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.


Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • 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.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.