Posts tagged ‘Poverty’

April 20, 2010

COMMENT: Ending Africa’s Hunger [Raj Patel, Eric Holt-Gimenez & Annie Shattuck]

Man working in a ricefield.

Image via Wikipedia

More than a billion people eat fewer than 1,900 calories per day. The majority of them work in agriculture, about 60 percent are women or girls, and most are in rural Africa and Asia. Ending their hunger is one of the few unimpeachably noble tasks left to humanity, and we live in a rare time when there is the knowledge and political will to do so. The question is, how? Conventional wisdom suggests that if people are hungry, there must be a shortage of food, and all we need do is figure out how to grow more.

This logic turns hunger into a symptom of a technological deficit, telling a story in which a little agricultural know-how can feed the world. It’s a seductive view, and one that appears to underwrite President Obama’s vision for ending hunger. In an interview with an African news agency, he shared his frustration over “the fact that the Green Revolution that we introduced into India in the ’60s, we haven’t yet introduced into Africa in 2009. In some countries, you’ve got declining agricultural productivity. That makes absolutely no sense.” In a squat beige Seattle office buildi

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April 13, 2010

COMMENT: The end of poverty/dependency theories [Lady Poverty]

IWW poster printed 1911

Image via Wikipedia

An end to the end of poverty, again

New York Times:

[Muhammad] Yunus says [microfinance] interest rates should be 10 to 15 percent above the cost of raising the money, with anything beyond a “red zone” of loan sharking. “We need to draw a line between genuine and abuse,” he said. “You will never see the situation of poor people if you look at it through the glasses of profit-making.”

In that case, one option might be to extend loans to poor people through institutions they can control, like their government. When people control something, they needn’t rely on the iron law of Muhammad Yunus’s recommendations. But because poor people aren’t permitted to control their governments, they are invariably robbed by every salvation scheme conceived in the private sector.

Dependency theories

Wall Street Journal:

[D]o these Senators really think it’s compassionate to give people an additional incentive to stay out of the job market, losing crucial skills and contacts? And how politically smart is it for Democrats to embrace policies that keep the jobless rate higher than it would otherwise be? How many Democrats share Mr. Harkin’s apparent desire to defend a jobless rate near 9% (today it is 9.7%) in the fall election campaign.

What capital calls an “incentive not to work” is what is more commonly known as “unemployment insurance.” Quite apart from what “these Senators think is compassionate,” there is reason to believe that Americans would prefer to have some income when they are unemployed vs. none. Senators are merely hip to this; they have “compassion” for their careers.

This illustrates a fundamental hang-up which conservatives encounter anytime they try to convince people who would otherwise starve that government is the problem. No, fuckface, not having any income is the problem. Everybody knows how bad it is to be “dependent” on their government; but anybody who has ever worked knows full-well how much worse it is to be dependent on their employer.