TED Conversations

  • R H
  • Chicago, IL
  • United States


This conversation is closed.

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: You are welcome RH. I am sure there are plenty of other opportunities out there, but this one appeals greatly to me because it provides people with their most basic needs - which would otherwise require money they may not have; it keeps them and their families from being hungry IF NOTHING ELSE and it gives them the opportunity to earn this while being incredibly supported and motivated to do so. I find this model incredibly empowering. Now if only there was a a way for housing, utilities and other necessities could be funded/provided in this way too - no ONE organization or individual gives up everything, everyone feels pride in what they are doing and our neighbors are taken care of. This alone would probably reduce crime too. Great conversation.
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      R H 30+

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      Oct 27 2012: Marcus Aurelius is credited with saying: Poverty is the mother of crime. This effort you refer to, and so many others, are seemingly effective in providing a foundation for economic growth for the poor and marginalized. But I want more. I'm seeking structural evolution of investment for wide-spread opportunity and the resulting massive returns so everybody gets more. I'm wondering if it's possible.
      • Oct 28 2012: YES! it is possible! Some good examples are micro-loans through organizations like OXFAM or Woman To Woman and some Fair Trade Cooperative programs. The returns on such loans are outstanding and this benefits not only the loan recipient/small business but the investors and the general community.

        Heifer International is also a good example of a program that works. A poor family will receive a goat ( for example). The family is able to start a micro-business selling the milk, cheese or other products made from the goat's milk etc. Also, the family gives a female goat to a neighbor and they give a goat in turn to another neighbor. Everyone prospers from sharing the animals.

        More generally, a pathway to quality education gives a young person the tools to earn a good living and the ability to spend money in their community, and give to charitable causes. Crime and birth rates are lower as well when youth have access to quality education and all of this benefits society as once under-priviledged groups become empowered to give more to their communities and to the general economy and tax base.

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