HEADLINES OF THE DAY: ANOTHER 15,000 PEOPLE DIED YESTERDAY BECAUSE THEY WERE TOO POOR TO LIVE. THE RICH INCREASED THEIR WEALTH YESTERDAY BY $0.3 BILLION. THE 21st CENTURY VERSION OF THE FRENCH REVOLUTION IS ONE DAY NEARER.
“O Ye rich ones on earth! The poor in your midst are My trust; guard ye My trust, and be not intent only on your own ease.”
A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis at email@example.com. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 93). This blog is a continuation of the review of ENDING GLOBAL POVERTY: A GUIDE TO WHAT WORKS by Stephen C. Smith, published in 2005.
CHAPTER 16: CONCLUSION
Some Closing Words: The End to Global Poverty
This book has shown why poverty is a trap, explained what the poor need to escape poverty traps, and described some of the most innovative and effective strategies now being used in the world’s poorest regions to help people escape from the bondage of extreme poverty. The struggle to end global poverty is an epic drama in which we all play a supporting role.
We live in a special moment of history
We live in a special moment of history. There are real reasons for optimism. Economic growth is fairly high, technological progress and the spread of new technologies around the world is rapid, market efficiencies are improving, democracy and freedoms are reaching an ever-larger number of people, and measurable progress has been made toward ending global poverty. In one very possible future, we could virtually end extreme poverty in the next quarter century.
Hundreds of millions of people could sink further into hunger and disease
But a different and far worse future is also possible. We could still lose the struggle to end global poverty. This is a time of dramatic change, and social and economic patterns have not become set. In the developing world, instead of gaining new rights and freedoms, the poor could find themselves subjected to wider abuses and denial of basic rights. Hundreds of millions of people could sink further into hunger and disease, with large regions of the world trapped in poverty indefinitely.
An opportunity to exploit the poor more effectively
Elite in the developing world, aided negligently by global business, could view globalization as an opportunity to exploit the poor more effectively. Stifled by debt, the poorest countries could enter into a new period of stagnation. Worst of all, as the natural environment continues to deteriorate, all of the benefits of improved knowledge and productivity could be exhausted just in the effort to compensate. Frustrated by growing gaps between images of the distant developed world and the close-by realities of impoverishment, peoples could be driven to the false promises of demagogues, whose policies could enslave and impoverish them.
In developed countries, a growing focus on the war on terrorism to the exclusion of other social objectives, and a frustration with the slow pace of progress, could lead to a loss of resolve.
If the priority for aid is to end extreme poverty, then we need to focus attention on what the poor need, what capabilities and assets they lack, and what local and global forces are holding them back.
Capability to escape from poverty traps
While we still grapple with how to accelerate growth in countries such as Kenya, Zambia, Bolivia, and Pakistan, we have learned a great deal about how to improve the lives of poor people even when growth is low. We can do this by helping the poor to capability that they need to escape from poverty traps. In so doing, we improve the breadth of the human resources of the country and thus indirectly help to strengthen and improve the markets and institutions needed for successful development. Once the keys to capability have spread as widely as possible throughout a country, the people themselves, through their own institutions and reform efforts, will then be better positioned to determine the most effective development strategies for their own context.