Opinion – Can the world end extreme poverty? | Brookings Institution – John Gelmini

National Poverty Hearing 2006 at Westminster. ...

National Poverty Hearing 2006 at Westminster. A one-day National Poverty Hearing in Central Hall Westminster, held on Wednesday 6 December 2006, for up to 500 senior politicians, high-profile/influential policy makers and opinion formers in the media and public life and national and grassroots anti-poverty/civil society groups from across the United Kingdom. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Part of Charles Booth's poverty map showing th...

Part of Charles Booth’s poverty map showing the Old Nichol slum, including Bethnal Green Road (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Cairo poverty

English: Cairo poverty (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

English: Flags in front of Council of Europe, ...

English: Flags in front of Council of Europe, including the Japanese one following the 2011 Japanese Earthquake (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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 London’s 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.

Unfortunately, you can take the person out of the slum but not the slum out of the person is an old saying that seems to hold 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 exhausting their modest savings paying for passage. They simply want a better life, with opportunities in a free country. The UK government seems powerless, and fearful of upsetting their French colleagues, who might move the Calais crisis to Dover. The recent Council of Europe meeting to address the immigration crisis across Europe was upstaged by the Greek financial crisis.

English: A boy from an East Cipinang trash dum...

English: A boy from an East Cipinang trash dump slum shows his find, Jakarta Indonesia. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

So I conclude that the only real chance for the poor is to help themselves. They will take charity on offer and be wary of the politicians, police and bureaucrats.

John Gelmini

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