The New Group of World Servers Journal
celebrates and shares
The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
Can We Fix Poverty?
Why would you want to read about Poverty? Such an unpleasant topic. Poverty is inevitable, right? People are poor because they are lazy, or make bad choices, or just don't try hard enough - or most likely they are drug addicts or alcoholics. Right? This sort of thinking about poverty is centuries old. The thing about those beliefs is that they keep us from making the efforts and the decisions that could truly help or turn things around. They allow us to look the other way and justify not doing anything.
Imagine for a moment you are a factory worker in the US mid-west. You made a good living. Your parents worked for this factory since you were a baby and you started there right after high school. A few years ago when your kids reached their teens you bought a bigger house. You had a comfortable nest egg of stocks and a nice car. Then the factory closed - and moved to China. You can't pay your mortgage now, and since the housing bubble burst your house is worth less than the mortgage. Most of your neighbors are also out of work and there just are no jobs in the area. There is no one to buy your houses. Your stocks aren't worth what you paid for them and your savings and unemployment have run out. Your parents are as badly off as you so there is no one to help. You fear you may end up living with your family in your car...
Unless we understand the causes and possible solutions to poverty, we are doomed to making decisions in regard to helping the poor of the world that aren't useful. The way toward creating effective solutions - or supporting those organizations or policies that are actually making positive changes happen, is to understand the problem. Otherwise we will simply keep doing the same ineffective things we have been doing - or nothing at all.
A quick look at this list in Wikipedia will make you realize how broad and varied are the reasons people find themselves in poverty. One thing that is apparent from this list of "causes" is that most of the reasons are beyond the control of the individual (ie: war, economic recession, disease, etc.).
In this issue of the Journal we offer you a brief education on the subject of
poverty; on actions that humans have taken and are taking that are
working, on misconceptions that keep us from taking any action or the
wrong action, and on
a vision of a world that is not separated in to rich and poor, them and
us, but a world that works for us all.
Photo courtesy of the Practical Action website
Today I have eaten,
Chris Roe was born in the rural county of Norfolk, England, in 1948, where he has lived and worked for much of his life. “In Search of Silence” is his first complete collection of work published to date. It is available at Silent Flight Publications.
"People are poor not because they are lazy,
A Revolution of Attention
....A revolution is needed,
and not of the Tahrir variety. It is to be a revolution of inclusion
more than a revolution of freedom, or increased liberal rights. As a
human society, this revolution is needed, to face the reality of all of
us, to honor the notion of our connectedness, and to embrace our fellow
man with a minimum level of dignity -- a dignity of recognition.
Auren Kaplan is an entrepreneur and humanitarian focused on building trust-based, authentic relationships both personally and professionally. He is CEO of Legal Lookout, a business development firm for small law firm attorneys. He has written extensively in the past on the role of business and capitalism in creating a world of economic abundance for all. You can read his work at AurenKaplan.com and at his page on the Huffington Post. Auren loves writing, drinking wine, and letting it all hang out at Burning Man. Follow him on Twitter at @aurensays.
“The test of our
progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have
much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
Mariam Marukian - age 13 - Armenia
Winner of UN International Childrens Art Competition "We Can End Poverty"
The War on Poverty Is Our Moral Challenge Now
50 years after LBJ's historic speech, the fight
"Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity," said Nelson Mandela, "it is an act of justice." When the War on Poverty began a half-century ago, it was widely seen as the moral obligation of a wealthy nation.....
.....Some sacrifices are worth the price. But then, as now, politicians and journalists often dealt with the moral challenge of poverty by rendering it invisible. Michael Harrington talked about that in his 1962 book, "The Other America," writing of the "normal and obvious causes of the invisibility of the poor."
Those forces "operated a generation ago," wrote Harrington, and "they will be functioning a generation hence... the very development of American society is creating a new kind of blindness about poverty. The poor are increasingly slipping out of the very experience and consciousness of the nation."
He was right. A generation later the ranks of the poor, which swelled after Wall Street triggered the 2008 crisis, have too often remained out of sight and out of mind to a political and media class obsessed with false arguments about deficit reduction and "downsizing government."
That's not to say that the War on
Poverty has been a failure. Far from it.....
Richard (RJ) Eskow is a Senior Fellow with the Campaign for America’s Future and the
host of Take Action News, a weekly program of news, interviews, and
commentary on We
Act Radio. Richard was cited as one of “fifty of the world’s
leading futurologists” in “The Rough Guide to the Future,” which
highlighted his long-range forecasts on health care, evolution,
technology, and economic equality.
“It was possible, no doubt, to imagine
a society in which wealth, in the sense of personal possessions and
luxuries, should be evenly distributed, while power remained in the
hands of a small privileged caste. But in practice such a society could
not long remain stable. For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all
alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by
poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves;
and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realise
that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it
away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a
basis of poverty and ignorance.”
The other day, while perusing a New York Times graphic that showed the huge number of poverty spots on a map of the United States, I had a sudden realization of how stupid poverty is. It is simply irrational. There is no REASON for poverty to exist on the planet. It exists because of the lack of REASON....
The existence of a supermundane, a super-physical, formless, abstract, multidimensional, Cosmos of consciousness was actually part of the awareness of the ancients. However for eons now, such a conception has been ignored, scoffed at, ridiculed by the vast majority of the planetary intelligentsia including scientists of any stripe. Because we happen to live in a Cosmos of exactly this description, the systems that we have designed to organize and structure our lives on the planet have been based on a totally illusory conception of Reality. So, for a very long time even scientific facts about the planet (It was only 500 years ago that we “knew” that the Earth was the center of the Solar System) as well as social theories concerning human rights, government, and economics have been generated, even proclaimed, by individuals whose conception of Reality was/is that we live on a planet of dense physical matter that was constructed in seven days. This planet is surrounded by a not so dense, but physical, never the less, atmosphere. The planet was and still is, even by much of the scientific community, considered to be the only planet in the universe capable of supporting Life.
This vision postulates a dense physical, one dimensional planet. The planet is made of “matter” which is all that exists in the vast Cosmos, a very tiny fraction of which we can actually see. The vision postulates that the matter of which our planet is constructed is divided into four different divisions or kingdoms: mineral, vegetable, animal, and human. These four were organized into a hierarchy of power and value. The human kingdom was envisioned as being in all respects superior to the other kingdoms. It was, as anyone could see, the pinnacle of the Hierarchy. Therefore, humans were the rulers, kings, lords, and any number of other grandiose titles that we made up as we went along. This vision goes on to sub-divide and stratify human beings as well. We placed ourselves into a hierarchy of various groupings of Lesser and Greater power/value. The most powerful of these became the de facto rulers, etcetera, of the lesser ones.
This hierarchy of grandiose beings to the scum of the earth, with titles appropriate to the time, exists today. ......
“When I give food to the
poor, they call me a saint. When I
The following article is courtesy of
Photo credit: Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
...Bill & Melinda Gates publish their 2014 Annual Letter, which takes a look at three big myths about global poverty that are holding back progress.
Here are the headline myths:
1. Poor countries are doomed to stay poor
Bill explains, “The easiest way to respond to the myth that poor countries are doomed to stay poor is to point to one fact: They haven’t stayed poor. Many—though by no means all—of the countries we used to call poor now have thriving economies. And the percentage of very poor people has dropped by more than half since 1990. That still leaves more than one billion people in extreme poverty, so it’s not time to celebrate. But it is fair to say that the world has changed so much that the terms “developing countries” and “developed countries” have outlived their usefulness.
2. Foreign assistance is a big waste
Bill says, “I worry about the myth that aid doesn’t work. It gives political leaders an excuse to try to cut back on it—and that would mean fewer lives are saved, and more time before countries can become self-sufficient.
The bottom line: Health aid is a phenomenal investment. When I look at how many fewer children are dying than 30 years ago, and how many people are living longer and healthier lives, I get quite optimistic about the future.
The foundation worked with a group of eminent economists and global health experts to look at what’s possible in the years ahead. As they wrote last month in the medical journal The Lancet, with the right investments and changes in policies, by 2035, every country will have child-mortality rates that are as low as the rate in America or the U.K. in 1980.”
Bill Gates: Foreign Aid Works - Stop the Myth Video
3. Saving lives leads to overpopulation
Melinda says, “We see comments like this all the time on the Gates Foundation’s blog, Facebook page and Twitter feed. It makes sense that people are concerned about whether the planet can continue to sustain the human race, especially in the age of climate change. But this kind of thinking has gotten the world into a lot of trouble.
Anxiety about the size of the world population has a dangerous tendency to override concern for the human beings who make up that population.
When children survive in greater numbers, parents decide to have smaller families. Consider Thailand. Around 1960, child mortality started going down. Then, around 1970, after the government invested in a strong family planning program, birth rates started to drop.
In the course of just two decades, Thai women went from having an average of six children to an average of two. Today, child mortality in Thailand is almost as low as it is in the United States, and Thai women have an average of 1.6 children.
“There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.”
Grace Tsang - age 10 - China
Winner of UN International Childrens Art Competition "We Can End Poverty"
10 Things You Might Not Know About Poverty
From speeding America's desegregation to conservative misinterpretation,
Fifty years ago, Lyndon Johnson announced the war on poverty as the central message of his first State of the Union, less than two months after John F. Kennedy's assassination. Conservatives, following Ronald Reagan's quip, like to joke that the War on Poverty is over and poverty won. But as usual, the facts disagree.
We haven't vanquished poverty, it's true. But it's not Johnson's anti-poverty policies that have failed us. They've performed much better over the past 50 years than America's capitalist economy has, which has actually made poverty worse over that same period of time. If we want to make real, dramatic progress toward realizing the American Dream for all Americans, we need to arm ourselves with an accurate understanding of what the War on Poverty has actually achieved, as well as how it has fallen short, in order to make better policy for the future. What follows is a list of some of the most important facts to help guide our way....
Paul Rosenberg is a California-based writer/activist, senior editor for Random
Lengths News, and a columnist for Al Jazeera English.
“Of all the preposterous
assumptions of humanity over humanity, nothing exceeds most of the
criticisms made on the habits of the poor by the well-housed, well-warmed, and well-fed.”
Art by Ranajoy Benerjee - age 14 - India
Winner of UN International Childrens Art Competition "We Can End Poverty"
Why Everyone Suffers in Unequal Societies
New research shows that, among developed countries, the healthiest and happiest aren't those with the highest incomes but those with the most equality.
We live in a world of deep inequality, and the gap between the rich and the poor is widening. We in the rich world generally agree that this is a problem we ought to help fix—but that the real beneficiaries will be the billions of people living in poverty. After all, inequality has little impact on the lives of those who find themselves on top of the pile. Right? Not exactly, says British epidemiologist Richard Wilkinson.
For decades, Wilkinson has studied why some societies are healthier than others. He found that what the healthiest societies have in common is not that they have more—more income, more education, or more wealth—but that what they have is more equitably shared.
In fact, it turns out that not only disease, but a whole host of social problems ranging from mental illness to drug use are worse in unequal societies. In his latest book, The Spirit Level: Why More Equal Societies Almost Always Do Better, co-written with Kate Pickett, Wilkinson details the pernicious effects that inequality has on societies: eroding trust, increasing anxiety and illness, encouraging excessive consumption.
The good news is that increased equality has the opposite effect: statistics show that communities without large gaps between rich and poor are more resilient and their members live longer, happier lives.
YES! Magazine web editor Brooke Jarvis sat down with Richard Wilkinson to discuss the surprising importance of equality—and the best ways to build it....
Brooke Jarvis is a freelance journalist (Rolling Stone, Aeon, The Atlantic, Grist, Sierra...) and YES! Magazine Web Editor.
Photo courtesy of Practical Action
Providing energy is one of the most effective ways of building a future free of poverty. Read our report on what can be done - and the next steps required.
~Imagine living in the dark, unable to keep warm, turn on a light or boil a kettle.
~Imagine being taken desperately ill and being turned away from a clinic because it has no electricity and can't offer even the simplest treatment.
~Imagine your child living under the shadow of life-threatening disease because there's no vital vaccine, due to a lack of refrigeration.
~Imagine if you or your partner were pregnant and went into labour at night and had no light, no pain relief and no way of saving you or the baby if there were complications.
This is the stark reality for billions of people living in poverty. This is a massive problem, one that destroys lives and stops poor people escaping the clutches of poverty.
And it is not just a lack of energy for heat and light. Lack of access to modern energy also means being forced to cook over open fires using biomass (wood dung or crop residues ), which can take a long time to collect and can damage health...
Go to the
Practical Action website to read about more
Don't Break The Chain of Good
Practical Action have worked with the Innocent Foundation in Peru for four years, to provide poor, remote communities with clean water, renewable energy and ecological toilets.
This short film was created by MTV producer Max Joseph, to show the link between your support and our work - in a humorous way!
Photo courtesy of Practical Action
"More than simply the means of generating wealth and meeting basic needs, work provides a role in the community and developing one’s talents, refining one’s character, rendering service and contributing to the advancement of society."
**"The unfettered cultivation of needs and wants has led to a system fully dependent on excessive consumption for a privileged few, while reinforcing exclusion, poverty and inequality, for the majority."
**Each successive global crisis—be it climate, energy, food, water, disease, financial collapse—has revealed new dimensions of the exploitation and oppression inherent in the current patterns of consumption and production.
**Stark are the contrasts between the consumption of luxuries and the cost of provision of basic needs: basic education for all would cost $10 billion; yet $82 billion is spent annually on cigarettes in the United States alone. The eradication of world hunger would cost $30 billion; water and sanitation—$10 billion. By comparison, the world’s military budget rose to $1.55 trillion in 2008.
**In this light, it is also important to emphasize the relationship between production and employment as a critical dimension of a strong economy. Too often, increases in productivity have been accompanied by delocalization or a transition to automation and thus, rising levels of unemployment. A single-minded focus on profit-maximization has also valued workforce reduction wherever possible. Under the present system, unemployment and underemployment are soaring and the majority of the world’s population does not earn enough to meet their basic needs. Those living in poverty have no means by which to express themselves in such a system.
**Sustainable production is not simply about ‘greener’ technology but rather, should involve systems that enable all human beings to contribute to the productive process. In such a system, all are producers, and all have the opportunity to earn (or receive, if unable to earn) enough to meet their needs. More than simply the means of generating wealth and meeting basic needs, work provides a role in the community and developing one’s talents, refining one’s character, rendering service and contributing to the advancement of society.
**...the program of education must be based on a clear vision of the kind of society that we wish to live in; and the kind of individuals that will bring this about.
**...Schools themselves must become participants in the social transformation processes. The curriculum cannot simply aim to impart relevant knowledge and skills; rather it should aim to develop the vast potential inherent in the human being. Individuals must be assisted to channel this potential towards the betterment of their communities and the advancement of society as a whole. The level of consciousness and the deep spirit of service and collaboration required to transform individual behaviors and institutional forces in the direction of sustainability will require a transformation of educational processes commensurate with the task at hand.
**...It is becoming clear
that the pathway to sustainability will be one of empowerment,
collaboration and continual processes of questioning, learning and
action in all regions of the world. It will be shaped by the experiences
of women, men, children, the rich, the poor, the governors and the
governed as each one is enabled to play their rightful role in the
construction of a new society. As the sweeping tides of consumerism,
unfettered consumption, extreme poverty and marginalization recede, they
will reveal the human capacities for justice, reciprocity and happiness.
"Reprinted from ONE COUNTRY, the newsletter of the Bahá'í International Community."
“We can end poverty if our grown-ups stop spending money for
arms and bombs…”
Paul Polak: How to End Poverty Through Profits
"You may have the noblest intentions in the world, and even be selflessly
When entrepreneur Paul Polak sets out to change the world, he has bold intentions. Boldness. It’s one of those qualities that people sometimes shake their head at in disapproval. We are encouraged to stay in line. Know our place. Paul knows nothing of these qualities, rejecting them for the far superior task of taking persistent, values-aligned action to bring to life the world of his dreams, at a global scale. That world is one of using the power of business – big business – to end the poverty of 2.7 billion human beings earning under $2 per day, and make a substantial profit doing so.
So who exactly is Paul Polak? He’s an entrepreneur whose market methods lifted more than 17 million people out of $1-a-day poverty so far. Why don’t we know about him? Because he’s at the front end of the curve. For the sake of those billions, his story is one that needs to be told – though if he had his way, he would just want the message to get out there. In fact, he encourages capitalists to directly compete with the life-changing businesses that Paul and his team have founded thus far.
As Paul says himself, “There’s nothing mysterious here. Poor people tell us they’re poor because they don’t have enough money – and who knows more about making money than businesspeople?” This is the simple and yet revolutionary premise that Paul has introduced to the world. Paul insists that the world look at those 2.7 billion human beings surviving on less than $2 a day in earnings as customers. Here’s why:
"You may have the noblest intentions in the world, and even be selflessly dedicating your time and talent as a volunteer, but you won’t get very far by treating poor people as recipients of charity."
This is a controversial stance. Indeed, there are thousands of global organizations, with tens of thousands of hard-working human beings, attempting to lift these 2.7 billion people out of poverty. But absent some notable success stories, the nonprofit sector has failed to solve the issue of poverty in a measurable, scalable way. If they had, Paul wouldn’t need to be working on ending poverty.
The reason why is that without the market mechanism of profit driving the intentions of individuals at every level of the supply chain – down to the last 500 feet - things break down. But when people are motivated by the opportunity to earn profit, they stay in the game. The numbers speak for themselves.
For example: take a water well, subsidized by the government and installed by a nonprofit. Once that water well breaks, who fixes it? Unfortunately, the answer is usually no one. However, if that well was operated by a small local business in one of the nearly 650,000 villages in India, and it made a small profit by selling that water to the homes of villagers – a service the villagers have asked for and are willing to pay – then that well will be maintained ongoing.
But that is only part of the point. We need big business to
tackle the extraordinary challenge of ending poverty. How do we do that?.....
Auren Kaplan is an author and social entrepreneur who converges his skills at the crossroads of authentic living and social good. He is founder of Kaplan Social Media, a digital marketing firm with emphasis on social media, search engine optimization, email marketing, and affiliate marketing. Auren's passion lies in using the power of business to lift billions of people out of poverty.
From the UN Children's Art - We Can End Poverty
10 Hopeful Things That Happened in 2013
Beyond the headlines of conflict and catastrophe, this year’s top
The middle and lower classes fought for economic justice
Income inequality is reaching levels not seen since the Roaring Twenties. People stuck in long-term unemployment are running out of options, and those who do find work often can’t cover basic living expenses. The issue is now getting attention from mainstream media, becoming one of the defining issues of our time, as President Obama said.
Now a movement is building to create a new economy that can work for all. Voters this year passed minimum wage laws in SeaTac, Wash., ($15 an hour) and the state of New Jersey. An overwhelming majority favors raising the minimum wage to $9 an hour. Domestic workers won the right to a minimum wage after years of organizing.
The message was also clear in the
election of Bill de Blasio, a founder of the Working Families Party,
as mayor of New York City. Inequality is a top plank of his platform and
his public record. At the national level, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s
defense of the rights of student borrowers and her proposal to
strengthen Social Security (instead of weaken it, as leaders in both
party are discussing) is winning widespread support. There is even talk
of drafting Warren to run for president.
A new economy is in the making
At the grassroots, National People’s Action and the New Economy Institute are leading new conversations about what it takes to build an economy that works for all and can function in harmony with the environment. Thousands of people are taking part.
And a growing cooperatives movement is linking up with unions and social movements. Some are working with large “anchor” institutions, like hospitals and universities, that can provide a steady market for their products and services. Credit unions, too, are proving their value as they keep lending to local businesses and homeowners as Wall Street-owned banks pulled back.
And a new
DIY sharing economy is taking off, as people do peer-to-peer
car-sharing, fundraising, and skill-sharing, and bring open-source
technology to new levels.
Pope Francis called for care and justice for the poor ...
...and for an end to the idolatry of money and consumerism. He also criticized “ideologies which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation.” In his "Evangelii Gaudium" he says: “Just as the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say ‘thou shalt not’ to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills.” This call is provoking outrage from Rush Limbaugh and Fox News commentators, but elsewhere, it’s leading to a new questioning of the moral foundation for a system that concentrates wealth and power while causing widespread poverty.....
Sarah van Gelder is co-founder and executive editor of YES! Magazine, a national, nonprofit media organization that fuses powerful ideas with practical actions.
Brand New From Annie Leonard:
The Story of Solutions
The final film in the “Story of Stuff” series asks, What if the goal of our economy wasn’t more, but better—better health, better jobs, and a better chance to survive on the planet?
by Annie Leonard
Courtesy of Yes! Magazine
Annie Leonard is the author of The Story of Stuff and the director of the Story of Stuff Project. She is also the creator of The Story of Cap & Trade, The Story of Cosmetics, The Story of Bottled Water, and The Story of Electronics.
“Nobody should be imprisoned by poverty and violence. Education and reaching out to each other is the ladder to step out of poverty and into peace and a bright future.”