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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 27 2012: I'm going to propose something heretical. Giving money to those without money does not help anything. Those without money do not have a resource by which to include themselves as players (they've got no ante, if you will). By giving money to those without, you are satisfying their need of income while diverting your own. This gets society no where and ultimately taxes those who give while supporting faulty producers.

    In William Sumner's(1883) "What Social Classes Owe to Each Other," society is painted at exactly the same dynamic we see it today. "The danger of minding other people's business is twofold. First, there is the danger that a man may leave his own business unattended to; and, second, there is the danger of an impertinent interference with another's affairs." Now while the latter is merely an assertion of Sumner's values, the first is a critical reason why we cannot lend our money to those who haven't made it for themselves. "-that the state cannot get a cent for any man without taking it from some other man, and this latter must be a man who has produced and saved it. This latter is the Forgotten Man."

    Sumner goes on,
    "There is a beautiful notion afloat in our literature and in the minds of our people that men are born to certain "natural rights." If that were true, there would be something on earth which was got for nothing, and this world would not be the place it is at all. The fact is, that there is no right whatever inherited by man which has not an equivalent and corresponding duty by the side of it, as the price of it. ... Such is the actual interpretation in practice of natural rights - claims which some people have by prerogative on other people." He eventually goes on to talk of the "Forgotten Man" which is essentially the middle classes. This, on the whole, is a compelling piece and I urge you all to read it. Its relevance abounds.

    On a simpler note, and to quote P.J. O'Rourke, "You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money."
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      R H 30+

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      Oct 27 2012: Thanks Bristol for participating in this discussion. I think your proposition is valid. The old Chinese proverb "give a man a fish..." parallels this notion. But the notion of "impertinent interference with another's affairs", while seemingly efficient and noble on the surface, for me can also be interpreted as 'all potential victims are fair game', and can be a foundation for exploitation. And let me clarify as I have done with other responders: I'm not, in any way, suggesting re-distributing current wealth production. My question alludes to whether further investment in an unproductive market can yield massive returns so everyone gets more. Thank you again and let's continue if you care to.
      • Oct 29 2012: RH, By coindence it is that same parable which was used to make the point about business for social purpose in a 2003 proposal:


        It began in 1996 when the concept of business for social purpose targetiing global poverty was pitched to Bill Clinton. In an interview from 2004, the author said:

        "At first, the idea seemed heresy - but not for long, simply because it made sense and it didn't step on the toes of any existing enterprises that were in business to enrich relatively few people. None of them were asked to change anything, but it left open the possibility of more forward-thinking people to step in and do business differently. "
    • Oct 28 2012: On a simpler note, and to quote P.J. O'Rourke, "You can't get rid of poverty by giving people money."

      But you can most certainly increase poverty levels by denying people reasonable access to quality education.
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      Oct 28 2012: Sumner goes on,
      "There is a beautiful notion afloat in our literature and in the minds of our people that men are born to certain "natural rights." If that were true, there would be something on earth which was got for nothing, and this world would not be the place it is at all."

      I actually disagree with this on a fundamental level, and I think this is one of the big lies, often perpetrated by modern conservatives. There is a reason a human beings have "natural rights", which are fundamental, regardless of country, religion, or creed, that is rational, and fact based. We are the kings of the jungle.

      For all the fear and anxiety forced on us in modern society, the average man or woman, is completely capable of surviving, harvesting food, and even enjoying life, alone in the wilderness, for most of a natural life. With the access to information we have today, especially, even through millenia old very cheap traditions such as libraries, you could take a few books out and wander into a national park, and get lost for the rest of your life, without ever regreting it.

      That is why your participation in society, should not be seen as a given, but as a gift, you choose to give the people around you, which should be rewarded. You should get as much as you give to a society. If you do not, you should wander off. You have the born in, natural right, to freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and even food... because you could do that without us. In order to have a society worth participating in, you must respect, at a bare minimum, the natural rights.

      At the same time... In the wild, one would have to work for food, and I see no reason that wealth redistribution, and taxation, cannot be tied to learning skills and participating in volunteer duties. I agree with the principle that giving poor people money doesn't eliminate poverty. I would only go one step farther, rich people love to give poor people money, because poor people spend it, on the cheapest product

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