Anonymous asked in Social ScienceEconomics · 1 decade ago

Is it possible for our Governments to work with business corporations to eradicate Global poverty?

Children and Adults on this abundant planet are dying of starvation as I type this. The majority of the worlds population do not have access to clean, safe drinking water. We have the resources to rectify this. Can we develop the goodwill and systems of stewardship to end poverty or are we just to selfish to bother?


I'm disgusted at the narrow minded self interesr expressed in these answers. I'm not asking you to give uo any of your precious dollars, I was hoping for a more enlightened view regarding the planets resources, not your precious American dollars. have a nice Christmas !

3 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    You are raising several completely different questions:

    - What can be done?

    - What should be done?

    - Who should do it.

    Since you seem to have answered the third for yourself, let's look at your answer:

    What do you think the business of corporations is? What do you think the goal of governments is? (Note I did not ask what they *should* be, but what they, in practice, *are*.)

    Government is primarily a mechanism for the rich and powerful to keep their wealth and power. Few governments have any interest at all in reducing, much less eradicating, global poverty.

    (This is what makes the debate on immigration from Mexico so interesting. There is a split among the rich and powerful - some see immigration as a boost, while others see it as a threat.

    It would not be hard at all for the U.S. government to increase economic development in Mexico, but one of the costs would be rising prices and hence a falling standard of living in the U.S. - not something the U.S. government is going to want to do.

    And even this applies to Mexico because of its proximity, not to China, India, Africa, etc.)

    As for corporations, they have even fewer incentives to do anything that might cost them in the short-term. Governments can pay them to do things, but strictly as contractors. The corporations have no incentive to do the right thing and even less capability to do it.

    Corporations can't even be trusted to look out for their own long term self interest - they are too tied up in their short-term futures.

    Paul Krugman had a lovely article on this recently.

    He noted: 'In a 1963 essay for Ms. Rand’s newsletter, Mr. Greenspan dismissed as a “collectivist” myth the idea that businessmen, left to their own devices, “would attempt to sell unsafe food and drugs, fraudulent securities, and shoddy buildings.” On the contrary, he declared, “it is in the self-interest of every businessman to have a reputation for honest dealings and a quality product.'

    Does this sound like the behavior of the businessmen in China who used lead paint? who put poison in their toothpaste? Does this sound like the banks who made all the sub-prime mortgages? (Recall that Greenspan, as head of the Fed, was supposed to be regulating those businessmen) Does this sound like the Union Carbide of the Bhopal catastrophe? Or how about those preying on the elderly?

    We tend to think of corporations as big powerful behemoths. But look at the records. How many of today's top 100 were around 100 years ago? What happened to the top 100 of 100 years ago? In the long run, corporations are not very competent.

    None of this has dealt with the first two questions of can and what should be done. Let us suppose that you are right about what can be done right now with our current resources. Before you say that we should do it because we can, you, at very least, have to address the consequences of what you want to do.

    Suppose we eliminate poverty as we know it and raise the minimum standard of living in the short term. What are you going to do in the long term? Are you going to keep pouring resources as populations continue to expand?

    (One of the interesting elements of economic aid was the Peace Corps. Volunteers when into small villages all around the world setting up schools, sanitation facilities, clean water facilities, etc. In almost every case, within a few years of the Peace Corp leaving, the facilities became unusable. There are arguments on whether this can be avoided and how to make such investments in the future, but the fact is that even with a will, getting anything done for the long term is not at all trivial.)

    Currently, the average citizen of an industrialized country uses an order of magnitude more resources than one of an unindustrialized country. Since very few people are willing to give up their current life style, you are asking that additional resources be devoted to the poor, sick, and starving. Fine. What effect is extracting and using those resources going to have on the world? And if you succeed and those people start economic development for themselves, as China has?

    There is no way for economic growth or population growth to keep on forever - in a finite universe, it eventually has to stop. Just how it will stop is by no means clear. It may be a crash of one form or another, or it may be that we suddenly become rational and try for a soft landing (though I wouldn't bet on the latter :-) But have you thought about this? Maybe the right answer isn't to improve their lot at all but to undo the "benefits" of industrialization and let more people starve, in the name of saving the earth?

    A separate issue is just what do you mean by "poverty". I will accept that starvation, dying from exposure, etc. are objective, but most of the other elements that make people poor are subjective. Even the poor in the U.S. live lives that ancient rulers could not imagine, even in terms of the year-around availability of food, etc. Does that make the ancient rulers poor? Does that make the modern poor rich?

    Garret Hardin used to say "You can't do just one thing". One implication is that whatever you do, even if it succeeds in having the intended results, will also have many other consequences.

    (And, of course, Garret Hardin wasn't the first. Every culture has stories with the same moral: be careful what you wish for, as you may get it.)

    So, have you thought through what you are asking for?

  • 1 decade ago

    No, because most of the starving people in the world are starving because of their governments. A couple of good examples are North Korea and Zimbabwe. In the case of Zimbabwe just a few years ago exported food now they are starving. The reason is they embraced "Social Justice" and foolishly attempted to use government to allocate resources, and now they starve.

  • 1 decade ago

    What resources, we have $9 trillion of debt?

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