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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 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.

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