Can the world end extreme poverty? | Brookings Institution

This article from leading think-tank, Brookings Institution is a recommended read. Check it out!

via Can the world end extreme poverty? | Brookings Institution

Personally, much as I support the concept, I struggle with the reality of ending poverty. There are too many corrupt politicians and bureaucrats in the World. Even international institutions, like the UN agencies, have allowed themselves to be marginalized because they have become biased in favor of specific political interest groups. Major charities too are not all white – I question the percentage of aid money that reaches the needy, versus the percentage that is lost in ‘administration’.

Everywhere, we see powerful people ready to put their own interests first. However, I commend Brookings for raising the awareness with the debate and publication of its latest.


6 responses

  1. Sadly organisations like Brookings and pius and well meaning people since the dawn of time have been wanting to eradicate poverty and failing miserably.

    Dr Alf has it right and I would go further, and say that the only way people get out of poverty is by their own efforts, as evidenced by immigrants the world over, who transform their circumstances by doing things that indigenous populations refuse to do, and by leaving familiar things behind to take a massive chance and recreate a compelling future.

    Campaigning organisations, charities, environmentalists and ‘do-gooders’ of every stripe, have tried to insert into the hearts and minds of people, the desire for self betterment. Social workers, psychologists, politicians and academics ponder the question but fail to arrive at the answer.
    I fear that the answer is the 80/20 rule, plus the burning desire to overcome difficulty, which very few people have as an innate God given quality. It is not something that can be inserted by outsiders, taught by teachers or brought about by social workers.

    Politicians who tax the rich more heavily and give houses to impoverished people also fail.
    One only has to look at slum dwellers from the East End whose houses were pounded into rubble who were then rehoused in Stevenage New Town, Haverhill, Basildon and Harlow in brand new houses in the 1960s. Practically all the houses have been turned into slums where marital discord, domestic violence and drug taking are rife and feral youths make the walkways and cycle paths a Mecca for muggers and petty criminals.

    You can take the person out of the slum but not the slum out of the person is a saying that holds good except in exceptional circumstances.

    For a vivid illustration of failure to address poverty look at the African people at Calais, desperate to get to the UK, they have taken extreme risks crossing the Mediterranean, and exhausted their modest savings paying for passage. They simply want a better life, with opportunities in a free country. The UK government seems powerless, and desperate not to upset their French colleagues, for fear that the problem will be moved from Calais to Dover. The recent Council of Europe meeting to address the immigration crisis across Europe was upstaged by the Greek financial crisis.

    So I conclude that the only real chance for the poor is to help themselves.

    • John, that’s a very cruel thing to say: “You can take the person out of the slum but not the slum out of the person is a saying that holds good except in exceptional circumstances.” I think that it is our moral duty to make those “circumstances” as non-exceptional as possible!

  2. I agree with you, the odds of ending poverty are very…”poor” indeed! But it’s important to talk about it, and the Brookings Institution gets brownies for doing this. A pity the UN agencies have become marginalized – but it’s not so much that they are the prey of “special interest groups” – they are that too, to be sure – but they are also desperately looking for extrabudgetary funding since UN member countries do not pay their dues, pay them late or only in part (like the US) and furthermore strenuously argue everytime a UN agency budget comes under discussion that they are paying too much! Funding to the UN has become dangerously low, largely as a result of Americans fighting the UN, the Heritage Foundation at their helm!

    • Thanks, I think that the UN agencies have lost some of their sparkle in recent years. Many of the institutions are managed by politicians, chosen because of their passport, rather than merit. It’s not surprising that the UN agencies are losing funding. We seem to be returning to a bilateral world – look at China and Russia, how they combine economic interests with geo-political considerations.

      • I agree with you totally. But regarding the UN, it’s a little more complicated: the UN and its specialized agencies have always been managed by “politicians chosen because of their passport”, that’s nothing new, it began with the foundation of the UN in 1945. What has really happened is that starting in the late 1980s-early 1990s, as a result of very successful campaigns of the Heritage Foundation in America, the US began withdrawing systematically its support (and of course got out of UNESCO dramatically earlier because of all the special reasons there, not to mention the catasthophic Senegalese head of UNESCO at the time, a corrupt figure if there ever was one). But once the US began withdrawing support, the UN and its agencies began frantically searching for funds to survive. I know, I was working at FAO at the time and I saw it happen. That’s when the UN fell prey to special interests, alas, much to the dismay of loyal staff (such as myself but also many, may others, we were truly depressed by that show).

      • Actually we probably agree about quite a few things. In 2002-2004, I was a special advisor to the DDG at UNESCO. So I share your comment about loyal and committed staff.

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