The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #78659   Message #1417649
Posted By: hesperis
22-Feb-05 - 01:28 PM
Thread Name: BS: Why do we need poverty?
Subject: RE: BS: Why do we need poverty?
There was poverty before the capitalist system... however it was much more localized. If your crops didn't do well, you starved. Money enables an exchange of goods and services at a much higher level of abstraction, and also enables people to become specialized... which raises the quality of life for all those who can afford those specialized services.

And it is money that could help to alleviate true poverty - which I define as the lack of health, basic food, basic housing and basic contribution to society. Money simply allows a greater overall wealth than is possible in a simple barter system. It has the potential to be used in a way to enable more human beings to have the basics. Then once more human beings have the basics, there will be more human beings capable of contributing real value to the local and global society.

Poverty itself may not need to be eradicated, only redefined. What if the poor were those who were well off healthwise but didn't own a means of production? There would still be rich people, there would still be rewards for great achievement in business or life. People would still want to be more than poor. But the poor would not be hopeless of achieving even their basic needs. It is hopelessness that leads to most of the counter-productive behaviours of the poor, although it is still a personal choice and some avoid falling into those behaviours. What if anything less than that was seen as a failure of society, not a failure of the individual? How is a child supposed to grow into a contributing adult when malnourished for decades? How is that a failure of that child?

There are always some people who cannot support themselves... under the current system. If their basic needs were taken care of, what gifts would they be able to offer society in exchange, what talents and usefulnesses would flower under adequate watering? This would make success and wealth on a larger scale than has ever happened in history, more than paying for any programs necessary to put that basic level of support in place.

So why is it not happening already?