How can we help the world's poor?

One essential key to development for the poorest countries in the world is to give their producers access to the markets of the rich, especially in Europe and America. How can we persuade our leaders to open our markets and cut our own outsize agricultural subsidies? Any ideas?  

John Holroyd, ex-Conservative

To get both the USA and Europe to agree to open their markets, I think we need to prove, in the public mind, the idea you successfully posit in your book, namely, not allowing free trade with these demographically expanding nations will only cause more and more illegal immigration, and larger number of asylum seekers, as groups fight for limited resources.

Tim Worstall,

The simplest method would be to force all of our politicians to read
David Ricardo. If that's too much for their delicate intellects, Paul
Krugman provides a lighter but similarly accurate read on free trade.
There aren't all that many things in economics that are both known to be true and difficult to understand. Free trade happens to be one of them.

Christopher Pierce, Peru

To answer your question I think it´s crucial that you ask yourself another quiestions first. I come from Peru (my grandfather is from the US, that´s why my name is in english), and I think I can say that poverty not only comes for economic reasons, but from social culture. If you don´t change the mentality of this people first (the way they think of themselves as poor and that they will always be poor) opening markets will only get the rich richer and the poor poorer (I don´t know if that well written, sorry). Of course it would help, but just to those that have big business or the corrupt politicians. The thing is this: first you have to solve the sociological problems to then solve the economic problems.
This, of course, is a big item and a great debate. But you should put your efforts and help in this area.

Joe Marshall, Philippines

Corruption is what impoverishes most poor countries. Opening up Western markets to corrupt countries only enriches their corrupt elite but not the masses. Western countries should make it a precondition to their opening up their markets to poor countries the latter's undertaking of measures that ensure transparency in the public and private sectors. There are many ways of checking compliance and the rich markets should use these to know which countries to reward which ones need to be excepted.

Baci Veleshnja, Albania

When thinking of this topic, in my mind comes a saying of my wise father, which goes: "People may give away their life easier than their damn wealth". From this wisdom, on my opinion, derives the explanation why reach people composed themselves and found all manners to fight communism with sugar, they smoothed themselves and became "more human" just to save their wealth and not be expropriated by the majority of havenothing.
Now life is at stake. Damn narrow-minded rich do not get it. They do not feel the danger of walking suicide bombs they did when the communism threatened their property. This is very troubling.

Jan Paul, USA

Education of the nations in poverty is very important. Look at some of the poor Asian nations that forced their children to get good educations. They were poor but worked hard and became educated and now their workers are in such demand that places like So. Korea, it has seen hourly wages go from 29 cents a hour in 1975 to $6.66 in 2002. Low wage yet? Yes, but they can probably buy more with their $6.66 than we can with twice as much due to buying power and goods being purchased from thier own people and neighbors who also produce less expensive quality items. Nope, haven't caught up with us yet, but how much longer before they do? And, remember, some of these governments weren't overly permissive. However, once the governments became convinced that educated workers would translate into economic power, they moved toward capitalism and away from Communisim, or at least toward some of the principles of capitalism such as positive business environments and positive environments for the wealthy and their investment in business.

Michel Bastian, France

Interesting: all the other threads are overloaded with comments, but the one extremely relevant question seems to be completely neglected on this board: how to combat poverty (I´ll limit my comment to the third-world problem; poverty whithin the so-called "rich" states is a whole topic by itself)? The rich west (notably the US, Canada, Europe and Russia) as well as many of the more well-to-do Asian and south-american states tend to ignore the problem as long as it isn´t perceived as a direct threat to themselves. They tend to forget that massive poverty in a huge number of countries leads to massive political instability. We can see the direct results in countries like Somalia, Ethiopia (Darfour crisis) or some central african states like Rwanda and the DRC: hunger, diseases and genocide run rampant. What we can´t or don´t want to see are the long term effects of political instability in these regions: poverty leads to desperation and desperation in turn leads to a mass exodus towards richer states or (even worse) hatred of said richer states with a possible slide towards violence (i.e. more terrorism). How can we combat poverty? There´s no single valid answer to that question. It depends on what country or region of the world you are talking about and on the exact causes for poverty there. As an example, take the Democratic Republic of Congo (ex-Zaire). This is a country that has been torn apart by civil war and strife between rival tribes/warlords for the past 10 years. Only lately has some kind of political stability returned with the Kabila government entering negotiations with the warlords and foreign powers in the north of the country. How could the "rich" countries help? First, send mediators to try and work out a stable and genuinely democratic political system with a funtioning (non-corrupt) administration. That´s the groundwork. After that, there´ll have to be massive programs to get education, health care and all the other basic stuff like housing etc. going again throughout the country. This in turn will hopefully generate enough reasonably well-trained professionals to get the country´s economy going again. Of course, all this is going to take years, even decades. However, you wouldn´t think it, but the DRC (and Rwanda) is actually one of the easier problems to solve because it has an incredible amount of natural resources which, if managed well enough, will go a long way toward substantially reducing poverty. Other countries like Somalia or Ethiopia aren´t so lucky: beside a dismal political system, they also lack any notable natural resources. These are the real tough cases. All you can do there is try to fix the political level as well as possible (even by military means, but only where absolutely necessary and viable) and in the meantime try to prevent the local population from starving with makeshift emergency programs.
The problem will remain as long as the "rich" countries don´t give third-world development sufficient attention. That means: much more funding, more manpower and a functional administrative means of coordinating all the efforts (probably, but not necessarily, through the UN). This last point is crucial: if there is no means to control where the aid money is going and how it is spent, inevitably it will turn up lining the pockets of the ruling dictactors, warlords or whatever political power is in charge locally.

Chris Morton, UK

The nettle that no-one will grasp is that WE have to not only stop becoming richer, but actually pulling back to a really sustainable standard of living. Could be a long way, but otherwise its all bleating.
This is in any case necessary to combat Global Warming, so we in developed countries ALL need to start seriously reducing our energy usage now. Energy usage includes imported out-of-season foods; that might allow farmers in poor countries to feed their own families too. Donate the cash savings to small, focussed charities like ITDG that find methods of local self-help and self reliance.

Fernando, Brazil

Being informed about this important site, created by one of the most important intellectualls as T. G. Arsh, I have been felt encouraged to participate in it. First of all, I must say and probably you will note that English is not my native language, I live in South America, Brazil.
Anyway, what can people having good will do for at least start to realize a way for decreasing poverty in third world? Perhaps it would be desirable to think a little bit about:
a)what are the roots of poverty
b)Does the poorest country follow the way to prosperity the richest did?
What are the most common answers, usually people do to that questions?
1)The origin of all evil of 3rd world is not only economical but cultural.
2)If people from third world would be able to change their attitudes they will figure out the way to prosperity.
I will dare to say that those sort of answers are very limited, and having no aim to insult, I would dare to say that this is a typical answers that average-joes do.
Trying to respond the matter of roots of poverty one should notice that richest countries are mainly in the west. US, Germany, England , France. It is interesting to notice that England, France, were 50 years ago colonialists. They follow the path of Spain, Portugal and Holland in the way to invade, colonizing other countries, e.g , exploiting and stealing the wealth of other nations.
US, follow another path, though since the 19 th century it follows other countries to open their markets, using several times its army and navy. It would take too much time to quote all countries invaded, ranging from the bombing in Japan by the Admiral Perry, the invasion of Cuba, Phillipines (that were under the wild colonization of Spain), Valparaiso in Chile, etc,etc.
Germany followed a different path, a authoritarian modernization under Bismarck. And had to fight 2 terrible wars for being accepted among the richest nations.
It´s possible to 3rd world do the same for gathering wealth? Of course not!
Another point: Until the middle of 19 th century , German and Italy, mainly had a reasonable poverty. What they did to get rid of it? They slaughtered a part of its population in wars and the most important: They spreaded most of its poor to the whole Americas, by immigration. Brazil is not different of US in this terms. We received too much immigration, from Europe, mainly Germans and Italians.
Can we third world people do the same thing? Can we send our poor to Europe? Of course not. There are all sort of barriers, all based upon racism(even disguised).
What about changing attitudes? I could be so verbose talking about this, but I am getting tired for typing in a foreign language. But it should be interesting to remind you all, that most of countries tried to industrialize their economies, to substitute imports, etc, but what 1st world did?
Well I will just tell about the muslin world. It would be interesting cause westerns feel threatened about this people. Well. 45/50 years most of what is called muslin world was trying to industrialize. It was Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, Mossadegh in Iran, Ahmed Ben Bella in Algeria, etc. All of this leaders were not muslins, but nationalists, trying to industrialize their countries. But US, feel them as threat to its corporations and de-instabilized all of them. So∑few decades ago they were still sunk in poverty, but know have muslins and/or groups of muslins ruling or influencing the politics of these countries.
So∑Now, people having good will in the 1st world are making appeals for the richest countries to open its markets, to stop of being protectionists. Forget about it, they will not do it, cause the common sense , it will feel easier to call us lazy people, etc. Just a sort of hypocrisy.
I am finishing but I would like to say that if you think the solution is based uppon market approach, it will be bound to fail . Free market is just a naïve, sometimes hypocritical way to start a discussion how to decreased poverty in the world. What could we do? Let´s try to respond it later.
Best wishes!

Fernando, Brazil

What is possible to be done? Actually one should starting questioning if we all (I mean nations, countries, multilateral agencies, people, etc), really have the real understanding of the issue. In other words are we really interested in peace, prosperity, happiness for all humans being? Everyone would respond∑yes we are. But what is real prosperity and even happiness? Does happy, prosperity, etc, mean repeating the standard of leaving of western´s countries? Be reasonable∑it´s not possible, at least if based in nations or countries. It is impossible, e.g to give a car for most of Chineses. It is impossible to imitate the hedonistic way of life of the Americans ( I mean the US). Perhaps a world-wide planning based upon an world governement, would make it possible. But I know it would sound as an anathema, cause people are horrified in such days when liberalism seems to be the mainstream, to at least thinking about planning. So∑my answer is ∑We can not do nothing do improve human´s condition world-wide. We can do nothing if we are thinking that commerce, free market, would achieve a real human interaction. So∑let´s enjoy the present and face the consequences.

Sam, France

Maybe if our consumer society stopped making everyone believe they could live like movie stars it would help. Children should learn to work - too much these days is instant gratification. The word 'poor' shouldn't be a dirty word. The wealth could be more evenly distributed. There is no denying that nearly 80% of the world's wealth is held by less than 10% of the people. Socialism is not a bad word - and an ideal society would have the rich and the rich companies taxed for the benefit of all.
Float the dollar, yen, and euro back on gold, and wipe out the debts from third world countries. Make education a priority. Make subsidies impossible so that markets from the third world can compete, and reduce inflation as much as possible.
There is no excuse to have people starving to death while corrupt governments siphon money away from their poor and into their pockets with the tacit agreement from rich, powerful petrol and gas companies. The governments should regulate all trade of precious commodities and take that (oil and gas for ex.) away from the private sector.

Fernando, Brazil

I totally agree, Sam, from France. Unfortunatelly the mainstream nowadays is thinking: Capitalism, free market are equal to the end of history. Well...about 300 years ago, people think just monarchy could lead people, so it ocurred french and american revolution, just to quote the main ones. It´s time to start a serious debate about taxing richs, the wealth, etc. It´s time for rediscussing socialism.

yo, canada

i cant believe this

Markus Hofmann, USA

How about the compilation of a list of excellent organizations that are working toward the end of relieving poverty and suffering around the world and merit our support, ie. our cash contributions. That way we could confidently dispose of that 1% of our income as Mr. Ash suggests.

Don White, U.S. of A.

The surest way to help the poor of this world is simple. Shoot everyone with more than US$50,000 in net assets.
My personal impression of the distribution of wealth around the world follows. I divide the world into two camps. The R&Fs, or Rich and Famous, and the P&P‚er, or the Poor and Poorer. R&Fs own the overwhelming share of the wealth despite the significantly smaller numbers. In Africa, and Asia excluding Japan and Korea, the south part, Israel and Turkey, the breakdown is about 97 to 3. In Œfavor‚ of the 3% R&Fs. North America south of the Rio Grande, South America and Oceania excluding A-N.Z., the ratio is about 95 to 5% R&Fs. North America north of the Rio Grande is about 80 to 20% R&Fs. Western Europe is about 70 to 30% R&Fs. The excluded countries and places that don‚t count, like Brunei, are about 90% Poor and Poorer‚s to 10% R&Fs.
Foreign aid, a misnomer, has never been popular in Hometown, USA. America, mainly due to the vast amount of land widely available at very low cost through the 19th century, has an historic „help yourself up‰ work ethic. There is not a lot of community sympathy for the poor or disadvantaged.
The public and private institutions in America reinforce this absence of a charitable spirit in the U.S. of A. Americans (smugly) pride themselves on being the „most generous‰ of all peoples, but salve their consciences by throwing a couple bucks into a Salvation Army pot around Christmas time. The Catholic Church presses hard to get 10% from its membership, even asking them to report their income, and furnishing envelopes bearing their names so their donations can be monitored. I‚m not Catholic, but I hear many otherwise devout Catholics manage to evade this Heavenly weighted prescription.
Almost all, say, as in Ivory soap, 99.44%, „foreign aid‰ paid for by the U.S. taxpayer is actually AID to U.S. corporations and individuals who have „greased‰ the palms of both the Congress and the White House occupant, regardless of race, color or creed. Or political party. This condition will grow ever worse and more flagrant until such time as Americans enact a real CFR - Campaign Finance Reform - which bans private monies in public elections. The public must pay for public elections. „He who pays the fiddler calls the tune‰ is not an adage without basis.
American „foreign aid‰ is used exclusively in the furtherance of American foreign policy objectives. Even the famous Marshall Plan for Europe just after WW2 had ulterior motives in it. America wanted to skew the choices of Europeans away from socialism towards free market capitalism. Primary U.S. foreign policy objectives normally mean a compliant or subservient government, preferably one with democratic pretenses, but which in any case permits American private enterprise to exploit either the natural resources or the people of the particular country.
To explain my contentions, suppose the U.S. Congress decides that Guinea need and is deserving of 2,000 1 ton trucks to improve the local transportation network. Such trucks are available from U.S. truck makers and from European truck makers. Ford trucks cost $15,000; similar Fiat trucks could be bought for $10,000. Congress appropriates $300 million and announces this to the public as more evidence of American generosity.
Unstated is the fact the appropriation act requires the money be spent in the U.S. If the U.S. motivation was purely eleemosynary, the 2,000 trucks could have been bought for 200 million taxpayer dollars. But Ford management gives large sums of money to both Congress and the White House. The average American gives nothing to either. Who said „Money Talks, B-S Walks?‰
Guinea has no input on how the money is spent. It would not be wise for recipients to complain. Further, the trucks will be imported by Guinea through an import company owned by the brother-in-law of Guinea‚s president. Hey, if you can‚t help your friends, who can you help?
My thesis will be tested in Iraq. You can judge it for yourself, when after the last U.S. soldier is out of Iraq, WHO OWNS THE OIL OF IRAQ? OR FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL.
I predict the U.S. government will be sufficiently devious to put the oil of Iraq in the hands of either a compliant Iraqi government or in the hands of private individuals who will make „sweetheart‰ contracts with U.S. oil interests. Regardless how smoothly the MONEY is laundered, watch where the money goes. That will give the answer to my theory.

BY Joe Marshall, Philippines
'Corruption is what impoverishes most poor countries . . the rich markets should use these to know which countries to reward which ones need to be excepted.'

Right On! Joe Marshall. But it is the Western countries that are CORRUPTING the poorer nations of the world. The „ . . their corrupt elite . . ‰ are the lackeys of the OWNERS of the Western Markets that you refer to. Note the recent White House REMOVAL of the 10% import clothing quota reserved to Bangladesh which is now opened to competition by both India and China. The U.S., say Wal-Mart, is the main beneficiary. Bangladesh will lose the small market participation it had. Both India and China exert far more INFLUENCE on American foreign policy than all the Bangladeshi put together. China uses a lot of its monthly trade surplus - recently $67 billion - to „BUY‰ U.S. Treasury bonds that fund Amer ica‚s huge Federal deficits. Sorry, Bangladesh.

BY Baci Veleshnja, Albania
'When thinking of this topic, in my mind comes a saying of my wise father, which goes: "People may give away their life easier than their damn wealth" . . narrow-minded rich do not get it. They do not feel the danger of walking suicide bombs they did when the communism threatened their property. This is very troubling.'
DON: I agree, Baci. The refusal of the rich to either share some wealth or to open the path to improving the living standard of the entire population was a factor in the terrible retribution taken against the rich in the French, the Russian and the Chinese Revolutions. Already there are nearly 2 billion people UNDERFED and 1 billion people with UNRELIABLE water supplies. How long will it be before someone gains power in one of those countries on the promise to get food and water from the rich countries or to bring destruction to those rich countries by whatever means are available? WARNING TO THE RICH: Act now or forever hold your peace!

Jim Jordan, USA

I would like for someone to define who "the poor" are before we get too carried away about what we should do for "the poor" and, for that matter, who is to blame for "the poor" being poor.
Being poor, the sociologists tell us, is a relative concept. We look at others around us and say to ourselves, "We don't have what they have so relative to them we are poor." In the animal kingdom survival and reproduction is all that is necessary. It is only we humans who think we have to do it in comfort and style and complain bitterly if we can't, compared to the people we see in the movies, on television, and living around us.
As a human animal, a "naked ape," what gives me the "right" to have your money, your food, your water, or your automobile? If it is only my greater numbers and my ability to take it away from you what makes me superior to a pack of wolves?

Ray Vickery, Canada

I note that no-one seems to have mentioned Hernanado de Soto. I think his book, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else‰, is extremely important in this debate.
It is true that he has become the darling of those on the right who want to minimize foreign aid from the rich countries to the poor countries. I believe that a leftist cvase can be made for abandoning foreign aid. First, in the rich countries, it has become a pork barrel issue. The United States' government website brags that eighty per cent of US "foreign aid" goes directly to US corporations. And, in the poor countries, foreign aid has been the source of an enormous amount of corruption. prescription to end Third World poverty would focus on four things:
1. Free trade. I do not mean the "managed trade" that the rich countries currently pass off as free trade, but actually not having regulations restricting the flow of goods across borders. The benefits of free trade are such that it is always the rersponsibility of those who would restrict trade to make a clear case. This is often not possible.
I don't think it's appropriate, however, to require poor countries to allow corporations from rich countries to enter their countries freely and use their power to diminish local enterprise. This is quite different from the goods of these countries entering freely, and I feel has the opposite effect.2. Ending industrial subsidies in the rich countries. This would include the United States being somehow persuaded or coerced into using quasi-legal processes to bully others. For example, the Americans are prretending that, in Briltish Columbia, where we live, the regulations for cutting timber are somehow "unfair" to Americans. We've gone to court time after time, getting rulings in American courts administering American law, and we always win. But they keep finding new ways of refusing to agree. They know they're wrong, but don't care. They've told us directly that we'll never get a judicial solution, that we must somehow hamstring our industry so they win any competition. I'm aware that they do this, not only to us, but to many other economies as well. Obviously, this dishonest use of power is a series constraint on trade, and as such contributes to world poverty.
3. Diminished corruption, not only in the United States, but everywhere. In some poor countries, corruption is a major cause of poverty. (But it must be admittted that, in Canada, except for a few leftists, almost no politicians leave office with a car no more valuable than the one they had when they ended it, do they not.) I would not advoce punitive measures to fight corruption, but rather the sort of activities undertaken by Transparency International, even though they often involve trying to fight corruption by working with the politicians who are enrilching themselves.
4. Cheap credit where appropriate to people in the poor nations. Poor national governments have no difficulty obtaining cheap credit, but this seldom helps the economy involved. The World Bank does not extend credit for economically sound projects, but for political obedience. Thus, for example, the loans to Russia just before Putin's re-election˜loans that obviously can never be repaid and serve no good economic purpose.
This brings in de Soto's ideas, which involve giving the farmers in the poor countries clear lega title to their land This title would lead to their being able to obtain credit at more or less the same rate I do when I mortgage my house.

Miss Know the Solution to Poverty, Canada

We need to give money ourselves as other Americans and Canadians have and hopefully lots of people will follow our trend. giving to private companies instead of big ones were less than half of the donations go the third world countries

Andrew Stewart, DC, United States

Aside from the ridiculous comment about shooting anyone who has over $50,000 (a loss of capital doesn't help anyone), I'm pleasently suprised to see the free market so widely called for in this discussion.
I applaud Tim Ash's call for an end to trade barriers with the '3rd world', but I largely disagree with this call to increase foreign aid. Private donations through charities is a great thing, and a testiment to the spirit of human generousity. However, taxing a population and giving that money to another country rarely ever helps the situation of poverty. More often than not this money never leaves the hands of corrupt regimes, etc. But even with corruption aside, even with this money used with good intentions, the direct transfer of capital into a population is more likely to hinder the natural local economy.
This whole idea seems counterintuitive.. asserting that giving money to the poor actually makes them poorer.. but alas it is a cruel truth and a common mistake among those whose intentions are better than their logic. In these poor countries where small local economies are struggleing to develop, the introduction of 'raw' capital greatly undermimes the efforts of local businesses through 'false under-selling', etc.
So, it would be nice if we could just all pass around the hat in order to solve global poverity, but these well intentioned efforts are in truth making the problem worse. Just as Mr. Ash insists that democracy must not be acheived through the direct action of external force but rather through slow progressive internal efforts, so too must the war on poverty be won by the gradual development of free, competetive markets unhindered by the well meaning but devestatingly obstructive hand of economic regulation.
The world will only be as free as its markets, and the markets are only free when the government is prohibited from interfering.

Fernando, Brazil

„The world will only be as free as its markets, and the markets are only free when the government is prohibited from interfering.‰
What a classical (and old) liberal approach! It has its roots from Adam Smith in the 18th century. Well, communists though the opposite and liberal shout! They failed!! Yes, the former URSS failed as well other several countries that adopted a centralized control economy. Actually these regimes were based upon a distorted marxim´s view called as Marxism Leninism. But the fact which real matters is, it would be possible a system which admit a real free market with no government interference? Wake up comrades, until now such system has been showed us to be impossible. A Utopia as marxism-leninism is. No one wants free market unless for its own benefits. No one (honestly) wants the government away, unless one get scared with its income tax, etc. People do not want government to interfere? So∑go for it and abolish the army, the mail, the social welfare, etc. Is such system being applied in any „ civilized‰ country?
The real fact is: people are always walking in circles. Although, in the past 10 years the liberal are thinking they have won the battle. But it is too early to shout victory, cause there are too much poverty, despair world ˆwide. This poverty, despair, will open the ways for all sort of fanaticism and fundamentalism. Wake up people, any system based upon selling and buying, i.e, any society based just for producing goods to get rich just a few is reaching its end. It does not mean it is the end of the world. Great periods of barbarism has occurred in all history. Now we are already living in a period like that. If you lived in a 3rd world country as myself, you probably would realize it. Well, perhaps not, cause most of people even in this 3rd world , do not realize it too. Humans are humans everywhere. The common sense, an attitude „ let it be‰ is how people work.
The sad thing is: the real, honest, deep discussion has not been started yet!

Victor, Bolivia

I wont pretend I can answer this question in a short comment. I just want to add to the debate a point on the responsibility that more economically developed countries have towards the developing countries. The great success of western economies, some would argue, comes from their ability to be better at allocating resources and producing more and better, etc. However, it is important to remember that the emergence of eurpean industries as well as american expansion and growth happened at a high social and environmental cost with leading to great disparities throughout the world. From a cynical point of view, one can say that thisisjust the reality; there will always be winners and loosers. But now I ask, for how long and how much more will the west and the USA expand their wealth before the decide to truly share what they've achieved with others or at least let others emerge? I am from Bolivia, a country that has been screwed over by the Spain, and I currently study in the USA and from what I observe in this society, people do not seem to care at all about how much the consume and waste; the lifestyle that people have here, including my lifestyle, is simply not sustainable. If people in the entire world will want this lifestyle, we should start thinking about invading another planet. Anyways, my point is that if poverty is to be ended Americans and other people in developed countries need to care more for what the implications of their way of life have over the world, and should be more conscious about the inequalities that sustain it.

Fernando, Brazil

Victor, you really, got interesting issues to the debate. It is an awful truth. People in western developed country, only may allow their way of life, on the backs of 3rd world countries. This is not a hateful attitude, it is a fact. Actually I would like to develop more this subject right now, but I am in a hurry and having trouble for typing in a foreign language, I will try it later, perhaps, bringing up a more sophisticated argument. Repeating. There are richs( I mean people who maintain a way of life that is unsustainable for the whole planet), because there are poors. For keeping this sort of wealth one must maintain poverty in 3rd world (as well the poors that exist among the richest countries too). I am going to end my writings soon, but a question is raised very often: Why western countries developed and not the other countries? Talking in terms of The Americas? Why Cortez and Pizarro and not Montezuma or Ataualpa? This question can be answered in historical/economical and several other approach (and/or a combination of approach). I strongly recommend you all for reading an interesting book wrote by a Pullitzer winner Jared Diamond: The book is: Guns, Germs and Steel ˆ The fate of human societies.

Gareth, UK/South Africa/Internationalist

andrew Stewart has no idea what he is talking about. The third world subsidises the West in vast quantity every day. Furthermore, his suggestion that "raw capital" is destabilising is complete nonsense and directly contradicts almost all Capitalist dogma - indeed, "inward investment" was the dogmna of the eighties, and third world states were expected to oppress their populations to construct "business friendly" environments precisely to get tnat raw capital Stewart decries.
When IMF rules mean that some states are not allowed, by treaty, to spend more than $10 a day on healthcare per head, the ability of states to use capital constructivley is constrained by the very Western agenda that Stewart appears to think is the solution. But Stewarts agenda has been tried over the last thirty years and has achieved less than nothing and now stands thoroughly discredited.
The real solution to poverty is to chuck Capitalist dogma into the wastebasket of history, and to abolish the cruel and ussorious debt-farming to which the third world is subjected. To describe capitalist markets as "free" is a contradiction in terms, and until we start examining the reality rather than repeating the orthodoxy of modern economics we will continue to have history repeat itself.

Tope.A.O.Ogunmekan, Nigeria

This whole idea seems counterintuitive.. asserting that giving money to the poor actually makes them poorer.. but alas it is a cruel truth and a common mistake among those whose intentions are better than their logic. In these poor countries where small local economies are struggleing to develop, the introduction of 'raw' capital greatly undermimes the efforts of local businesses through 'false under-selling', etc.
So, it would be nice if we could just all pass around the hat in order to solve global poverity, but these well intentioned efforts are in truth making the problem worse.
In nigeria as of today,things are not getting better,but the poor are getting poorer while the rice are getting richer.Education is very bad,no light,water the poor people can't attend to hospital,no salaries over 4-5months ago,people in the power are the one enjoying what is not to be.
No chance for the youth.I my self is crying for help any body that can assist with any thing,i will be highly appricated.Am with a wife two children,now at home cos no school fee's,to eat is very hard.I need help.
The public and private institutions in America reinforce this absence of a charitable spirit in the U.S. of A. Americans (smugly) pride themselves on being the ≥most generous≈ of all peoples, but salve their consciences by throwing a couple bucks into a Salvation Army pot around Christmas time. The Catholic Church presses hard to get 10% from its membership, even asking them to report their income, and furnishing envelopes bearing their names so their donations can be monitored. I∫m not Catholic, but I hear many otherwise devout Catholics manage to evade this Heavenly weighted prescription. but how much longer before they do? And, remember, some of these governments weren't overly permissive. However, once the governments became convinced that educated workers would translate into economic power, they moved toward capitalism and away from Communisim, or at least toward some of the principles of capitalism such as positive business environments and positive environments for the wealthy and their investment in business.

Jan Paul, USA

"I note that no-one seems to have mentioned Hernanado de Soto. I think his book, The Mystery of Capital: Why Capitalism Triumphs in the West and Fails Everywhere Else"
I find this quote interesting since several "new" European countries are expanding rapidly with capitalism. China is about 11th in Real GDP Growth while the U.S. with is rapidly increasing debt and defict is now 2nd to China as a consumer nation and China has between 100 and 200 million middle class and will have about 500 million by 2010. They are more of a threat than the U.S. to the European economy and life. They will be driving the price of oil out of site as they pass the U.S. in comsumption and the number of vehicles and use of oil in the production of synthetics and other oil related products. There textiles are already leaping in export terms as the quota have been lifted. They are the number one consumer of all materials and good except oil which will take a while due to their just starting to go on a an auto buying spree with their new found capitalism driven economy.
The U.S. is in a stagnant trend and China is booming, as is most of Asia, and yet Europe looks west instead of east for threats to their economy. The economy of the U.S. is so delicate right now, that China may very well bury the U.S. economically if the U.S. doesn't do what Ireland and other Eastern Block countries have done to become more competitive. You notice France didn't lodge complaints against the U.S. for losing business. They filed the complaint against Ireland for taking business away with their low tax rate. The U.S. is currently ranked right at the top with France and Germany and two other countries for the highest taxes on business. Since all taxes on business are passed on to the consumer, all these taxes do is make your goods more expensive with added complaince costs which in the U.S. ofter are 390% more than the actual income tax paid.
A recent European summit found that Corporate Income tax do more harm than good.

Tricia, USA

why the USA should give the 3rd world contries contaccptives? Or why should the USA not give them any.

John Sebastian, UK

Timothy Garton ash's free world must be constructed within the free market capitalist system. Garton Ash is a middle class anti-socialist which dominated the capitlaist media.
Socialist will never get a fair hearing in the capitalist press and media as a whole. Comments like Garton Ash's 'as ir (china) emerges from Communist dictatorship' demonises socialism and brands it and makes it synomimous with diacatorship, even though genuine socialist have never supported the regimes of China and the soviet union and constantly condemn them.
It's difficult for socialist to put forward their arguements and conter the daily distortions of the capitalist media. If people like garton Ash and the rest of the 'middle class university educated journalists would actually read socilism and Marx, they would see that the socialist aims are not what came about under china and Russia.
before continuing to brand socialist as dictators and murderers, he should read what socialism is really about. garton Ash's capitalism murders people and exploits people daily. When does he ever talk about the murderous multinationals that dominate and conrol our society?
It is so difficult being a socialist and being up against such a distorting powerful capitalist media. Socialist will never get a fair hearing under capitalism and havve no vehicle for challenging the daily distortions.
If Garton Ash experienced poverty and unemployment, it would be intersting to see how liberated he would feel and how much he would love capitalism.

evelyn, united states

why the USA should give the 3rd world contries contaccptives?

Jake, US

We as a people could do more to reduce poverty and provide aid to the poor. I live in the US and have family in the midwest, where we grow most of our food. I have no idea exactly how many bajillions of acres of farmland there is out there, but I live on the west coast and we have freight trains hauling dairy, corn, wheat, and all kinds of other food in hundreds of cars; and they come once every ten minutes or so in from the midwest. Sure the US exports much of this food, we cannot consume it all! But we export it to Japan and China and South Korea, and other countries that PAY MONEY for it. If the US government, my government, didn't stick it's nose in middle-east oil affairs then we could take those costs and cut other excessive government spending to provide some of this food to those really in need. Africa, some parts of Russia, and southern Asia. It is also a matter of countries in need of aid to accept it. Take North Korea for an example: they've got some insaine dictator over there who spends all his resources on building an army and trying to make nukes! Ha! And they said Saddam and Osama were threats!

Stacey, Ireland

I have been studing poverty in r.e in school. I think it is appolying the way the poor are treated. How can the british goverment spend 9billion on a war and can't help the third world countries?

Alex, England

Hi im doing a 30 miniute teach in a few days on ways in which individuals can really make a difference to world poverty.
Im including fair trade products, G8 summit (live8 Make poverty history)etc
i was just wondering if anyone had any other ideas that individuals can do on a daily basis to end world poverty?

dolphinsareanonymous, philippines

any one notice the poorer countries like the philippines are mentioned once, while the USA is mentioned 9 times

Nick Kimber, Britain

The arguement must be directed at the self-interest of political and business elites. Change occurs because of the conjunction of rational materialism and moral force. American and European business elites must become geniunely enthused at the prospect of an emerging market for consumer items.

Ron, Australia

Social engineers always seem to miss the target when trying to resolve poverty, disease, crime, ignorance, distribution of wealth etc.
Their sin?...They think that every so-called disadvantaged person/culture/country is as capably intelligent and responsible as Social Engineers themselves.
How arrogant.
Yes, bleeding hearts stop short of confronting the real issue and are happy to collect themselves into a warnm and fuzzy culture of fake sincerity, happily dispensing money. In Australia it is called 'Wanking'.
It is axiomatic that if every person had the same mental capability of logic to reason with on the highest matters, we could just give them money or trucks or wheat and Voila! they would lift themselves out of the mud by the seat of their own pants so they could buy a new telly through their own hidden business acuity and brow-sweat.
But it is NOT so. Every living person on this planet is in a varying degree of mental development and thereby has automatically reaped his condition if he chooses not to get more data forr lifting his conditions. There are no real victims...(except those who indulge in self-sabotage) To say otherwise is to assign every person on the spectrum of life a condition of "lucky or unlucky" Actually, we can make our own luck with our own sovereign right of free will. (Even the will to waste away whimpering that it is the fault of the rich.)
Charity, mis-applied, can be just another name for free money. Welfare recipients rarely, rarely appreciate getting something for nothing. If anything, the free stuff can start desperate people on the path of craftiness.
So, what is the Real Issue? It would be sincerely getting clear on the concept that poverty is based on ignorance and ill-education. People can begin to be helped by the sincere goal of gradually educating willing people 'up' the ladder to health wealth and happiness. Then perhaps they would realize they are their own Captain. Even if just to decide they are the Captain of their own patch of vegetable garden.
There is a saying that many Social Engineers never speak of: "Give a man a free fish and you have fed him for a day; Teach a man to fish and you have fed him for life."
But maybe that's too easy.

Jimbo, Sweden

I worry slightly when I hear comments in favour of free-trade. I think I understand where they come from (the idea being to stop the protectionism of rich lands' own markets versus the unfairly open markets of the indebted lands), but my worry is that free-market economy might not actually work.
I had read somewhere that the completely free-market idea was tried for a time around the end of the 19th century and the early part of the 20th century, and ended with disastrous results. In the end, self-protected markets had to be re-imposed.
I'm afraid I don't know the history of this, and so can't readily give examples, but it seems to me that free-trade might not be the panacea everyone thinks. I think poorer nations should be allowed full-control over their own economies so they can decide for themselves how they want to trade.
Ultimately the global economy must be realigned, with all currencies (as I think someone has already mentioned) priced against a baseline (gold, or whatever) rather than against the dollar first. The true Keynesian model is the best I've come across (certainly better than anything I could come up with myself), and much more preferable to the faux-Keynesian Bretton Woods debacle.
Call me cynical, though, but I doubt if any such changes will ever be made. Things will have to get pretty bad all over before the greed of the few ceases to dominate the world.

Tom Gildersleeve, USA

With respect to Lester Pearson's proposal that each rich country give 0.7 percent of its GNP in foreign aid, see "The Mystery of Capital" by Hernando DeSoto.

Dave Davies, England

could somebody please me tell which contries have been given the title 'third world' because i cant find that information anywhere

Martin L Feist, USA

I don't think that the pour are a cause and effect of any good government/bad government arangments. What causes a man to be pour happens more because his neighbor, the person who lives next door misunderstands his responsibilitys in wealth to incourage, eduducate and provide assistance to those in need. That way peoples lives are touched by real caring individules who do make a differance. If the country or gonverment has many people like that they will make a greater impact than any agency who handles projects like it was just another job. This is an very important understanding of why Presedent Bush has been asking the government to stand by programs that come through churches and other groups who realy do care about the welfare of the individules that they touch. If you have wealth, stand up and take notice of all the people who are giving daily to help thier neibor. Those are the wheys & means of effectivly "Helping the Pour"

Ron Krate, International Professors Project


anders, Australia

i simply can't understand why the 30 or so richest nations don't give more to foreign aid. i might sound ignorant, but what would be wrong with the rich western nations giving at least 2% of their GDP's to the 3rd world?

Phil Slade, U.K.

Create a database of mailing addresses of village schools in the developing world.
Mail books and magazines to these schools via snail mail, a currently underestimated system that can get a small package to almost any part of the world at very low cost.
The internet has not reached the whole world but almost any old computer is able to display files on disc.
Books and instruction manuals are now commonly available on the web these, can easily be burned to a cd, which could also carry saved web pages or mp3's of radio programmes or speeches.

Picture postcards are also good teaching tools, the recipients can describe the contents to each other in their own language.
Cassette tapes may be nearly obsolete for more digitised cultures but welcome elsewhere.
Small items of equipment or stationery would also be appreciated.
Be anonymous, be sporadic, these avoid dependency.
Don't send money, money is not what is always required.