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  • R H
  • Chicago, IL
  • United States

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Why do we NOT invest effectively in the poor and marginalized so they can participate in the global economy?

Nearly half of the world's population cannot effectively participate or contribute to the global economy. Basic economic theory holds that each 'participant' in the economy is a 'unit of productivity' providing a return on investment. In other words, it's more profitable to have people working and consuming than not. Yet nations continue to allow and accept that the poor and marginalized are - to borrow from another popular phrase - 'too big to succeed'.

In my view, the (relatively) small investment in infrastructure, education, and basic healthcare in the poor and marginalized will be more than made up by their increased productivity and spending. The rich think they're rich now, just imagine the wealth created by having 3 billion more people buying their stuff? I know there are obvious problems with this: corruption, unified effort, immediate ROI, etc. - but why is this such a 'tough sell' to national leadership? They're always looking for ways to increase the tax base.

3+ billion people now contribute to the world gross productivity. What if that were doubled? To me, this is the next threshold of economic growth -bringing in those who have been left out. Yet, we don't even talk about it. What do you think?

Topics: economics society
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    Oct 25 2012: Great question/discussion and I believe to a large degree that the WHY falls somewhere between innovation and time. I don't think expendable funds is the entire issue here. (Even though I did just read that for ever dollar the USA brings in - it's exhausted into 3 key areas of investment - and the rest is borrowed to cover all other investments)...BUT...besides that...without time you cannot innovate what is necessary to improve this situation - and even if you could innovate smart solutions (and by you I am speaking of those with MEANS to do this) --- without the time to make it happen, it simply doesn't.

    An example that comes to mind for me about how innovation and time/dedication HAS provided a great solution for the poor and marginalized - is a non-profit called Quest. There is a lot more to the organization than I will explain here but basically, through grants, corporate sponsorships, food donations from local restaurants and grocers and community crowd funding they have purchased a warehouse, turned it into a "healthy" grocery store - that is only accessible by invitation only (to the poor and marginalized). The shelves are stocked with all sorts of healthy foods, diet specific foods and better options than lets say a food bank (even though they work WITH the food banks).

    Anyhow they require all "shoppers" to participate in the operation somehow in order to earn grocery credits. Some might stock shelves, some might clean, some might do cash, bag or greet others. In turn they can shop the warehouse for their own foods and improve their lives. No cash is exchanged with these individuals, but skills development and work ethics DOES result in higher moral --- and for some the desire to do more with their lives. My understanding is that some of their shoppers have since gotten jobs - well paid ones and STILL come back to volunteer at Quest. It's life changing. And only one example. But effective.
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      R H 20+

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      Oct 25 2012: Thanks Cijaye for a fine example. Maybe this approach is the most practical. Nothing succeeds like success, and if there are demonstrated concrete efforts that show great results (such as Quest) then these efforts will grow into being attractive to larger scale players. They will begin to see that there is a tremendous market that is ripe for growth, and the investments in basic sustenance needs for the poor and marginalized will not only be seen as humanitarian, but also a potential for extreme profitability - which can breed further investment and research. We'll omit the negative side of profits for now.

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