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

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • thumb
    Nov 3 2012: Recent experience here in Brazil shows this thought can be controversial, depending on who is this “we”, how the “investment” is done, and what is “participate in the global economy”. Effectiveness and fairness in income distribution is a priority, indeed. But the problem is who conducts it, as well as how the sacrifices to reach it are attributed. About global economy, it seems there is a conceptual misunderstanding, on purpose, taking consumption instead of participation.
    • thumb

      R H 30+

      • +1
      Nov 5 2012: Thanks Edelcio, for responding with such a balanced macro view. If you could, would you please briefly describe the 'controversial recent experience' you're referring to? Your experience may further help in understanding application issues. Also, if you have time and care to, please elaborate on 'the conceptual misunderstanding of consumption vs. participation'.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.