At a closer look, however, the “gifts” turned out to be economic traps, restricting people’s choices in health care, education, and housing. Even moving to another city was an almost insurmountable problem. Such government “largesse” turned people into slaves of the state. Little wonder it resulted in a third world-type poverty.

But the international income gap is not set in stone. When some Asian countries admitted that their poverty was the consequence of archaic political and economic systems, they remodeled themselves and embraced capitalism. It caused a torrent of sob stories in the Western media, in which well-paid journalists championed “economic equality and justice” by blaming local and Western entrepreneurs of running sweatshop economies. Armies of smug armchair egalitarians participated in well-funded, professionally orchestrated boycotts against companies like Nike that dared build factories in the area and give jobs to poor Asian families.

It almost seemed they didn’t like the fact that the Asians made an effort to improve their lot instead of begging and demanding aid from richer nations like the rest of the third world did. But the Asians knew better. Today, such formerly poor countries as Hong Kong, Singapore, and South Korea enjoy median household incomes that are twice as high as those in the former Soviet republics, which continued to protect their labor. They achieved it not by accumulating grievances and demanding entitlements, but by releasing their potential through free enterprise and technological advancements. And others are on the way.

Even the Chinese communists have come to the realization that, instead of exporting “the workers’ paradise” they would be better off exporting consumer goods. Seeing that their experiments in “fairness” resulted in disastrous poverty, they scaled back forced equality and jump-started a new semi-capitalist economy by entering into a symbiotic relationship with the arch-capitalist America. The last thing China needs right now is for the U.S. to turn into a China, which would be a giant step backwards for both nations.

In the past, Marxist state-run economies had to rely on the capitalist free market to determine the true cost of their own products. Today, as major capitalist economies themselves are falling under the spell of anti-market regulations, the true cost of their own products is also becoming unclear, causing an unsustainable growth of wages and cost of living. This leaves the least regulated economies of the upstart capitalist nations as the only reliable gauge of the true cost of labor and products.

The more realistic foreign wages may seem scandalously low to Americans who don’t cringe at $4 for a grande latte. Quite a few of them enjoy sitting at Starbucks in the company of like-minded comrades — each holding a cup of overpriced coffee — and complaining about the “unfairness” of this economy, the income gap, big corporations taking advantage of low-wage foreign laborers, and the outsourcing of American jobs. They would surely be surprised to learn that the amount they’re paying for one grande latte may actually be the true cost of their own day’s work and in a truly fair economy, it would also be a fair daily wage. But they could still go to Starbucks — in a fair economy, a cup of coffee might also cost about ten cents, in addition to a forty cent lunch. And — best of all — low domestic wages would bring those outsourced jobs back!