TED Conversations

This conversation is closed.

What can governments do to end poverty in their countries? Is a solution possible under capitalism?

Hello, I come from Argentina, and in my country, poverty is an issue we still can't eradicate, even though extreme poverty has been around for many decades now.

What still baffles me is the fact that although the Government gives away money to those with reduced incomes, poverty is as bad as always. Poor people can now (at least) fulfill their basic needs, but they have now become dependant on the Govt to give them the necessary resources for life (and politicians do not care about this, since this way they can keep on "buying" their votes with cash). They don't have jobs (and some do not even bother to find one) and most still live in slums under really poor conditions. So, it's obvious this solution is only benefitial in the short run... eventually the Government is going to run out of money and we'll still have the same number of people in the streets.

Moreover, I read yesterday how India is going to start doing the same thing, but I guess that probably won't go anywhere either.

Now, what do you think is the solution to stop this vicious circle of poverty? What is your Government doing about it?

Bear in mind that Latin America has just extreme poverty levels (not as much as Africa), but still much more than the First World countries. At least in my country there is a surprisingly high number of slums (check some photos in wikipedia: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Villa_miseria )

In my opinion, emphasis should be made on giving labour to these people outside-the-system. But for that, we need to offer public AND quality education. Yet I'm conscious that a malnourished child is not going to be able to be properly educated, is he?. So what can we do to ensure that child will have a better future? It's difficult to come up with a solution, but we're in the 21st Century now, it's about time we stopped poverty.

  • Jan 15 2013: I think you may be asking the wrong question. Poverty is the normal condition of human beings. The real question is this: "What can government do to increase prosperity?" Socialism (including communism) is a proven failure at wealth creation. The only places where socialism is considered "successful" is where it exists as a parasite on a capitalist base. Without a solid, free market, capitalistic base to provide revenue to the government, socialist states are unable to remain financially viable.

    The other issue you need to consider is how the rich coop socialism for their own gain. The high taxes, tough regulation and government substitutes are often tools to keep the poor and middle class down. The rich don't pay income tax -- they have no "income". Their already have wealth. Instead, the high "progressive" taxes rob the small business owners and upcoming professionals of capital to compete with established wealth. Regulations can be use to prevent competitors from entering markets. Finally, government subsidies mostly go to well connected. If socialism was truely the means to end poverty and power of the oligarchy, then Argentina should have succeeded decades ago.
    • Jan 17 2013: that is a myth. first off which form of socialism or capitalism are you talking about. I assume you are using WW2 and the cold war as example of why democratic capitalism is the superior form of government.

      in point of fact that argument ignores about 90% of the reasons America and Anglo societies became predominant in the 20th century.

      non-democratic forms of government have been assumed to be less effective than capitalism. If one takes Germany circa 1933 as an example, within 8 years with a nationalized government and at a serious population, resource, and production disadvantage Germany came within an inch of beating the US and the British Empire. If Japan had not jumped the gun the likelihood that we would have in fact defeated Germany is questionable. Same with the soviets. They started at a massive cultural and technological disadvantage which we knew and exploited to destroy their economy. Besides Soviet communism was about as much communism as Mitt Romney is a true free-market capitalist.

      most of the wealth creation in the 20th century derived from technological advances by the militaries of a few countries all of which were substantially nationalized in military/industrial production and R&D at the time of the advances, so that whole nationalism/socialism/communism does not work is pure malarky. A rational examination of history actually shows that it works quite well to provide the foundation of a capitalist economy. without nationalized R&D there would be much less "wealth creation".
      • Jan 19 2013: How many times must an experiment fail before you admit defeat? Communism, Socialism and good old Big Government programs do not work. Why? They all assume that everyone wants to work together for the greater good. And yes, people will say that is what they want. The problem is that is not what people do. They act in their own self-interest.
        If everyone is equally rewarded, then everyone will do the bare minimum. That is what happened in the United State back when the Pilgrims arrived. All the land was held in common and each family was to be given according to their need. They all nearly starved to death. They realized their mistake, divided up the land to each family, and went on to create the biggest economy on Earth.
        This same story has been repeated countless times with more disastrous results. The Soviet Union’s “Harvest of Sorrow” killed tens of millions. Communist China’s “Great Leap Forward” resulted in death of at least 50 million people. Many other counties has tried and failed. So what does the defenders of the grand socialist model say? They did try hard enough! What a load of nonsense.
        Capitalism, with all its faults, works because it assumes people will act in their own self-interest. Free trade and market economies mean that it is a win-win solution for everyone. Ok, some will not do as well as others, but everyone – especially the poor -- is better off.
        • Jan 19 2013: A government which robs Peter to pay Paul, can always count on the support of Paul -- George Bernard Shaw
    • Jan 23 2013: What makes you say that poverty is a normal condition of human beings? It's been a common characteristic ever since the emergence of civilizations, that is correct, but so used to be slavery, which was abolished in recent history. I have in faith in mankind. Although we may be self-interested, I do believe we all feel compassion for suffering people. This is not the case, for instance, when people are not treated justly. I've heard many people complaining that they're "tired of supporting lazy people with the taxes I pay (the poor who receive the Govt. subsidies, the majority of whom do not even seek for a job given this monetary help)". This could be different if every person could be treated equally. Nobody (except maybe the capitalist oligarchy) would mind helping the needy if they did all the things they do (work, pay taxes, etc.).

      Just because there is no clear solution to poverty at the moment, it doesn't mean we have to accept the Status Quo. Even though socialism and communism have indeed failed, as you say, capitalism is obviously not the way to go in the future. We have to find something better, I'm sure we can.
  • thumb
    Jan 18 2013: In every country there is poverty. Governments can not cure poverty. If they could, it would have been done long ago. They can cause poverty, they can maintain people in a level of poverty as to provide political support as you have noted.
    People are impoverished because they do not know to create wealth or they are prevented by outside forces. Capitalism is the easiest way for an individual to create wealth. He does this by taking his stuff transforming it to something that others want and exchanging it for what he needs. He gains wealth through his efforts. It's really simple. The problem is that most people in poverty have lost the desire to escape, they live in despair and I know of no answer to that problem.
  • thumb
    Jan 3 2013: In the current economic model shared by the vast majority of the globe, the human quotient, people, have relatively no value. Why?…In capitalism that which is rare has value, and people are not rare. In a "tribe" there is no poverty,everyone has a job to do and everyone works for the group, which translates to everyones needs being met; in a city however, you have ten people and five apples..…Absolute Poverty is not based on dollar amounts, it's based on allocation of resources. This planet is capable of providing the basic needs of every human on it and more, so NOT making available those resources to everyone is a choice made by those who "own" those resources. The people in poverty live outside a system which considers them to be common, valueless, yet, are taught to believe that same system will provide for them if they work hard enough, are lucky enough, or smart enough...

    So the in addition to education, population reduction needs to be established and redistribution of population, as concentrating populations in smaller and smaller areas is also a major factor in creating poverty and conditions which make said populations vulnerable to fluctuations in resource allocation models that are often outside our control....Ofcourse the first question from the established power structure is, "Who is going to pay for it?". The answer is everyone. Do we "need" a new stadium?…Do we "need" a tax cut?…Do we "need" a bigger military?…Do we "need" an individual with a billion dollars in their bank account?…It shouldn't be our governments we look to change first, it is our own individual perspective of ourselves and our place and purpose, here and now that must change first.

    And though contemporary definitions point to economic parameters and "prejudices" to describe them, the First, Second, and Third Worlds actually refer respectively to NATO Allied, Soviet Allied and Neutral countries during the cold war era… Them vs Us...Perhaps our language should change first.
  • Jan 14 2013: Governments, all of them, are evil.

    The idea of Government is fine. The application is terrible.
    Governments are "property" driven. They control areas.

    United States citizens cannot and do not control their Government.
    It has morphed into a 2 party system. Both parties taking turns
    having a majority that govern.

    Elections are bought and paid for, using monies reaped by solicitation
    of party members, major corporations, and unions.
    Political Advertisements are churned out by a corrupt media.
    Until citizens become convinced only 2 candidates are viable.

    There is no way any other candidate for high office can get
    a message to the citizens who vote. Except of course with
    a soap-box in the park.

    Democracy is chanted world-wide by media. Government just
    keeps making WARS and Weapons. Peace is a word seldom spoken.
    Freedom is a word never spoken. Erosion of citizen rights in this century
    foretell of a broken society.

    Hunger and starving peoples in far away lands are ignored.
    A fleeting glimpse in a news article, then forgotten.
    Promised Foreign Aid has too many strings attached.
    Monies and foodstuffs seldom get to where they are needed.

    All Governments are evil.
    • Jan 16 2013: Frank, although I agree that every Government has its own share of corruption (Sometimes in a really high level), I don't agree with what you say about Democracy.

      Fundamentally, I believe Democracy is the best form of Government we can hope for. Why? Because each individual is equal in relation to politics. Everyone can vote and choose a person to represent them, and anyone (theoretically) can aspire to lead the country. Of course it has its faults (Corruption, Unrepresented minorities, etc.) but for now, it's the best humanity could come up with. You say "citizens cannot and do not control their Government", but how do you think they could control it?

      I have to admit some democracies around the world are missing transparency, but still, we can't get any better than that. It's really difficult to make everyone feel represented in a democracy,

      I know it's not perfect, but we'll have to live with it, at least for now.
      • Jan 17 2013: Matias Haro,

        I do not know the answer as to how citizens can control their Government.

        But, I do know that each political party (Democrat and Republican) pay enormous sums
        to media before, during, and after political campaigns.

        Like snuffing out a candle, voters are blinded, and never give it a second thought.

        24/7/365 Voters are entertained by media, in a grand design. Up to and including election day.
        all expenses are paid by contributors to one or the other of the two parties. Solicited funds,
        from registered voters, major Corporations, and Unions, pay for the Media Circus.

        Choices for voters are simplified. A choice of Incumbent, or a Republican, or Democrat replacement.

        Occasionally an Independent is elected, but usually if researched, he or she has ties to
        one of the two parties.

        Mid Term replacements are appointed by each State's Republican or Democrat Governor until elections can be held.

        The "Media Circus" continues from election day to election day. Non-stop for two and four
        year periods.

        No one who is not a member to either party, has any 'standing' with voters,
        nor any road-map to find supportive voters. Media control is absolute.

        It all boils down to a soap-box in the park...
        The media excludes mavericks, they point fingers at them and make fun of them.
        England uses the same tactics, and has for years. It works.

        In almost exactly 100 years the United States has gone from prosperity to bankruptcy.

        I hope you have understood my point.
        I do not know the answer.
        I know only that we need one.

        I could go on, but I have had my full of disgust.
  • Jan 9 2013: I believe that it is in fact possible to have very little poverty in a Capitalistic economy. And the way I see it happening is by changing everyones individual perspective on their own capabilities of obtaining money. Not by a President or leader altering various taxes and government spending policies. But by altering the psychologies of individuals to be more equipped and structured to not fall gullible to the only solution of being solely dependent on Government aid. But by no means am I saying that we should cut those policies, because they do provide a service of helping people who unexpectedly fall victim to inconvenient circumstances such as being fired or laid off of work.

    Along with a few others who have posted, the only way I see this happening is by altering our current educational systems. By educating our generations, present, and future ones to be individuals to follow their dreams and have self worth and not allowing them to limit themselves on obtaining those dreams solely on their financial standings and the thought of a linear path to money, I feel we will see a shift of people's perspectives on what poverty really is in a radical way.

    I find this saying to be true, "Your best weapon is an educated mind."

    If we could have a mass collection of individuals whom are more educated enough to know their self worth and instill enough courage in them to pursue that self worth while giving them enough psychological armor to not be brought down by the opinions of others, we could easily eliminate poverty.

    But education does not come only from a "school", we receive some form of education everyday. And when we're in our early adolescent stages we don't think to question the education that we receive and everything we perceive in these stages forms our beliefs later on. So being raised in a heathy psychological environment that instills the beliefs of not putting yourself above others while maintaining a balance of individualism and community is vital.
  • Jan 29 2013: I would suggest you read a book titled, Poor Economics by Abhijit V. Banerjee and Esther Duflos. To get an idea of what is being done in the world to help reduce poverty.

    This is a complex question with multiple compounding causes. There is no simple solution here and what works for one country may still fail in another country.
    • Jan 30 2013: I should check that one out!

      Adding it to my list of Must-Read books! :)
      • Jan 31 2013: Nice, its a good read, from that book I learned what is currently being done to combat poverty, and that many of the old believes and practices employed to tackle is this issue is actually ineffectual. The authors go to lengths to demonstrate why and how the current approaches fail.
  • Jan 29 2013: Capitalism -- Bah. Humbug.

    I find it incredible that people want to believe in a system of commerce
    that is so bad that it actually causes poverty instead of ending it. .

    I'm not writing about Mom and Pop businesses in small communities. They work.

    I am writing about Corporations grown world-wide and completely uncontrolled.
    I am writing about Corporations with Limited Liability Protection from the Laws.
    They operate above the laws that regulate every business owner & private citizen.

    Poverty cannot be erased unless Governments can eliminate Limited Liability Laws.

    That is the problem.
  • Jan 26 2013: Poverty is a worldwide fear for most people in the world.

    Few men or women wake in the morning with a desire to rush to work
    because they want to continue their achievements of yesterday.

    I know, I've been in both situations.

    I learned to control both situations and decided that continual achievement
    far surpassed fear or rolling over and going back to sleep.

    As a daily test, I would leave the house with $20 in my pocket on Monday
    and vow to have $1000 on Friday. My average was over $800 for the 5 days.
    this was my net. After all expenses.

    Separate from the test; I've had 21 businesses. "OPM" (Other People's Money)
    worked best to get started.

    There was a recession in the 1970's, I only vaguely knew about it. It was
    when the women started taking Jobs, and the Freeways became busy at 5am.
    I recall Tacos, at the 'you know where', were 20 cents each, and on Thursdays
    10 for a Dollar. Harsh times that motivated both parents to find employment.
    I love those Tacos.

    During that recession I founded a company and had 34 women employees with
    only 4 men. In 20 months I sold and retired when 39 years old . I've had at least
    6 businesses since, maybe more. Too many stories, so little time.

    Poverty is a state of mind. It is real. But, an individual can put himself or herself
    into another state of mind that is not Poverty Stricken.

    Because your situation befuddles you, is not an excuse. Look at what tools you have
    and change your situation into something better. It doesn't take 24 hours.
    It does require Courage, and Faith in yourself.

    I will give you these 2 explanations: Use them. Use them with Honor and do well.
    1. Courage: Means to be afraid to do something, but, to go ahead and do it.
    2. Faith: Means a belief in myself that cannot be changed by contrary evidence.

    I wanted to hit the "Submit" button but need tell you one more thing.
    3. Get your butt out of bed at 4:30am.

    nuff said.
    • thumb
      Jan 28 2013: What is are current understanding of what work is as far as physics goes?

      • Jan 28 2013: Casey,
        At age 10, My paper-route required me to be up at 5am, 7 days a week.
        2 hrs to deliver papers. School days, returned home and slept until school started.

        At age 11, A shoe-shine job inside a barber-shop after school and all day on weekends.

        At age 12, A job moving boulders and brush from the end of a runway at the local airfield.
        I drove a 1939 Willys car with a trailer-cart behind to carry the boulders and brush to the edge
        of an arroyo, where I dump them. Only a summer job.

        At age 13, after school, I worked at a ceramic dish manufacturing company packaging and shipping orders. The job ended one evening when the two-wheeled dolly with 7 crates of
        ceramic dishes aboard, hit a piece of ceramic while going down a ramp. The dolly stopped,
        and as I watched in horror, every crate flew through the air to crash and destroy the dishes,
        My employment was terminated. My pay was docked for the losses.

        That was not the worst part of my day.
        I had an appointment in a park that evening. 2 school boys, who later became my chums, had promised to kick my butt and I was forced by youthful honor to meet and fight them both. The smaller of the 2 was my height but outweighed me by 30 pounds. The larger boy was huge.

        You can imagine my terror as I walked those 8 city blocks, alone, to the park.

        I picked my first opponent, the huge taller boy, named Daryle 'Allred'.
        Grabbing his right arm, I jumped into the air and hit him several times until he quit.
        The other boy left quickly by himself.
        2 friends who had come to cheer, or collect my body, were cheering.
        Thereafter we all called Daryle, Daryle 'All Red' Black and Blue.
        Not such a bad day after-all...
        Work is hard, sweaty, and little appreciated in most cases.
        We work to "get ahead".
        Unless we do, we are nothing.

        Sorry, I got off our topic.
        • thumb
          Feb 1 2013: If zero distance traveled no work would exist, but we can't reach zero. Check out my ted conversation. Us simply measuring zero=nothing=no thing would be us observing it; Heisenberg principle. As far as our current physic say everything is work and will always be work. But that doesn't mean we should have slavery of any kind. And yes you are a slave to your wage and debt. You’re a slave to the money you make and the debt it creates. But this is fine because we wouldn’t have gotten as much accomplished as we have if it wasn’t for our current system. This is a hard reality to admit but in a way we needed slavery. Not any more


          Basically I believe I have come up with the flip to capitalism, even in a not pure capitalistic society that we live in today. Currently it’s more of a socialist-capitalist system where the government gives handouts to company's who for some reason people (flesh n blood) people think the company is a person. However I think this has something to do with how Lincoln freed the property the best way he could.

          Capitalism creates poverty because someone has to make less so others can make more.

          Inspired by Bill Gates and Warren Buffet and their kids donating their kid’s inheritance to charity I will make less so others can make more. I will not worry about trying to personally make a billion dollars to try and be number one, or king of the money pile. Instead I will automate my employee’s jobs while still paying them their salary. I think I might be able to get other people to join my cause. What do you think
  • Jan 17 2013: I concur with Greg Fox. THAT is the true question. The first thing is to create opportunities for unskilled labor, so anybody can work. Once the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing are met and the standard of living starts to rise, the people will then get interested in higher education and continue to the path of better prosperity.
  • Jan 13 2013: Poverty is a moving target. It's relative, not absolute. If someone is starving, their caloric need can be calculated and adjusted. Poverty, however, exists only in relationship to wealth. Many who live in poverty today still live richer lives than royalty of a few hundred years ago. Consequently, poverty is also more of a zero sum game than hunger. No one is hungry simply because someone else is eating. But, someone is poor if someone else is rich. Eradicating poverty assumes equally distributed ambition to escape poverty. Lacking this, you wind up with economic parasites who feed off the body politic. I think eliminating poverty is unrealistic for these and other reasons. I believe that focusing on equality of opportunity is much more likely to enhance our general well being. Poverty is not the real problem. The lack of opportunities to escape it is.
    • Jan 15 2013: David,

      Poverty is the real problem.
      The lack of opportunities to escape it is the responsibility of Government.
      And it follows that All Governments are Evil.

      When the US Congress develop a plan of Commerce they included Corporations.
      And as a Carrot on a Stick to keep Corporations within the borders, Congress
      added Limited Liability Laws.

      The effect was a "Get out of Jail Card" for Corporate Boards and Executives.
      The Corruption was complete.

      Other nations, DAILY offer US Corporations the same and better deals
      to move their successful businesses to those other nations shores.
      And it follows that All Governments are Evil.
  • Jan 11 2013: I would also encourage you to look at highlights from the upcoming book on Urban Poverty in the Global South by Diana Mitlin and David Satterthwaite - They point out the issues around simply defining poverty and the impact these definitions can have on solutions. http://urb.im/blog/upgs
  • Jan 11 2013: There are some very interesting conversations related to this topic on Striking Poverty http://strikingpoverty.worldbank.org In particular, the current conversation is looking at Slums and Service Delivery to the Urban Poor. Much of the discussion so far has explored innovative private-public partnerships and the role of government in conjunction/consultation with NGOs and community groups. I would encourage you to also pose your question in this discussion.

    Related, an earlier discussion on transparency/accountability in large mineral and oil contracts focused on role of governments. One of the panelists (from Revenue Watch Institute) shared training and tools for governments on how to share contracts with their citizens and promote community oversight. Take a look here if you are interested: https://strikingpoverty.worldbank.org/c121031

    URB.im http://urb.im has some conversations that touch on this topic as well. The conversation on addressing electricity needs of the urban poor brings up the role of government in various ways: enforcing compliance with environmental laws in Nairobi (http://urb.im/#quicktabs-qt130107=5) and in Mexico - examining the complex regulatory barriers the government puts up that may contribute to energy "retailers" going outside the legal routes http://urb.im/#quicktabs-qt130107=2 and in Rio they are looking at incentives to encourage people to "become legal". URB.im looks at urban poverty alleviation strategies and many of the ideas shared by the different city hubs showcase various roles for government in addressing poverty.
    • Jan 12 2013: Thank you Jill for pointing out these sites!

      It makes me happy to see how people are concerned about these issues.

      It's great the Urb.im team is focusing on finding ways to make energy available to all the citizens: Unavailability of electricity is a consequence of poverty which is not easy to get over, especially considering that alternative forms of energy need to be found urgently.

      I had no idea about that book coming out. It sounds unbelievably interesting, from what I read on the website. Do you know if it is going to have a worldwide release, or is it just coming out this January 25th in USA?

      By the way, given that we were talking about books, I was wondering if anyone here has read "The End of Poverty" by Jeffrey Sachs (http://www.amazon.com/End-Poverty-Economic-Possibilities-Time/dp/0143036580) and could tell us whether his ideas are worth reading the book.
  • Jan 9 2013: Many of you have said that education is the key in the long run to solving poverty and I agree. I am not an educator but know that early intervention at a very early age is most important. In developed countries this usually means smaller class sizes and extra help for young students. In less developed countries creative solutions are required since education infrastructure is probably lacking - for example I recently read that in a remote region in Kenya with no teacher available, the young kids were given inexpensive tablet computers with good learning software, and proceded in small collaborative unsupervised groups to teach themselves language skills.
    To education I would add some sort of values and "life skills" education to counteract some of the poor family environments younger kids might come from. I am not sure how to do this best but non government charitable organizations might come into play.
    Governments can help with all of this by setting up good education programs. As far as capitalism goes the most benefit probably comes from tycoons who have already made their billions and set up foundations to do good - such as Bill Gates.
    • Jan 15 2013: Government is great at 8 things only. Secrecy, Propaganda, Begging Money for Political Gain, Borrowing Money to Make WAR, Borrowing Money to Pay Welfare Benefits, Borrowing Money to pay Interest on Borrowed Money, and Collecting Taxes.

      Government is worst at these 7 things, and many others. Open Government, Honesty, Integrity, Constitutional Checks and Balances, Campaign Promises, Staying within a Budget, and the
      Regulation of Commerce.
  • thumb
    Jan 7 2013: Re: "What still baffles me is the fact that although the Government gives away money to those with reduced incomes, poverty is as bad as always."

    Great point. It often seems to me that it is an illusion to think that government can "fix" economy. Poverty is of the spirit. First and foremost, it's inside our heads. Take indigenous people in the Amazon forests. Do they live in poverty? WE would think so. But do THEY think so? Compare the definitions of "rich" and "poor" in U.S. and in an Amazon Indian tribe.

    Perhaps, a better question is "how to end human suffering?"
    • Jan 9 2013: Interesting point. But the thing is, these indigenous people are not part of society, they don't belong to Capitalism. They can satisfy their basic needs, can't they? Maybe they don't have proper health care, but they have enough to survive.

      While the Poor of our societies do not even have the chance to satisfy their basic needs. And that's sad. They don't need BMWs, Porsches, or a house in Beverly Hills... they need to be able to live in good condition, that's all.
      • thumb
        Jan 9 2013: The definition of "basic needs" varies from society to society. It also changes over time in the same society, even in the same family. Who considered a cell phone or Internet service to be a "basic need" 20 years ago?

        Doesn't it baffle you that indigenous people in Amazon jungle, as you say, can satisfy their basic needs and have enough to survive, and people in modern societies don't?
        • Jan 9 2013: But I'm not considering cell phone or Internet service to be a basic need. I feel like that's a "secondary need" (It's important to be computer literate these days to get a job), but some organisations are regarding it as a basic need, as you say.

          It does baffle me that some people in our societies don't have enough to survive. I'm obviously not talking about the WHOLE of society (quality of life has improved, on average) but a small sector of society that still can't live on good condition. And economic growth has a limit. It would be wrong to say, since the economy is expanding and GDP per Capita is going up in the long run, that eventually we're going to be better off! That might be possible, but in expense of other being worse! And I'm not just talking about a First World country... do you really think that some African or Latin American countries can just eradicate poverty when their economies are just based on exporting natural resources?
      • thumb
        Jan 9 2013: Again, I see economic growth as a spiritual issue. There is such thing as "spirit of the nation" - the idea that unites the people. E.g., freedom, democracy, and individual rights is such an idea in the U.S. It makes people enthusiastic and proud of their country. I grew up in Soviet Ukraine. Soviet propaganda created enthusiasm around the idea of communism. Media maintained a positive image of the country. Negative domestic news were downplayed or suppressed. Achievements were announced on every corner. This artificially inflated enthusiasm and stimulated the economy. Soviet Union "broke Hitler's back bone", developed nuclear technology, launched Sputnik, and the first man into orbit. People had access to free college education, free medical care, etc.

        Ukraine has resources for a first-class European economy. It's as big as France and almost twice larger than Germany. Best soils in Europe. Huge resources of coal, iron, oil. Access to Black sea - huge asset for trade, navy, and tourism. Strategic location for gas and oil pipe lines from Russia to Europe. Soviet Ukraine produced steel, automobiles, buses, tractors, trucks, tanks, airplanes, TV sets, etc.

        Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, people took pride of "independence". But the spiritual slavery remained. Politically, Ukraine never acted as an independent country. All post-soviet history, the government fractions were fighting over whether Ukraine should suck up to Russia or to the West. I do not understand why. Why being a truly independent European country was never an option? There is no national pride as far as I know from talking to my friends and relatives. Corrupt politicians are selling immense natural resources for personal profit. It's the same inferiority complex that prevents individuals from success. It works the same way at the national level. It's a spiritual issue, in my opinion.
      • thumb
        Jan 9 2013: Now, consider the U.S. economy. Financial crisis seems to be over. Interest rates are historically low. People are there. Resources are there. Corporations have slimmed down and accumulated a lot of cash. Why is there unemployment? Because companies don't hire people. They fear economic instability, fiscal cliff, changes in tax policies, European crisis. Negative news are all over the media. But why economic news are negative? Because people don't have money to spend. Corporations do not pay, some companies have not raised salaries for years and laid off a lot of people. Isn't that a "catch 22" problem.

        It may be possible to jump-start the economy "Soviet style" - by suppressing negative news in the media and creating a perception of bright economic prospects. Government censorship or publishing deliberate lies don't seem to be a good idea, but, perhaps, the media could simply shift focus from problems and disasters to progress, achievements, and opportunities. Changing the public mindset is all that it would take. Economic demand is still there - people still need places to live, food to eat, and cars to get from place to place. There is no need to mint trillion-dollar coins or waste public money on subsidies. Just let go of "needless worry and undue anxiety" (that's what they routinely pray for in Catholic churches). Again, it's a spiritual issue.
        • Jan 10 2013: What you're saying reminded me of sth I read in an Economics textbook:

          "In December 1975 the Government of Portugal — a provisional government in the process of establishing a democracy—feared that it was facing an economic crisis. Business owners, alarmed by the rise of leftist political parties. issued dire warnings about plunging production. Newspapers speculated that the economy had shrunk 10-15% since the 1974 revolution that had overthrown the country's longstanding dictatorship. In the face of these reports of economic collapse, some Portuguese were pronouncing democracy itself a failure. Others declared that capitalism was the culprit, demanding that the government seize control of the nation's factories and force them to produce more. But how bad was the situation, really? To answer this question, Portugal's top monetary official invited his old friend Richard Eckaus, an economist at the Massachusetts lnstitute of Technology, and two other MIT economists to look at the country's national accounts, the set of data collected on the country's economic activity. The visiting experts had to engage in a lot of educated guesswork: Portugal’s economic data collection had always been somewhat incomplete, and it had been further disrupted by political upheavals. For example, the country's statisticians normally tracked construction with data on the sales of structural steel and concrete. But in the somewhat chaotic situation of 1975, these indicators were moving in opposite directions because many builders were ignoring the construction regulations and using very little steel. Still, they went to work with the available data, & within a week they were able to make a rough estimate: aggregate output had declined only 3% from 1974 to 1975. The economy had indeed suffered a serious setback, but its decline was much less drastic than the calamity being portrayed in the newspapers. (While later revisions pushed the decline up to 4.5%, that was still much less than feared
        • Jan 10 2013: That is from a Macroeconomics textbook by Paul Krugman. So yes, you do have a point that media and public perception of the economy affects the overall result of the economy. But even if this information was not expressed the same way, I guess the economy would still be slave to these "I'm going to stop consuming/investing because worse times are coming", since its in the human nature to "save for the rainy day" even if the cause underlying this was not clear.
      • thumb
        Jan 10 2013: Re: "its in the human nature to "save for the rainy day" even if the cause underlying this was not clear."

        If that were the case, the governments wouldn't be dealing with trillion-dollar debts and the social security programs would be unnecessary.

        Re: "I'm going to stop consuming/investing because worse times are coming."

        Sounds like a self-fulfilling prophecy. What does seem to be in the nature of social species is to pick up each others emotions spreading them exponentially. Perhaps, it serves for survival when one frightened animal causes the whole herd to flee. It's easy to explain how this behavior evolved: it's better to flee when there is no predator around than not to flee when there is one. It also seems to be the basis of empathy.

        But on the other hand, this behavior often does a disservice causing panic, for example, or economic downturns as we are discussing.

        If you read Matthew 6, it seems to offer a solid advice for economic prosperity and a recipe for happiness at the same time: 1) give to the needy - from your heart, not to appear righteous, not for tax returns or public approval; 2) never ask for more than "daily bread" (basic necessities for today); 3) forgive debts; 4) resist temptation (for this we need a solid understanding of what constitutes "our daily bread" as we discussed above); 5) limit consumption (fasting) - not to appear righteous, but for your own sake - to develop will power to resist temptation and make it easier to help those truly in need; 5) invest in people, not things; 6) do not worry for tomorrow - let go of fears. That's my secular interpretation. Don't you agree?

        I hope, I don't sound too moralistic...
        • Jan 11 2013: Let's see. I didn't say that "saving for the rainy day" meant that we'd survive these "rainy days". Sometimes it cannot be predicted. Other times it is not enough to avoid "catastrophe".
          Social security programs actually serve for this purpose. You are ensuring that in the future you'll have enough to get by, by putting money in today.

          Interesting case about Governments. In my opinion, these actually work the other way around, since they serve short-term purposes for the politicians (not losing political votes and to come through their term of office), so getting in debt even when things are going relatively well is not a bad thing to do.

          I think you are right maybe it's not that people are just "prudent" but that they rather behave "irrationally", as you said, just like a herd would do when one of them reacts at something.

          I didn't know about what Matthew 6 said (I've never read the Bible to be honest). While it does seem like a good "moral path" to follow, I guess it's impossible for everyone to follow it. Heck, I don't think ANYONE follows number 2 and number 4... not in our capitalist society.

          That's just my humble opinion on this matter. Feel free to give me your own opinions :)
  • Jan 5 2013: it's a brilliant question and i think you hit one of the problems. giving money directly to the poor only makes them dependent as you've noted, and really it's just a lazy way to govern. what you do notice throughout the world, and particularly in comparisons of regions within countries (such as india, which is a good one) is that poverty naturally declines in proportion to education. this means that governments should indeed spend the money, but on providing free education rather than directly to families. this will in turn ensure they have better skills to bring to the workplace. the system needs to be carefully watched though, to ensure schools remain neutral which allows students to get ahead on merit alone, rather than by buying a house near a better school happens in the USA and the UK, giving an unfair advantage to the rich.

    next then is protecting employment. here in japan employment is actually mandated by law - is your company makes X amount of money then you must employ Y number of people - and this is the reason that japan is the world's 4th biggest economy despite having close to 0 natural resources. capitalists might be quick to scoff that it's throwing away money if you have to hire 3 people when 2 will do, but this is an overly simplistic view because the same law also ensures that every business has more customers than it otherwise would. that extra person the law forces every company to employ is making a wage which they spend back into the economy. the rich don't create jobs, customers do!
    • Jan 7 2013: Spot on. Education needs to be accesible to everyone! Though what you mentioned about merit is another debate. I mean, what do you do with those students who are not interested in studying? Here, for example, if the educational system wouldn't be so flexible, then many kids would've dropped out of school because of continuous bad grades and inabilty to pass the school year. But on the other hand, since we are too flexible, most children don't receive the best education and can get away with finishing school without having learnt much.

      You mentioned an interesting fact about Japan. I didn't know that! That would be a good model to follow in the rest of the world. Finding a balance between Employment and Education is key for a stable economy. Even if we had the whole of society educated, if companies are not established in the country AND seeking employees, then improving education would be worth nothing.

      But at the same time, it's impossible to have "0" unemployment, right? I've heard that having full employment would produce inflation, and the upper classes wouldn't like that. That's why there is maybe no solution under this system... I don't know, it leaves a lot to think about.
      • Jan 7 2013: sorry i didn't mean such a narrow definition of merit. i don't mean that we should all study the same things, i mean that a child who is very good at math (for example) should be able to go to one of the top math schools, and not miss out on having his potential realised because rich parents already bought in to all the places. grades and only grades, not where you live or what school you previously went to or whether you can afford the fees, should apply. actually that's one of the problems with education here in japan, universities have reserved places for students from select high schools, so it doesn't matter how terrible your final scores are, as long as you went to that school you can get into that university.

        0 unemployemnt is not attainable really, since it takes time for employees to find the right job and employers to find the right employee. if everyone had a job, and you wanted to expand your business, there'd be nobody to hire! what we do have to be careful of those is long-term unemployment. if people are not becoming employed even after trying for over 6 months, then it could be one of 2 problems, either the job-seeker is being too picky - the dream job they want just doesn't exist - or employers are being too picky - they want a brilliant employee but won't offer the salary that such a person would deserve.
        • Jan 7 2013: I see what you mean. I certainly didn't know either about how in Japan students can reserve places at university just because of the school they go to! That is outrageous! I don't think that happens anywhere else (at least not in my country) but private universities are a challenge for those from lower-income families. Here in Argentina, luckily, we have quality public universities. But places like Chile, where you can't access higher education if you don't have the means, is just unacceptable. Same for USA: the fact that parents have to begin saving money for their kids almost since they are born is just crazy for me! Scholarships help to diminish this problem, but it's still not at all fair. Why do your grades need to be splendid to get a scholarship and go to University, while others can have had average grades in high school but they can easily get into it by $$? That should not be happening in the 21st Century!

          Regarding 0 unemployment, you are totally right that it is unattainable for those reasons. Also, people would emigrate to that country on behalf of promising job opportunities. It is quite impossible to achieve full employment!
  • thumb
    Jan 3 2013: “Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices”
    ― Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    "Ending poverty is a want and thus it is society that will end poverty, government is just in society’s way."
    - Don, TED Forum ;)
    • Jan 4 2013: I see your point, and I agree we have to stand up for our wants. But what would we tell the Government to do? We can't expect it to do magic, right?
      • thumb
        Jan 4 2013: LOL Yep we can’t expect it to do magic, in fact I say the only magic governments seem to know is how to make money disappear.

        Like Thomas Paine was say government should only restrain our vices and in this case that would be a few peoples’ desire to take advantage of those in need.

        Society/majority of people has natural desire to help those in need and the government acting as a middle man is often the cause of poverty. So government needs to stop taking money from society to ineffectively stop poverty and let society keep the money so it can effectively end poverty.
      • thumb
        Jan 4 2013: they could show us a cool disappearing trick
  • thumb
    Jan 3 2013: For a moment I almost thought you were painting a picture of India. Our political class is failing and falling. Poverty alleviation is the last on their agenda if at all. In my view education is the only long-term solution but I doubt any reforms are likely at least in our lifetimes.
  • thumb
    Jan 3 2013: I am convinced that governments will never be able to solve the problem of poverty, the people of the earth need to do it on their own initiative and without leadership from government leaders (elected or otherwise).

    Something along these lines is what is needed IMHO:

    • Jan 3 2013: Some countries already have eliminated poverty and without cheating too. Countries like Sweden and Denmark. I do not see why an initiative of the people should be separate from the state. Welfare states are the direct result of popular initiatives carried out through democratic means.
      • thumb
        Jan 3 2013: So the populous voted for the government to pay for their lives? What does that say about the populous? "I vote that you pay for my life, and in return, the value of my productivity will be less than I cost." Something doesn't add up there.
        • Jan 3 2013: "I vote that you pay for my life, and in return, the value of my productivity will be less than I cost."

          Lol, if that were true no business in Sweden or Denmark would be profitable, yet they are among the richest countries in the world... Their people used to be exploited before the 1950s and now they're exploited no longer. Now they get a fair share of their own productivity.

          When you take back what is rightfully yours it's not stealing.
    • Jan 4 2013: Hmm.. this was what I was looking for! Interesting to know other possible ideas.

      But do you think it's possible to change the world like this? It sounds kinda Utopian to be honest. Does any organisation already back up this idea? Is it starting to mix in the political world?

      I think Humanitarian Political Parties should stand up for this. But they don't, from what I know.
  • thumb
    Jan 2 2013: A solution to Corruption would enable the revenue needed to fund solutions for poverty. If all governments take a serious stance against the earnings genererated while in office by the politicians, leaders and their respective famalies they would realize enormous amount of wealth being stolen off government contracts and by offering political favors.

    India, Pakistan, Latin Americas, USA and several countires have the same going on all the time. Each politician should have a set income and all wealth assimilated by them and thier families should be accounted for while they are in office. All income and wealth that cannot be accounted for shoudl be seized and invested in programs to provide support, education, and industires that help the poor. The amount of politicians with millions, fi nto billions stashed away is a blatant indication of corruption in these countires. These are the moneis that are not being spent to develop the country, economy and poverty.

    Even the wealthy individuals and corporations need to contribute to the country and solutions for poverty. Many do today but we need more participation. After all 100 million or 1 billion gets them enough for a generation or two. What about the other excesses and where does it sit locked up?
  • Feb 1 2013: I feel the fundamental problem with global action is that the masses don't care, enough. Put the subject on the table & most people feel empathy for those in poverty... But these issues are always quickly forgotten as we all deal with our own individual lives. I feel most of these talks are as fruitless as the discussions 'people's front of judea' from 'the life of brian'.

    Following, with each countries population mostly concerned about their own welfare & prosperity, their leaders/politicians will always make decisions that are going to get them re-elected. This means very little is spent on things that benefit others or long term goals in general. I really can't see this cycle changing for a very long time. We can't even get our leaders to save our planet from the uncertainty of climate change.

    I think the keys to a comfortable & sustainable future for us all are cheap clean renewable energy & population caps. We need to remember we are animals. Like all other life forms on earth, from simplist single cell to the most complex organism, life has always been about reproduction. We have always fought for space & resources in order to thrive and spread. Are we smart enough as a species, to overcome our instincts? Or will our population keep snowballing until something inevitably goes dramatically wrong?

    As for clean, cheap energy... The answers are coming. It's frustrating we aren't putting more effort into getting the technology sooner. But once we have it, each country living in poverty should have the ability to pick THEMSELVES up.
    I think that scientists globally should suspend some areas of less important research & work on this one goal.
    • Feb 2 2013: Brilliant! You have figured it out. Al;though I would note that prosperity seems to automaticallly lead to birth control,, so energy is enough.You might be interested to learn tha scientists have ALREADY solved the energy problem, but politics and various other complications have so far interfered with carrying it outI'm referring to the secret Cold War development of a nuclear fission aircraft engine, called the Thorium Liquid Fueled Reactor.(LFTR) Perfect for civilian power, as it is failsafe and has a great many more virtues than the common Uranium LWR reactors , like the Fukushima type. LFTRS have no high pressures, steam, water, hydrogen explosions, or solid fuel rods.. In addition, they can safely burn up LWR long lived waste, using it as fuel. Their big drawback , and the real reason they were abandoned 40 years ago is that they do not make usable bomb material. Their inventor, Alvin Weinberg, thought that Uranium LWRs were completely unsuitable for civilian power, whereas Thorium LFTRs were exactly right. Look this up on Youtube, or read "Thorium : Energy Chealper than Coal", by robert Hargraves, if want to know more . Or website "energyfromthorium.com"
  • Jan 24 2013: I dunno I am certain this young lad made many mistakes in his presentation however he did the best he could with what he had to work with at the time and I think ted.com should look him up and see what he has to say today about poverty in the world: I wonder if he ever made it to University ?

  • thumb
    Jan 22 2013: Nelson Mandela said it best: “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” ...to educate and lift a person, whether they are rich or poor, creates within that person a desire, a need, to move towards more. Education awakens, in the midst of difficult challenges and circumstances, a person to the opportunity within the very difficulty that immobilised them prior to their increase in knowledge and understanding. And most of all, education brings with it a creation of self respect and dignity that most, if not all, people, once they have tasted it, do not want to lose.

    My opinion, education is the answer...and their are strong cases throughout history and the world that support this.
  • thumb
    Jan 22 2013: I am selfish. I see poverty - extreme poverty - on a daily basis. Unfortunately I decided to become almost immune to the misery that I can witness with the naked eye. Poverty could be eradicated if humans really acted like a real family, but most people are like me. We learn to become blind to misery as long as it doesn't affect us directly.
  • Jan 20 2013: I used to live in a nice house, a home I was proud of.
    Suddenly, cancer, an operation, a business closed, and recovery of health started.
    After 8 years I felt better, but my energy level was almost non-existent.
    Walking 6 blocks to and from the market became too hard.
    I moved to a small apartment in an apartment complex, situated within 2 blocks
    of all my needs, the senior center for lunch, post office, library, bank, and market.

    That is when I learned about people; poverty, welfare, alcohol and drug behavior.

    In my early youth, we had 1 town drunk. He was shunned by all.
    I watched once. He smelled bad and staggered down the street to his destination.

    We had no drugs.
    That came in the 1960's when, parents quit their responsibilities to govern their children.
    I assumed, cows milk had been tainted by radioactive tests fallout, and nationwide,
    parents and teenagers were afflicted. Society moved downhill, so I ignored it.
    My life was full. I couldn't waste my time sitting or laying about drugged to the gills...

    Now elderly, I watch the impoverished. They only work at taking. Taking welfare and charity.

    There is little the government can do. Today they pay liars Welfare, just as if the liars were
    truly needful. The better the lie, the bigger the monthly check.

    Capitalism isn't the answer. Nor is the archaic Justice system.
    But your question might get a usable answer or two...
    We can only hope.
  • Jan 19 2013: What can government do to end poverty? Here are specific remedies. No theory, philosophy or political language. Just straight forward ideas.


    1. Give every woman who does not have a child at the age of 21 a $15,000.00 dollar check.
    2. Give every woman who does not have a child at the age of 25 a $25,000.00 dollar check.
    3. Give every man & woman who graduates from college a $25,000.00 check.
    4. Give every married couple a $10,000.00 check every year they remain married after 5 years.
    5. Match with a 50% contribution in CASH the amount of savings a person or couple saves each year up to $50,000.00.
    Ex. I save 50K, the government matches it with a 50K contribution.
    6. Give every person or couple a 10k bonus every year they make more money than the minumum poverty level. Those who make more than 100K do not qualify.
    Ex. The poverty level for a single male is 25K. If I make 25K or more (up to 100K), the government gives me a bonus of 10k.
    7. Give every person or couple a 10K bonus for qualifying to purchase their first home.
    ---qualifications are: 30% down, no subsidies.
    8. Give a 50K bonus to everyone who earns more money than the appropriate poverty level WHO WAS MAKING BELOW THE POVERTY LEVEL THE YEAR BEFORE.
    9. Give a 5k bonus each year to each convict who is not convicted of a crime after being released from prison (Not Jail) the FIRST TIME.


    1. Do not lend money for College.
    2. Do not subsidize housing.
    3. Eradicate SS
    4. ANY product that is not made in the US that is imported, except raw materials, apply a 100% import tax, or higher of necessary, thus encouraging companies like wal mart, nike, etc..... to stay in America to produce their goods.
    5. Bring ALL military in foreign countries back to the US.
    • Jan 19 2013: This will be a good start.
    • thumb
      Jan 19 2013: give ... give ... give ... phase out all welfare programs
      • Jan 29 2013: Krisztian, "...phase out all welfare programs"

        Maybe instead; Tighten up the Programs.

        Require annual Verifiable "Means" Tests from all applicants. Check them.
        Have NON-Disabled beneficiaries of welfare limited to 2 years,
        as California did. Impoverished young Mothers with babies, etc., and others..
        A one time only opportunity for 2 years of aid.

        Have Disabled beneficiaries re-examined each 2 years,
        by "Vetted" Medical Doctors who are paid employees of the Government's
        Social Security Disability Insurance Fund.

        No subcontractor Doctors, which TODAY may be a big big problem.
        "Vetting" of Medical Doctors to be accomplished every 5 years.

        Making lazy people look after themselves might improve them all.
    • Jan 19 2013: So, if all I did was have $50k in the bank, I would make $50k a year doing absolutely nothing.

      Epic fail.
      • Jan 19 2013: Getting something for doing absolutely nothing is what we have right now. That is not my proposal.

        If you were able to save 50K in one year, that would demonstrate the following:

        1. You are Working --- making money.....You can't save what you don't earn.
        2. You are Saving. --Putting somehting away for a rainy day, or an investment idea, or retirement. Similar to a 401K where the employer matches a percentage of what you put into the 401K, except you are completely in charge of the account....

        For example, let's say someone makes 35K per year. Assume they can budget and put 10% of that into a savings account. That is 3.5K. The government matches that and now that individual (or couple) has 7K in Savings. Nice reward for working, planning and putting something aside.

        Many people do something similar with their withholding so they receive a check at the end of the year from Uncle Sam.....But that does not equate into an incentive to save.
        • Jan 21 2013: Sounds to me like the only people that can benefit from this are those already making enough money to save. Maybe we should increase the minimum wage to make this feasible? Perhaps we can even have Bernie Madoff manage the investments?

          Privatizing retirement with public funds is a bad idea. In the end, it is much simpler and more reliable to keep social security. There is far too much corruption on wall street to ever entrust it with the well being of our entire nation's elderly in their retirement.

          Naturally, you may invest your OWN funds if you wish.

          on a side note:

          I recommend people take advantage of funds matching from an employer, but not because it is about savings, it is about maximizing earnings per hour. Of course, employers have already figured this out, and most don't like to match funds anymore.
        • Jan 29 2013: If the world's leaders were to put together a forum
          that would allow small groups of people to bring their problems to light,
          and within 24 hours, through a full discussion, between the people and the forum,
          find an acceptable solution, our world could be a better place.

          Most Prophets of God seemed to work that way.
          I suppose their ideas just never caught on.
          The United Nations approach, while somewhat successful,
          is just too unwieldy a vehicle. When they built the tall tall building,
          they should have known.

          Governments do love large buildings, short hours, and vestments
          of power.
          Politicians who occupy those large buildings despise the little people
          that they consider beneath their exalted stature.

          There in lies the rub....
    • Jan 21 2013: "7. PHASE OUT ALL WELFARE PROGRAMS O"

      One day, the wealthy are going to figure out that the poor outnumber them. Welfare is cheaper than the law enforcement costs that would be necessary without it. Really, the question is, how much do we value stability? Revolution doesn't typically favor those currently in power (and I'm not talking about our elected officials).

      Sometimes, it's a good idea for the wealthy to throw down a few scraps from the table to keep the peace. Without it, they may just learn how hard that dog can bite.

      Consider that for just a moment. Welfare may actually be the most cost effective solution.
      • Jan 29 2013: Brock,

        Remember Rome? The Senate gave the slaves specially colored tunics.
        But when they saw how the slaves outnumbered the citizens, they took the
        tunics back.

        The revolt had it's start. Rome was doomed.
    • Jan 23 2013: Interesting. I like how people are putting forward their own ideas :)

      However, I don't really get how this would work.

      First of all, why are we giving money to the ones who already have it? (points 1, 2, 3 and 4) The majority of women without children are usually well-off. The needy have many children due to the absence of contraceptive methods knowledge (or inability to pay for them). Similarly, why are we giving out money to the ones who go to college? At least in the US, most universities are private institutions, so that would mean giving money as a gift to wealthy people. Moreover, the Government wouldn't have enough to pay everyone such a huge amount of money, unless it increased its taxes, but that would be taking what is being given at the same time.

      Finally, just giving incentive for the poor to earn money won't really work. How can they make 20K out of nothing? Besides, if you were handing out that money as a subsidy, then you can be sure they won't manage to use it efficiently if they didn't receive any education. As we have discussed previously in this debate, most people are financially illiterate and that needs to change.
      • Jan 23 2013: What can governments do to erase poverty?

        Who are the people (generally speaking) who live below the poverty level in the US?
        1. Unwed Mothers
        2. Divorced families
        3. Convicted Criminals
        4. Those born into poverty
        5. Those with no savings to fall back on when unforseen circumstances hit
        6. Those who do not have a collegiate education.

        What can government do to RAISE them above the poverty line.

        Give them financial incentives to meet the minumum levels of financial independence as set by the government''s poverty levels.

        1. Financial incentive to NOT have children out of wedlock
        2. Financial incentive NOT to divorce
        3. Financial incentive to NOT repeat criminal activity
        4. Financial incentive to leave living below poverty level
        5. Financial incentive to save
        6. Financial incentive to go to college

        By financial incentive I mean USD directly given to the individual.

        Instead of giving those money who fail to meet minimum poverty level living requirements (As governments do that all over the world and it does not eradicate poverty, it simply allows those in poverty to continue to exist at current levels), lets give them monetary compensation for achieving the minimum levels..

        There are very very very few examples in world history of communities living without poverty due to government action. Plutarch and Herodotus gave us Lycurgus and the 500 some year rule of his laws in ancient Sparta as an example. Yet many historians argue whether Lycurgus was even a real historical figure.

        Tribal, aboriginal, nomadic communities might be said to not have poverty, but of course they are not based on a "traditional" model like we are assuming.

        So, to the question, Is it possible for Government to eradicate poverty, and if so, how?

        My idea is to simply give those who fall below current poverty levels financial incentive to escape.
        • Jan 24 2013: I agree that they should be given an incentive to progress, since the Poor do not realize their rights as a citizen and that they can do better than they are doing.

          The thing is, if you don't give them the means, they won't progress whatever incentive you give them. Think about it for a minute. You've lived in poverty your whole life, you've never gone to school, you are hungry, you are need to buy clothes because you are cold, you need a decent house... So there comes the Govt. and offers you some money, and tells you "If you make this grow, I'll give you more", what would you do? You've never gone to school, in fact, you don't know where money comes from. Your tummy growls. And you shiver. Do you really think you can find a way to invest your money or improve your position? No, of course, you don't even know how to handle money, and you'll eventually spend it all without getting one more cent.

          That is not a way to help them get out of poverty. You need to educate these people first, you need to help them get a job so they won't have to depend on the Government..

          Lastly, I don't agree that unwed mothers and divorced families are the ones who mostly live below the poverty level. Nowadays, most women don't settle down and have kids until they are 30! So will you give extra money to well-off single women? It would be much simpler to just give money to the ones making below a certain amount a month. Just to ensure nobody gets any money they don't need.
      • Jan 29 2013: I don't think most impoverished understand what is required of them
        after they spend the free monies the government pays out.

        If the impoverished were asked to work at a project, such as farming,
        canning foods, or building homes for themselves and others, they might
        be eager to do so, when the carrot was a paycheck. If not responsive to
        working withing the welfare system, benefits could stop, and attitudes changed.
        The Mormons have a similar program, and it works quite well.

        Getting monthly checks for housing allowances allows other layers of the onion.

        Other layers are called Payees.
        Disability checks can be made out to the Payee/Disabled Beneficiary.
        The Payee, pays for the Disabled Beneficiary, a portion of Rents due,
        and such other debt payments as are authorized.
        The Payee gets paid the authorized Payee Percentage.

        Landlords, can charge and most do, rents far in excess of any Housing
        allowances paid by local government Housing Authorities. Thereby giving
        rise to the lofty title of "Slum-Lord".

        These impoverished peoples are referred to as Section 8's, or 5150's.

        The onion is once more peeled, and the government is a bit lax.
        Capitalism at it's worst.
  • thumb
    Jan 19 2013: in Capitalism, a country’s businesses and industry are controlled and run for profit by private owners rather than by the government. If a country is willing to support poor people through giving them money, the budget deficit will increase. I think all governments should play the role if the investor in order to create more jobs and support poor people. The governments should run and control companies like the individual owners. Neither Capitalism nor Communism are good economic systems.
    • thumb
      Jan 19 2013: "in Capitalism, a country’s businesses and industry are controlled and run for profit by private owners rather than by the government." "Neither Capitalism nor Communism are good economic systems" .
      Well, it could be argued that Communism is more political then economic. So I think you are not happy with the capitalistic system.

      I would say that governments are businesses established by investors (taxpayers) to provide services. Put out fires. Direct traffic at the street corner. Arrange for an Army to defend against invaders at the boarder. Jobs that are too time consuming or requiring skills that not everyone has or wants to engage.
      When governments begin to see their investors as employees, bad things happen.
  • Jan 19 2013: Poverty exists because as a collective, we've always believed in possessions. The potential for eradicating poverty lies in the fundamental doctrines that we were taught, that we are born to a family, to a an ethnic group, to a state and a certain set of cultures. That the value of what we have is dependent on others not having them.
  • Jan 17 2013: The single most important thing you can do is to make sure that your government is following
    through on its existing commitments to support
    the Millennium Development Goals. At the
    Monterrey conference on Financing for
    Development, the industrialized country
    governments committed themselves to providing official development assistance equivalent to
    0.7% of their gross national income. To date, only
    five countries have achieved this goal, though six
    others have set out timetables to reach 0.7% by
    2015. Meeting 0.7% is critically important because only
    governments are capable of mobilizing the
    resources needed to achieve the MDGs. The
    Millennium Project has shown that the MDGs can
    be met using resources already promised – from
    0.45% to 0.55% of gross national income. As a concerned citizen, the best thing you can do is to
    help convince your government to meet its
    promises on aid.
  • Jan 15 2013: Mary,

    As we age, move into the world, and lose the close comradeship of family and youthful friends, time changes, and sympathetic feelings for the impoverished become less riveting. We become easily seduced by (the company store), those (clever government) offers of education now, on credit, for payment later. Or, we are
    seduced by (clever armed service recruiters and paid media), offers for risking life and limb now, in government made wars, for a promised education later.

    New experiences replace family values as we timidly strive to find our undereducated place in society.
    No more is the Peace Corp trumpeted by media. There is little shown by our media of so many millions who suffer relentless poverty, each day. Sensationalism replaced normal media gossip years ago. I could almost name the day it reached Los Angeles newspapers. And they say there is no devil. Ha!

    Government doesn't want to spend more money on foreign nation's starvation and poverty.
    If they did do so, they would not have anything left to shunt into their own pockets.
    And they do love to shunt.

    The love to War more, is a government trait, that forgets War is the direct cause of poverty,
    starvation, and death. By the millions of innocent humans, men, women, and wee children.
    Government sees only the carpet-bagger profits to be made from War.

    I have to stop. I've reached my full of disgust.
    • W T 100+

      • +1
      Jan 16 2013: Wow, it's a good thing I came back to the conversation and saw your new comment directed at me.

      Perhaps you can find comfort in the fact that some humans, like yourself, who are very much aware of world conditions, and the corruption, are actively participating in changing lives by helping individuals to see a brighter future and giving them the resources to endure in this system of things.

      Just because one grows up, doesn't necessarily mean one stops caring.
      Otherwise, we would not be having this conversation.

      Be Well
      • Jan 17 2013: Mary, I just read your reply. about 9pm here California time.

        Seems we need a news outlet not supported by advertising dollars, nor corporations, nor unions, and certainly no political parties.

        We need a Buffet or Gates with deep pockets and a commitment not to try to run things,
        and we will most likely need to find a dozen such. Those types who recognize that
        governments are not the answer.

        We are used to wanting a Leader to walk ahead and pave the way,
        but that hasn't worked since Moses.

        The Web is leaderless, but it operates for it's own betterment when left alone.

        We need writers to carry the ball and inform with honesty and integrity,
        both ideas and methods, without centralized direction.

        This is a job that needs one step to start. But, It needs to get going.
        • W T 100+

          • +1
          Jan 17 2013: Frank, doesn't a leader govern?...........whether we want to call it government or not. Having a leader means being governed.

          I'm not trying to play with words, it is a thought that popped into my head.

          You brought up Moses, funny thing Moses. He was trying to help his people

          At first they appreciated it.

          Then they rebelled, and they whined and complained. Finally, they all had to loose the priviledge of seeing their promised land for lack of faith in their leader, both the physical one, and the spiritual one.

          And finally......and this is the sad part.........Moses himself, their leader, did not get to see a changed world......he did not get to enter the promised land. After 40 years of dealing with those stiffed neck people, he lost his cool and died before the reward.......he knew he would die, he was told by the Almighty.

          You know Frank, down deep inside, many individuals know that change is needed, and it is needed soon.

          The leader that is needed has to be a leader extraordinare........maybe he needs to come from out of this world. :) And the motivation for following that kind of leader has to be something other than material gains.......... perhaps the motivation has to come from deep within us..........love. :)

          As a Christian, I have faith in the Bible's promise of a kingdom that is to come, and an earth which will be wiped clean of all the troubles we see today. When will it happen?
          I don't know the answer, I'll have to wait and see, just like you, and the rest of humanity.

          Thanks for sharing your further thoughts with me, and for reading mine.
  • Jan 10 2013: Ending poverty starts with expanding the middle class. A strong middle class drives demand for goods and services, and that, in turn, drives employment.

    To do that, you need a progressive tax structure where the wealthy pay more, an inheritance/trust fund tax that keeps the wealthy from becoming a form of undeserved royalty, and a vision of what kinds of jobs the government can create that will ultimately make business more profitable. Building roads and bridges make it easier to do business. Hiring teachers creates an educated workforce that is useful in a 21st century economy. Most importantly, is that the government should pay its workers well, and there should be a livable minimum wage for all employees (workers are not the problem in an economy, they are the solution and they should be valued) - that is how the money gets back to the bottom.

    The wealthy might complain. They might try to say that they are the job creators, but they are not. Innovators are the job creators, and innovators don't produce goods and services unless there are customers to buy them. Money must flow back to the bottom from time to time. Money at the bottom equals demand and motive for innovators to produce goods and hire employees. Money's natural tendency is to flow in the upward direction. That is a good thing - jobs are created and production happens when it does.

    Money is like an engine...as it rises, work gets done. If you keep moving it back to the bottom from time to time, more work will get done. When money stays at the top, there is no longer an incentive to produce very many goods and services - maybe a few luxury items at the most, for a tiny sliver of your population, but that is about it. Increasing the customer base means more production and jobs. The middle class matters. They have enough income to drive production beyond agriculture. They buy televisions, computers, cell phones, and more.
    • Comment deleted

      • Comment deleted

      • Comment deleted

      • Jan 13 2013: You are off topic on the solution I offered. Revenue matters, period. Equivocating individual finances and a 40 hour work week with tax policy is ridiculous, and yet, a person CAN still choose to work more.

        Try not to forget, the overall conversation is about ARGENTINA.
        • thumb
          Jan 13 2013: I see your point. You are absolutely correct, I'm off topic. How silly of me to take the titled question:

          "What can governments do to end poverty in their countries? Is a solution possible under capitalism?"

          so literally as to mean any government, including my own here in the USA.

          I'm afraid there is no solution for Argentina. Revolution perhaps. Their debt is too high and the government is reluctant to pay it off, leaving the "vultures" who financed that debt to swoop down closer to the kill.

          I need to get to deleting some of these off topic statements I've made.

          Thanks for putting me back on track Mr. Hardwood.
    • Jan 15 2013: Gee Brock...
      You got everything right except the thing that counts the most.

      When the Banks were draining the Treasury, businesses were looking at
      a tremendous loss of new business. Businesses cannot borrow money
      without support of customer's new orders. Supply needs Demand.
      So the Bankers around the globe, got GDP riches and businesses got the shaft.

      Not a peep from the National Chamber of Commerce...
      • Jan 21 2013: Money at the bottom = customers = demand. That was the whole point of moving money back to the bottom.

        The mechanism I talked about for doing this was the government hiring people at good wages. Naturally, it makes sense to hire people to do things that also make business more profitable - i.e. better roads and rail for distribution of raw materials and finished products, schools and teachers for an educated work force, reliable power grids, ports for shipping, etc.. This addresses economic growth on both fronts - supply AND demand.
        • Jan 22 2013: Brock,
          I disagree.
          We, the impoverished, find solace in dreams.
          Poverty in the United States would be eliminated were we to:
          Reduce the Military to 1950 levels.
          Eliminate the Federal Reserve Banking System.
          Eliminate Limited Liability Laws.
          Expand nationwide the VA Hospital & Clinic System.
          Eliminate Health Insurance companies.
          Tax like church's do, at a 10% level, collected monthly.
          Require the National Debt be Eliminated within 5 years.
          Require that Government be Transparent with NO Secrets.
          Limit Elected Officials to 4 year Terms.
          Pay Hired and Elected Govt Employees -
          - the same pay scale and benefits.