what can be done about poverty?

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what can be done about poverty?

Post by Norc on Mon Feb 17, 2014 10:17 am

help. i have:
·         Health, vaccines (e.g. polio)
·         Clean water and sanitary (health)
·         Immediate help, catastrophes
·         Education, women have less children, less mouths to feed


anything els?
edit: talking about extreme poverty.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:02 am

Depending on how cruel you want to be health, vaccines, clean water ect will only increase poverty by allowing the population to grow. Cutting all those things will decrease the population and therefore poverty.

Opportunity is important. People need the chance and to have the avenues to work their way out of poverty, this may require some redistribution of wealth from top to bottom, an increase in available education but you also need resources. A farmer cant farm a dust bowl, so either new work must be found to replace the old, or irrigation programs and the like need to be invested in to make the land productive.

Government is crucial too. Many of the countries with the highest poverty levels have corrupt governments or are effectively in consent states of war, civil or otherwise.
Security and stability is crucial to the building of infrastructure and livelihoods an government accountability is crucial to ensure wealth is being managed and not just pocketed by an elite.



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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Norc on Mon Feb 17, 2014 11:19 am

well, i am not including ur first statement in my english presentation Razz that's way too cruel..


but all that rest, thank you, i hadn't thought about irrigation and conflicts Smile

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Bluebottle on Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:09 pm

I'm not sure I agree with your first point, Petty. As it overlooks firstly that granting people such basic necessities has a value in itself, and secondly that granting them such necessities might actually lift them out of extreme poverty and into a less serious form of poverty. There might be more poor, but they would all have better lives.  Shrugging 

You've quoted a lot of direct measures that can be made. A second question would perhaps be how those measures can be made? Probably through government programs, like a public heath service and welfare systems, with the help of international aid if it's a poor country. And that that is only possible if the country has some system of equitable distribution through taxation where everyone contributes. At which point one could perhaps make a quite insightful comment about how extreme poverty mostly occurs in countries that are not well organized or share those problems Petty described, as in corruption and so on.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Norc on Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:10 pm

i think he was joking... (i think Shocked )

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Bluebottle on Mon Feb 17, 2014 12:54 pm

Yeah, probably.  Laughing 

I was just picking fault with his logic. All in good fun.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:59 pm

No, he wasn't joking. A big problem in Africa and India is that the traditional cultures were tuned towards high death rates. The goal is to have as big a family as possible because you are expected to lose half of them at least. So when the infant death rate suddenly declined through medicine, the culture didn't adjust (it's manly to have many children, etc - and insurance against old age) and the population exploded. Hence poverty.

Then the 'solutions' of shipping in vast quantities of food undersold the farmers who could no longer make a living from farming, so went into other trades. The economy becomes attached to foreign aid because if it disappears, there's no more food being grown in country. This cycle is only broken by programs that can help farmers increase yields while simultaneously decreasing influxes of foreign food aid, a very tricky balancing act to pull off.

This isn't theoretical, I saw it all during my two years in west africa. It's a damn thorny problem. Change needs to happen slowly and organically to be effective, because the system needs to adapt, and people need to learn and adjust to the new realities.

What's the solution? Damned if I know if there is an universal one, or we'd have this problem licked. Mass education helps, but it needs to also cover topics useful to the society. They know how to grow their own traditional crops; they need to learn the methods (and dangers) of different crops. They need the concepts of social engineering that will come with lower infant mortality incalculated into the culture en masse so that they may make the adjustment faster.

They need to learn the language of international business. Those who are not traditionally involved in business need to learn the concepts of small business: tribes in my country had to be taught the concept of 'opportunity costs' - they would typically manufacture items, then charge for materials plus a little extra, not taking into account the fact that they were no longer raising food so had to charge money for time not spent on other things.

Anyway, it's complicated. Shouldn't this be in the serious forum?

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:18 pm

No, sadly I wasnt joking- for all the reasons Halfwise outlines above.

By transforming certain features like mortality rate in a very short space of time we have in fact increased poverty and suffering in many places not reduced it.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:26 pm

We have increased poverty, I don't think we can necessarily say we have increased suffering. By what metric can you compare the suffering from a death of child by disease to the suffering of poverty entrenched by food aid?

Not saying we haven't increased suffering via the population explosion, just that there's no easy way to judge.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:04 pm

I say suffering because if you take for example a country which suffers regular famine, and then you throrugh medical aid and other means explode the population without addressing the underlying famine problem, then half the population that would have died off doesn't.
And those who remain, greater in number, are now fighting for the same limited resources.

Harsh as it is the dead dont suffer. Only the living can suffer and under those conditions of starvation and too large a population the people suffer.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:08 pm

Generally more people die off if the change happens quicker than foreign aid can get in there.  Then things are indeed bad, but that's the exception rather than the rule, happening mainly in times of extreme drought.  That's when we hear about it, so the exceptions are uppermost in our minds, but don't define the norm.

I should amend my earlier statements to say we have increased the number of people living in poverty, but it's a different kind of poverty, more resilient against disease, more awareness of the outside world and access to products.  Even if you leave out infant death, it would be hard to decide whether suffering has increased or decreased.  There's a different kind of suffering that hasn't been adjusted for.  

Aside from extreme events I think people feel like they are more in poverty, because what they had before they considered to be the norm.  Now they have other benchmarks to compare to.  Poverty is relative, and sometimes unhappiness can increase just by knowing other options are out there.  Again, this isn't theoretical, I've seen it.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by bungobaggins on Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:35 pm

While it's not necessarily about poverty (nor is it the scale of poverty that Norc is talking about), this article talks about what Utah is doing to get rid of homelessness.

http://www.wpr.org/utah-track-eradicate-chronically-homeless-officials-say

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:44 pm

yep, I've recently seen reference to the Housing First program which is gaining traction across the country.  It pays to invest up front to get people's basic needs taken care of so they can get into the work force.

I'd relate it to the college education programs added to jail time, which vastly reduces recidivism.  The state actually saves money by paying for college tuition and shipping instructors into the jails to teach classes. Unfortunately most of those programs become dismantled because people complain that criminals are being rewarded with a college education.  Really infuriates some people.

I'm sorry, the system should not be about punishment, it should be about fixing the problems that led to criminality.  Too many people refuse to see this.  I was once attacked and had to have reconstructive surgery.  They never caught him.  I want him caught and fixed, and if they can do that in 5 years and let him back out I'd prefer that to having him locked away for 10 years.  Admittedly for the first few years I'd have preferred to have just 5 minutes alone with the guy first, but with time even that has faded away.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Bluebottle on Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:53 pm

Well, Petty. I read you as slightly overstating a cynical view that all the while might have some basis in your genereal opinion. Though that part isn't really that important. As I stated I see clear ethical and human considerations that you leave out of your argument.

And I don't think anyone can disagree with the facts you state, Halfwise. It's the consequences of those facts we disagree upon.

I see little justification for leaving people in the deepest abject poverty. Though your arguments and examples might show that the lesser and secondary problems heping them creates has not alway been handled well. It might have the unfortunate effect of landing people back in the same situation it was meant to help them out of. But one must take to first step to make the second. And the reaction to that should then be to strive to solve the sencondary problems, not to conclude it's better to leave people in their original untenable situation surely?

Is it a slightly idealist view? Perhaps. Though one needs ideals to make things better. And I would rather use your examples to show when and how one should act to combat poverty, not to preach against acting.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Bluebottle on Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:57 pm

Did that make me come over all idealistic? Laughing  I'm quite disillusioned and postmodernisticly detached in my general view of the world, really..

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:01 pm

I don't think he meant to imply it was better not to offer health care, just that there are unintended consequences to be considered.

Whether or not it's better to wait to offer health care until these consequences can be addressed is a separate issue. I don't think you have to wait because the consequences take years to develop, but looking in hindsight it's wise to include some programs (mainly educational) to deal with the consequences at the same time the health care is being offered.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:07 pm

Bluebottle wrote:
And I don't think anyone can disagree with the facts you state, Halfwise. It's the consequences of those facts we disagree upon.

I see little justification for leaving people in the deepest abject poverty. Though your arguments and examples might show that the lesser and secondary problems heping them creates has not alway been handled well. It might have the unfortunate effect of landing people back in the same situation it was meant to help them out of. But one must take to first step to make the second. And the reaction to that should then be to strive to solve the sencondary problems, not to conclude it's better to leave people in their original untenable situation surely?

Most of the time people are doing just fine while in what we define as 'poverty'. Swift action is definitely needed when famine strikes, and damn the consequences. But when people are actually surviving without our help (this IS the normal situation) then any 'help' has to be carefully planned to not create a cycle of dependence, and medical action to decrease infant mortality should be accompanied by education about the effects. This has usually not been done in the past, and though I hesitate to say in all cases it's made things worse, it certainly hasn't charted a sustainable path forward.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Bluebottle on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:14 pm

Yes, well, that part we're in pretty much in agreement on then.  Nod

And I don't deny that there can be negative consequences.

I just found the original point to be a little to weighed in the cyinical direction, leaving out some important ethical considerations. Which was why I considered Petty might have overstated his case slightly, to make a point perhaps.

And norc was adressing extreme poverty, which was defined by the UN as:

a condition characterized by severe deprivation of basic human needs, including food, safe drinking water, sanitation facilities, health, shelter, education and information. It depends not only on income but also on access to services.

I limit my argument to that. Poverty in general, while certainly not a good thing, might lack the imediate necessity and concern that sorounds the extreme kind, I agree. So it would be another discussion with different considerations.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:16 pm

My view is cynical Blue. Its become cynical.

The first big campaign against this sort of thing I got involved in was Live Aid- and whats changed since then? Nothing.

I personally feel no one should be in such a position in the modern world, but thats not the case. And it often seems that a disaster like a famine or drought happens- our tv screens are full of horrible images- lots of money gets raised to alleviate the problem (usually largely through the generosity of the less well off in western countries) and no one addresses the underlying issues and a few years later it happens all over again, back to square one.

So yeah, I've got cynical to the point where I start to wonder if saving a baby from disease just to die of starvation as an infant is really a good idea.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Bluebottle on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:25 pm

I feel myself drifting in that direction too, Petty. The more disasters you see and can do nothing about the more abject you become, I guess. It's a slippery slope and I feel a dangerous one. So I definitely stop short of the point of generalising my opninion and abjection.

I can not see getting poeple out of the deepest abject poverty as a bad thing, and that it's been done badly an argument against doing it right.  Shrugging 

But maybe our opinions clash a bit because we see it from different angles. Not necessarily because we disagree.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by David H on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:26 pm

OK, I'll weigh in on this. To Petty and Halfy's point, it's clear that if a population expands faster than it's economy, there will be more poverty created. What isn't clear is the assumption that by reducing the population, the equilibrium will be restored.  In fact it's quite common for a economy to shrink at the same rate or even faster than its population shrinks, potentially creating even greater average poverty, effectively ratcheting downward.

Rather than looking at growth or shrinkage of a population as a driver of poverty, I think it's much more important to look at the mechanisms of economic equilibrium.  Unfortunately unregulated capitalism thrives on imbalance.

Suffering...... I'll stay out of that discussion.
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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by halfwise on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:33 pm

Hi Dave! Wave 

A new theoretical framework is needed.  I'll come back to that later.

When you've seen first hand the effects of a bunch of food and medicine suddenly showing up on the shores of a country whose government is not ready to cope with the logistics of such a thing, one can indeed become cynical.

The problem is not with the massive influx of aid, it's with the support system.  We haven't developed a way to deal with it, and once the images of starving children have faded away, the typical reaction is to walk away leaving the country to deal with the consequences.

Donor countries are aware of the problems, but good solutions are still not there.  I think the only true solution is to strengthen 'poor' countries when they are not stressed by famine, so they are strong enough to deal with famine when it does occur - have a distribution system in place when the aid does show up.  But we still don't have a model for effective nation building.  We see botched attempts littering the decolonialization period of the second half of the 20th century.

Until we know how to build strong countries out of weak ones when things are relatively stable, we can't hope to combat the poverty that occurs when things are bad.  It's not for lack of good intentions, we simply don't have the knowledge.  And the rapid changes brought on by medicine and foreign aid only make things more complex.  We only know how to build a nation over centuries, not decades.  I think models may be out there (Singapore?) we just haven't been paying enough attention.  There's too much ideology blinding us perhaps.  Shrugging


Last edited by halfwise on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:35 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Norc on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:34 pm

gosh, thanx guys, i just neeeded some  bullet points for my presentation ^^ it helped Very Happy it went horrible both time i tried to rehears it with the group, i didn't know how to word myself and it all was confusing and broken, then when i had the presentation (last person) i nailed it oh eyss... liek a boss!!

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by Pettytyrant101 on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:35 pm

Well I am certainly not advocating population control by eradication, either deliberate or through leaving people to just die when they could be helped.
But on the other hand I dont see the point in fixing a problem whilst leaving a crisis either.

Much wider issues- corrupt regimes, wars, climate change all need to be addressed alongside health and education and opportunity.

Trying to cure one whilst leaving the others is at best temporary and at worse a cause of more poverty and suffering.


simu post Halfy- but I agree with your points.

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Re: what can be done about poverty?

Post by bungobaggins on Mon Feb 17, 2014 5:36 pm

Norc wrote:gosh, thanx guys, i just neeeded some  bullet points for my presentation ^^ it helped Very Happy it went horrible both time i tried to rehears it with the group, i didn't know how to word myself and it all was confusing and broken, then when i had the presentation (last person) i nailed it oh eyss... liek a boss!!

Group presentations are the worst! Mad

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