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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  • Nov 1 2012: Hi again, R H. Are you familiar with Basic Income Guarantee? It's a program that could eliminate poverty and move innovation beyond traditional employment thus increasing economic activity. http://www.basicincome.org/bien/aboutbasicincome.html

    Research from Namibia revealed that the introduction of a Basic Income Guarantee (BIG) led to an increase in economic activity. The proportion of those who could get a job or become self-employed has increased from 44 to 55%, and there was an increase of non-citizen BIG per capita from N $ 118 to N $ 152, which indicates a nascent economic growth cycle. BIG enabled recipients to increase their work for income, profit or for their family and as self-employed. BIG enabled recipients to increase their productive income, particularly through starting their own small business, including the manufacture of bricks, baking of bread and custom operations. BIG also contributed to the creation of a local market by increasing households' purchasing power. This finding contradicts critics' claims that the BIG will lead to laziness and dependency. http://www.bignam.org
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      R H 30+

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      Nov 2 2012: That's a great example of a current effort. I am concerned though about the breadth of BIG's influence. On a 'small' scale, and for a beginning, I see it's merits. But I can't see how this particular incentive can produce a long term, widespread increase in productivity and living standard. But again, the question is 'why are we not investing...', and you have provided an example of how we are. Thanks.

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