Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A Skeptic's Crash Course on Global Poverty

"Poor people die not only because of the world's indifference to the poor, but also because of the ineffective efforts of those who do care."--William Easterly

"When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint, when I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist"--Helder Camara

The Skeptic's Guide To Global Poverty, compiled by Dale Hanson Bourke, is a must read introductory analysis of Global Poverty, articulately summing up all its many facets, taking on the toughest frequently asked questions by everyday people about this crisis--how bad it is, why so many people are poor, who's responsible to help, the misconceptions, how poverty happens, how it grows, what the contributing factors are, and how best to help. This pithy 100 page book provides a vast amount of overwhelming statistics and information on everything from third world poverty to American poverty, AIDS to Malaria/Tuberculousis, hunger to gluttony, debt relief to trade reform, governmental responsibility to private responsibility, capitalism at its best to capitalism at its worst, economic factors to environmental factors, and social factors to political factors.

Dale Hanson Bourke remarks:

Being poor, it turns out, is much more complicated than lack of money. Poverty runs deep into the family and community, robbing individuals and whole societies of life-saving information, health-care, food, and water. Poverty robs individuals not only of security and health, but also dignity. A poor person is often too busy surviving the present to spend much time thinking about the future. Yet, the poor have dreams--especially for their children--much like ours... But just as knowledge is power to the poor, it is also power to those of us who are relatively rich. We can make a difference, but we have to understand more. We need to be smarter about poverty.

This book provides an excellent beginning to the understanding of this dire complex issue, the kind of understanding that breeds focus, direction, and action.

The following are some of the statistics from the book that I found most revealing/shocking:

  • Poverty and hunger claim 25,000 lives EVERY day
  • Nearly HALF of the world's population live on LESS than $2 a day

  • The combined economies of ALL 48 sub-Saharan African countries are about the same as the CITY of Chicago

  • Over 80 percent of Americans believe the government gives 20% of the federal budget to foreign aid, when the US gives LESS than 1 percent and only a small part of that 1 percent goes to alleviate poverty

  • The GDP of the poorest 48 NATIONS is less than the combined wealth of the world's three richest people!

  • 20 percent of the population in the developed world consumes 86 percent of the world's goods. America makes up 6 percent of the world's population and consumes 43 percent of the world's resources!

  • 6 million children under the age of five die every year of malnutrition
There are more than 2,000 verses in scripture that deal with caring for the poor. As imitators of Christ, it is imperative to educate ourselves on global poverty, so we can commit ourselves to the most effective methods to alleviate needless suffering and death among our fellow human beings. I recommend this book because it is a small starting line to the long marathon ahead of us as a people of faith, as the living body of Christ.

"'He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?' declares the LORD."--Jeremiah 22:16


debbie said...

Those facts are staggering! World poverty is so complicated, I would really love to learn basic principles of the situation.

Anonymous said...

Hi, Im from Melbourne Australia.

Unfortunately global poverty is an inevitable product of the system and there is not much we can do about it.
Because the system is based on fear. See for instance.

1. www.dabase.org/coop+tol.htm

Plus related references on the origins & consequences of the unspeakably dreadful politics & "culture" created by all of us---plus at the time what (if anything) can be done about this dreadful situation.

1. www.coteda.com
2. www.ispeace723.org
3. www.dabase.org/spacetim.htm
4. www.dabase.org/2armP1.htm#ch2

Unfortunately Christianity is very much part of the problem. Ever since it was coopted by the Roman state it (Christianity) has been an integral part of the western imperialist project and its drive to total power and control.

Tia Lynn said...

Thank you for sharing all these resources, I will check them out.

My God is a God of the impossible, and I sincerely believe that we are the first generation that has the resources to dramatically reduce extreme poverty, the question is, do we have the will? That's what needs to be rallied, the love for our neighbor as ourselves! We can do much better!

Terry said...

I agree that the basic issue is loving our neighbor as ourselves. What sobering statistics!

Tracy said...

Thanks for this book review. I've put the book on my to read list.

Since I'm a Christian, this has always been of interest but, to be candid, all I've done is support 3 world vision kids (1 for each of my own children) and be periodically involved in the local rescue mission.

I'm looking forward to reading this book & learning more so I can have a more responsible approach.

Tia Lynn said...

Tracy, you have transformed three lives! That is amazing!

If you want to get started in something else, I would highly recommend The One Campaign: To Make Poverty History. (www.one.org). You can read all about them and then if you feel so inclined, sign the One Campaign petition.... :)