43 comments:

Anonymous said...

My key thesis: I believe that the present huge human population of this planet is a momentary "bubble", enabled by "unlimited" access to petroleum.

I believe the human race is now at the peak of a consumption trend that has been fueled by cheap petroleum and advanced agricultural technology (which is one of the byproducts of cheap petroleum). I would define global consumption as the "average per capita consumption" times the number of people on the planet. At the present time, both numbers are rising rapidly on a global scale. I believe there are two reasons why global consumption must decrease in the future. First, the resource (oil) is finite in quantity and will eventually be exhausted. Second, our planet is groaning under the demands of its human population, and may not respond well to further warming and pollution.



I wonder if the average person realizes how deeply dependent our species is on petroleum. Here are a few petroleum-derived products: fuel, tires, plastics, fertilizers, agricultural pesticides, lubricants. Petroleum is the enabler of modern transportation, manufacturing, resource extraction, and agriculture. Even if we found an endless source of energy (such as nuclear fusion), we would still need petroleum to make material goods. Some have argued that we should drastically cut back our use of petroleum as an energy source, and conserve it for making material goods, which are vital for the maintenance of our huge population.



It is true that coal can supplant petroleum, for a while. The cost to the planetary environment will be terrible. Will Mother Nature strike back? I don't know. In any case, the coal will be gone in 200 or 300 years (or perhaps much sooner, if the latest estimates are correct). In the meantime, the human population keeps growing, and any talk of population control is suppressed by politicians, church and media.



I believe we are racing toward the cliff's edge with our gas pedal flat to the floor. In the US, we are resisting every effort to reduce our consumption. Our highways are packed with huge vehicles at well over the speed limit. Our houses are gigantic. We seem driven to consume everything, not just oil, in the present generation. Does anyone give a thought to those who will come after us?



We humans pride ourselves on our intelligence. But we have trouble imagining things that are beyond our brief parochial experience. We think in terms of analogies to things that we are familiar with, things from our past. But there are no precedents on this planet for the resource, environmental and population issues which we now face (although Haiti comes to mind). And each of these issues aggravates the others. If we do not reduce our global consumption in a controlled manner (including population control), we will find ourselves on a wrecked planet stripped of resources, with the highest human population in history, and with the forces of nature on a rampage. Then, the population bubble will burst. Will civilization and technology survive? Will nuclear weapons be used? Will life on Earth survive? Good questions. There are no precedents, no historical trend lines. We are on uncharted ground.

Lowell Boggs said...

I do not believe that the steps that you suggest will end poverty. I believe that local culture is generally responsible for poverty in a country and that unless you change the culture you cannot effectively improve the economy.

I believe that the belief that we can in fact help folks in many parts of the third world is based on a mistaken view that "those poor people are just like us and would have what we have if they were just given a chance". I do
not believe that this is true. It is not that we are somehow "better" than them, but rather "our culture" is better than "their culture". This fact is
merely an accident of history -- it does not make "us" superior to "them".

But it does mean that we are going to be wealthier than them.

I don't know why that European culture does not include the rampant nepotism that is common in the Middle East and many other parts of the world, but it doesn't. In America and Europe, nepotism is a crime -- in the rest of the world, it is expected way for people to behave. If a member of your family or clan or caste gets a good job, you are expected -- even required -- to help your fellows get good jobs or wealth. If you don't you become a pariah
to your family and friends.

This is one of the reasons that America and Brittain have had so much trouble establishing good government in Iraq even though we had brought the entire country to their knees. We simply did not anticipate the number of cousins, uncles, friends, and fellow clansmen that would given posts in the government -- whereas in the Middle East and elsewhere, this is the expected way for people to behave -- if you don't help your family by getting them good jobs, you would be treated as an outcast by them. That is just the way
life works there.

We may call bad government "corruption", but to the locals it is just the
way things are done. Yes, people on the outside of power complain about the behavior of the haves, but as soon as the tables are turned, they will begin
to do exactly the same thing -- because their society defines this behavior as appropriate.

You cannot make people's cultures change over night. I strongly doubt that you can fix the poverty problem without first fixing the behaviors that led to it in the first place.

A plan that focuses on changing culture is the only one that I believe is worth my government spending my tax dollars on. Part of this will envolve exposing people of other cultures to our culture so that they can see how we
do things. If we spend money to people come here and see how things are done, we should make sure they understand WHY we do things the way we do.

People so trained are more likely to be able to make positive changes back in their home cultures than we are. I believe that we as outsiders have little probability of success.

I have heard several recent news articles where Iraqis living in the US have said that they really American democracy but that it would never work in Iraq - presumably, at least not right now.

It may makes us feel better to feed the starving and it may hurt us to watch them starve, but if we spend all of our aid money only on feeding those starving that we have the resources to feed, we will miss the much larger group of starving that we simply don't have the resources to help.

The future generations of starving whose numbers are simply too vast to help using the "alms-giving" techniques. Only by changing the cultural problems that led to people starving in the first place can we actually solve the problem.

Lowell

Lowell Boggs
Lewisville, TX

Gail Spurlock said...

At my son's suggestion, I have started reading Adam Smith's "The Wealth of Nations". I think that its key principles are the exact elements that have been totally neglected in our efforts to help the poor. Simply feeding them keeps them chronically poor.

If we are going to insist that everyone born deserves to live, then we must also insist that everyone alive contribute meaningfully to the survival of the society. In fact, everyone must contribute more than they consume. That is the only way that wealth will be generated. Anyone who consumes as much as or more than they create or contribute is a liability to the society and will cause it to deteriorate. That is a simple fact.

So, where we need to address our ingenuity and aid is in ways to help people determine what and how to contribute, regardless of even of disabilities. And then to get about doing it. If we take this to the greatest level of absurdity, we have the baby who is born so retarded and unable that they cannot possibly produce anything. If we talk to the parents of such a child, we often find that the unqualified love that these children provide to their parents is enough for those parents to devote their lives to providing for that child. This is a viable contribution to those parents, who in turn, contribute enough to the greater society to provide for themselves and their child.

There will always be a very small minority of exceptions of people who really cannot contribute very much. That person is a liability to the society, but if everyone who is capable of producing more than they consume is busy doing so, as a group we will be able to provide for those very few grossly disabled people.

No one who is capable of producing something should ever be rewarded for refusing to do so. Thay is why continuing to send money to poor countries does more damage than good, it sends the message that the person is of no value. People who believe they have no value to the society eventually try to destroy the society which they think has rejected them.

One of the biggest problems with our current aid is that most of it is consumed by corrupt governments before it ever reaches the people. One of the greatest boons has been the new initiative of micro loans by which average people like myself can make mini loans of a few hundred dollars to someone in a 3rd world nation. That few hundred dollars is enough for them to set up a small cottage industry. When they pay the loan back, they demonstrate self sufficiency and are able to contribute.

That is the type of innovative thinking that will help the poor.

We need to handle the issues of poverty and charity that are crippling a large number of our own population here in the US. The love of the Democratic party for people who are dependent on the government is itself condemning a lot of people to poverty. People who believe that they are not valued and that their work is not wanted will not even try and the liberals in this country have got a lot of minorities and poor people convinced that "big business" is their enemy and is keeping them poor. That is a lie, that lie is keeping them poor because it prevents them from actively contributing to the society. And eventually many of these people begin to actively work to destroy that society.

If we cannot fix that idea here in the US, we will not be able to do anything to help anyone else because we are so wedded to the ideal that most people are worthless and have nothing to contribute, so they sell drugs. Yes, it's an exaggeration, but it also has some truth. If we want people to contribute to the society, we can't keep telling them that society does not want them. Because we all do want people to be productive and self sufficient. We need to dismantle the sector of the society that feeds off of poverty, the parts of government that exist only to serve the poor. As long as we have a large number of people and organizations that are dependent on poverty for their existance, we will have chronically poor people, they will manufacture them.

Best regards,

Gail Spurlock

Anonymous said...

An End to Poverty: New hope for the last billion poor

Dear Editors,

I wanted to make some comments on the article written by Mark D. Lange
on poverty. How refreshing to hear a positive note on what can be done
to change dire human conditions. I agree that instead of spreading
resources broadly (the politically easy and acceptable route) we are
losing an opportunity to concentrate on changing the lives of extremely
poor. What would happen if we really looked at statistics and focused
resources accordingly? It is an intriguing hypothesis.

In addtion, I wanted to add several points. In Spain, where I have been
living for the last 8 years poverty has the face of a woman. The
overwhelming majority of people below the poverty line are elderly
widows, who struggle to survive on a few hundred euros per month. The
economic exposure for women who survived a civil war and decades of
dictatorship has created this phenomenon.
This is not to say that poverty in Spain should be on the priority list,
I agree with the author in that we need to focus not on relative poverty
but the extreme. But, it raises an interesting question around the role
and importance of gender in the dynamics of poverty. Depending on the
country and region, this role changes, but I think it merits attention
because it may help us to deal with this issue. The experience of Greg
Mortenson and the Central Asia Institute in building schools and
bringing education to the poorest children in the poorest villages in
Pakistan and Afganistan highlights this issue. The Central Asia
Institute has found that they have a much greater long-term impact when
they are able to educate young girls. These girls, from illiterate
families, learn to read, and some have ambitions to continue their
studies and become doctors, etc. But, the social impact comes because
they turn into mothers who can read to their children, have access to
more work opportunities and therefore better economic conditions, and
they educate their children. I find this example of community
transformation particularly compelling because this is a small
organization, not funded by any government, and basically supported by a
broad network of contributors by internet, grants from private
foundations, etc. With the power of the internet to create networks of
individuals working locally and funded broadly, we can avoid some of the
typical bureaucracy that has burdened many humanitarian efforts. And,
like the Grameen Bank and Women's World Bank, taking into account
opportunities that gender differences sometimes provide, we can have a
deep impact in changing what appears to be insurmountable poverty.

I look forward to reading the other articles in the series.

Carla said...

Dear Mark,

I do not have a MA or PHD in Economics, Sociology or even Psychology. Never-the-less, I was fascinated by your article. As a woman born in the Caribbean (Barbados), lived in Africa (Ivory Coast), two years of high school (boarding) in Asia (Singapore) and finally settling here in the US, my opinion is that there is only one solution: Education.

I believe the best way to combat poverty in poor and developing countries, is to formally educate its youth en masse, not just a small percentage of the population at a time. In addition, I propose that such education should start from the preschool years.

Per your article, that would put me in the "cultural" group think category. I believe the mindset of the people needs to be revolutionized. They need to "see" and "learn" that there is another way of doing business, an alternate way of living. Only a heavy enphasis of education (youth education especially) can accomplish that.

Thanks for the articles,

Carla

Ruth W. Messinger -- President, American Jewish World Service said...

Among the many excellent points Mark Lange makes in his series on ending poverty for the “last billion”, one strikes a particular chord with me: The West needs to focus on empowering leaders, including women, at the local level to develop their own solutions to their communities’ problems.

Grassroots organizations are best placed to envision, articulate and implement their own plans for the development of their communities and countries. For example, one of our grantees, Rozario Memorial Trust of Zimbabwe, fosters entrepreneurial development and advocates for women’s access to education and healthcare. “We believe that investing in innovation coming out of the communities is one way we can provide lessons in finding long-term solutions to current issues and also transforming policy,” the group’s leader Nyaradzai Mugaragmbo-Gumbonzvanda recently told us.

This is just one instance where empowerment at the grassroots level is aimed at bringing about broader change. The reality is that vulnerable communities are powerful agents for re-shaping society and triggering sustainable development when mobilized from within. We can provide the resources, but we must trust the communities themselves to draw the blueprint.


Ruth W. Messinger

President, American Jewish World Service

Paul L. Whiteley Sr. said...

A goal of ending extreme poverty in the world is very noble and worthwhile. ("Practical Steps to End Povery" by Mark Lange--CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR--March 14)

The key to embarking on such a complex endeavor depends on having the will to begin. Like the old saying states: "Where there's a will; there's a way."

It would require cooperation among all the world's nations and could be the start of a movement to turn weapons of war into farming implements to feed a hungry world.

If we can send a man to the moon, we can end extreme poverty. Once the will to do so is there, the next step is resolving the poverty problems of the worst-off.

I would like to see America, the richest nation in the history of humankind, lead the "end world poverty" movement.


Paul L. Whiteley Sr.

The Constant Geographer said...

Perhaps in later parts, the authors will suggest Education as a way of
improving people's lot in life.

NGOs and governments want to contribute economic aid and food aid. Two
efforts currently underway in a variety of areas seem to make big
differences. One, provide small, low interest loans (micro-loans) to help
people get started. Second, provide more educational opportunities,
particularly improving the literacy of women globally.

Jean Snyder said...

Mark Lange on March 11 article points out the ludicrous imbalance of the aid going to countries that need less aid such as Israel which receives in military aid alone2.5 billion, with a population of 5.2 million receiving billions in U. S. taxpayer dollars over the past 40 years, while Egypt with a population of over 80 million has millions living in poverty, over 5 million not having access to fit drinking water, and only recently 100 million dollars was released by the Secretary of State after it was withheld as punishment of Egypt for not moving faster toward democracy.

-- Jean Snyder

Glenda Martin said...

Thank you very much for running the series on "the last billion poor." I appreciate the summary of the issues, what really works, what doesn't.

Once again, the sad truth is that we as a nation simply don't believe that every life has value, much less equal value. We can't seem to get past our prejudice, righteous view and regrettably act accordingly!

We must shift our assistance to the "very worst off" and provide a "floor for their survival". But, as Muhammad Unnus states, we don't all need to work for social justice, but those of us who want to and can are capable of producing a huge result.

I appreciate the list of sites the author offers on how we can actively and knowledgeably become involved. I'd like to see a series of interviews of the micro-finance groups like Kiva, ONE, Changing the Present etc. I'd also appreciate an interview with Muhammad Unnus and his "new idea" on social business and the future of capitalism.

Thank you,

Glenda Martin

George LaRocque said...

It is encouraging to read this type of journalism. I have been struggling with the political polarization in the US in recent years. It really bothers me - Extreme Left, Extreme Right, and no one in the middle, or at least no one admitting so. The point about this issue being one where the left and the right should be aligning, even if it is for their own agendas really strikes a chord with me. (See post: "A first step for the global poor – shatter six myths")
I hope someone in a powerful position in government reads this piece. This country needs an issue where the left and right can get back to working together.

Here in the US many live a fantasy that globalization of any form is a bad thing. The reality is that whenever we invest globally - whether in trade or in humanitarian effort, the result is a stronger US with more opportunity and, to Mr. Lange's point, more safety for all of us. We must start to realize that the world is more and more integrated, and that it is not just responsibility that should drive us to prioritize this issue and stamp out poverty, but opportunity and necessity.

A rising tide lifts all boats.

Abigail Fisher said...

I have two concerns about getting aid to those who need it.

First, it galls me to see milions in aid go out the door only tot have much of it denied to the people for whom it was intended. From what I read about these efforts, there appears to be a fundamental lack of coordination and communication on the ground with intererest groups corrupting this process. Therefore, I think we need to see a coordinated effort from start to finish.

Second, it is our moral responsibility to do what we can to help help lift others out of poverty and despair but we must also do this in a sustainable way. We cannot continue to tax our environment by increasing the human population without incorporating environmentally friendly practices that will preserve the future for our children.

Abigail Fisher

Suzanne Knecht said...

Mark Lange's series on eradicating poverty is provocative, indicating many of the mistakes currently made in our attempts to help the world, and pointing out ways to do
better. However, I'm not sure that it is translatable into any kind of action. World poverty is such a huge, complex issue that I believe it needs to be addressed in an analysis of programs that do and do not work. For example, there is a woman who has established a foundation in Nepal, called the Nepalese Youth Opportunity Foundation, which gives
pigs to families who would otherwise sell daughters into (whatever you can imagine is probably right) because they cannot afford to keep them at home. The family must pledge to keep their daughters in school. Money is given to buy school books, uniforms, and the essentials.

This project is working because the pig enables the family to
live, whereas money would most often be converted to alcohol. She has also established a program whereby pregnant women get pre-natal health care, including instruction on nutrition, etc. Elsewhere, there are programs to dig wells where women must otherwise walk miles for water.

These are in stark contrast to World Bank programs and foreign investment (i.e. in stealing national resources) that tend to enslave local workers. Mr. Lange does state that programs should be looked at carefully, and I see this as the follow-up that is needed, since each area has different problems.

Suzanne Knecht
San Anselmo Ca

J Dawson said...

Dear Editor,

The efforts to end poverty are laudable; however, true development cannot occur unless one addresses the issue of gender inequities. Seventy percent of the world's impoverished are women. Governments often lack commitment to women. They are often undervalued. Often, they are left out of the economy and trade talks. Females must have a role alongside men in the planning, implementation and outcomes of poverty reduction. True representation in the decision-making and execution are imperative for success.

Joan Dawson, MPH

Mark O'Connor said...

In any charitable endeavor the most important point for me is - where exactly is my donation going ? I have become quite cynical concerning the ability of organizations to actually get the $$ to those in need. Bureaucracy, corruption and plain incompetence all seem to play a role in diminishing the impact of any attempt to help solve what should be solvable problems.
Thanks for a thought provoking article with some good, common sense advice and observations.

Barbara Hood said...

Regarding the series of articles by Mark Lange on extreme poverty(March 10-14):

Mr. Lange's articles addressed "extreme poverty" in other countries and cited an array of potential solutions.

My hope is that equal exposure and attention will be directed to the "extreme" poverty in our own country. Some of the solutions Mr. Lange proposes for other countries could be beneficial in our own.

However, I believe the articles reinforce the delusion most of us Americans hold that poverty is something that happens in other countries, particularly Africa.

Since moving to Kentucky two years ago from British Columbia and Washington State, I've viewed a level of poverty that rivals the third world in areas of health status, economic potential and
quality of life.

The dismal statistics that measure rates of disease, education, income and environmental degradation do not reveal the face of human misery and the utter hopelessness for a better future.

One has to visit the communities of the poor and experience first hand the dearth of stores except for alcohol and tobacco, the lack of education opportunity and jobs that pay a living wage, limited public transportation, and no dentist and physician offices.

On the main street of my neighborhood there are five banks
in less than a block. In the neighborhood across town where I volunteer there is no bank or major grocery store in the area. Talk to poor children about their heroes and dreams and they don't understand what you are talking about. What kind of society rears children who do not dream?

A recent Greyhound bus trip from Louisville to Chicago reminded me that I could be on a bus in Ethiopia. The major differences were everyone spoke English, the luggage was not stacked precariously on the top of the bus, and there were no sheep or chickens. On the crowded bus with my husband and me were a couple from Scotland, a few elderly folks, single mothers with their children, and young men with backpacks going to stay with a relative, hoping to find a job.

I guess it is a different trip when the poverty you see is in your own country. Women on the bus to Chicago weren't wearing brightly patterned scarves and hot pink or lime green dresses and they weren't laughing and singing. There was a grimness and a weariness that was pervasive and has left me with a feeling of foreboding that I can't seem to shake.

Barbara Hood
Louisville, KY

Judy Myrick said...

Monday, March 10, 2008 9:21 AM
To: letters@csps.com
Subject: Power to make a difference

We lived in Zimbabwe for about 10 years, and at that time the economy was still healthy and the government, under Robert Mugabe, was still more or less democratic (after taking over from a colonialist power under Ian Smith).

But now, with Mugabe as a tyrant, the economy is devastated. I don't know how anything can improve - including life for those in poverty - as long as he stays in power. Outsiders are not allowed to help, or to make suggestions about bringing about change. Those who want to run for government leadership positions are usually threatened. I feel it is just about hopeless to expect any improvement for the time being.

Judith Myrick -- Brattleboro, Vermont

Jarvis Kerr said...

Part of the reason for continued poverty is because the poor are outside the system. The system works at the top.
All the suits stick together and the poor have no shoes.

Argentina is different in one respect. They are trying actively abolish the middle class.

We need to pay farmers in Afghanistan directly for their immature opium plants. The power brokers would go broke in a season.

We need to get funds directly to Timorese and javanese people.

I could cite numerous orgs and NGO's that suck up the funds at the top. The US and Ugandan govts are prime examples.

Nice project though.

J Kerr

Helene D. Gayle, M.D., M.P.H. said...

Mark Lange’s thought-provoking series on poverty offers a vision for its end. Among the myriad solutions, we believe the most effective is building capacity so that poor communities can sustain gains and control their own futures.

This covers the gamut – from boosting agricultural outputs to ensuring access to safe water; from advancing gender equity to teaching communities to hold their governments accountable and help those governments deliver.

Humanitarian organizations working on the front lines against poverty, often in the midst of conflict, have evolved in our approach to working with poor communities. As Lange rightly observes, imposing “top down” solutions from the West has rarely worked.

Addressing the underlying causes of poverty means empowering men and women through education, health care, nutrition, and economic opportunity. And we understand that extreme poverty will not be defeated until women are treated equally, given the chance to work side by side with men in making decisions and executing the solutions that they deem most crucial to their own communities.

Eradicating poverty and ensuring social justice go hand in hand. Throughout the world, we are witnessing communities move from the brink of abject poverty to confidently demand basic human rights.

They are the hope that extreme poverty will end in our lifetime.

Helene D. Gayle, M.D., M.P.H.
President and CEO
CARE USA

Scott Petry said...

I enjoyed Mark Lange's 5 part piece on poverty. I found it to be pragmatic and objective, and calls into question our collective policies around improving conditions for "the last billion."

In our attention deficit society, we think more billions in aid dollars is the answer. Lange points out that more smart is better than more aid. But there is one question that I have - do we truly have the will to change the poverty situation.

We certainly have the means, but do we have the will?

It enhances the rock star's image to promote more aid at Davos. It helps the ratings for the TV celeb to build a school. The UN has perfected the art of public hand-wringing in an attempt to remain relevant. Fighting poverty is good for business. Do we really want poverty to go away?

Easing tariffs, bypassing corrupt governments, distributing goods and knowledge as opposed to funds, educating and focusing on generational changes all take a will that I'm not sure that we have.

Just like any welfare reform proposal, the answer is bitter medicine. It takes a particular will to get people to swallow it.

Our society is about the quick fix, and one that doesn't offend or alienate any particular interest group. Hard and smart work seem to be lost.

It's easier to buy free trade coffee at starbucks and feel like we're doing our part, than holding our government accountable to how they piss away our tax dollars on more bogus aid programs. And the strokes the conscience gets are just as good.

Lets hope we find the will, then we can implement some of these good ideas.

Mike Aberg said...

I'm no expert on poverty, but I have a quick comment regarding the series on ending Poverty in the World.



How can we, as a rich prosperous nation, even begin to know what it is like to be truly poor? I personally don’t think I can comprehend what it would be like to see half my children die of starvation and disease. How would that change my thinking? Has anyone ever asked a truly impoverished person what would make them happy?



It is said that what people in hell really want is a glass of ice-water. I think that one approach in determining the right way to help this Impoverished Billion, we should get to know them, spend some time in their shoes, and ask them what they really want.

Mike Aberg

Martin Sacks said...

As an immigrant to the USA from South Africa, my perspective on the question of eradicating poverty is drawn to the underlying conditions that made the US an unequalled engine of wealth creation.

If one assumes that all men are born equal, Adam Smiths ˜guiding hand", manifested by the free flow of ideas, capital and effort, will equalize economic disparities with the minimum of governmental intervention. For some recent examples, we can point to what the free flow of goods has done for manufacturing China, and what the flow of ideas and effort have done for India's outsourcing and technology driven economy.

It seems that poverty occurs most where this free exchange is prevented, most often in regions of the world where dictatorships or political systems pervert human ambition. Witness South Africa, where a privileged white minority lived side-by-side with a disenfranchised, and impoverished, black majority. Zimbabwe, a country decimated in less than a generation by the policies of one man. North Korea, Russia under Stalin, Gaza, under Hamas. Darfur. India, under the caste system. China, under Communism.

To my mind, we need collective action in two main areas:

Political intervention at the global level.
This is not a popular strategy, but collective diplomatic and/or military intervention to return brutal dictatorships and corrupt regimes to democracy is the only long term strategy that will allow people to create wealth, by removing the systemic barriers that allow human beings to create and invest. How long will the world tolerate the human collateral damage resulting from allowing this type of perversion to take place? National self interest - witness China in Darfur - can only be overcome by rallying the collective consciousness of the democratic world, and with strong leadership to promote a new world order - where both dictators and their silent conspirators will no longer be tolerated.

The Death Tax. Everyone knows that playing Monopoly when one person controls all the good properties is no fun. Our capitalist system allows those who through genius or luck have managed to corner more than their share of the wealth to perpetuate a concentration over the generations. Give their heirs a good start, and return the balance to the bank, with the mandate to use those funds for the common good. When the game is over, they are not going to need the money.

Dennis Fischman said...

Responding to: http://www.csmonitor.com/2008/0314/p09s01-coop.html

It's refreshing to hear a speechwriter for ex-president Bush focus on ending
global poverty. And Mark Lange is certainly right on three points: we can
solve the problem. It takes money, but it takes more than money. We must
rely on the local knowlege of local people to devise and implement the
solutions.

Mr. Lange calls for one step that would be counterproductive and one that
might be so. Giving more money for programs and less for non-governmental
organizations' operating expenses is exactly the wrong way to go. Studies
have shown that U.S.-based organizations are starved for unrestricted funds.
Smart philanthropists here are giving more money to operations while
engaging with their grantees in a hands-on way to make sure they are
achieving the best results.

Similarly, the destructive effects of globalization on wages and
environmental standards are well known. Lange argues that other methods
besides tariff barriers will heal the harm that global capitalism, left to
itself, will cause. It is up to him to delineate those methods and
demonstrate that they succeed. Until then, anti-poverty activists will
correctly be skeptical.

Dennis Fischman
Somerville, MA

Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you for publishing Mark Lange's articles and for including
the video segments when this was published in The Christian Science Monitor in March.

My father fought his entire life to erradicate poverty. He was a politician,
an economist, a UN diplomat, a journalist with one moral objective in mind:
to eliminate poverty in Latin America. His economic plans today are used in
Africa by the United Nations and still in Latin America (Roberto Jordan Pando.) I am sorry to say he passed on in 2004 but reading this series is a great comfort to me. My father would have loved to have read this.

Above all there is hope... to erradicate poverty. Your message was clear. It is indeed possible.

As a Christian Scientist my thought is to ponder what is the mentality of a nation? As a
coach my question is what beliefs need to change here to make it possible? But Mark said it... we need to push through disappointment, cynism, PUSH is the key... and to BELIEVE it is possible to erradicate poverty.

It takes a mental push to make it so. So simple but perseverance, patience and hard work are necessary. And it starts with the small to the large scale of human life to erradicate poverty: fear, limitation, hopelessness, racism, cynicism and hate. Skills, technical, finance, aid, trade...of course are necessary!


Whether it is a belief one needs to eliminate. May this be cultural, social, religious and political beliefs hindering man's wealth... I enjoyed that the
discussion was larger... technical, financial and trade is important to make a nation grow. Indeed.

Thank you for noting that good assesment is important to hold projects and people accountable, balanced and informed about the Reality of how it Really is. Democracy is a must for the health of a nation and the well-being of an individual. Democracy that is when it is balanced, open, managed and
sustainable.

It was about time the Christian Sciene Monitor covered this subject (again)!

Sincerely,
Jacqueline

Jacqueline Jordan-Martin
San Diego, CA

P.S. Now that Barack Obama won the presidency... I can see that the United States has overcome much to elect an Afro-American to the White House.

Besides the economic crisis, poverty is a global issue that must be address by each one of us as well as our societies, our nations.

Good luck to each of you!

Scott Mahan said...

Dear CSM:
Having spent considerable time within sub-Sahara Africa providing care for the worlds "last billion" I agree with many of the points detailed in Mr. Lange's series of articles. I do feel that the large increases in dollars provided by the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation and PEPFAR initiatives have been money well spent.

Until the crippling march of HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria has been halted, we will have a hard time impacting the poorest of the poor. Targeted aid to areas of the greatest need is certainly needed. Micro-loans to individuals to encourage entrepreneurship have proven to be very successfuly and empowering. Imagine the good we could do as a country if we could redirect our resources away from the Iraq war and, instead of creating refugees, use these resources to alleviate refugee suffering. We as a developed nation can certainly do more internationally and within our own borders to level the playing field. Access to basic health care should be universal -- both here and abroad.

Scott Mahan

Klaus Kleinschmidt said...

While Mark Lange's [CSM-10th March 2008] proposals make a certain amount of sense, it appears that world wide progress in the direction he is advocating is glacial at best. The best example of how to achieve the goal of providing "every living person .. the basics essential to human survival" I know of is Cuba. Its socialist economy, directed by a firm steady hand, despite many attempts to interfere with the system by the US, has achieved well-distributed access to housing, food, health care, education, and culture.

It took a revolution to eliminate the corrupt capitalistic regime of Batista in 1959 to do it but, as a result, it improved the lives of all previously impoverished Cubans by the millions.

My wife and I visited Cuba a few years ago before the Bush administration shut the door for all except ex-Cubans [visits only once every three years] and right wing religious groups that probably aren't particularly welcomed.

Maybe a non-violent revolution is what it will take.

Klaus Kleinschmidt

Jean Snyder said...

Mark Lange in the March 11 article points out the ludicrous imbalance of the aid going to countries that need less aid such as Israel which receives in military aid alone $2.5billion, with a population of 5.2 million receiving billions in U.S. taxpayer dollars over the past 40years, while Egypt with a population of over 80 million has millions living in poverty, over 5 million not having access to fit drinking water, and only recently 100 million dollars was released by the Secretary of State after it was withheld as punishment of Egypt for not moving faster toward democracy.

-- Jean Snyder

Anne Sipes said...

I was impressed with Mr. Lange’s take on ending poverty, but I take issue with his comment, or rather complaint, that the amount of humanitarian aid was completely distorted when comparing the aid to Israel and Egypt vs. the sub-Saharan African countries.

If all human lives are equal, than the amount of aid was unequal in how it was dispersed, was his point. The type of humanitarian aid necessary for Israel, in particular, is completely different than the kind of aid that is needed to eliminate poverty. It is comparing apples to oranges.

Israel is a developed country and the aid necessary is for protecting the country against very sophisticated enemies inside and outside their borders, not saving the country from poverty.

Humanitarian aid is for the purpose of saving people from a humanitarian crisis, which includes armed conflicts.

That being said, I have found his articles to be quite thought provoking. And what it makes me question is whether ending extreme poverty is really a priority globally, and maybe that is the reason why it hasn’t been accomplished to date. Mr. Lange poses quite a few valid arguments as to why we haven’t been able to organize effectively to eradicate this problem, but I think it comes down to two things:

Prioritization and Marketing

As I mentioned, I don’t think it is a global priority. There doesn’t seem to be a worldwide effort. It isn’t even at the top of the list nationally – look at the Presidential campaign issues.

I know that “ending terrorism” has qualified as a worldwide effort and billions have been spent, but you don’t hear on the news on a daily basis about how we need to work together to end poverty. Some of Mr. Lange’s arguments are spot on. There needs to be better coordination of efforts.

There is no excuse for disconnected agendas and wasted resources, especially in this technological age when it is very possible to coordinate globally. As Mr. Lange points out, working smart, and not just hard, is a critical key to success. No one is really paying close attention, because it isn’t top of the list on a global level.

Second, I think a missing key very important to the equation is “marketing.” There is no global marketing going on to end extreme poverty. We in the US depend on a government that doesn’t like to advertise problems like poverty in sub-Saharan Africa, genocide in Darfur, or the billions of dollars we are spending on our military efforts in Iraq.

The news stations like to pick up stories that are excitable and momentarily “hot” to improve ratings. We rely on celebrities, who have their own pet projects, to call attention to the tragedies in Africa to try to encourage us to act.

But it is hard to get motivated by the famous when we know they have an overabundance of resources compared to the rest of us. Where do you go? What do you do? Who do you trust with your money?

If there was more marketing around the fight to end extreme poverty, then nations like the US wouldn’t be able to get away with not meeting the UN commitment of devoting .7 percent of gross domestic product to ending extreme poverty.

There needs to be a marketing campaign on a grand scale to take hold of this issue and fight it, in an organized fashion. Marketing is a powerful tool. Marketing a specific issue can result in uniting support. Look at how we ended up in Iraq.

Anne Sipes

Justin said...

I see poverty as personal.

Rich or poor, developed or undeveloped, there exists a worldwide poverty problem with roots beyond economics. One of the most well known poverty activists in the world, Mother Teresa, mentioned in a book of her inspirational teachings "Mother Teresa, No Greater Love" that:

"There is a far greater kind of poverty. It means being unwanted, unloved, and neglected. It means having no one to call your own.

Do we know our poor people? Do we know the poor in our house, in our family? Perhaps they are not hungry for a piece of bread. Perhaps our children, husband, wife are not hungry, or naked, or dispossessed, but are you sure there is no one there who feels unwanted, deprived of affection? Where is your elderly father or mother? Abandonment is an awful poverty.

Know the poorest of the poor are among your neighbors, in your neighborhoods, in your town, in your city, perhaps in your own family. When you know them that will lead you to love them."

I cannot help but think this fight against poverty must start here because this affects all of us, regardless of social status. To banish this poverty calls everyone to action and its solutions is simple: to know the poor around you—your friends, family and co-workers—and to eradicate the poverty here first.

Mother Teresa: No Greater Love, Edited by Becky Benenate & Joseph Durepos, Copyright 1989, Published by the New World Library

Amy Tamargo said...

Regardless of political inclination, all Americans should be motivated to quell this problem now, while we have the opportunity. As the current administration throws billions of our tax dollars at a "war on terror," at the costs of thousands of lives and further destabilization of the Middle East, poverty-stricken children in Africa are conscripted into militias which terrorize their own people or trained by extremists to terrorize the rest of the world. Whether motivated by altruism or fear, citizens of wealthy nations should work together to conquer the challenge of the "last billion" while we can.

Although I admire Mr. Lange's optimism in stating that extreme poverty can be eradicated in one lifetime, my question is not so much whether the last billion can be brought out of poverty, but whether wealthy nations are willing to do what it will take to reach that goal.

For example, Mr. Lange states that the path out of extreme poverty involves "pushing past corruption." In Africa, corruption is a huge roadblock. Whether it is insurmountable remains in question. Nonetheless, the wealthy nations and the UN have shown a disinclination to use the military force necessary to suppress the corrupt regimes that have slowed aid into regions like Darfur and siphoned aid money into warlords' personal coffers. I question whether most Americans would support the use of such force given the limited success of such interventions historically. I am not suggesting that these obstacles will ultimately keep the last billion in extreme poverty, only that they should not be minimized.

The statistics Mr. Lange cited regarding where humanitarian aid budgets are focused were eye-opening. I had no idea that only one third of U.S. government aid currently ends up in the region with the most extreme poverty. I agree that the first goal of such aid, as long as a billion people on this earth are living in extreme poverty, should be saving lives. As the Presidential election approaches, Americans should critically examine the foreign policy positions of each candidate to ensure that our next President grasps the challenge and opportunity to pull the last billion out of extreme poverty and cares enough about the issue to have a realistic plan to reach that goal.

- Amy Tamargo, Tampa, Florida

Nan Dale -- Action Against Hunger said...

Your recent series examining the issues that drive poverty and social inequality looked at the problem from many vantage points and did a great job of exploding some of the common myths about the poor. One aspect that deserves more attention though is the connection between hunger (especially, malnutrition) and poverty. Simply put, without adequate nourishment, people become too sick and too weak to work. They can't tend their gardens, get clean water, or care for their children. As the spiral continues, livelihoods are lost. And the most vulnerable—especially the youngest children and pregnant and lactating women—become severely, acutely malnourished risking death or permanent damage to their physical and mental health. Malnourished mothers give birth to low-weight babies and those who survive are often mentally and physically compromised. And so it goes and whole families and then entire communities move from hunger to immobilizing illness, debt and grief.

I don’t think we will succeed in alleviating poverty without breaking this cycle. We absolutely must prevent another generation of children from being maimed by the disease of severe, acute malnutrition. The countries in which these children live will surely need them to grow up healthy and smart if they are to become part of the solution.

More than half of the 26,000 childhood deaths that occur each day are hunger-related (that’s 5.1 million deaths each year). For people who work in the field with these children, we know that behind each number is a human face, a child with a name, a family, and some kind of future hanging in the balance. But, for others it’s hard to make such a number real. Here’s one perspective: 26,000 kids dying in a single day calculates to nearly 10 million deaths of children under 5 each year—equivalent to more than half of all the pre-school children in the USA.

The most shameful part of this reality is this: roughly half of these kids—5 million of them—are dying of causes that are easily preventable. They would not die if we could get to them with existing low cost, readily available interventions.

In the scheme of things, this is easy. It is achievable. Now.

We know where the children are, we know what they need to have a shot at making it to their 5th birthday, it’s inexpensive, and the products are available. In addition to widespread, low-cost immunizations, promotion of breastfeeding, and the importance of the availability of cheap solutions like rehydration therapy, there’s a new kid on the block that is making a real difference. I’m referring to the recent introduction of Ready-To-Use-Foods (RUFs)—both therapeutic and non-therapeutic—including, the well known,Plumpy’Nut and the non-therapeutic Plumpy’Doz. These amazing products have both treatment and prevention applications, and a broad campaign to distribute these nutrient-rich packets—at a cost of about 27 cents a day, in the case of Plumpy’Doz—could cut the number of children dying of malnutrition dramatically. And quickly.

We know how to save starving children. At Action Against Hunger, we are, I think, deservedly proud of the 80-90% recovery rates in our therapeutic feeding centers. But, these centers don’t reach enough children. It’s estimated that only 3% of the children in the world who are severely, acutely malnourished receive the help they need. Five (5) million a year are still dying of malnutrition. Another 19 million children suffering from acute malnutrition are barely holding on. We can change that. And, in comparison to other challenges of poverty alleviation, what is needed to be done is relatively easy. Really.

In 1994, when Action Against Hunger pioneered the life-saving product F100 it seemed a miracle. It was. It is. F-100 is a fortified milk product which is specially formulated to allow a dying child whose metabolic system is virtually shut down to digest food and recover. But, you can’t use F100 or similar products in a community setting because it has to be mixed with clean water and because the protocol for use makes it usable only for the most severe, acute cases who require an “intensive care unit,” 24 hour care in a hospital like setting with access to medical support.

But, that’s changed. With the RUFs, a new, wider war against hunger is possible.

These new products allow for a massively expanded “outpatient” model of care. No preparation is needed, no mixing with water, no refrigeration. Coupled with sound community-based care protocols, the use of RUFscould be ramped up to reach all 20 million suffering from acute malnutrition. It could make most therapeutic feeding centers obsolete.

There is some worry that mass distribution of RUFs would cause dependency and adversely affect our ability to find long term solutions to poverty and hunger. I don’t buy it. Targeting young, fragile children in a family will not, in my view, rob that mother of her aspirations for a better life.

Blanket distributions of RUFs to the millions of children with acute malnutrition are needed to prevent the wasting and stunting of a generation of children that poor countries need if they are ever to be able to have the manpower to address the root causes of hunger and poverty.

To do this will take money and it will take a commitment to a coordinated, massive effort. Compared to the work we need to do to solve global hunger and poverty, it is, pardon the expression “a piece of cake.”

Nan Dale,
Executive Director,
Action Against Hunger

Aimee Caton said...

Mark Lange’s series on global poverty featured in the Christian Science Monitor is a great step towards extending the policy conversation to how we can and should fix the underlying geopolitical, economic, humanitarian and labor factors that determine the course of the world’s success in fighting abject poverty for the last billion.

One of the critical pieces of context that surfaced was that the last billion (nearly one sixth the total population of the world) is concentrated in fewer than 60 very small sub-Saharan, Asian and Latin American countries. This tells us it is a conquerable problem if we have the right focus. Technical and financial decisions should absolutely stem from this named list of countries where 70% of the people are on the African continent. Finally, the concept of human capital as a developing world’s most valuable asset should not be ignored. Agricultural self-sufficiency and accompanying capital creation endeavors will only be possible if we invest the financial and educational resources to develop the human capital talent that exists within these countries. Micro-finance is another innovation which must continue to be expanded on to support individuals and local communities until a critical mass of economic progress has been made to lift a country out of this named list of 60.

Why do it? This is another great point made by the author- not everyone wants to see progress made in this arena and there are common misconceptions about its impact on the world. As a member of Generation Y who has had the fortune to travel to India, Africa, and Asia, I know that the world is no longer a conglomerate of separate nations. For the past twenty years, we have been rocketing towards a global society with shocking speed. The economic crisis is one indicator of this global inter-dependency, as are many other issues including the environment and human health. My voice and the voices of my generational peers in every country across the globe will surely be heard as advances in technology have made communication instantaneous and accessible without regard to national identity.

Indeed, one of the largest philanthropic foundations is dedicated to solving this fundamental problem “Guided by the belief that every life has equal value, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation works to help all people lead healthy, productive lives.” This series is a wakeup call that looking the other way and relying on the status quo will never allow us to innovate around the problem of human dignity, the basic premise that every person deserves a chance.

Aimee Caton manages channel and customer marketing for Adaptive Planning, a leading global SaaS financial application company.

Cynthia Changyit Levin said...

I believe our society is now able to eradicate extreme poverty. I also believe it won’t be easy to do in a thoughtful, sustainable manner. Lange’s series highlights the need to achieve all eight of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), not just the first and most popular one to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. The article about China’s growth especially illustrated how lifting people out of poverty is linked to MDG #7, which is to ensure environmental sustainability. We not only need more poverty-focused development assistance, but we need more and better.

In the complicated web of development aid, a step in the right direction would be to pass a new Foreign Assistance Act. Our new administration has the chance to modernize a poorly organized system, which is generally ill-equipped to meet the challenge of global poverty. Until we focus foreign assistance on the people who need it most, our efforts will fall short of what we can truly achieve. An improved act would not necessarily provide “more,” but it would provide “better.”

Cynthia Changyit Levin
Bread for the World member

Carel Bekker said...

I would like to thank Mark Lange for writing a thoughtful series. As a South African now living in the US I have a unique perspective on this issue. Here are a few remarks. I'm glad that Mark focused on Africa. Countries like Angola, Mozambique and Rwanda are countries where a lot of extremely poor people live, however don't forgot about India.

In South Africa most people don't want aid, they want hope and a helping hand to get them on their way. This may include seed (pun intended) money. I also agree that money should somehow get directly to the people. Governments, especially corrupt governments should be circumvented at all cost.

Mark didn't focused too much on the potential of technology to fight poverty. I am very excited about the One Laptop (laptop.org) program. In South Africa (maybe even in most of Africa) most people own a cellphone, but may not have a house. We can use technology to connect directly to people, communicate give them to give them hope and even use it to get aid to individuals.

Another idea is for Fortune 500 companies, especially companies benefiting from third-world resources to be rated according to their financial contributions to eradicate extreme poverty.

I appreciate Mark's list of organizations that we can support. I would like to add two more: Heifer International (www.heifer.org) and Rick Warren's PEACE plan. Also support companies or products that support the eradication of poverty, e.g., Ethos Water (www.ethoswater.com), (RED) products (www.joinred.com), and Toms Shoes (www.tomsshoes.com).

This is a "Let's put a man on the moon" type mission. I hope a leader will rise up and take up this challenge. In the meantime we can do our bit. I encourage you to visit one of these countries to experience the problem firsthand and while you are there ask the locals how they think it can be solved -- you'll be amazed!

Thank you and Kind regards,
Carel.

Oxfam America said...

Surprisingly, the threatening dark clouds of climate change were ignored in Lange’s series on poverty. Climate change has the potential to massively increase global poverty and inequality, punishing first and most severely the people least responsible for greenhouse-gas emissions.

Ninety-seven percent of all natural disaster-related deaths already take place in developing countries, and the estimates of climate change’s contribution to worsening conditions are disturbing. According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, up to 250 million Africans could face severe water shortages by 2020. Hunger could grow in Africa as agricultural production is compromised by shorter growing seasons, less rain and lower yields.

While communities developed strategies to cope with natural weather variability, human-induced climate change will create unprecedented climate stress for many of the most vulnerable communities. Building resilience and promoting adaptive strategies must therefore be a critical component of a global solution to climate change, as well as integrated in our actions to fight global poverty.

As the world’s largest historical emitter, the US must lead the effort to address climate change through capping emissions, helping to finance assistance to the most vulnerable communities, and by promoting clean energy technology to help these communities adapt to climate impacts.

Sincerely,
Raymond C. Offenheiser
President, Oxfam America
Boston, MA

john said...

I think one of the key concepts in your posts relates to globalization. Many on the left view globalization as a plot by multinational corporations to dominate the world. Many on the right see it as destroying the manufacturing and agricultural sectors in the U.S. We simply have to get beyond these myths.

Countries such as Japan, Korea and Singapore used to be very poor. Today, as a result of globalization, they are wealthy. We can see the same thing beginning to happen in places like India, China and Ghana.

Obviously, globalization, like every form of economic development, creates various problems and injustices. The environment can be devastated. Labor is exploited. However, these are problems we can solve. But we won’t solve them if we continue to think of globalization rather than its unregulated by-products as the problem.



John W. Wimberly, Jr.

Pastor, Western Presbyterian Church

2401 Virginia Avenue, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20037

Tom Bradley said...

Courageous of you to print Lange's provocative series, CSM. I think the
solution starts with this sort of dialogue, but I've always wondered whether
our typical definitions of - and solutions for - poverty don't deserve more
scrutiny themselves...

Why does a ten-year-old playing soccer with a balled up paper bag in a
Brazilian slum have a bigger smile on his face than a ten-year-old attending
elementary school in Washington DC?

Some research underway in Oregon thanks to the Walker Foundation's
philanthropy is asking similar questions and drawing some unexpected
conclusions...

Tom Bradley
Oregon

Jeff Mowatt said...

There are many who now believe that a change in the way we view capitalism
holds the key to ending poverty. One of the lesser known and early advocates
is as a consequence some way ahead in this thinking.

In contrast to the top-down approach of the original Marshall Plan, he and I
make the following assertion on a microeconomic means of delivery.

"Focus of this plan is on the microeconomic sector because this is the most
effective way to immediately meet the fundamental objectives of a Marshall
Plan: policy directed against hunger, poverty, desperation, and chaos.
Tools, innovations and methodologies are available today that were not
available sixty years ago for tightly-focused microeconomic development
aimed specifically and very effectively at target objectives. This is not to
diminish nor detract from macroeconomic factors that continue to impede
Ukraine's development. Those factors include such things as tax reform,
energy policy, continued reduction of systemic corruption, Constitutional
reform, and fostering further development of civil society and freedom of
media."

This derives from 12 years continuous evolution which began with a an idea
pitched at President Clinton for his re-election campaign in 1996.

Today, beginning with a transitional democracy, it's a 'Marshall Plan' of
the 21st century:

A Marshall Plan for Ukraine

The paper linked above was aimed at two governments, in the US at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, where in 2006 the President Elect, himself a microeconomic advocate could be found.

At Davos earlier this year one US response has been the launch of the East Europe Foundation to support sustainable community enterprise, one major component recommended within that paper.

Jill Lester, President and CEO, The Hunger Project said...

Regarding the March 10 article “A first step for the global poor—shatter six myths” by Mark Lange, a critical truth about abject poverty is missing: poverty will not end, until and unless, the girls and women of the developing world are empowered. Girls and women are disproportionately affected by poverty in its many dimensions. Not only are they more likely to be impoverished, kept out of school and fed last and least, they are also the members of society who do the work that can have their families escape poverty. Women are the ones who meet their families’ basic needs—they walk miles each day to fetch water for drinking, cooking and bathing; they walk yet more miles to gather wood which is used as fuel; they care for the young, the elderly and the sick and dying; and they spend hours every day farming the food (in Sub-Saharan Africa, women produce 80% of the region’s food). We have no chance at ending poverty, unless that half of the population, which does the vast majority of the work, continues to be marginalized, oppressed and unsupported. Simply put, women are the key to a world free from hunger and poverty.

austin said...

Earlier this year I attended the Accion conference on microfinance in New York where a collection of microfinanciers, entrepreuneurs, investors, and idealists gathered for two days to discuss what's happening in microfinance. I came home with pages of notes and the confidence that this exciting area of poverty alleviation, of attention to the "bottom of the pyramid," is being worked on by legions of smart, visionary, and qualified people.

But after digesting their pearls of wisdom I had the impression that all of this good work is falling short of its potential because it is distinctly uncoordinated.

Mark Lange offers some powerful prescriptions to poverty alleviation, laminated with a strong sense of optimism and an Obama-style "Yes we can!" His message throughout eschews a centrally planned approach to charity, at least insofar as ambitious, widespread, misdirected government aid programs go, favoring more responsible (perhaps voluntary?) action by market players. Market-based approaches, as we've seen with microfinance, can produce dramatic results, but collectively they commit the same offense that Lange pins to developed countries, which "sprinkle too little public money in too many countries like magic dust."

Deep in the Peruvian Amazon there is a group of eco-lodges that attract European and American tourists who stay for a few nights to get their own taste of the jungle. They spend as much as $300 per night to sleep under bug nets, take nature walks in the jungle, and see the locals. I visited a group of these resorts in partnership with a multi-national NGO to assess the degrees to which their presence offered economic sustenance to the local communities and found that, on the whole, their mission is as much about profit-making for Lima-based owners as any American company's is about maximizing value for its shareholders. In one instance a lodge refused to purchase tomatoes from the farmer who lived next door, choosing instead to import them - and all of the other vegetables on the menu - from 400 miles away. The chief reason (or excuse) was the absence of an efficient way for the farmer to provide an invoice.

Recognizing that policy prescriptions feel like so many marionette strings, the real action needs to be coordinated from above and implemented on the ground. Thousands of people, some of whom I met at the Accion conference, are building individual repositories of best practices. Aggressive government initiatives, as Lange points out, are prone to inefficiency. Somewhere in between these misdirected government programs and a fragmented market-based approach, such as that seen in the microfinance world, there is a promising middle ground that combines market-based entrepreneurism with coordination and scale. To end poverty we need a strong, multi-national coalition with the resources, the knowledge, and the experience to coordinate effective programs at every level, combined with the authority to create meaningful incentives and binding obligations.

Ashley said...

Poverty is a certain consciousness or should I say unconsciousness that is a widely accepted and practiced form of being on this planet. As is greed. They are two extremes, polar principles in a world that has bought into a dualistic perspective of being.
For the past six months I have been living in a village on the coast of South Africa, a literal microcosm of the country itself. I came here to learn about the philosophy of Ubuntu in its relation to redeeming humanity of the trespasses against itself, poverty consciousness being a result of this. In my travels and learning from the language of the land I now live in I have found conceptually poverty is the result of taking, taking from the earth, taking from the forests, taking from the oceans, taking from the people, people taking from people.
You see in a culture that seeks cheap labor it is imperative for a certain group of people to take the role of living in such circumstances of general deprivation and chronic need, therefore said group will work for very little in order to sustain their present circumstances. And the group that employs such labor will block any form of change for it would disrupt their ability to take advantage of such circumstances.
However the power that results from such taking is limited, as is reflected in our oil supply, it is a limited source of energy. The time of taking advantage of the earth is a limited timeframe for human beings cannot live impeccably in such a pattern, as we see all around us, global economic crisis, and political parties in longstanding power falling, global climate change and growing deserts the earth speaking singing in a symphony of storms, “you cannot take from me”. Actually what our world is currently going through is perfect. The teaching that the illusion of a dualistic state of starvation versus gluttony is not sustainable way of living, we see this for we are experiencing it and from this experience we shall receive the lesson not to take from one another, not to take from the earth, for we are enriched beings, enriched with the power of life, consciousness, ingenuity, and infinity. In gratitude of this we embrace life all life as us and all life in us.
The only true way to eradicate poverty is to eradicate greed as well. The way to achieve this is simply to transform the dualistic concepts of you and I, from the state of being separate entities into an integration of self and other, forging a global community as we are naturally in this moment right now. The fact that this series ran is a public “reaching out” to distribute information that it is indeed possible to eradicate the concept and practice of poverty and greed.
We know not the limits of what the earth can sustain for the power of this planet the power of life is infinite. Ubuntu ties into this transformation of the concept of taking for the general philosophy proclaims if one was presented with the decision between material gain for the self and the preservation of life, one would certainly choose the preservation of life. For in life, truly, all life is one. Receiving this truth as the truth it is, we shall find our way to live in the prosperity that is life.

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