Global poverty – Are we closing our eyes?

poverty global

Even in the West, inequality and poverty are on the rise. Poverty has, in fact, reached the levels of 1933. Devote 4 minutes to watching Thomas Pogge, professor of Yale University, talking about the current international system that allows a large part of the world’s population to live in abject poverty:  

The great recession pushed millions of people into poverty. Add to that the fact that people all over the world are moving into urban areas to seek their fortune and we have a danger of slums increasing tremendously. 

How do we keep them safe in urban areas?

There hence is a huge need to reduce vulnerability in urban settings. Half the world’s people now live in cities, a share that will rise to 70 percent by 2050.  

So what are we going to do to give more people in the world a decent life? If we don’t do anything the amount of people living in shantytowns will rise, everywhere. Or call them homeless, if you wish. 

Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz believes we are paying a high prize for inequality
Nobel Prize laureate Joseph Stiglitz believes we are paying a high prize for inequality

Extreme poverty leads to crime – or worse

Countries with a lot of poverty easily gets trapped in crime or worse, become failed states. And I don’t need to tell you how easily failed states can follow in the steps of Afghanistan and Somalia, do I? Iraq and Syria are in the pipeline. So it’s in the interest of all of us to start eradicating poverty in the world. 

And let’s not forget poverty in the developed world

Frankly find it unbelievable that child poverty is on the increase even in a country like Sweden. And so is poverty in all age groups, for that matter. And the same applies to Europe as a whole and the United States. Isn’t it, like Thomas Pogge put it, a crime against humanity? 

Do we really want a world where poverty is increasing and the middle classes are in decline? 

Negative for much of the world’s population

One hundred faculty members at University of Chicago wrote a letter of protest when university president Robert ZImmer announced the creation of a $200m Milton Friedman Institute stating that “The effects of the neoliberal global order … strongly buttressed by the Chicago School of Economics, have by no means been unequivocally positive. Many would argue that they have been negative for much of the world’s population.” Since the time when Reagan was president the Chicago boys have dominated not only Washington but the world, not least through the IMF. So isn’t it time to stop implementing policies that favour multinational companies at the expense of the majority of people?

Do you agree with Pogge that many of the people who support the current international system are like passive Germans during the Nazi era? Do we really want the world’s middle classes and poor to be worse off? Is it really a good idea to have more people across the globe living in shantytowns? Or being homeless? What’s your opinion? Is it time to put market fundamentalism aside and start stimulating economies in order to grow again and give more people a decent life? Or are you of the opinion that Friedman’s version of corporate capitalism is the way forward?

Video: carnegiecouncil – Pictures : Hernan Pinera + GovernmentZA 

79 thoughts on “Global poverty – Are we closing our eyes?

  1. Thank you for your eye-opening post. It's sad but true, I think, that we tend to turn a blind eye to the poverty around us. While some reach out to help others, it seems like there are plenty of people only looking out for "number 1" – themselves. It's a difficult issue.

  2. Interesting timing for this article. A few blocks from my home eviction notices have gone out to more than 100 units (families) because the owners have decided that the units are beyond repair and need to be torn down. Needless to say, they will not be replaced with similar units, but with high-end apartments. I was shocked at the news and more shocked still when one of my neighbours noted that her only concern was about her property values not being impacted by apartments. I'm amazed at our collective lack of compassion and embarrassed that we now have a special rapporteur from the United Nations trying to explain in the local media that the government has an obligation to support this community. Given that this is the second group of people in the neighbourhood to lose their homes to gentrification efforts I'm not optimistic. I'm definitely feeling like we've become indifferent to poverty.

  3. There is enough food to go around yet families across the world wake up hungry and go to sleep hungry. The rich become richer while the poor become poorer. Food is a basic necessity, like warmth and shelter. It is not right that parents are going without food in order to ensure their children eat – I would do the same but nobody should be placed in such a position. Food banks in the UK are heaving with families, some even work but cannot afford to buy food.

    The divide between rich and poor becomes wider every day. The poor must be assisted in providing for themselves. They must be given the opportunity to live as oppose to merely survive.

    1. Absolutely. According to the World Bank 10 % of the population of the West have to survive on $1.90 a day despite the fact that less than $21 is considered poverty in the West.

  4. poverty in our world is a combination of the rich who become richer and us who close our eyes to the political tactics that make some people richer. we may think that there is no poverty because we cannot see it where we live. the truth is that many bad things exist in our world and we cannot see them. as far as the ''civilized'' world supports bad politics and political sharks the situation will remain the same. it is in our hands to make the difference and help other people. In greece, for example, now they are coming tourists from all over the world and enjoy the sun and the sea on famous islands but how many of those tourists know that the Greek government permits the employeers to have their employees working for 14 hours, taking 400 euros a month at best, and leave them living 8 people in a small appartment for the employeer not to pay more? and that this political tacktic is translated by German government as ''development''?

    1. Good points you make, Sotia. And it will not change because neoliberalism is the name of the game for global economics. We hence have fascist parties taking over in Europe. Recently in Italy.

  5. It is sad to see the rich getting richer while at the same time seeing the number of homelesspeople living in poverty under the freeway over passes and the middle class in decline. Is the solution making the 1% pay their share fare of taxes? I don't know. But It seems like a good starting point.

    1. Agree with you about higher taxes for the top 1%. But it's not enough. You will enjoy reading an aricle by Joseph Stiglitz Why we need new rules to tame globalization. Have shared it on Facebook and Twitter. If something's not done an abundance of Trumps all over the world will come to power.

  6. In theory globalization should increase people's income. The problem with it, is companies move to less developed countries for cheap labor, and less enforced environmental laws; this removes those jobs previously held by in those industrial countries. The theory is that the less developed countries will eventually get labor unions, and more environmental laws. This does not happen. These companies now have political influence into these countries, they will do anything to maintain their profit and keep labor etc cheap.

    1. Absolutely. And until world leaders join together to stop this developing poverty will Aincrease. It could even lead to a major upheaval in the world. Maybe that will be necessary to make them see the wood for all trees.

  7. Poverty is a challenge. Here in Mumbai as well there are many facing it.
    We have leaders who have come and gone who have said to focus in eradicating poverty but the situations keep on complicating further it has been getting worse. The gap between the rich and the poor has been getting bigger and deeper.

    Education and employment might help eradicate poverty.

  8. Poverty should be eradicated but will it? There are people all over the world struggling to eat and find shelter. These are basic human rights yet not everyone has them. I have seen a rise in homelessness in and outside London. Poverty leads to crime as people will do what they have to, to survive.

    Perhaps I am judgemental but it leaves a bitter taste in my mouth when I hear about a millionaire who owns a £300000 watch or pops open a £5000 bottle of champagne.

    1. It beneits the top 1% in the world to keep people poor. But eventually the increasing inequality will lead to huge unrest in the world. It has already started with all the economic migrants. And it will get much worse if world leaders don't make sure that prosperity beneit all. The situation in the world today is like in Europe between the two world wars. Need I say more.

  9. Interesting topic. I'm not an expert by any means on this matter. But, I do believe that doing the same thing over again and not seeing a change, should be revisited and revised more quickly than it is. But, I also feel that the government is not 100% responsible for this correction. The corporations, the states, and the local individuals themselves need to help as well. We need a village to correct the issue of global poverty.

  10. Pogge opens with 2 principles: Equal liberties, inequalities are justified only if benefitting the lowest position. Maybe it isn't obvious but what we have been doing for DECADES is not working however in the USA at least, we keep doing the same thing just throwing more money in the same direction. Hearing his words about how Nazi Germany was not just one person's actions but the population's, aren't we committing that same crime today if we keep doing what we've been doing in a bigger way? In other words, what if we did something different? I did a little internet snooping and found this: "A wide body of research shows teaching poor parents to stimulate their children can have significant, long-term impact on the kids’ earning power." More conservatives in the USA at least, believe things really got worst for keeping people stuck when the basic tenets of a family started to decline, mostly for me meaning, with parents having to work longer and harder to keep getting ahead, they were then forced NOT to be at home to be the encourager, the praiser, the positive model who would give their children that inspiration and stimulation. If somehow our government could incentivize companies (not penalize them with higher taxes) to pay even the lowest position more in wages, then some people wouldn't have to work 2 (and I've heard sometimes 3!) jobs. They could begin the way back to being at home as a role model children desperately need. Bottom line – what we are doing has to change for sure.
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    1. Absolutely, Patricia. And it's the same in the whole world. Everything is geared towards benefitting the top 1%. That's the reason major reason for problems in the world today. When it comes to income equality the US is the worst country in the West. A substantial portion of Americans have not had a raise since the 70s. Low income jobs that don't enable people to support themselves is asking for trouble. And you know what, that American phenomena is spreading. Conservative politicians in Europe want to implement that system. In fact it has already started. If we don't stop this development there will be revolutions and wars in the world.

      1. For me it's not about begrudging the 1% what they earned fair and square – it's what they earned from under the table, over the top, corruption putting ALL the rest of us in a bad situation. You are spot on Catarina that in the USA middle class (if there still is one?) wages have not gone up in decades while the 1% income has soared – pretty well documented in various places. What has to stop in the corruption, the lying, the denying, and at an individual level, the unfairness of the tax system. Not sure about Europe taxes but here, there are too many loopholes and too much fudging on the books to balance this. We need to stop all this.
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        1. Exactly. How can CEO's get million dollar bonuses when the company they run is losing money? When it comes to politicians, since your Supreme Court ruled in 2010 that a corporation is a person it's impossible to get elected to any office without corporate donations. So they are all in some corporation's pocket and have to pay back. The tax system is far from perfect in Europe but better than the US. But here as well, too many loopholes. Google, Facebook, Microsoft and so forth are paying less to nothing in tax here.

  11. Great post Catarina!
    I do believe that in doing nothing to deal with the issue of poverty, you play a part in it. Not so much the average person, but the wealthiest people in the world should bear some responsibility for attempting to provide some sort of relief or investment, so that the world becomes a better place.
    It is certainly time to stimulate economies and try to make improvements to the current model, out of compassion, but even if the most powerful people don't care about being compassionate, surely it is in their interest for the public to have disposable income at the very least? Corporate capitalism has proven to be quite disastrous for many, and very beneficial for few.

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    1. Yes, the sooner we leave corporate capitalism behind the better. Adam Smith must be turning in his grave, not least since some neoliberals selectively quotes from his work. Many people hence believe that he stood for what economists call rent seeking when in fact he didn't. Warren Buffett is actually doing a bit. For years now he's been saying that it's ludicrous that he pays less taxes than his secretary.

  12. Thank you for bringing this to the forefront of our minds. During a college study abroad course in Costa Rica about 15 years ago, we visited a landfill where the families, even children, dug through the trash to find recyclables. This was how they made money. Their homes, wooden shacks with sheets flapping in the wind, lined the outskirts of the landfill. It was really eye opening and made such an impression on my young college mind.

  13. The video is excellent. I will share it with people I know who insist that we don't help the world if we help people in poverty. They believe we should be like animals and let nature take its course. Survival of the fittest. I just cannot understand that way of thinking. Ignore children suffering? How can they feel that way. It is so true that it is like pretending not to side with the Nazis or ignoring slavery. Thank you for this post.
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    1. Glad you agree with me, Beth. Do remember though that they are brain washed by media to think that way. Look at low level income workers in the US who have not had a raise since the 70s. They earn so little they often need food stamps to survive. At the same time the CEO running the company they work for earns more in a day than they do in a year. Apart from how appaling it is, that kind of inequality is a recipe for crime and violence.

  14. It is a sad fact of life that some people have always lived in shanty towns and have never been move to proper housing. In Mumbai – the biggest shanty town in the World has grown into a mini city which no one seems to want to leave. Whilst in Mumbai I was told that these shanty town people were given flats to live in but they rented those out and went back to live in the Shanty town as that's the only life they know. I think the best help one can give them is education which should motivate them to progress.
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    1. Mina, are you aware that shantytowns are spreading to Western Europe? In Sweden Roma from Eastern Europe is setting up camps wherever they find land. It's illegal so they are removed. But unless we do something about the current world order you will see shantytowns in all Western European countries.

  15. Important information for all of us no matter how depressing it may be. I completely agree about the importance of giving more people a decent life. In fact I can't really think of anything that is more important than that. So many of the world's problems that are attributed to other things, like religion or ideology or nationalism, are instead really symptoms of poverty. Great post.

    1. Glad you agree with me, Ken. Hope you are aware of the fact that people in low level jobs in the US have not had a raise since the 70s. They earn so little they need food stamps to survive. Wouldn't it be a good idea to start by raising the minimum wage in your country? It's amazing isn't it that poor people from South America still risk their lives to come to the US because of the American dream i.e. low wages and food stamps?:-)

      1. And during that period of time that wages have not gone up, housing costs have risen substantially, which is why people can work long hours at demanding jobs and not be able to afford a decent place to live.

  16. I don't believe that anyone would really want others to live in poverty or in shanty towns as the economy as a whole is always going to be worse off. I think the main dilemma is that ordinary folks do not know how to help as. What is the steps, what is the roadmap to success in this regard? It is a pretty sad state of affairs in the world today.

    1. Tim, if you read economics you will find out it's not that simple. Suggest you read Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz book "The price of inequality". You will learn a lot from it. Pay close attention to what economists call rent seeking and corporate welfare.

  17. It is a sad state of affairs when there are only two classes – the rich and the poor. The middle class continues to decline rapidly. After the recession, especially, the growth in the number of people living under the freeway overpasses in California or along the freeways has grown and it is apparent and shocking. What is the solution while the rich get richer and refuse to share the wealth? I don't know. It seems that nobody has the answer.
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    1. Glad you agree with me, Susan. The international system has to change in order for things to improve. Warren Buffett rightly pointed out that something is wrong when he pays less taxes than his secretary.

  18. Hi Catarina,
    While there is financial poverty, and it is a global issue, there are also many wealthy people who are spiritually bankrupt, and vice versa. I think that education must be the key to opening the door of hope for those who are marginalized or have fallen through the cracks of society. In the bigger picture, and at least from a humanitarian perspective, we all need to care for those of lesser means, to look after the orphans and widows, to look after the starving.

    One of the questions that arises is… Who can be trusted to administer such an undertaking and deliver goods directly to the needy? This post is certainly more food for thought.

    Best Regards,

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    1. William what would you rather be a) wealthy but spirutually bancrupt or b) homeless and starving? Seriously, no proverb in the world can fill an empty stomach. One of the worst administrators of aid seems to be the US government. Billions of US dollars were stolen by US contractors who were supposed to re-build hospitals and all kinds of essential facilities in Iraq. Not even African dictators usually get away with stealiing that much because the donor countries stop sending money. But the US corporations in question were never held accountable. That's what's called corporate wellfare. Don't you think those billions of dollars could have been better used? Food for thought, William.

  19. Right now, following Bill and Melinda Gates move to put some of their millions of dollars of wealth to a more global use, Warren Buffet is getting some of the wealthiest individuals in the world, to do the same. On a television special about a dozen of these people had a different way they were doing so. In our country at least, the government cannot do what individuals do – we have been "fighting" poverty forever that way. If Gates can convince some of the wealthiest people how to live on just $500 million, it seems to me, that worldwide, people would be able to be helped.

    1. Agree with you completely, Pat. Warren Buffeett is doing a fantastic job. Have you read the book "Only the Super Rich can save us" Warren Buffett is one of the charachters in that book where they change America and change a system where your politicians are dependent on corporate donations. The result as we know is that the country is rigged to suit the donors. Corporate welfare is probably the worst example. Of course the US government is not able to do much because if they do, donations go out the window.

  20. I am struck by the fact that not much is mentioned about educating the impoverished in order to help them change their circumstance,. Nor is much mentioned about how many donations intended for the impoverished end up enriching corrupt leaders…Haiti is a prime example. So while I think most folks would to like to help reduce poverty, I think there has to be more effective ways to make a difference than throwing money at it.

    1. Jacqueline, the reason education is not mentioned is because it’s one of the things today’s world order is not giving priority. It’s even become more difficult for poor people to pay off their student loans. in the US you don’t get rid of those loans even if you go bancrupt i.e. only people from affluent backgrounds should be able to afford education. The fact that there are exceptionally intelligent people born to poor parents is ignored. How did this happen? Lobbying members of congress who depend on donations to get elected. And when it comes to corrupt foreign leaders, the situation would not be as bad as it is if it wasn’t for globalisation. The world order worked much better before that was implemented, unfortunately.

      What needs to be done in order to reduce poverty is a new world order that doesn’t take from the poor and give to the rich. US banks for instance sell loans to poor Americans that they know they will not be able to afford. Could give endless examples.

      Inequality is definitely a must. Why would anyone take a risk otherwise? But what economists call rent seeking i.e. earning money at the expense of others is wrong. In the 60s and 70s a CEO earned 30-40 times more than someone at a low level in the corporation earned. Today they easily earn 1,000 times more.

  21. Poverty is an overwhelming conversation. To my dismay I have seen our fear of helping the world's poor increase in Canada over the last few years. Trade is good, but not if it means manufacturing will move to China. Immigration is good, but not if it means paying for the health care of newcomers and certainly not if it means Canadians will lose jobs to them. We need to move past our own sense of entitlement before we can make real change. What's silly is not much would change for us if we simple stopped worrying about holding on to everything we already have.
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    1. Good points you make, Debra. But the whole international system needs to change in order to improve equality. It's completely rigged to serve the top 1 percent. Until that changes poverty will increase and the middle class will be in decline.

  22. Poverty needs to end as it is on the rampage.Training should be given to reduce all the pregnancies. Bringing children into a world of poverty is a crime. I feel for them because they did not have a choice. The breakdown of the family and the values are a big cause of poverty. I anonymously donate money to poverty trying to help as it is everywhere.
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  23. Poverty and hunger are serious issues across the world. Because it seems overwhelming, we often take the attitude that “the poor will always be with us” and then do nothing. While it would be great to have some broad, political, systematic approach to remove hunger and homelessness from the globe, anything we can do as individuals to help one person or one family , fight for better equity, or influence world leaders matters.

    1. That's true, Donna. But until the international system changes it will not make much difference. The world was much more equal until the 70s when policies out of Chicago University started to change that.

  24. Hi Catarina – this post is right on and I don’t have easy answers – no one does. But I think we must begin by giving the very poor the means to better themselves. I do not mean handouts as that just continues the problem – I mean the resources so they can and must be responsible for themselves.

  25. It always amazing me how there are only low income (poor) and high income (rich) classes in so many countries and that they don't even have a middle class. I was brought up in a lower middle class family and continue to dwell in the middle class in Canada and consider that to be a most fortunate place. It always saddens me how many people live in the streets and don't know where their next meal will come from. Countries who ignore them end up with more violence and crime in the streets.
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  26. I do not get why Germans must still be reminded of Hitler after this time. That is history. Worse stuff happened in the rest of the world. Apartheid in South Africa is far then what Hitler has done but do not get the mileage by social commentators. Other then that I applaud your compassion great work.

    1. Glad you like my compassion Xavier. Apartheid got a lot of coverage. However what happened when the ANC took over is that they got the political power but the economic power stayed with multinationals. The ANC has hence not been able to solve the problem of poverty in South Africa.

  27. The number of people who live in poverty throughout the world is shocking. It's difficult to see how this intractable problem can be solved. The United Nations does good work, as do global charitable organizations, but the birth rate in developing countries exacerbates a problem as do dictators who do little or nothing to share the wealth with their people. I count my blessings every day that I was born in the U.S. and have never known a day of hunger or without shelter over my head.
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    1. Glad you agree with me Jeannette. However, I do believe that only governments can solve the problem of poverty. In the developing world they are interested in doing so. However, in the West the will is unfortunately lacking. So lamentably we will see poverty in the US and Europe increasing even more.

  28. When it comes to poverty and shantytowns. In some places they have become such a part of the landscape they are actually suburbs in their own right. In Port Moresby PNG think of the Four Mile. In the Solomon Islands' capital Honiara think of Burns Creek, Black Sands near Port Vila in Vanuatu. In Fiji there are so many in Suva that I've lose count, and the latest analysis indicates well over 10% of its population of around 800,000 live in them, with number set to increase. Many who live in these have jobs which you would consider a white collar position. But the amount they are earning, the size of their family, and the commitments to the extended family mean living in a Shantytown is the only option. And while the national governments of these countries occasionally put out big words saying they want them to go, action rarely happens.

    For overseas tourists it's a side of their holiday in the sun they don't see, and which tour and resort operators go out of the way to ensure stays out of sight. Many people might say they are serious about ending world poverty, but don't realise, or care, that it often exists under their nose.

  29. Catarina,
    We've been living in a global world for some time now – all of us are serfs to a global economy owned and run by global corporate entities. These entities quickly shift their dollars wherever it is most profitable. They load up special interest coffers in the U.S. and elsewhere in order to maintain their taxbreaks, incentives, and government funding. They do NOT care about poverty. Across the world they have supporters (otherwise known as investors) from all political parties.
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  30. Yes, the major powers are run by politicians who devote their full time efforts towards getting elected and pursuing self interests. Those interests do not include looking after these people. A case study is the cruel indifference during Rwanda. In the US there is a phrase “NIMBY” which stands for “not in my back yard.” People become too self important when that shouldn’t be.

    A crazy thought would be to try to find solutions that include the creation of jobs, increased standard of living which results in an increased demand for the products that big companies sell.
    Basically, a global economy would do wonders for so many people.

    I have an internal battle raging between optimist and realist.

    1. Catch is too many people resist a global world with all that entails. I'm all for it, in fact that's how I have lived my life. But sooner or later all people in the world will have adapted to a truly global world in every sense. But we will be long gone by then.

  31. Though inequality in tems of wealth and trade is actually shrinking between developed and developing countries — it is growing within countries — including the developed world. This means that countries will become more vulnerable to social unrest and political instability. Instability and violence is the premier cause of greater poverty and the collapse of markets and viable governments. Countries thus affected often descend into civil wars and then resort to authoritatrian solutions to maintain civil order. If you accept this basic analysis, then a whole different paradigm emerges as to how governments can create sustainable economies, and people can live sustainably upon the Earth.
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    1. Good comment David. Catch is most people in the developed world don't care because self interest prevails. Not least when it comes to the WTO. Abolishing US & EU farm subsidies alone would go a long way towards assisting developing countries to trade themselves out of poverty. But that will not happen since politicians first priority is to be re-elected.

  32. Ending poverty begins with meeting the most basic human needs; nurturing hope, pride and self confidence, and providing some tangible evidence that the poor have a future. All to often, extreme poverty creates such despair that we can barely comprehend the psychological effects. Only when basic human needs are met can one expect any sense of direction, inspiration and courage for the poor to lift themselves up and be open to the prospect of self preservation and develop a sense of community. Post continues ….

  33. During the month of December all the Christmas movies come out. One famous line is "mankind is your business!" It would be nice of more people understood that there are so many people who are living below poverty level, don't own a pair of shoes and don't have proper health care. Others are worried that they may not be able to get their preferred golf times.

    Hopefully, your call to arms will get some positive results. Sadly, there are so many political layers standing between these people and the changes that they need.

    LinkedIn and other forms of social networking helps to make the world smaller as people begin to develop friendships with others from throughout the world. Hopefully, a benefit of this social networking is the feeling that what happens in other parts of the world is relevant to where you live.

    Catarina, you have a huge heart and a wonderful way of embracing humanity. Thank you for sharing your thoughts!


    1. Thanks David. You know it's worse than that to live on less than 2 dollars a day. Have seen poverty in Africa that's mindboggling. But despite that we cannot fully comprehend what it is like. Unfortunately most people don't care because self interest prevails.

  34. Catarina,
    I personally find merit in a Robin Hood tax as capitalism is well known to further divide the rich from the poor as it creates an environment of elitism. It's not the poor that shape policy decisions but the elite, so the rich get rich and in turn they propagate policy decisions that ultimately makes them richer. So the poor are stuck in the quicksand of capitalism.

    However — while democracy and capitalism are two separate concepts they have been mutated to define America. At this stage what happens is that to strip away Capitalism by "penalizing" the elite with the Robin Hood tax would be like stripping away democracy (in the eyes of the Americans). Also, in collaboration with my forethought, if the elites are the one's manipulating policy decisions then it's quite unlikely that they'll poison their own pockets.

    I think that one plausible solution is eliminating "dependency theory" by taking initiatives to promote self-sufficiency and sustainability. Additionally, regional trade pacts I don't feel are ethical in the age of globalization as they are discriminatory. However, regardless of the means, the ends will not procure without a global integrative framework.

    I question what the world will look like 20 years from now——

    1. The only way to gradually eliminate the problem is to let the developing world trade themselves out of poverty. But the US & EU control the WTO and will not let that happen. Even getting rid of EU & US farm subsidies would go a long way towards eliminating the poor.

      But since that isn't going to happen we need something in the meantime. And what would that be?

  35. …continued

    Furthermore, many political leaders actively encourage migration of people from the rural areas (where they traditionally are strong anyway) to the urban areas in order to boost their voting in these areas (the better-educated urban elite often are against these corrupt leaders), so exacerbating the problem – whereas these people may have been able to feed themselves, albeit ina subsistence farming manner, in the rural areas, once they are living in shantytowns, they have no opportunity to do so.

    Rather than imposing taxes on, and looking for more donations from, the West, we should find ways to ensure that the existing funds go to the people they are supposed to benefit (which would increase effective spend by 5-10 times), and that we find ways to end the aribitrary movement of people to urban areas for the wrong reasons.

    1. Yes Guy those problems are very real. Catch is the only sustainable way is to let developing countries trade themselves out of poverty. But since vested interests control the WTO that isn't going to happen. Getting rid of US and EU farm subsidies would go a long way towards that goal.

      So we need something else. And what would that be? Difficult isn't it? Add to the problem that the millions of people I mention in my article excludes Africa and the Indian subcontinent. Half the worlds poor are, as you know, on the subcontinent.

      Something needs to be done until trade benefits not only the developed but also the developing world. And what?

  36. This is a highly emotive topic, Catarina, and one that causes high emotion from all sides of the political divide.

    The problem I have with a "Robin Hood" tax, or any other such thing is that in most cases it is simply pouring good money after bad. As the old proverb goes, "If you give a man a fish you feed him for a day, whereas if you teach him to fish, you feed him for life."

    For a variety of reasons, as little as 5% (worst case) to 20% (more normal) of money donated to help countries actually gets to benefit the poor of those countries. Most of it goes to a combination of salaries/perks/running expenses of the aid funds/workers and to the bank accounts of highly-placed officials (read: corruption). Many current and past leaders of the world's poorest nations are/were among the world's most wealthy individuals – no wonder they keep asking for more aid!


  37. Catarina

    Most people react very fast if yo have a new theme or splendid headline; but this is not easy.
    Here Innovation must be serious, because you cannot think outside this box or be creative in such a serious case. I did these things for many years and learned to be creative and innovative in spite of the pain, the fear and the enormous amount of problems you need to solve.
    One thing is for sure; the thing you need to do is confront these things, because these are the things the people you are talking about are faced with every second and they consider themselves weaker than we are. So if we throw the food, the money and the help than they will see that also we, the strong and rich are afraid of the massive attack.
    If we call it Robin Hood, then let them see that we risk our lives, our families and our existance too, even if it is at our level of life. Like Robin Hood did. Tax is so automatic.
    Don't punish those moneymakers and bankowners by robbing their extra payments.
    Send them to these places and let them use this bonus to invest in local economy, managed by them. Kind of " taakstraf" as we call it in the Netherlands. No jail, no payment but work somewhere in community for a certain amount of time.
    I see these people as a massive opportunity for economy, luxury and intelligence.
    I don' t think that the social or religious ways are the ways we need to go; poverty, modesty, no richness, hard work, obedience and offers for the one who takes care. What do we learn those desperate people; you will be better of, but not much and with a lifelong gratitude.
    What each person wants; safety in relation to risk, wellness in awareness of the chance of poverty, health with the acceptance of sickness.
    I love the mini-economy system. I like craftmanship, like a friend of mine does in Bali.
    I like heterogenic group communities with different tasks and talents.
    There are so many ways and these people know how to survive.
    Let them live and show them the faces of those who ruined them; they have to give life and money to show they want to change. This will help more than money alone as tax or as bloodmoney.

    1. You know Thom, the only way that would be sustainable would be to let developing countries trade themselves out of poverty. But that's not going to happen since the US & EU firmly control the WTO. Even abolishing EU & US farm subsidies would go a long way towards making life better for the billions of people who live on less than $2 a day.

      Trade instead of Aid is my recipe. But until that's possible something needs to happen. Have helped developing countries get investment and so forth. But that's not where the problem lies. It's in the collapsed Doha round.

      By the way taakstraf is called community service in English.

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