U.N. has new weapon to help fight poverty: It's private enterprise What others say

Posted: Monday, March 08, 2004

A United Nations commission has found a way to eradicate, or at least greatly alleviate, poverty worldwide.

Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, a co-chairman of the panel, told reporters Monday that private enterprise was the best long-term weapon against poverty.

Former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo, the other co-chairman, added: "In many developing countries, the private sector fails to rise to its potential in creating wealth and defeating poverty because property rights aren't truly protected and government regulation of business is excessive or of bad quality."

These are not new ideas. The Wall Street Journal and Heritage Foundation compile an annual study that always shows the most prosperous countries are those with a good climate for free enterprise low taxes, free trade, minimum government intervention in the economy and considerable protection of property rights.

Impoverished countries, the study invariably shows, are the ones with the most restrictions on private enterprise.

For too long, it has seemed that the United Nations blamed poverty on insufficient charity by developed countries. As the Martin-Zedillo report implies, a short-term fix is not the solution to a long-term problem.

A fifth of all people on Earth live on less than $1 a day. At last, the United Nations has a workable plan for combating that problem.

Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville - March 4

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