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The latest weapon of mass destruction: starvation.

The situation is dire. It's the worst drought in Africa in 60 years. The UN is airlifting food to Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. It's estimated that 3.7 million people in Somalia alone (about a third of the population) are on the brink of starvation. The pictures will send shivers through you.

Starvation and poverty are multi-faceted problems. The World Bank claims the key to fixing the problems is "strengthening legitimate institutions and governance to provide citizen security, justice, and jobs is crucial to break cycles of violence." They also have the Low-Income Country Under Stress fund purportedly to help "fragile states." As the Brookings Institute acknowledges, "As for fragile states, many of the development challenges they face are strictly political, as opposed to technical."

There's another viewpoint on the problems. A recurring theme from the following video is that the World Bank, the IMF, and Washington are constantly making deals to encourage poor nations to take on debt purportedly to encourage economic growth. However, when they can't pay it back, the poor nations are required to repay the loans with their natural resources (mined/gathered through the direction or outright property ownership of private organizations like Bechtel and Halliburton). They call it "liberalizing capital flows." (Others call the corporate control fascism as it has all the "essential ingredients.") When government/corporate control doesn't work, the CIA is sent-in to assassinate people.

And then there are also these facts: as the UN attempts to re-establish a centralized government in places like Somalia, things actually get more violent. Amazingly, Somalia living standards improved more when there wasn't a centralized government. The most violent years are when the UN tries to establish a centralized government. Through pictures, war tells quite a story.

Another complication is also seen in this video. You'll notice that the families who are starving have many children, sometimes even five or six. The parents talk about how they often go without food themselves in order to feed their children, if they are even able to do so at all. But that leads to an interesting question: why do people who are on the verge of starvation themselves have children with the undeniable knowledge that their children will also starve? Sadly, as they claim in the video, famine is a market solution.

Generally speaking, the natural resources of the world are controlled by governments and a small group of corporations (e.g., oil, water, land). How it got that way - whether through imperialism, colonialism, fascism, "expansionary capitalism," etc. - is important to understand. But what is also important to understand is the philosophical fundamentals that support such -isms.

The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy defines the right to private property as "the social-political principle that adult human beings may not be prohibited or prevented by anyone from acquiring, holding and trading (with willing parties) valued items not already owned by others. Such a right is, thus, unalienable and, if in fact justified, is supposed to enjoy respect and legal protection in a just human community."

One of the arguments against private property is that it always leads to certain classes of people who have special privileges over others. This video suggests that private property is one of the key reasons for poverty. They think it evil that corporations should be able to claim natural resources as private property without any obligation or reciprocal agreement to share it with everyone else who lives in the community.

What is the government obligation to address poverty? What are the benefits of communal property over private property? What happens when the assets of a group are shared by all? If we eradicate private property, will we eliminate or greatly reduce poverty? What's keeping third-world countries from developing? Why doesn't trickle-down economics (wealth trickling down from the rich to the poor) work? Should land be owned by the land owners or the people who work on it? Should taxes only fall on land owners? Should we end privatization of natural resources? How do you eliminate poverty in the world? What do the poor have to do?

In a world where there is so much wealth, with modern cities and plentiful resources, how can we still have so much poverty? Where so many people must live on less than $1 per day? Where entire families live in one small room, in squalid informal housing settlements, far away from skyscrapers and city centers, where they don't have the means to take care of themselves?

...Twenty-four thousand people die every single day from hunger and hunger-related diseases. At least twenty-four thousand. And that doesn't need to happen. We have plenty of resources so that shouldn't happen. It happens because of the system we've created. We can say, without a doubt, that this system is an absolute failure from the most rational, objective, economic standpoint. It is a failure. Less than 5% of the world's population live in the United States. We are consuming over 25% of the world's resources and creating roughly 30% of it's major pollution. That's a failure.

Where do we have to look to understand how it all started? Where some started to become rich, and others poor?

The End of Poverty


Original posting by Braincrave Second Life staff on Jul 27, 2011 at http://www.braincrave.com/viewblog.php?id=608

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