Skip to main content

An Optimistic and Inspiring Look at Poverty


I have been thinking a lot about world poverty lately, and even more so since I started reading Jeffrey Sachs's truly wonderful book, The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. Sachs starts out by giving a general overview of the world's condition. He has some pretty heavy things to say about all of the needless dying from fully treatable diseases. Common themes throughout the book:

We can eliminate extreme poverty by 2025

Traditional arguments about why poor countries are poor (e.g. corrupt leadership) are too simplistic.

The UN programs are the means for achieving economic progress.

Poor countries are in a poverty trap that they cannot escape without foreign aid.

The health situations in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia are inexcusable and are keys to explaining why these areas cannot escape poverty.

The Bush administration, and the Western world, generally is neglecting it's responsibility and making terrible decisions.

A little under a third of the book is devoted to outlining the situation in 6 regions: Bolivia, Poland, Russia, China, India, and Africa. Honestly, I felt that these chapters could get a bit burdensome (he talks a lot of macroeconomics). The most meaningful thing to me was Sachs's discussion of Malaria and AIDS and the West's negligence in addressing these issues.

Despite outlining all of these problems, Sachs remains optimistic throughout, detailing how we can (and easily so) eliminate this poverty.

The author does mention the insanity of letting fundamentalist Christian end-of-the-world scares dictate our foreign policy. Besides this jab at Christianity - and I share his sentiments in this regard (he specifically mentions the Left Behind Series) - Sachs mentions the religious only to show how religious groups are the means for Conservative America to help contribute to poverty reduction.

I'm still not sure what to think of Sachs's idea that corruption in governments has little or nothing to do with why a country's citizens remain poor. At first I disagreed with the assertion, but once I read his more in-depth treatment of it, I couldn't really argue with him.

This book is definitely written by a man who is critical towards the Bush administration, the war in Iraq, and who is fully supportive of the United Nations. Thus, it may initially be off-putting to conservatives. But if you have a heart to care for the poor, and a brain to understand what it will take to help them, you will have to agree with most of what Jeffrey Sachs says.

Very enlightening.

The End of Poverty: A
2 comments

Popular posts from this blog

Reaction to Dante's Hell as Portrayed in Dante's Inferno

Since its Patristic roots, the Church has struggled with two seemingly contradictory aspects of God's nature. One one hand, God is said to be loving and caring towards his creation. At the same time, however, God is seen as a judge, dealing out justice to all according to their actions. Some Christians have argued that God, due to his overabundance of love, can never punish or cause harm. Other Christians have no qualms in maintaining that a loving God sends people to Hell, even against their own will. Most fall in between these two extremes. I would maintain that Dante's view of punishment in Hell errs on the side of the latter extreme, given the assumption of a loving God as described in Christian literature. The God portrayed in Dante's Inferno punishes based on gross oversimplifications. His God ignores the larger picture of human psychology and sociological influences in addition to the rehabilitative capacities of wrongdoers.

Good parents do not punish their children …

The Clink (New Friends)

Each other is all we have. It's no surprise, then, that when we think about the chapters of our lives, those chapters usually begin and end with the beginning and ending of relationships. My current chapter began in July 2016, when I made the move from Philadelphia to Denver. In many ways, it was the fulfillment of a promise made between Peace Corps friends; Carly, Evan, and I spoke often of our desire to live in the same place some day, and after two wonderful years spent with Kyla, it was time for me to join them.

The great advantage to this arrangement is that Evan and Carly had been cultivating friends in my absence, so upon my arrival last summer, I was met with a wonderful group of people who had been carefully conditioned by Evan and Carly to like me.

Readers of this blog will remember Evan and Carly from my Peace Corps days. They were the closest I had to family for two years, and by the end of our service, we were inseparable.


Evan

Pappy. Pop-pop. Dilly-dally. Evan is know…

Love in the Peace Corps

I joined the Peace Corps because I wanted to connect with the rest of the world, to see life from the perspective of the oppressed, to spread joy and wonder and curiosity to new places. I did not join, in other words, to find a girlfriend.
Why was it then, that as soon as I walked into my hotel in Philadelphia, I felt like a college freshman? I couldn't get through my first elevator ride without my heart-rate increasing and my breath shortening.
The feeling returned during our introductory meetings: the nervousness, the flurry of disordered thinking that accompanied moments of eye contact.
Damn you, body. Why must you sabotage everything good in this world?
I talked this over with my friend Ted on day one in Morocco. I was prepared for the bugs and dirt and cultural difficulties that come with Peace Corps, but nothing could prepare me for the onslaught of charming, independent-minded, attractive girls that I would be meeting throughout those first weeks. He agreed. It was eerie how ma…