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 29 2012: A good investment will be in rural restaurants for poor. http://www.nariphaltan.org/ruralrestaurants.pdf

    Also tremendous innovations are necessary in bringing technologies for rural poor. They do not have less neurons than us and have the same aspirations as rest of the world. http://www.nariphaltan.org/langmuirrural.pdf

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      R H 30+

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      Oct 30 2012: For me, this observation is most profound - that the poor and marginalized have no less 'neurons' than the rest of us, and possess the same aspirations. This is absolutely the most significant understanding. It's just the arena of opportunity we find ourselves in that determines how much we can flourish. There is an untapped market of 3 billion participants with the same aspirations and fundamental capabilities as the developed world. Can we create the arenas necessary for them to flourish, creating trillions and trillions of new and additional wealth for the whole world to enjoy? We don't have time for the old ways, the old bickering, the old methods. There's too much to gain by acting on the possibilities and dismissing the negative - too many new technologies and brilliant, educated, and experienced minds bursting to contribute to raise the bar for all. Yes, I paint with a wide brush. Thank you Anil for your insight.

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