Last weekend, an infrequent Anderson family reunion was held in Knoxville, Tennessee. I didn't go, but my brother Jon and his family did. One of the cousins is really into genealogy, and she's done extensive research into the Anderson family roots. She even got DNA from Uncle Walt in order to do a study of where the family originated based upon genetic characteristics. It turns out from that study that at least one line of the family came from Scandinavia. We are Vikings, raiders and traders across Europe and much of Asia, and discoverers of North America five hundred years before Columbus sailed into the Caribbean.
Jon also told me that wood shacks, some with blue tarps for roofs, are still in the hills outside Knoxville, home to poor people. Politicians and economists like to debate economic policy, and it's clear capitalism in its various stripes has produced more wealth for more people than any other economic theory to date. Poverty remains, however, and, all else to one side, poverty is a brake on the economy. It limits productivity and forces resources to be allocated to areas that do not maximize wealth creation. Clearly, for all its strengths, capitalism is an incomplete economic theory. But, of course, economics as a discipline has only been around for fewer than three centuries. A more robust, rigorous theory that contemplates opportunity and basic needs and individual choice may be in the future.