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Global Poverty







Global poverty to most of us suggests the poverty of Africa and Asia. However, as an American, I also see poverty in the United States although the World Bank defines poverty narrowly and thus US populations don't qualify. According to the World Bank organization, nearly 3 billions of the world population have a daily income 2.50 USD and this is the poverty level of the countries around the world, predominantly in Africa and Asia. The conversation below delves into this topic, shedding light into the nature of this global problem.


Adam: I've just returned from my trip to Calcutta. I feel listless after seeing with my own eyes how little Calcutta people have and are dying because of malnutrition.

Mary: I've never been to India but, of course, I've heard about the grinding poverty in India. It's sad. Is it right to blame the people for their poverty?

Adam: Sadly enough, the well-to-do tends to generalize the poor as lazy; poor people make poor decisions for their lives; poor people do not take advantage of resources available to them, and etc. But, after seeing Calcutta, I feel more strongly that it's immoral to blame only the poor for their predicament.

Mary: What did you see in Calcutta?

Adam: Well. The grinding poverty disrupts people's lives badly. Their food diet does not include sufficient animal protein, vegetables and fruits. They live in shackles or even on the street. Most people don't have clear water in the city. Having no clear water causes diseases, but no proper medical care or medicine is available to these people, even for emergency care.

Mary: Yeah. I know little bit about it as an outsider. India is one of the most populated countries in the world. Almost one billion people live in India. I hear that education is valued in India and the US outsources jobs to India because of its well-educated and hardworking workforce.

Adam: True. But education, first of all, does not grantee a decent income given that there aren't good jobs paying decent salaries, not only in Calcutta but all in India. Second, good education is not available to everybody; only the better-off has access to it. The US outsources the jobs to India because, as you say, the Indian workforce is highly educated; but even these workers working for US businesses earn meager salaries. However, this is besides our topic.

Mary: But, India is a democracy and open market. They have a democratic government to hold accountable. Don't they?

Adam: Yes, India has a democratic government. Indians can vote to choose their elective officials. But, as we see all over the world, poor democracies have to deal with two problems: how to bring capital to people to develop businesses and how to distribute resources to people. In addition, government corruption is wide-spread in India just like in other poor countries.

Mary: So, if business capital is available to people, then a good democratic government should be capable of re-distributing resources to people.

Adam: Yes, capital and efficient government could help to fight poverty. However, I feel that, first, government must have a proactive role in feeding the hungry, treat the sick. Second, education, housing and healthcare should be available to the ordinary citizen rather than only to the rich.

Mary: So, again you see the poverty as more of a government responsibility to tackle. How about the rich country's intervention, like us, the US?

Adam: Yes, I believe in government intervention in democracies to help to build strong institutions for a just society. Food, medicine, housing and education should be protected by government as basic human rights. So government must insure these benefits, especially to those who otherwise cannot obtain them by themselves.

Mary: How about children? Did you see many children in need of food in Calcutta?

Adam: Yes, I did see poor children, hungry, begging, and sick living on the street. Today, there are over 1 billion children in the world hungry and out of school. In Calcutta impoverished children are so visible.

Mary: Recently, I've read a report published by the United Nations. Many experts in this report believe we can end the global poverty. Rich nations need to get involved more and people of poor countries need to be trained as well. I believe outside help without involving their own people is ineffective.

Adam: True. If all the assistance the US has given to the poor countries in the past to fight poverty had been utilized properly, we would have seen fewer people poor now. Inefficiency and government corruption need to be tackled seriously. Then, the rich countries must do more. If rich countries' assistance is incorporated into reforms the poor country has to launch systemically, then the global poverty, I believe, will be eradicated.

Sources: Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty (2005); World Bank; UN



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