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Craig Read

Poverty - Reasons And Solutions

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Asia, Africa, the Middle East [except for Israel], large swathes of Latin America, the FSU - whole regions of the world lie blanketed by failed regimes, religions and policies.

Why is this ? Why is Africa such a basket case and why can't these regions become integrated into the world system and start to modernise and increase their wealth ?

And how does the failure of most of the world's regions impact the UNO - its organisation, mandate and politics ?

For instance;

"Most African nations today are poorer than they were in 1980, sometimes by very wide margins. And of the continent's three-dozen countries, only two (Botswana and Uganda) have managed to grow at rates exceeding 3% per annum since 1980. More shocking, two-thirds of African countries have either stagnated or shrunk in real per capita terms since the onset of independence in the early 1960s."

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i am serious when i say that communism is good for africa, get rid of private property, abolish competition and replace it with association, work the land and water, for subsistence farming, self-help, community living - china can feed its nation why not africa

you are looking at infinite extension of happiness

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Africa needs Distributism. That is the economic system devised by GK Chesterton which focussed on private enterprise, in the sense of people being encouraged to go out and be entrepreneurs. It is places high value on the family as the basic social unit, and emphasizes the 'family business".

Chesterton said that " the problem with capitalism , is that it produces so few capitalists"

It also emphasizes FAMILY VALUES (including abstinence and monogamy, and of course belief in God).

That is what it is going to take to rebuild a country torn apart by dictatorships, disease, disaster and grinding poverty brought on by the above, not to mention WAR, which has been driven by western interests who support armies which will throw Africa's resources their way (ie: Diamonds).

If the new economies start small, without the threat of war, people can build up to a point where they can feed themselves quickly, and have an acceptable standard of living within a generation, and may even become a beacon of hope for the west, which is increasingly becoming jaded with Capitalism and socialism.

Click here for a synopsis on Distributism.

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Actually, Mod, it was good for some people: The poops in power! :angry:

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Africa is in a rush to return to the Stone Age because of tribalism. That, together with human greed is the root cause.

But, of course, it is the fault of Western civilization for introducing the concept of "Nation" and drawing those lines on maps.

The we could discuss the evils which have resulted from the concept of "Maps".

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a system is as good as you make it.

we can’t move a nation to democracy and capitalism when they are that poor and least to say powerless. The ideal concept of communism and resultant utopia, is that all resources and production is in equality an owned by a society and will only serve benefit the people. The basic need of food cloth and shelter has to be achieved before you start prospering off others to built wealth as in capitalism.

Those countries need a solution to fix their staving nation and communism is a choice for say next 15-20 years. It is a catch-up history gaming.

only then can they shift powers to democracy and er exploitation for the westerns

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I don't think it's a good solution. Communism might look attractive, but it stagnates an economy and in 20 years time, Africa will probably be as relatively far behind as it is now.

A better solution would be an "Economic Miracle" along the lines of the Pacific Rim countries, especially Japan. What's necessary for that is social cohesion, and as has been said, Africa has a big problem with that. Problem being that the continent was carved up by the colonial powers with little regard to tribal and cultural boundaries. They always fought each other, the difference being that now they have machine guns and old Soviet-built tanks instead of spears. Hence the massacres, and the warlords - far too many leaders fancy themselves the next Shaka.

That's the main problem as I see it, not economics. After all, it doesn't matter how money is made or how much is made, as long as there are armed thugs stealing it on behalf of petty warlords.

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I think you can put it down to two factors;

I. Indiscriminate and lingering War- especially the availability of heavy weapons from developed nations, and

II. Overpopulation

Now I know overpopulation might seem an odd word to use in such a desolate place, but i strongly believe a civil society cannot exist where no reproductive control exists.

i actually want to start another thread about the ethics of population planning on a national and global level.

but on thing is obvious, the value of human life for the most part is near worthless in some regions and I believe it is because of War and Overpopulation.

SirRiff

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Fairly correct, Hugo but before you can have an economic miracle, you must have peace, the rule of law and a respect for private property. Without these three preconditions, you can not have a life worth living, a community or a country.

And please, no more from anyone about communism, marxism or socialism as a basis for a start for these countries. We have fifty to seventy-five years of experience which shows they do not work; too quickly, they become tools of oppression. In a more perfect world, perhaps but we are nowhere close to perfection and I wouldn't hold my breath.

Let's look at Liberia and it is a graphic illustration of a descent into the stone age - brutal, barbaric and primitive - and that was before the rebels arrived.

Liberia was founded by ex-North American slaves: Americos from America and Congos from the Caribbean (No, I don't know why the distinction). For about 130 years, they ruled Liberia to the exculsion of the other 95% of the population - the Tribals. They lacked the "FDR" Constitutional Ammendment (limiting a President to two terms) so their last President held power for some 30 odd years from the 40's til the late 70's. And then it all went to hell....

I doubt it's a coincidence that this happened around the end of the Cold War - this is the period when America began an attempt to go home; however belatedly, to mind its own business and stop proping up misfits on the theory that anything was better than a communist regime. Good idea, lousy delivery.

Today, the players in Liberia are President Taylor, an Americo (or so I have read) a brutal thug, killer and Gang Lord - color him Latin and he would fit in So. America, Arabic and he's Sadaams brother, put him in the Balkins and he'd be right at home as another brutal dictator. It has nothing to do with color and everything to do with character. There are two rival "Rebel" groups, LURD and MODEL. Read street gangs from another tribe, same caliber of leadership and each is sponsored - given aid and arms, shelter and support by a neighboring Nation (different national sponsor for each group) not so much as part of the usual "Plunder Party" which is endemic to this West African region but more as a falling out among thieves. There truely is little left to steal in Liberia but the lives of the ordinary people who have nowhere to turn.

The usual "Peacekeeping Settlement" in this area is to freeze everyone in place, force form a coaltion government, send the fighters back into the bush to wait and then, in a year or two, after the "Peacekeepers" have gone home to a victory parade or every worse, the Peacekeepers are put in between them with empty guns (see Slaughter of UN Peacekeepers in Congo) it turns back into "SSDD" - same stuff, different day. But it looks and sounds wonderful at the time!

Now none of this is any surprise to anyone who has watched the UN and the EU for these last twenty years - this is their idea of "Peace". It is considered a success based upon the perceived sincerety of the effort, not the result.

There is only one way there will be peace in Liberia. It requires that someone take over this mess and rebuilt Liberia. It is at least a generational task of nation building, it is a thankless and expensive job, it will generate an extreme amount of racial discord in America should we take on this task and last, but most certainly not least, it will be a "White" Nation invading "Black" Africa.

The Sheriff has left the Building - I just hope President Bush remembers that!

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FastNed, I think the original post about introducing communism, as a possible solution to the problems in Africa was an attempt at proposing a command economy. I don't think anyone here is proposing we set up a communist regime like we saw in Russia, or like we see in North Korea, but to discredit the possible benefits of a top down command economy is to ignore a possible alternative.

Let me quantify this position for a minute. Yes, I agree that communism, and all political systems for that matter, is based on power and that power can corrupt. For that reason, any architect must be aware of the potential abuses of power that can accompany such a system. But in the situation that Africa is currently in, it might be an alternative.

I think we can all agree that the majority of countries in Africa are decades away from any sort of stable democracy, let alone any sort of egalitarian capitalist society. I think it is also safe to say that to unleash any sort of open capitalist endeavour would result in the undue exploitation of the average African. Opening a Wal-Mart in downtown Mogadishu would not be realistic, however, opening a sweatshop is much more likely.

However, allowing a central government, which would act in the best interest of the average African, to command the economy could be a reasonable alternative. Some degree of checks and balances would have to be incorporated and the international community would certainly need to be involved.

Is this not a reasonable solution?

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Command economies do not work, and sweatshops are not the answer either. I am not in favour of globalism, and Afrioca is one of the reasons for that. The last thing these people need are big corporations establishing sweatshops and exploitive labour practices to get things rolling. the result will be all the money concentrated in very few (politically favoured) hands.

What is needed is government that will respect the people, and get out of the way as much as possible in order to create an environment where private entrepreneurs can open up and thrive. Let people open up small businesses, and have unregulated farms. The countries will soon be feeding themselves and producing the basic amenities of life. They will start small, but what they build for themselves will be far better than what they currently have. Most importantly they will aquire belief in themselves as acapable of taking control of their destinies for the sake of themselves and their families.

Eventually, markets for foreign goods will develop, and the foreign goods will be paid for by newly created earned wealth, as opposed to handouts from the taxpayers of other countries.

Now as i stated yesterday, one of the main problems are foreign powers meddling in the internal affairs of these countries, fighting civil wars through mercenaries to gain control of the diamonds and other such resources.

This is the root of many of the political problems there. They pit tribe against tribe in order to get control of governments to get the diamonds. This must be stopped above all. How? I haven't figured that one out yet.

According to national Geographic there is a huge reservoir of fres water underneath the Shara, which if brought to the surface , could turn that part of Africa into one of the most fertile areas in the world. The cost is of course enormous (Estimated at over 50 Billion) but when you think that some countries spend that much, or more on arms in a year, you can see that this project would be feasable. However, It would be fought tooth an nail by large food corporations who do not want the commensurate fall in food prices that would ensue.

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Yes, I agree, Neal. The command economy will never work as a stop-gap measure because after 15-20 years of planned economics it will be next to impossible to establish entrepreneurship and individual initiative. Exploitation is not the answer either - and nor is what the Russians call "wild capitalism", meaning the effects of suddenly unleashing a full market economy on a society and a people not used to it and unable to cope, resulting in falling real incomes, skyrocketing crime rates, corruption, increased unemployment and so forth - basically, the situation in most of the former Warsaw Pact nations.

Democracy and peace are the key here. In the hands of a peaceful and law-abiding society an economy can gradually be released from necessary protectionism into the free market, without resorting to either stagnant socialism or anarchic wild capitalism. One does not want to be highly protectionist forever for the simple reason that it makes native economy and industry uncompetitive and inefficient, and yet without initial protectionism local industry in the third world will never develop.

This is obviously going to take large infusions of cash and quite possibly troops, which will have to come from the developed world. This is not simply a moralistic notion, but also a practical one. As the lessons of the Second World War, and indeed of 9/11, show, it is simply not a good idea to allow a populace to be enraged with grinding poverty and oppression when that rage can so easily be roused against you by the right leader (and, it seems, one is always ready to step forward).

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Hello, Greg - Why do I suspect that on the subject of clan/tribal politics &/or warfare there is little that I could say that you would find new? I wonder, has anyone done a study on the Academic Community in those terms? Hmmmmm.

But to get serious and back to this discussion, may I suggest that we have example after example of command economies right before us. From Sadaam and his socialist Ba-ath Party in Iraq, we can go next door to Assad Jr and his slightly different flavored Ba-ath Party. Mugabe in Zimbabwe and on and on and on. Unless and until you can find a re-incarnation of Martin Luther King, who do you put in charge? And please, do not suggest the UN, you are too well aware of their actual performance. A camel is a horse designed by the UN - and that's a UN success story.

In an area such as the Congo, which has been folded, spindled and mutilated so many times by so many people, the command economy in a strong-mans hands may be the only viable option if that will work to keep the vultures off long enough for any recovery to work. Absent a volunteer Godfather such as a Canada or America, there may be no other way.

I can not let pass one of your comments:

I think it is also safe to say that to unleash any sort of open capitalist endeavour would result in the undue exploitation of the average African.  Opening a Wal-Mart in downtown Mogadishu would not be realistic, however, opening a sweatshop is much more likely.

This is a particular Western idea which dies quickly when you spend some time in a dirt-poor country or two. There, the average person spends 16 to 20 hours per day, seven days a week, working & attempting to survive - to generate an income of 50 to 100 per year! That dollar a day "slave wage" sneared at by some of us who live in the West, represents: a) 10/12 hours of safety and security while working;

b)Work/employment where there is none; and,

c) a weekly wage that equals a months pay.

You go there and tell them they are being 'exploited' and they tell you to shut up and get out of their Country before you screw up a good thing!

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I believe that the continent is too entrenched in chaos, violence and tribal racism to be tackled as a whole. Whether it be by communism, capitalism or simply mega handouts from the UN. I would propose letting the governing power each country petition the UN on it's own for a country to foster it as a proctectoriate.

Once negotiations are in place then for example Canada would be free to place Canadian law in place along with troops to secure an accepting Congo. Open Canadian businesses with cheap labor and resourses and slowely bring the economies together.

It may sound colonialistic and far fetched but I didn't see anything else that jumped out at me that would work. Simply throwing it into the idea pool.

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Hello KK, I think you are right but we all are going to have to shed a great deal of baggage, ideology etal, before we can come up with any solutions.

First, let's get candid - I think this mess has less to do with "color" or "race" (excepting tribalism, see below) and more to do with the end of the Fifty year Cold War. During that period, everyone had to pick a side or have a sponsor. It guaranteed them access to aid, financial and military, as well as a "big brother" which, for the most part, protected them against outright invasion. Big Brother had an interest in keeping "their" regime in power so he would 'suggest' methods which would insure that the Country continued to function, in one fashion or another. Your Big Brother pulled the strings, controlled much of the money and military aid so his suggestions were followed, even when they were a bitter pill to swallow.

With the end of the Cold War, the Soviet disappeared and America, with differing degrees of success, attempted to pull back. Instead of going around in circles here about motives, let's just accept that the CIS had no funds for foreign involvement and America withdrew for whatever reason. This is what happened and rather than get involved in a blame game, let us consider what we are facing and what might be solutions.

Tribalism is a major curse upon Africa but it exists and must be factored into any solution. Compounding the problem, National Borders are not something which evolved internally but were imposed by outside powers and reflect either colonial conquest or a mapmaker somewhere drawing a line to establish a boundary. In place after place, these borders split tribes and/or include deadly enemies as part of the same nation. The frosting on the cake is what I would call "Colonial Baggage". A substantial number of existing leaders in Africa are racist - any 'black' leader must be protected from outside 'white' nations no matter how pathetic that leader might be. See Mugabe in Zimbabwe and the positions of Mbeki and Mandella of So. Africa. This has been taken to the extreme that they (African Leaders) recently proposed that outside aid just be handed over and they would decide for themselves where and how it would be spent; they would decide how effective the spending was; and, they would decide the amount needed in future contributions - talk about delusional! Any involvement by America will immediately become a major factor in the convoluted mix of domestic racial politics.

The above, together with an attitude we could call "colonial guilt" makes it difficult if not impossible for a Western Democracy to do much beyond provision of financial aid in Africa. But the reality is that Africa is a bottomless pit where financial aid is concerned. Much of the money thrown into Africa lands in a Swiss or Franch bank. When it arrives at that Bank, it joins there funds plundered from the natural resources of Africa.

These resources are being plundered by the politicians/rulers of their country of origin or, they are being taken in Plunder Parties. Many of the "Rebel" movements loose in Africa are no more than invasions sponsored by their neighbors with the intent of plundering the natural resources of the invaded country. And the latest twist is what I would call "Revenge Rebelions" which is what is facing President Taylor in Liberia.

For years, Taylor has sponsored "Rebels" to plunder his neighbors and in response, two different Nations now sponsor LURD and MODEL, the two rebel factions loose in Liberia. There is little left in Liberia worth stealing, both of the rebel movements are intended to tie Taylor up within Liberia, keep him fighting for his own survival and if they can drive him from power and/or kill him that's a bonus. The people of Liberia are the victims of gang warfare and for the UN or ECOWAS to leave either Taylor or the Rebels in place is merely to decide what territory belongs to which gang. There is no possibility of any progress while Taylor remains in Liberia and if you believe he will leave when "Peacekeepers" arrive, could I interest you in some nice ocean front property I have for sale in Calgary?

I do have thoughts on some possible solutions or perhaps, steps which might begin a solution and I will post them tomorrow after I tie them together a bit better.

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Ned, good post. I would agree on all of it and add that even despite the 'artificiality' of most borders, these states have some choices that could make life easier:

1. If the nation is not 'natural' allow it to splinter.

2. The nation or its components should seek outside help to form a Liberal constitutional government FIRST, with checks, balances and a pluralistic system. {Russia did not do this which is why it is still a mess}

3. It should seek international help to help it transition to a 'democratic' plural structure first before enacting economic reform and most importantly setting up the Rule of Law.

4. Economic reform would include a solid currency backed or tied to in the short term the US$.

5. Currency controls, wage controls, price caps etc. must be lifted.

6. Regulations and spending reform initiated. Proper tax collection instituted and balanced budget amendments made law.

Such steps would help greatly refocus Africa onto building instead of destroying.

It would also provide international help - not handouts but help - that would aid its reformation.

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Very appropriate, Craig - for the long term. Right now, to use Liberia as an example thou, your thoughts would only add to the chaos. That is if anything could make these situations more chaotic.

I am uncertain if this should continue in this general sort of post or transfer and go forward in the "Liberia" thread. Or just go ahead here and use Liberia as our object case. Whatt's your opinion - Craig, Greg, KK ?

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the regions should have non-western influence and develop their own identity as a nation. what i meant is that pernicious pluralism or other ideas should not transcended to whatever point of history these countries are at – that is you cannot force your way of thinking into others and then position yourself at the crossover when it comes time of changes – well it is exactly the urgency of the capitalistic way of thinking, you can however pretend that you want to help the folks for now

and also i find that a pluralistic electoral system does not work in favor of women

i suggest nationalizing firstly hence having economic control, and then later create FREE-FLOATING cosmopolitanism if there is anything like that

and now why peg money to the US currency if the euro continues to do well, makes sense where to go

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Well, RB, you state:

the regions should have non-western influence and develop their own identity as a nation.  what i meant is that pernicious pluralism or other ideas should not transcended to whatever point of history these countries are at  – that is you cannot force your way of thinking into others and then position yourself at the crossover when it comes time of changes – well it is exactly the urgency of the capitalistic way of thinking, you can however pretend that you want to help the folks for now

These Nations have developed a non-western identity, absolute chaos. Are you saying we should leave them subject to gang warfare rather than interject ourselves into their historical imperative?

You believe we are pretending to want to help them because of our capitalistic way of thinking.

I believe you are on the wrong chapter in your little red book.

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Well democracy means nothing ie. without law, liberal institutions and proper check/balance chaos will reign.

I don't believe that democracy is a cureall. First you need the framework and most likely that comes with Lee Kuan Yew type control, not some soupy sappy pluralism and 'human rights' program.

After the framework is built, then economic reform can proceed apace, followed slowly by democratic reform.

Most countries do it backwards, which results in fraud, corruption, and more chaos.

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and also i find that a pluralistic electoral system does not work in favor of women

i suggest nationalizing firstly hence having economic control, and then later create FREE-FLOATING cosmopolitanism if there is anything like that

and now why peg money to the US currency if the euro continues to do well, makes sense where to go

We are talking survival vs genocide here not "sistahs doing it for themselves." The same going for economic control Fixing the brakes on a runaway train is achievable, but only once you have the thing under control then stop it.

I proposed separating the areas/countries and those that wanted to attach themselves idealogicly, and possible politicaly and economicly to a western counrty or combination of same may make it more managable. To take it on as an idealogical problem is disaster for sure, it is more than that. Historical, tribal, pre medival, mass igonorence. As for economics; you can hand them a dime and it's gone to buy weapons. Build a well and it's taken over by a gang. Send a shipload of aid and the President sells it on the street. It's too big as a whole and results are required, that counts out single countries and the United Nations.

You are right about the common currency, why not the Euro? This problem is too big for America anyhow.

Good topic Craig, it is the next generation of crisis for the world I believe now that the Arabs are tip toeing around the west.

Fast Ned, sure. Liberia is as messed up as it gets. However my solution or starting point is not a mass influx of aid on the world's part to ONE SINGLE country but rather a negotiated multi- nation plan to, in effect take over countries en mass.

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It is a good theoretical approach, KK but translation into a real life program appears to be next to impossible. Who will bell the cat? Who will be willing to face down the racist Black Leaders in Africa and their fellow travellers at the UN? In much of Black Africa, only 'blacks' can be citizens or be 'naturalized' or own real estate.

Involvement by America in Africa could be a flash point in racial relations here and would be fertile ground for troublemakers in the extreme wings of each party. No one wants to go there. In truth, we have a younger generation which is growing up "tan" and inter-racial relationships and marriage are on the increase. The "melting pot" effect of America is final working where race is involved and we are becoming a better people for it. Going into Africa, even for the best of motives, would provide fuel to those politicians of "Race" and politicians of "Hate". And we don't want to go there either.

Attempting to determine what exists in Liberia, I took a look at their Constitution. The original Constitution was based upon that of America and that was in force until 1980 when "President" Doe shot his way into power. The Peoples Constitution was 'adopted' in 1984 and it is a cute document; looks likes, sounds like but in reality, it creates a Constitutional Dictatorship. All the power is in the Executive and while the President is limited to two six year terms, it has the "Weimar" Emergency Clause, so in effect, you have a "President for Life". Some other cute provisions - which give an indication of what we face in Africa - only a Black (or Colored) can be a Citizen, either by birth or naturalization.

Only a Black Citizen can own real estate and, only a Black Citizen who owns $25,000 in real estate can be President. Some other cute stuff but those are the big ones.

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i blame reductionism for my thinking simple, you can hastily come to some conclusion how much economic interest is generated as focal point for the US in Africa

capitalism and favors are very similar, they don’t just happen along the way and is forgotten, unconsciously every one collects what is owed to them, the devil, your country, so the giving always get rewarded, really your polite gestures of the smaller things never goes unnoticed

I beg a question of not who will help africa,

But who is there?

And who else is there?

And what else can they do?

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It is a good theoretical approach, KK but translation into a real life program appears to be next to impossible. Who will bell the cat?  Who will be willing to face down the racist Black Leaders in Africa and their fellow travellers at the UN? In much of Black Africa, only 'blacks' can be citizens or be 'naturalized' or own real estate.

Ned, it could be more than theoretical. The promise of a country with cheap labor, natural resources and a new market to take over is very tempting for a western nation. So tempting in fact that given the go ahead by an exasperated UN I can't think of any non military reasons not to do it.

To those who would balk at taking advantage of these poor people we are talking life and death here not who gets hosed for a two by four contract. Besides, for UN approval a plan of sorts would be required with a rough timeline for when they would be brought into phases of economic and social prosperity. Of course in order to do this a counry would need to have considerable wealth and more of a military than two divisions and some snowmobiles but the carrot is there.

Getting to your racisim concern they are joining us and not us to them so citizenship is not a problem. As for breaking away and falling back into chaos that is why we have the social rebuilding taking place alongside the economic injection. I suppose that in colonial times "economic rape" could be the word used but the return is not intended to be rule but rather eventual self rule.

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