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A preview of the unpublished book A CIVILIZATION WITHOUT A VISION WILL PERISH: AN INDEPENDENT SEARCH FOR THE TRUTH by David Willis at firstname.lastname@example.org. CHAPTER 1: INDIFFERENCE TO POVERTY (Part 94). This blog is a continuation of the review of ENDING GLOBAL POVERTY: A GUIDE TO WHAT WORKS by Stephen C. Smith, published in 2005.
The voices of the poor barely register
Successful cases of development usually involve a unique, local response to local constraints that outsiders are not in a good position to understand. Despite progress in understanding some of the key sources of growth and the role of institutions in improving market efficiency, remarkably little is known about how to design and implement policies to ensure that growth in the developing world effectively lifts the poor out of poverty. In the world of policy making as much as in the world at large, the voices of the rich can be heard loud and clear while those of the poor barely register.
The greatest poverty reduction impact per aid dollar spent
The internet changes many things. It makes information cheaper and easier to find. It enables groups to organize. In the fight against poverty it enables donors to identify programs that fit their values and ideas about what can work. We must emphasize more than ever the need to get the greatest poverty reduction impact per aid dollar spent, and this means that objective, rigorous, and independent evaluation should be a condition of funding. Donors need to greatly scale-up funding for programs of proven effectiveness, and not overemphasize funding “innovative” programs simply for the sake of appearing innovative. Donors should consider greater emphasis on decentralized discovery of effective poverty strategies and the diffusion of these ideas.
Every era has its compelling moral issues
Every era has its compelling moral issues. For Ralph Waldo Emerson it was slavery. He would have preferred to contemplate, and to discuss philosophy with his friends. but in the end, Emerson felt he had to risk everything to take a very public stand against slavery at a time when it was perceived as an extreme and inflammatory position.
Today’s compelling issue is poverty
Today’s compelling issue is poverty. In an age of such overflowing abundance, there is no justification for those of us who have been so blessed to stand by while others suffer the most terrible deprivations. In one way, to take a stand on poverty is easy: it is hard to find anyone who admits to being “for” poverty. But it takes risks to stand against farm subsidies and textile protection, and to call for more spending on aid, and more restrictions to preserve the global environment so that the poor in the developing countries do not suffer further.
Put aside differences and unite for this urgent cause
To effectively end poverty will require some sacrifices, even though the ultimate benefits will be great for us all. The struggle to end poverty should also transcend all political calculations. Republican and democrat; Conservative, Liberal, and Labor – all should find ways to put aside their other differences and unite for this urgent cause.
Other compelling issues
There are other compelling issues. One of the most important is preservation of the environment, and I understand that some put it in the first position. But there is more synergy than tradeoff. Sometimes, to solve environmental problems you have to solve poverty, poverty that is leading the poor to carve unsustainable farms in rainforests, burn unclean fuels, cut environmentally needed trees for cooking fires, and overuse the soil to have more food that particular year when they so desperately need it. And poverty is worsened by climate change that expands deserts, causes more severe weather and more frequent flooding, worsens erosion, and now threatens to submerge heavily populated coastal areas.
One of the major causes of terrorism is poverty
Terrorism is another pressing problem. Muhammad Yunus, founder of the Grameen Bank that assists the poor in Bangladesh, said “One of the major causes of terrorism is poverty.” Uneducated people who sense that they have no other future are more willing recruits as foot soldiers for terrorist leaders who make false promises.
Gross disparities in wealth
The existence of gross disparities in wealth, and such unnecessary suffering, is not the only source of alienation among young people in the developing world, but it is one important source. Within as well as across countries, extremes in relative inequality will have to be addressed, for gross inequality in itself, whether deprivations such as hunger and illiteracy are found or not, can also have adverse effects on society, the economy, and individual well-being, ultimately leading to its own forms of absolute deprivation. To end global poverty will require everyone’s help. The next step is yours.