History of Economic Thought 3303
What Can Be Added?
An Essay on Poverty
Written by Patrick Diamitani
What Can Be Added?
Written by Patrick Diamitani ∙ History of Economic Thought ∙ Dr. Charles M.A. Clark
"What can be added to the happiness of the man who is in health, who is out of debt, and has a clear conscience?” (TMS:45) In life we learn to realize that happiness cannot be bought by money. In fact, it didn’t even take the theory of diminishing marginal utility for man to realize that after a while more money just wasn’t going to do anything to make him any happier. These concepts, that money cannot buy true value and happiness, were captured by Adam Smith and scores of other philosophers, economists, and theologians who expressed their belief that to be happy one needed more than just things. However, what does make a man lower in standard in terms of happiness? If money can’t buy you love, can a lack of money leave your heart aching? Let’s look at the second category expressed in the opening sentence: “…out of debt.” Clearly, this sentence shows that for one to truly be happy, an absence of debt must be acknowledged. Therefore, money does seem to somehow play a role in happiness. This paper seeks to discuss how the extreme lack of money, or poverty, has transpired over time. Can a poor man be happy? What exactly makes a man poor, and how has the fundamental notion of poverty been looked at over time? It is our contention that poverty, the extreme lack of the basic necessities of life, is directly related to an absence of money. If a person has money, they are able to obtain shelter, obtain food and clothing and provide the basic subsistence for themselves and any that depend on them. However in today’s world many people do not even have the basic necessities. Although there is enough money circulating to feed the world’s poor, this money is not directed towards eliminating the suffering of the world’s lowest in economic stability. Approximately 25,000 children die each day from poverty related causes. Some die because they don’t have enough to eat. Some die because they don’t have the basic supplies to treat common sicknesses. No matter the reason, in a world of such opulence it is devastating to see how so many can lose 2
What Can Be Added?
Written by Patrick Diamitani ∙ History of Economic Thought ∙ Dr. Charles M.A. Clark their lives because they just don’t have enough. In this paper we will look at the causes and the history of such a deplorable occurrence and possibly even find out what we can do to end it.
“Blessed are the poor in Spirit, for theirs is the Kingdom of God.” (Matthew) The topic of poverty has been around for centuries and the Holy Bible includes many vivid depictions of poverty and what it meant not to have wealth; not only in terms of material possessions but also in terms of one’s inner being. The above-mentioned quotation is a portion of the Beatitudes of Jesus Christ, a number of teachings which Jesus gave on top of a famous mountain during His early ministry. Jesus’ message was that a person who is down and out, who has nothing to look forward to and is completely dejected should not worry, because they will have wealth in heaven. This wealth seems to be characterized by joy, worth, contentment and love. No longer will that person have to struggle day by day and face an overwhelming burden, but the freedom of the Kingdom of God will keep their souls nourished. The New Testament has considerable other passages referencing poverty and the treatment of the poor. “Do not worry,” says Jesus, “about the clothes that you will wear or the food that you will eat. The birds of the air do not sow or store away, but your Father in heaven feeds them. Don’t you think that you, being worth more than birds, will be fed as well?” (Matthew, Matthew 5:3) Poverty was looked at as a situation that was unfortunate, yet bearable. God, in the view of Jesus and the Bible, would take care of...
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