“The End of Poverty?” (Part 2)

by Tamara A. 

Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural.  It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.  –Nelson Mandela

As I mentioned in my previous post, “The End of Poverty?” is an incredible documentary (you should check it out!) the puts the global poverty issue into a new light.  After pulling us through the progression of events from the beginning of the Europeans’ globalization efforts to the continued forceful actions of American “economic hitmen” to control political figures and thus economies of foreign countries, the featured experts stress the fact that the worldwide problem of poverty, hunger, etc. is something that we, as humans, have created and furthermore, is something that we, as humans, have the ability and responsibility to mend.

At the end of the documentary, there are four suggested steps that need to be taken to  end poverty.  While these may be obvious changes to make, they are not simple.  The global economy has been functioning with these misguided systems in place and to alter them now would take the cooperation of many governments and businesses and the belief from these governments and corporations that the focus needs to return to the basic needs and rights of humans over the bottom line profit.

The four mentioned steps to ending poverty are:

1.    Forgive international debts.

Currently, in developing countries, $13 has to be paid in debt repayments for every $1 that is received in grants.  With this ratio existing, it is nearly impossible for a country to repay these debts in any reasonable amount of time.  Thus, these countries remain slaves to the wealthy countries and thus, many times act in the favor of the dominating countries over what is best for their own citizens.  Relieving some or all of these international debts would allow the poorer countries to benefit from their export profits and help to build their economies.

2.    Change tax systems.

Nearly all current tax systems existing in the world are based on the consumption of necessities and are taking a way from the wages that people are earning.  Ideally, taxes should instead focus on wealth and property ownership so that those people that possess so little are not being ransacked by this system.

3.    Agrarian reform.

The farmland situation in much of the world today is setup so that there are a few large owners of the land and they hire cheap labor to work and maintain the production of the land.  With many of these workers earning ridiculously low wages keeping them below the poverty line, a reform should be developed return the land (or at least share the land) with those who are actually working it and generating the product.

4.    End privatization of resources.

Over the last few decades, there has been a growing trend of privatization within natural resources and utilities.  As private corporations have taken over these, their focus has changed to profit over accessibility and affordability for the majority of the population.  The increase in price to maintain a water source, electricity, etc. has become a larger burden for those in developing countries to support.  These basic commodities should not weigh so heavily on the poor.

And I’m going to add one more to this list:

5.    Educate.

Education should happen on every level of society.  Those with wealth should be educated on the situation of the poor and developing countries.  Knowing how existing systems and economies are affecting these populations are important.  (I wish I could send “The End of Poverty?” to everyone.)  But more importantly, education opportunities for the population living in poverty need to be granted as well.  For many, education is sacrificed due to lack of money or the need to work.  By members of these communities being educated, they are able to bring that back to their homes/villages/communities and help to improve it.

As you all can tell, I am a huge advocate for this documentary and the education that it provides.  It is important for us to realize that we are part of the human community and are able to help those that are suffering around the globe.  Edge of Seven is doing our part in this by helping to afford education to rural Nepal.  We appreciate your support on our mission.

Statistics and information gathered from the Cinema Libre Studio produced documentary “The End of Poverty?”.  More information on this documentary can be found at www.TheEndofPoverty.com

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