Poverty amidst plenty. How is that possible?
Poverty is the state for the majority of the world’s people and nations, yet we live on a planet of abundance. How is that possible?
This article aims to prove 3 things to you:
- That poverty is not natural, it is manufactured deliberately. Specific, identifiable, centralized systems of inequality are creating and enforcing poverty. It is not a natural state.
- Poverty can be eradicated, but not without changing these centralized systems of inequality. Poverty is not the problem; the systems are. Erase the systems, and you erase poverty automatically. Keep the systems, and you will never, ever erase poverty.
- As long as poverty remains, we shall have increasing war, terrorism, migration crisis, divisions, uneducated masses, envy and hatred, survival consciousness, and so on. Eradicate poverty, and you have peace, unity, education, happiness, love, higher consciousness.
To start with, let us first really understand – no, viscerally feel – just how miserably desperately fucking poor many people are, through no fault of their own, other than being born into a certain system.
The following data comes from GlobalIssues.org.
Perhaps the best place to start is by looking at water, the most basic necessity.
Access to water is perhaps the best indicator of desperate, abject poverty of the “fucking poor” kind.
- 12% of the world’s population uses 85% of its water. This means that 88% of the world struggles for water, sharing the remaining 15% of consumed water.
- Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less than $1 a day. More than 660 million people without sanitation live on less than $2 a day, and more than 385 million on less than $1 a day. Millions of people, usually women and children, spend several hours a day collecting water. Collecting water! Daily! Not working, or living, or studying – but collecting water.
- Access to piped water into the household averages about 85% for the wealthiest 20% of the population, compared with 25% for the poorest 20%. Now, 1.8 billion people who have access to a water source within 1 kilometer, but not in their house or yard, consume around 20 liters per day. In the United Kingdom the average person uses more than 50 liters of water a day flushing toilets (where average daily water usage is about 150 liters a day. The highest average water use in the world is in the US, at 600 liters day.)
- Some 1.8 million child deaths each year as a result of diarrhea. The loss of 443 million school days each year from water-related illness. Close to half of all people in developing countries suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by water and sanitation deficits. Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion people lack basic sanitation.
Can you imagine living a life like this every day?
Next, let’s consider children.
- Number of children in the world: 2.2 billion
- Number in poverty: 1 billion (every second child)
For the 1.9 billion children from the developing world, there are:
- 640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3)
- 400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5)
- 270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)
Children, for God’s sake!
Can you imagine growing up like this?
How would it affect your mind? How would it shape your self-view and your world-view?
Can you imagine your children growing up like this?
And now, let us consider consumption and the wealth gap between the haves and the have nots:
- In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of total private consumption. The poorest fifth just 1.5%:
- 1.6 billion people — a quarter of humanity — live without electricity.
- The total wealth of the top 8.3 million people around the world “rose 8.2 percent to $30.8 trillion in 2004, giving them control of nearly a quarter of the world’s financial assets. In other words, about 0.13% of the world’s population controlled 25% of the world’s financial assets in 2004.
- Almost half the world — over 3 billion people — live on less than $2.50 a day.
- Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read a book or sign their names.
- Less than 1% of what the world spent every year on weapons was needed to put every child into school by the year 2000 – and yet it didn’t happen.
- 1 billion children live in poverty (1 in 2 children in the world). 640 million live without adequate shelter, 400 million have no access to safe water, 270 million have no access to health services. 10.6 million died in 2003 before they reached the age of 5 (or roughly 29,000 children per day).
Here is a satellite photo of the world from space, at night. Notice how many people live without electricity, and where they are:
So, How Did This Happen? How Did We Get Here?
By the way, poverty did not always exists on Earth, you know?
There was a time when people had their basic needs, all people, all covered.
But that was a long time ago.
Let’s, instead, look at recent history:
Here is an analysis that shows the distance between the richest and poorest countries in recent history:
- 3 to 1 in 1820
- 11 to 1 in 1913
- 35 to 1 in 1950
- 44 to 1 in 1973
- 72 to 1 in 1992
- And today, it is a whole lot worse
The wealth-gap trend is getting worse, not better.
The gap first started with the agrarian revolution during the 18th and early 19th centuries.
It then increased with the industrial revolution from about 1760 to sometime between 1820 and 1840.
It was boosted tremendously by the colonization period, when Europe colonized the Americas, Africa and Asia from the 16th century to the mid-20th.
When colonialism ended in the 1960s, after centuries of being bled dry by the colonial system, the ex colonies were granted their freedom, but with one condition:
Debt is now the pillar of neo-colonialism.
Insurmountable debts that can never be repaid.
And these debts trap counties in poverty that can usually never be escaped, as long as the system remains.
In his breathtaking book, The New Confessions Of An Economic Hitman, John Perkins shares details about the ways he and others cheated countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars and set up the debt system. Then he reveals how the deadly EHM cancer he helped create has spread far more widely and deeply than ever… even in the US… and everywhere else, to become the dominant system of business, government, and society today. He calls it “The Death Economy”.
Did you know that the GDP (Gross Domestic Product) of the 41 Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (567 million people) is less than the wealth of the world’s 7 richest people combined?
Wow! 7 people! Richer than 41 indebted countries combined.
That is how crippling this debt problem is.
You cannot get out of it, it is designed to maintain the trap.
For every $1 in aid a developing country receives, over $25 is spent on debt repayment.
Further more, the poorer the country, the more likely it is that debt repayments are being extracted directly from people who neither contracted the loans nor received any of the money.
Are you seeing the pattern here yet?
Here is a quote from an article on GlobalIssues.org by Anup Shah:
Debt is an efficient tool. It ensures access to other peoples’ raw materials and infrastructure on the cheapest possible terms. Dozens of countries must compete for shrinking export markets and can export only a limited range of products because of Northern protectionism and their lack of cash to invest in diversification. Market saturation ensues, reducing exporters’ income to a bare minimum while the North enjoys huge savings. The IMF cannot seem to understand that investing in … [a] healthy, well-fed, literate population … is the most intelligent economic choice a country can make. – Susan George, A Fate Worse Than Debt
Many developing nations are in debt and poverty partly due to the policies of international institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
Their programs have been heavily criticized for many years for resulting in poverty. In addition, for developing or third world countries, there has been an increased dependency on the richer nations. This is despite the IMF and World Bank’s claim that they will reduce poverty.
Following an ideology known as neoliberalism, and spearheaded by these and other institutions known as the “Washington Consensus” (for being based in Washington D.C.), Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) have been imposed to ensure debt repayment and economic restructuring. But the way it has happened has required poor countries to reduce spending on things like health, education and development, while debt repayment and other economic policies have been made the priority. In effect, the IMF and World Bank have demanded that poor nations lower the standard of living of their people.
A Spiraling Race to the Bottom
As detailed further below, the IMF and World Bank provide financial assistance to countries seeking it, but apply a neoliberal economic ideology or agenda as a precondition to receiving the money.
The impact of these preconditions on poorer countries can be devastating. Factors such as the following lead to further misery for the developing nations and keep them dependent on developed nations:
- Poor countries must export more in order to raise enough money to pay off their debts in a timely manner.
- Because there are so many nations being asked or forced into the global market place—before they are economically and socially stable and ready—and told to concentrate on similar cash crops and commodities as others, the situation resembles a large-scale price war.
- Then, the resources from the poorer regions become even cheaper, which favors consumers in the West.
- Governments then need to increase exports just to keep their currencies stable (which may not be sustainable, either) and earn foreign exchange with which to help pay off debts.
- Governments therefore must:
- spend less
- reduce consumption
- remove or decrease financial regulations
- and so on.
- Over time then:
- the value of labor decreases
- capital flows become more volatile
- a spiraling race to the bottom then begins, which generates
- social unrest, which in turn leads to “IMF riots” and protests around the world
- These nations are then told to peg their currencies to the dollar. But keeping the exchange rate stable is costly due to measures such as increased interest rates.
- Investors obviously concerned about their assets and interests can then pull out very easily if things get tough.
- In the worst cases, capital flight can lead to economic collapse, such as we saw in the Asian/global financial crises of 1997/98/99, or in Mexico, Brazil, and many other places. During and after a crisis, the mainstream media and free trade economists lay the blame on emerging markets and their governments’ restrictive or inefficient policies, crony capitalism, etc., which is a cruel irony.
- When IMF donors keep the exchange rates in their favor, it often means that the poor nations remain poor, or get even poorer. Even the 1997/98/99 global financial crisis can be partly blamed on structural adjustment and early, overly aggressive deregulation for emerging economies.
- Millions of children end up dying each year. And more and more people get deeper and deeper into poverty.
Meanwhile, the ultra-rich get more and more of the wealth that the poor are losing.
Yes, poverty actually leaches wealth from the poor and into the hands of the system owners.
It transfers wealth, hence the poverty. It is such an effective transfer mechanism, that today, globally, 85 individuals now own more resources than half of the world’s population.
It is, quite effectively, an enslavement system, a colonization system that uses finances and laws, instead of guns and chains.
A crime against humanity.
“Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.” – Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25
To better understand it, watch this video:
So, How Do We Solve This Problem?
Yes, there are other causes of insufficiency, such as corruption, war, geography, and so on, but the root cause of sustained poverty is systemic, specifically the international legal and financial system and concentrations of self-serving power.
The world’s poor can never get out of this through financial aid. Financial aid is literally a bad joke. For every $1 in aid a developing country receives, over $25 is spent on debt repayment. Aid just buys food for a while, and so on. It doesn’t address the problem itself.
Foreign aid will never and has never dented poverty. The gap between the haves and have nots has widened every single year. To solve the poverty problem, you have to knock down the system itself, the private, centralized monetary and legal structures that are forcing poverty on people, and replace them with decentralized, autonomous systems.
The poor can also can never get out of it by “working harder and smarter”. Consider these charts:
The top 27 are:
And here are the poorest:
Let’s see how this “work harder and smarter” idea plays out:
Let’s take a country like Uganda, with a GDP per capita of $1,459.62.
Let’s assume Uganda suddenly works so hard, and so smart, that their economy grows even faster than China! Double China!
Let’s say they grow at 20% per year.
That means they add 20% of $1,459.62 to their GDP per capita, which comes to $291.92 added to their $1,459.62, for a new total of $1,751.54.
Compare that with their former colonial masters, the United Kingdom, which has a GDP per capita of $41,499, growing at only 0.6%. Even at that tiny growth rate, the UK adds $248.99 to their number, for a total of $41,787.99.
So even if Uganda does the impossible, growing at 20% a year, something no country has ever managed to do in modern times, it will still not catch up with the UK anytime soon, even if the UK grows at less than 1%.
Furthermore, Uganda is actually growing at 3.3% today, which means in reality it only adds a measly $48.17 to it’s annual GDP per capita, although it is statistically growing “fast”.
Furthermore, the global monetary system and the international laws actually make it impossible for Uganda to grow faster.
Like Martin Khor explained in the video earlier, this international monetary and legal system acts as a straight-jacket that traps these countries in poverty. And for us to really understand how incredibly limiting this system is, consider this…
1% of Americans received 95 percent of ALL the wealth created since 2009, while 90 percent of Americans actually became poorer. For every $ 1 billion of wealth created, the average US citizen gets only $1 dollar. As we all know, the bankers make the most. Why? Because they are the ones “printing” the money out of thin air! Everyone else has to work for it. And that is in the US.
Now, take that analogy and consider the fact that Uganda doesn’t make dollars, yet it is required to use dollars to buy all its oil, and so on. So Uganda, with its meager resources, has to export raw unprocessed materials for incredibly low prices, to earn dollars. It then has to spend those rare dollars to buy oil and pay off its IMF loans. And unlike the US citizen we just spoke of, who earns all their income in US dollars, Uganda has to literally buy US dollars at exchange rates fixed by external forces.
And so while the privately owned banking system is unfair to the average US citizen, it is ruthlessly brutally unfair to the developing world, such as Uganda. The field is completely uneven, no fighting chance at all.
The gap just grows wider and wider, no matter what they do, as long as the system remains the same.
Now, recognizing this, a few Ugandans might consider jumping ship and moving abroad for greener pasturers, or even traveling internationally to do business on short visits, but then they bump into yet another aspect of this system: The Visas and Borders.
The visa system is actually designed to limit the movement of people from poorer nations and expand the moment of people from richer nations.
Meaning, the richer nations can travel freely, but the poorer ones are not allowed to.
Here is how it works:
During World War I, European governments introduced border passport requirements for security reasons, and to control the emigration of people with useful skills. These controls remained in place after the war, becoming a standard, though controversial, procedure. British tourists of the 1920s complained, especially about attached photographs and physical descriptions, which they considered led to a “nasty dehumanization”.
In 1920, the League of Nations held a conference on passports, the Paris Conference on Passports & Customs Formalities and Through Tickets. Passport guidelines and a general booklet design resulted from the conference, which was followed up by conferences in 1926 and 1927.
While the United Nations held a travel conference in 1963, no passport guidelines resulted from it. Passport standardization came about in 1980, under the auspices of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).
Today, this system has morphed into an international apartheid-like policing and movement control system which further straight-jackets the poor, as the following Passport Index map shows:
What does this mean?
Well, there are 195 countries in the world (or 198, depending on who is counting).
Depending on which passport you hold, you are free or limited to travel, as follows:
German passport holders can travel to 158 countries at a moments notice, without having to apply for a visa. They just hop on a flight whenever they feel like. 158 countries out of 195.
Ugandan passport holders, for example, can travel to 58 countries at a moments notice.
And an Afghan passport holder is only allowed into 24 countries, as you can see below.
Visa applications are there to filter out people. They are lengthly, expensive and the waiting period can often go on for months on end.
The refusal rates is also high. Here is a chart showing % of applicants from various countries, who were denied a United States visitor visa:
And so even the most highly educated, well-meaning, hard working Ugandan seeking to expand his or her opportunities abroad, long term or short term, would face barriers of movement that a Briton, for example, would not face.
Whereas the Briton can come see the gorillas in Uganda at any time, at the spur of the moment, even on impulse, the Ugandan cannot go see the River Thames in Britain without a gruelling, interrogative, police-like visa application process that has a 37% high chance of denial. They experience “nasty de-humanisation”.
Which is quite absurd when you consider the planet itself is Common Heritage and no one people own a mountain or a river system, just because it is located within a synthetic intangible border.
In South Africa during apartheid, pass laws were a form of internal passport system designed to segregate the population, manage urbanization, and allocate migrant labour. The international passport laws today are operating in the same way.
Yet, Article 13 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights says:
(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
To understand how come some passports can travel more than others, simply look at who has opened their borders and who has shut them, refusing entry and movement, as follows:
Uganda is one of the most open country, allowing everyone from everywhere to visit as they like, whenever. All countries welcomed.
The least welcoming of the western nations are the United States (40 countries welcomed), followed by Australia (46):
Germany, the country with the most welcomed passport, in turn welcomes 90 countries:
And the least welcoming of all countries are:
And so we come to a conclusion.
There is no two ways about it. The system itself is the problem, and it simply must be broken apart and replaced with an equitable system that recognizes the Earth as Common Heritage, recognizes Articles 25 and 13 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and shares the world’s resources equitably, and does so without holding nations in the bondage of crippling eternal debt.
The system itself has to go. Period.
There is no other way to solve this poverty problem that directly and indirectly affects us all. Even the citizens of rich nations are affected, at the very least by rising terrorism and insecurity, which is a direct result of poverty, a perfect breeding ground for radicalism.
Besides, if half the world is fucking poor, doesn’t that reduce the productivity and abundance of the Entire planet? Wouldn’t we all be better off if everyone on the planet had an education and their basic needs covered and could participate meaningfully in world affairs? Wouldn’t that make everyone richer? It is a waste of the amazing potential of every human being.
This problem affects us all, directly or indirectly. Some obviously far more than others.
Without massive pressure from civil society, governments are almost 100% unlikely to priorities these very urgent needs of the majority world and abolish these centralized systems of economic slavery that go against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A crime against humanity.
Our failure to share resources internationally has led to the creation of a global economic system that is inherently unjust, highly unequal and environmentally unsustainable. Humanity is now facing a series of interrelated global crises as a consequence that includes massive poverty and rising levels of inequality, climate change and the ecological crisis in all its dimensions, as well as ongoing conflicts over the world’s dwindling natural resources. – Sharing.org
The system has got to go.
We need a new system that is ethical and balanced, fair for all, not just some.
It’s your planet.
You belong here. You are not a 2nd class serf. You are a Sovereign Being, in alliance with All of Earth. If you don’t like something, change it, Sovereign Beings. You are more powerful than you think you are.
Usher in the Golden Age, by following the Golden Rule: Do unto others what you would like done unto you. Love your neighbor, and love yourself.
Love always, yet stand up for Love.
Live, and let live. Meaning, do no harm, but take no crap.
Innovate your heart away.
Go for the establishment of a clean, abundant, compassionate Paradise on Earth for all humankind, for all life on Earth, a New Earth.
You are a Creator Being, a Sovereign Being. The time has come!
Who will stop the madness, if not you, World Citizen? And if not now, when?
What we need now is a Revolution of Consciousness.
This blog post was extracted from the free book Revelation + Freedom: Personal & Planetary Solutions For The Awakening Citizens Of A New Earth. It is 100% Free. To get your own 100% free copy on PDF, Kindle, iBook, online or ePub format, click here now.