TED Conversations

  • 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 27 2012: I think you are right. Education is a big key to ending poverty. Education in Money is what is needed. It needs to begin as early as first grade. Watch children in the stores and how they want to shop and understand the value of money. Educate the young about investing and saving so that by the time children leave high schooll they have an excellent grasp on how to manage their financial lives. Where do the next generation of the poor learn how to get out of the poverty cycle? More often than not the children of parents on the low economic scale live around and socialize with other people on the low economic scale. There is no where to learn how to make the money they earn work for them.
    • Oct 29 2012: How does this work in countries where people earn $2 a day?

      How does this work in the U.S. where a person can work full time and earn $2,000 a month ( or less) but have to pay $1,200 month for a basic apartment (and health care costs $500 per month?) And if that person has children?

      Are poor people blowing their money on luxuries like food, shelter and medical expenses?

      It is hard to "make your money work for you" when you have no money to begin with.

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