No More Poverty

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The question of solving poverty has been pondered by philosophers, politicians, socialists, and even economists for centuries. What causes poverty, how can we fix it, and when we can fix it are all questions that they ask. Many solutions have been proposed, few have been tested, and none have proven to be successful. In The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities of Our Time, Jeffrey D. Sachs presents a practical and viable plan to end global poverty. Sachs hopes to achieve this through a nation building process, funded by the richest nations, that develops the "economic plumbing" for the flow of economic prosperity to impoverished nations. According to Sachs, if we build a nation's infrastructure, then we can successfully eliminate the problems of poverty; however, he fails to address one single, significant facet of the problem: what happens when we stop giving aid to these nations? It is because of this point, there lays a giant fault in Sachs's otherwise bullet-proof plan. When addressing the issue of global poverty, we need not only look at the short-term efforts we must endure, but also, the long-term efforts to successfully end poverty.

Sachs begins his case by describing Nthandire, a small village in Malawi, Africa. He describes a grandmother who has "15 orphaned grandchildren" and only "a handful of semi-rotten, bug infested millet… [which] will be the one meal the children have that day" (Sachs 108). In this area, this is considered doing well. Many of the people of this area will die of starvation, disease, and lack of shelter. Carol Bellamy, head of UNICEF, describes the conditions of Malawi "as the perfect storm of human deprivation" (110). Although these conditions are of a small village in southern Africa, hundreds of millions of people world-wide experience these horrible living conditions. According to Sachs, "more than 20,000 people perish [everyday] of extreme poverty" (110). Sachs presents the juxtaposition of wealth when he discusses the United States budget: $500 billion for military investments and only $16 billion to help the poorest of the poor. The United States spends 30 times more on killing people than it does on trying to save lives.

Jeffrey Sachs calls his plan for ending poverty "clinical economics." Current economic policies concerning poverty are like the leeching process used during the 18th century. Sachs is telling us that a cookie-cutter approach will not work for poverty. This "clinical economics" must be "a profession of rigor, insight, and practicality" (110). Everyone must take part in this battle, not just the most powerful countries. Sachs even hints at the inherent problem with this approach when he states "the end of global poverty will require a global network of cooperation among people who have never met and who do not necessarily trust one another" (110).

Before we go into Jeffrey Sachs exact plan, several clarifications need to be made and a few key facts must be brought to light in order to correctly position Sachs's argument. There are three types of poverty: extreme (absolute) poverty, moderate poverty, and relative poverty. The World Bank defines extreme poverty refers to individuals with "an income of less than $1 a day [whose] household cannot meet basic needs for survival" (111). These people experience serious hunger, little to no healthcare, lack clean water, lack education, and possibly even lack shelter. Extreme poverty can best be described as "the poverty that kills" (111). Moderate poverty refers to those individuals "living on $1 to $2 a day" and whose "basic needs are met, but just barely." Relative poverty is the least severe and refers to individuals who "[lack] things the middle class now takes for granted" (111). Currently, more than half the world's population lives under one of these types of poverty. Of this, 1.1 billion live in extreme poverty. 1.1 billion people are marked for death if the nations of the world...
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