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 global economic downturn has been pushing millions of people into poverty, or worse, extreme 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.
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? 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. So is poverty in all age groups, for that matter. And the same applies to Europe as a whole and the United States. Like South Koreans a decade ago, people are starting to committ suicide in Europe due to being wiped out financially. Isn't it, like Thomas Pogge put it, a crime against humanity?
Isn't it time to put Milton Friedmans theories on the shelf and, again, start implementing what Keynes ordered? Or do we really want a world where poverty is increasing and the middle classes are in decline? By now we know the side effects of Friedman's ideas as mentioned in do you concur with Joseph Stiglitz on market fundamentalism? Just look at what has happened the last few decades in Latin America, Africa, Asia and Russia. And since 2007 the American middle class has been severely affected by the same side effects of his policies. The Euro zone is currently being hit which has an impact on Europe as a whole. China has been spared to some extent since it implemented Friedman's ideas but never completely opened up their markets. And Iraq failed miserably because the shock theraphies implemented there went too far.
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 now when the recession keeps on causing substantial increases in misery isn't it time to stop implementing policies that favour multinational companies at the expense of the majority of people in the world?
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? No wonder Occupy Wall Street swiftly spread to 1,500 cities all over the world. Is it the beginning of a new era where 99% of the world's population say enough is enough and demand to get a share of what now goes to the top one percent? Is equality only justified if it benefits all human beings? 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? The Euro zone would make a good start. Or are you of the opinion that Friedman's version of capitalism is the way forward?
(Video: carnegiecouncil – You Tube)