality is seen as a necessary component of a functioning market economy, but that it can be worsened by government interventions.