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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.


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  • 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!

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