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Peter B

How to end global poverty:

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Posted (edited)

Apologies in advance to the mods: I hope this post doesn't breach the rule about promoting "...an agenda in favour or against any party, group or individual."

Here's a fascinating article about a way to eliminate extreme poverty in the world - and for a (relatively) small cost.

http://www.abc.net.a.../24/3950657.htm

The proportion of the world's population living in utter destitution is the smallest it has ever been. Nevertheless there are still 1.2 billion people living on less than $1.25 per day. That is, on less than what you could buy in your country with $1.25. Less than the price of a soft drink...

Despite the good intentions behind intergovernmental projects like the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and numerous development charities, international aid programmes have so far had a negligible influence on reducing destitution and cannot be relied upon to fill the gap...

Yet there is something we haven't tried yet, despite its stunning obviousness: giving destitute people money. $1.25 is a very small amount of money. That is why it is the World Bank's threshold for utter destitution. But the other side of that is that $1.25 is also a trivial piffling amount of money, and the average shortfall per destitute person from that threshold is even smaller. Imagine if the richest 1.2 billion people in the world were twinned with the poorest, and each rich person gave 50 cents per day to their poor twin: destitution would be pretty much eliminated and the rich would hardly even notice the cost.

Personally I think there are (resolvable) problems, but I'm curious to hear what others here think about the idea, both in terms of practicalities and philosophy.

Edited by Peter B
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Depends on where you live. What we think of as $1.25 in our currency will translate to something far less in another and may or may not have the same buying power.

In the U.S, fifty cents won't buy squat let alone 1.25. so just giving a paltry amount won't do anything in the long run.

If we really want to end poverty then we need to stop exporting all the jobs and if we, as a nation produced everything we use (or at least 80 to 90%) then nearly everyone would have a job.

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Depends on where you live. What we think of as $1.25 in our currency will translate to something far less in another and may or may not have the same buying power.

In the U.S, fifty cents won't buy squat let alone 1.25. so just giving a paltry amount won't do anything in the long run.

If we really want to end poverty then we need to stop exporting all the jobs and if we, as a nation produced everything we use (or at least 80 to 90%) then nearly everyone would have a job.

Sorry, I'm confused by what you're saying. The article isn't talking about giving 50 cents a day to poor people in the USA. It's talking about giving 50 cents a day to the poorest billion people in the world, in countries where people do actually live on less than $1.25 a day, and where an extra 50 cents a day does make a difference.

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You don't think there are extremely poor people in the U.S living in squalor and filth? Isn't the U.S part of the world?

Again, fifty cents to us here in the U.S will not translate to the same elsewhere and in the end we are still not addressing real issues. We're just covering it up with hand-outs.

Charity is nice but it doesn't address the root causes of poverty.

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Ending poverty is a dream. A pretty one. But albeit a dream nonetheless. It's like those people that try to stop bullying in schools. You can throw money at it all day long but it's not going to change human nature. In order to define people that "have", you need to be able to define people that "don't have". This means we can bring those people who 'don't have' to a level of having but those who already 'have' will bring themselves up to a level of having more. So those who were just brought up to the degree of 'having' were immediately kicked back down to 'not having'. It's the vicious cycle of balance. In order to end poverty, you would need to also end prosperity. If this system was at all possible, communism would be a success.

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Posted (edited)

Why don't poor people just buy more money?

*Disclaimer

For the slower ones, that was a joke.....

Edited by psyche101
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I wonder if these people are aware that global poverty rates have halved in the last 20 years?

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As long as money is involved, there will always been poor people and rich people.

You have to change the need for greed first.

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I wonder if these people are aware that global poverty rates have halved in the last 20 years?

Indeed that is true, but it doesn't mean the problem is solved.

Ending poverty is a dream. A pretty one. But albeit a dream nonetheless. It's like those people that try to stop bullying in schools. You can throw money at it all day long but it's not going to change human nature. In order to define people that "have", you need to be able to define people that "don't have". This means we can bring those people who 'don't have' to a level of having but those who already 'have' will bring themselves up to a level of having more. So those who were just brought up to the degree of 'having' were immediately kicked back down to 'not having'. It's the vicious cycle of balance. In order to end poverty, you would need to also end prosperity. If this system was at all possible, communism would be a success.

That's quite fatalistic of you. Human Nature isn't as bad as you seem to be implying, it's merely a matter of emphasising altruism over greed. There is more than enough wealth in the world for people to have a basic level of wealth which at least gives them the opportunity to climb. And I disagree that ending poverty means ending prosperity, it means extending prosperity to more people. Look at the wealthiest per capita countries, they usually have decent welfare and living wages, and lots of prosperity.

Australia for example has pretty good welfare. It won't buy you a great life here, but there has been issues with people collecting welfare while living in certain places in South East Asia where they can. What it does is keep you out of crippling poverty. We also have a great deal of prosperity, and we don't have a mindset that sharing it with others is any kind of communism, it's just human decency. When there are droughts, floods or bush fires the government has a relief fund and people give freely to help people in other states, who live lives that will never intersect with theirs, because I like to think Australians care about one another. Of course our current PM seems to want to undo all that and move us towards an American system that favours the rich.

One of the biggest steps a country can take to relieve poverty is to emancipate and empower their women, and to grant them reproductive rights. Although there are certain ideologies that stand in the way of that.

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Indeed that is true, but it doesn't mean the problem is solved.

That's quite fatalistic of you. Human Nature isn't as bad as you seem to be implying, it's merely a matter of emphasising altruism over greed. There is more than enough wealth in the world for people to have a basic level of wealth which at least gives them the opportunity to climb. And I disagree that ending poverty means ending prosperity, it means extending prosperity to more people. Look at the wealthiest per capita countries, they usually have decent welfare and living wages, and lots of prosperity.

Australia for example has pretty good welfare. It won't buy you a great life here, but there has been issues with people collecting welfare while living in certain places in South East Asia where they can. What it does is keep you out of crippling poverty. We also have a great deal of prosperity, and we don't have a mindset that sharing it with others is any kind of communism, it's just human decency. When there are droughts, floods or bush fires the government has a relief fund and people give freely to help people in other states, who live lives that will never intersect with theirs, because I like to think Australians care about one another. Of course our current PM seems to want to undo all that and move us towards an American system that favours the rich.

One of the biggest steps a country can take to relieve poverty is to emancipate and empower their women, and to grant them reproductive rights. Although there are certain ideologies that stand in the way of that.

Odd, it sounds like you are describing the US except where we have a mindset that sharing wealth with others is communism. You may like to think that all Australians think alike and care for each other, but you have homeless just like any other country.

How did your current PM get elected if he goes against the grain of every other Australian's ideologies ?

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Odd, it sounds like you are describing the US except where we have a mindset that sharing wealth with others is communism. You may like to think that all Australians think alike and care for each other, but you have homeless just like any other country.

It's not perfect, it's true, but it's probably better to be homeless in Australia than in India or China. We still have a long way to go.

How did your current PM get elected if he goes against the grain of every other Australian's ideologies ?

Fear-mongering about asylum seekers and the general corruption and disunion of the Labor party. Abbott has been in power for less than six months and has already reneged on dozens of campaign promises. He is also buddies with Gina Reinhart and Rupert Murdoch, whose newspapers were blatantly in the tank for him.

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As long as money is involved, there will always been poor people and rich people.

You have to change the need for greed first.

You know i don't think you will solve it then. What if we created a completely socialist system that distributed resources to everyone equality. There are going to be people who just don't use what is given to them. They will eventually have resources they can sell off for something more universally of value and then they will be able to loan. Any system of leveling just starts a new starting line.

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You know i don't think you will solve it then. What if we created a completely socialist system that distributed resources to everyone equality. There are going to be people who just don't use what is given to them. They will eventually have resources they can sell off for something more universally of value and then they will be able to loan. Any system of leveling just starts a new starting line.

That kind of social system can never work, because of the reason you pointed out and because those who "control" the levelling....well...control!

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Well also i am thinking of my friends dad when i say it. He is just cheap, smart, handy and enjoys working with his hands. If something breaks he will fix it, usually in the cheapest possible way. The solution will work and not be crappy but may look crappy. My friends tail lights were busted out so his dad wired into them with thrift store after markets and bolted them directly onto his bumper, crapped up the wires and it worked until my friend got rid of his car.

His dad has built an apartment complex or two and is working on his own house now. It just a fact that he does more with less and pulls off projects that normal people would balk at. In any society that guy is going to have more than everyone else. Personally I am happy he does, very much the rugged individualist type. Dick Preonneke has always reminded me of my friends dad

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One of the reasons people are living in poverty, in Africa , is that a lot live in Countries run by Dictators who have extremely short arms and extremely deep pockets. Look after No.1 and do unto others before they do it to you.

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we spend more and more money to fight poverty, but poverty wins, and spreads , we give money to poor children but more and more poor children need money each year.

i think we breed what we try to stop.

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Ending poverty is a dream. A pretty one. But albeit a dream nonetheless. It's like those people that try to stop bullying in schools. You can throw money at it all day long but it's not going to change human nature.

Well, I understand that there are programs in place in schools at least where I live which have been successful at reducing bullying. But I don't want to get sidetracked.

In order to define people that "have", you need to be able to define people that "don't have". This means we can bring those people who 'don't have' to a level of having...

And that level is defined in the article: people who live on less than USD1.25 a day.

..but those who already 'have' will bring themselves up to a level of having more. So those who were just brought up to the degree of 'having' were immediately kicked back down to 'not having'. It's the vicious cycle of balance.

This only occurs if there's widespread inflation. To be fair, that's one of the problems I thought of with this program - put a lot of money into circulation in an economy without increasing goods to purchase and the result is inflation which reduces the value of everyone's wealth.

However given our globalised economy it's never been easier for people just about anywhere in the world to buy something from somewhere else in the world and have it delivered within a short time. Surely the idea of villagers in countries across Africa, Asia and Latin America spending their extra money to buy American (or whoever's) consumer goods is going to stimulate production around the world?

In order to end poverty, you would need to also end prosperity. If this system was at all possible, communism would be a success.

I don't agree that ending poverty would necessarily result in the end of prosperity. The economy is not a zero-sum game - it's possible for everyone to get wealthier at the same time. The post-WW2 Marshall Plan is an example - it ended the poverty of destruction caused by World War Two, but it certainly didn't cause poverty in the USA as a consequence.

According to the article the cost of the proposed program would be around USD 220 billion a year. Compare this, for a couple of examples, to the cost of the Apollo program (about USD 200 billion in total in today's money) and the Iraq War (according to Wikipedia around USD 845 billion). However this money would be sourced from across the entire First World, so the load would be widely spread.

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Posted (edited)

You don't think there are extremely poor people in the U.S living in squalor and filth? Isn't the U.S part of the world?

Again, fifty cents to us here in the U.S will not translate to the same elsewhere and in the end we are still not addressing real issues. We're just covering it up with hand-outs.

Charity is nice but it doesn't address the root causes of poverty.

Fair enough, yes I accept that there's likely to be extreme poverty in the USA. But, seriously, how many are living on less than USD 1.25 a day? What proportion are they of the 1.2 billion such people across the world?

Out of interest, what do you think addresses the root causes of poverty better?

Edited by Peter B

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I wonder if these people are aware that global poverty rates have halved in the last 20 years?

Yes they are. The third paragraph in the article links to another article which says exactly that.

They then say:

But the remaining 1.2 billion will be harder to bring over the destitution line with economic growth alone, mainly because they are further below the line to start with (especially in sub-Saharan Africa) and tend to live in countries with weak economic prospects.

In other words, the activities which led to halving the number of people living in extreme poverty (mostly economic development) are less likely to work in the remaining cases. Thus the need to look at alternative strategies.

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Poverty has always existed but it seems that it has grown exponentially once most of the manufacturing jobs had been exported so now it seems that everyone is supposed to be a manager, doctor or some other white collar worker.

The fact seems to be that if we (the U.S) manufactured all or most of what we use then everyone would have a job and you don't need a boatload of degrees just to work on an assembly line It is not a glamorous job and you can't brag to your friends on facebook but at least it would be a stable job that pays some bills.

But there are other issues at play too..one of them being that wages have not kept up with the constantly rising costs of basic living. One has to pull in a huge income just to pay for a cheap, cruddy apartment these days. Even basic phone service is pretty much unaffordable. Many people forgo utilities just to have a roof over their heads and many will forgo even a single daily meal just to keep dry.

I am not denying that there are those who just don't want to do anything but I am keeping that out of the equation right now but poverty is still here and the seeming fact that global poverty rates have fallen means nothing to a person who has to live in a shack that is filthy and located in a crime laden environment who is struggling just to keep from freezing or starving (usually both).

Argh! I am not too good with words but poverty is not a simple issue with just one cause and it cannot be addressed and remedied as if it were. So many factors tie into this issue and just eternally tossing money at it won't work...

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You know i don't think you will solve it then. What if we created a completely socialist system that distributed resources to everyone equality. There are going to be people who just don't use what is given to them. They will eventually have resources they can sell off for something more universally of value and then they will be able to loan. Any system of leveling just starts a new starting line.

The thing is that this program is not intended as some kind of socialist/communist/levelling concept. Instead it's designed to give extremely poor people the opportunity to attempt some entrepreneurial risk-taking.

Yes, there are always going to be people who squander any assistance given to them. But I think it's incorrect to automatically place all desperately poor people in the world in that group. As the article says:

Poor people, it seems, are mostly quite capable of spending extra income "rationally" on meeting their basic needs, and tend to do a better job of it that NGOs and government agencies. Pilot programmes in very poor populations (for example, in Namibia) show the potential of even tiny direct transfers to improve individual lives and communities: higher enrolment in schools and better nutrition; reduced desperation for income - crime and prostitution.

In other words, this program is about removing the paternalistic hand of governments and aid agencies, and letting the people work it out for themselves. That sounds like the very essence of opportunity and free enterprise.

To put it another way, if you were to receive a small but useful regular handout from your government, no questions asked, what would you do with it? Buy satellite TV and beer and watch [insert your choice of sport]? Or perhaps use it to pay off your loans faster? Or invest in a small business opportunity which has the potential to provide a small but regular income? Is it therefore fair to assume the poorest people in the world would be any less rational?

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One of the reasons people are living in poverty, in Africa , is that a lot live in Countries run by Dictators who have extremely short arms and extremely deep pockets. Look after No.1 and do unto others before they do it to you.

Yes, that's one of the problems I (sort of) identified. To be honest I saw it in more local terms, with the potential for recipients - especially minorities - to have their money stolen or extorted. But it's going to be a bigger problem at the national level.

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we spend more and more money to fight poverty, but poverty wins, and spreads , we give money to poor children but more and more poor children need money each year.

i think we breed what we try to stop.

I disagree. Desperate poverty is shrinking, not spreading. As others have pointed out in the thread, the number of desperately poor people has halved in the last 20 years, largely as a result of economic development.

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Poverty has always existed but it seems that it has grown exponentially once most of the manufacturing jobs had been exported so now it seems that everyone is supposed to be a manager, doctor or some other white collar worker.

The fact seems to be that if we (the U.S) manufactured all or most of what we use then everyone would have a job and you don't need a boatload of degrees just to work on an assembly line It is not a glamorous job and you can't brag to your friends on facebook but at least it would be a stable job that pays some bills.

But there are other issues at play too..one of them being that wages have not kept up with the constantly rising costs of basic living. One has to pull in a huge income just to pay for a cheap, cruddy apartment these days. Even basic phone service is pretty much unaffordable. Many people forgo utilities just to have a roof over their heads and many will forgo even a single daily meal just to keep dry.

I am not denying that there are those who just don't want to do anything but I am keeping that out of the equation right now but poverty is still here and the seeming fact that global poverty rates have fallen means nothing to a person who has to live in a shack that is filthy and located in a crime laden environment who is struggling just to keep from freezing or starving (usually both).

Argh! I am not too good with words but poverty is not a simple issue with just one cause and it cannot be addressed and remedied as if it were. So many factors tie into this issue and just eternally tossing money at it won't work...

I take your points about rising costs of living and that just throwing money at poverty won't work.

In the article the author mentions a program in Brazil called "Bolsa Familia", in which similar cash payments are made by the federal government to the poorest Brazilians. However the payments are conditional: it's paid for each vaccinated child who attends school. So in order to get the money the children need to be both vaccinated and attending school. Presumably these are more available in a country like Brazil than in, say, Burkina Faso or Cambodia.

And to be fair, there are criticisms of even this program. But according to the Wikipedia article about the program, local independent surveys suggest that most people are using it rationally, to buy food, school supplies, clothes and shoes.

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Posted (edited)

As long as money is involved, there will always been poor people and rich people.

You have to change the need for greed first.

Absolutely.

The only real solution to poverty is to eliminate money. Any society which relies on money, or currency, will inevitably undergo economic stratification, creating poverty.

Edited by Leonardo

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