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[P]
The Wealthiest Seek End to Extreme Poverty

By decon recon in Op-Ed
Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 03:11:04 PM EST
Tags: Politics (all tags)
Politics

In January 2004, a group of business leaders in Seattle announced the Seattle Initiative for Global Development, a plan to attack poverty. Initiative organizers include Bill Gates, Sr., father of the Microsoft founder, the world's wealthiest person.

The Seattle Initiative was most probably influenced by collapse of the World Trade Organization (WTO) talks during the Battle in Seattle in November 1999. Social movements have long fought for sustainable development.


The Seattle Initiative's policy paper, Building a Better World: A New Global Development Strategy to End Extreme Poverty (pdf), notes these basic conditions:
- 2.8 billion people today, almost half of the world's population, live on under $2/day.

- in 1999, over an estimated 1.1 billion people lived on under $1/day in conditions of extreme poverty. (More info at: UN Millennium Development Goals.)

In extreme poverty, living on under $1/day, people do not have adequate nutrition, clean water, or medical care. They do not have skills or education to better their lot. Seventy percent live in impoverished rural areas. They mostly live in the 1/4 of the world countries, the poorest, where population growth is still a major problem.

The main points of this essay are: first, it is feasible to greatly reduce extreme poverty and, second, the effort to fight extreme poverty could be used to promote neoliberal economic strategies that are destructive to the environment and to worker's rights. An additional point is that the business interests of the wealthiest philanthropists are likely to be advanced through the promotion of the Seattle Initiative.

Here is a quote from the Seattle Initiative website's front page:

How can the United States address the most urgent challenges of our time?

- Terrorism
- HIV/AIDS
- Environmental Degradation
- Regional Instability
- Economic Uncertainty
The answer given: Eliminate Extreme Poverty.

The Initiative's executive summary makes a bold statement about their intent to pursue this objective:

We have concluded that extreme global poverty is at the root of many of the gravest challenges facing the world at present - from HIV/AIDS to terrorism, from environmental degradation to regional instability - and that its elimination is the single most important step we can take in realizing a better future for the United States and the world. We are committed people who want our government to seize this opportunity for leadership and lasting change for the benefit of all. Over the next year, our intent is to raise national awareness among business and civic leaders of the nature of global poverty and the importance - and feasibility - of eliminating the worst of it within our lifetime.

The lives of the impoverished of the world are not disconnected from the U.S. The Initiative notes "nearly one-third of total U.S. trade is with developing counties." Economic impoverishment is linked to political instability.

The Initiative planning group, after study of development issues, found that extreme poverty can be "cut dramatically or even eliminate[ed]." It will take around $50 billion annually (an estimated $40 to 60 billion, U.S. dollars) to make significant progress in fighting extreme poverty. They note that $50 billion/year is already given as development aid from wealthy to poor countries ($51 billion in 2001). The Initiative aims to help raise a U.S. proportion of the additional $50 billion, estimated at $20 billion annually, through public and private sources. The Initiative suggests that these funds are available.

The U.S. national budget in 2004 is estimated at $2.3 trillion dollars, with the GDP estimated at $11.5 trillion. The current U.S. aid budget is approximately 1% of the total national budget vs. around 18% for defense. The U.S. Department of Defense budget for 2005 is projected to be over $428 billion (so far); 2004 is projected at $434 billion. This does not include the Department of Homeland Security with an estimated budget of $31 billion in 2005. Contrast this with the budgets of the Environmental protection agency, $8 billion/year, and the Department of Health and Human Services, 0.5 billion/year.

The percentage of the U.S. percentage of the national budget given in development aid is the lowest of industrialized nations. The U.S. military budget is equal to that of the budgets of the countries with the next 10 largest military budgets. The U.S. can afford to trim its Defense department alone by less that 5%, or $20 billion.

In our globalizing neoliberal economy, the wealthiest have an interest in maintaining and extending their influence over political-economic bodies that generally follow neoliberal strategies. Neoliberal policies include deregulation of trade that favors corporations. This includes policies such as those in the NAFTA trade liberalization agreement where corporations have the ability to apply to a kangaroo court to overrule national regulations that protect the environment and labor rights. Organizations that advance a neoliberal agenda globally include the WTO, the International Monetary Fund, and the World Bank. Policy in these organizations has been dominated the U.S. for decades so as to implement U.S. economic and foreign policy goals.

In general, when governments give foreign aid, they do so to advance their foreign policies. George Monbiot provides an example, in On the Edge of Lunacy, of national self-interest in foreign policy: "During the Cold War, it was used to buy the loyalties of states which might otherwise have crossed to the other side. Even today, the countries which receive the most money tend to be those which are of greatest strategic use to the donor nation... " Monbiot also notes, "foreign policy is also driven by commerce, and in particular by the needs of domestic exporters. Aid goes to countries which can buy our manufacturers' products. Sometimes it doesn't go to countries at all, but straight to the manufacturers." Monbiot quotes the U.S. Agency for International Development on a revealing statistic in this matter: "Close to 80 percent of the U.S. Agency for International Development's contracts and grants go directly to American firms." Large foundations, such as the Ford and Macarthur foundations, historically have also used aid to extend US foreign policy and business interests.

There are various motives in philanthropy. Most of the wealthiest have an interest in social stability. Altruism is another. As Monbiot notes, direct extensions of business interests through aid giving is another. If self-interested and altruistic philanthropy and neoliberal business sense can be made to go hand in hand, so much the better for the wealthiest. This raises some questions:

What kind of development do people in developing countries want?

In practice, will the wealthiest work to enable bottom up development, as the Seattle Initiative explicitly espouses? Or, will they work to extend neoliberal economic policies - which bypass national-level labor and environmental protections?

The basis for concern regarding promotion of neoliberal strategies through the Seattle Initiative can be seen in the main points of Initiative's development platform:
- Investing in People: Promoting Development Through Healthy, Educated People and Economic Opportunity
- Investing in Countries: Supporting Good Governance and Open Political and Economic Systems
- Making Markets Work: Opening the Global Marketplace to Poor Countries and Poor People
- New Initiatives: Encouraging Innovative Approaches and Public-Private Partnerships
The first point is the most altruistic and perhaps the least debatable in terms of development strategies. In the words of the Initiative's brief, "Experts agree that investment in poor people, particularly poor women, through increased access to education, health, land, and credit, is key to successful development." In terms of goals, the Initiative endorses the UN Millennium Development Goals.

The last three of the four points all leave a lot of room for promoting neoliberal strategies, with the middle two almost including descriptions of neoliberalism in the text of the brief. The third point in particular begins, the U.S. "should support trade liberalization efforts that benefit developing countries." A major argument here is to eliminate protections in wealthy countries that keep poor countries from competing, such as in agriculture, which impacts the 70% of the world's poor who live in rural areas. However, the primary beneficiaries of removing these protections will be large corporations.

The Initiative notes that environmental sustainability and protecting workers rights are concerns in the liberalization of trade. These are issues of contention in the ongoing WTO talks. Some forms of liberalization which include environmental and labor protections may be needed. However, if $20 billion or so is in play for development aid in the U.S. budget, neoliberal policies which benefit corporations the most (and sacrifice environmental and labor controls) will likely become conditions attached to the programs as they go through policy making and legislation.

In other words, do we want equal and liberal trade where the environment and workers are protected and trade grows? Or, do we want liberal trade where these are not protected and mostly it is only corporate profits that grow, for a while? In a sustainable world, the former is necessary.

Trade liberalization is an uneven process. Rich countries promote liberalization in poor countries, but practice protectionism at home. Consider agriculture: It is probable that due to the political power of agriculture industries that agricultural protections will be kept in place in developed countries. If this remains the case (and perhaps in any case), it is imperative that developing countries be supported in protecting key agricultural industries.

While strategies of eliminating poverty are a primary concern here, it is also important to consider other agendas the wealthy may have in philanthropy. A case in point is the Gates family.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the largest foundation in the U.S. at $22.5 billion in net assets (as of 2002). Bill Gates, Sr., due to donations from his son, now has one of the top ten wealthiest foundations, independently. Just as the Gates help to fight AIDS, the family's effort to fight poverty is very generous. However, there may be mixed motives for the Gates in development.

Based on their 2002 annual report, the Gates Foundation gave over $240 million in donations to a libraries and educational projects, out of a total of $977 million in grants in 2002. Overlapping with these expenses is a multi-year "$250 million effort to provide free access to computers through providing "tools" and "training" to public libraries. Other donations included a major effort to upgrade the technology resources in many poor schools. The Gates also gave $420 million to global health projects, much of this to university and institution based research, including $200 to the NIH for facilitation of research into diseases in poor countries. The Gates are very concerned about the impact of diseases and the extreme poor. The Gates are helping many people. All of this is wonderful.

There are some concerns: Donations to libraries and educational projects have included Microsoft software in computers and create MS users and experts, even growing MS markets. Further, biomedicine is 13% of the U.S. economy. It makes both philanthropic and good business sense for the Gates to cultivate information resources in biomedicine. So. In future aid, development workers and researchers in developing countries may end up secondarily helping disseminate Microsoft computers, services, and training. The Gates philanthropy will then secondarily extend the use of MS software in the developing world.

This is not a vague concern. In the Seattle Initiative brief, on the fourth point on public-private partnerships, this argument is made, "The promotion of technology aimed at developing countries can help build a country's information, communication and technology (ICT) infrastructure. This can directly help develop efforts by making it possible to track and measure health delivery and other programs. ICT is an essential and powerful component to build economies and increase personal income..."

For the Microsoft founder and Gates family, the Seattle Initiative is good philanthropy and good business sense. Consider this scenario: Suppose the Gates Foundations give say $500 million/year to fight poverty. The U.S. government and other donors give $19.5 billion. MS software and services will probably be promoted, perhaps through between 1% and 5% of these funds, perhaps more (large project grants usually have a built IT equipment and administration factor). This then is a sweet matching grant program. Are foundation and U.S. funds going to be used promote open source software? Probably not with the Gates involved. Some argue that free/open source software rather than proprietary software can be a very beneficial economic factor in development.

If U.S. foreign aid is flowing for profoundly important issues such as education and economic development, then moderate benefits (and not the 80% in handouts as mentioned above) to U.S. corporations are a secondary concern. If aid goes through, the main issues are the extension of neoliberalism vs. other development strategies. These issues are concerns for U.S. tax payers and for development workers globally.

While the Seattle Initiative raises questions about development strategies, the strongly affirmed aid direction is heartening. The introduction of Seattle Initiative's policy brief states "the interests of the United States - our own stability and economic health - are bound up with the fate of the world's poor." Social movement activists and nongovernmental organizations have been making arguments like this for decades, while at the same time critiquing the destructive impact of neoliberal economics. The Seattle Initiative calls for activists and development workers to rededicate to grassroots work and planning for sustainable development.

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Related Links
o Seattle Initiative for Global Development
o Building a Better World: A New Global Development Strategy to End Extreme Poverty
o UN Millennium Development Goals
o executive summary
o U.S. national budget
o U.S. Department of Defense budget
o globalizin g neoliberal economy
o On the Edge of Lunacy
o U.S. Agency for International Development
o UN Millennium Development Goals [2]
o Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
o largest foundation
o 2002 annual report
o Also by decon recon


Display: Sort:
The Wealthiest Seek End to Extreme Poverty | 255 comments (211 topical, 44 editorial, 6 hidden)
Response time (none / 1) (#1)
by decon recon on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 05:11:43 PM EST

If this gets voted up, due to time limits, I'll respond to any criticisms in one week and perhaps again a week after that.


Nothing to add... main points (none / 0) (#254)
by decon recon on Sat Feb 28, 2004 at 11:45:48 PM EST

Nothing to add to what has been said at this time.
Interesting discussions.

I'd like to repeat the last two paragraphs of the original article to emphasize the main points in them:

If U.S. foreign aid is flowing for profoundly important issues such as education and economic development, then moderate benefits (and not the 80% in handouts as mentioned above) to U.S. corporations are a secondary concern. If aid goes through, the main issues are the extension of neoliberalism vs. other development strategies. These issues are concerns for U.S. tax payers and for development workers globally.

While the Seattle Initiative raises questions about development strategies, the strongly affirmed aid direction is heartening. The introduction of Seattle Initiative's policy brief states "the interests of the United States - our own stability and economic health - are bound up with the fate of the world's poor." Social movement activists and nongovernmental organizations have been making arguments like this for decades, while at the same time critiquing the destructive impact of neoliberal economics. The Seattle Initiative calls for activists and development workers to rededicate to grassroots work and planning for sustainable development.


[ Parent ]

The White Man's Burden (2.14 / 7) (#3)
by debacle on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 05:29:08 PM EST

Was a bad idea. It was a bad idea in The Jungle Book and it is a bad idea now. If billions of people can live on less than five dollars a day, maybe the problem is not lack of money, but thinking that you need more.

Might be just another way to create consumers.

Fucking Bill Gates and his fucking money pandering.

It tastes sweet.

what the hell are you smoking (2.40 / 5) (#4)
by WetherMan on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 05:42:53 PM EST

Right, so the fact that these people are existing in poverty, with incredibly high mortality rates, these are places where POTABLE WATER is one of the most valuable commodities.

who the fuck are you to say that just because people EXIST means they're doing ok?  Why don't you go head out to Africa, S. America before you start talking about surviving.  You are living in a bubble deuschbag.

fucking monster.
---
fluorescent lights make me look like old hot dogs
[ Parent ]

no your in a bubble (none / 1) (#189)
by auraslip on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 02:19:19 PM EST

of rich white internet and tv
man didn't evovle sleeping in silk beds and eating microwave meals
124
[ Parent ]
Riiight (2.83 / 6) (#9)
by godix on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 07:39:39 PM EST

If billions of people can live on less than five dollars a day...

Have you taken a look at the mortality rates in Africa and other third world nations are? Billions of people can't live on less than five dollars a day, at least not for that long.

It's dawned on me that Zero Tolerance only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
- Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]
I'm always amused... (2.46 / 13) (#6)
by jmzero on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 07:08:37 PM EST

..when people make a point of questioning Bill's charity motives.  

Has he got some vague ulterior motives (be they PR or spreading MS software)?  Oh, probably.  But for the most part he does charity because he's a thinking, caring human and he has way more cash than he'll ever need.  

I don't think we need to be in awe of Bill.  I can honestly say that if I had that much money I would be at least as active in charity causes.  That said, I applaud Bill for doing what he does and am heartened by the focus of this new initiative (which I'm sure his money will be a  part of).
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife

It is funny the same month the foundation gave (2.25 / 4) (#22)
by xutopia on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 10:37:04 PM EST

100 million to combat HIV in India, Microsoft announced a commitment of 400 million over 3 years to promote "computer litteracy and localization of its software products". Give me a break. The timing makes it sound more like marketing than anything else.

Of course Bill Gates might still be a generous guy and he might be a true philantropist. But if he was really worried about humanity and the AIDS problem he'd be giving to Africa which has the worst problems with the virus than any other continent. His donations probably just made him evade some taxation. Sorry for my cynicism but with Bill Gates (AKA The American Napoleon) any thought of him being a nice guy, when faced with facts, look more like hopeful delusions. The guy thinks only about himself.

[ Parent ]

Critical thinking (2.66 / 6) (#42)
by jmzero on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 10:39:20 AM EST

The 400 million was marketing fluff, and likely mostly consisted of MS products.  And MS will continue being a business and doing this kind of thing.  Bill will also continue dropping very respectable amounts of money in legitimate charity aims in many different spheres.  

be giving to Africa which has the worst problems with the virus than any other continent

And he is helping in Africa too - but you apparently can't be bothered to read more than one page before laying judgement.  And when you do read about it, you'll probably discount the whole effort as evil because he's running his efforts via big drug companies.

Charities often don't like Bill's giving.  He's results focused, just like he always was in business.  This goes against many charities goals which revolve around not offending anyone, producing photogenic stories, maintaining moral superiority, and keeping donations coming.

If there is a breakthrough in AIDS research soon, I will not be surprised if it had much to do with Bill's cash.  
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

you made it sound like (none / 3) (#85)
by xutopia on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 12:36:02 AM EST

as if he didn't have ulterior motives. I think it is clear that his foundation will be giving money where his market will be.

Sure BG's money will help find a cure if there is one to find. But this money he is giving comes from an illegal monopoly, is given at the right time and at the right place to further expand his empire. I regret if I just don't see BG as the magnanimous saint here. Sure his money will help but I think 10$ someone like me (ie: poor) gives to fight aids represents a more magnanimous action than his planned fanfaresque contribution that helped him get positive publicity in a critical market area. At least when you and I give 10$ it isn't to help make more profit in that region.

[ Parent ]

Muh? (none / 3) (#96)
by jmzero on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 10:43:55 AM EST

you made it sound like as if he didn't have ulterior motives

I don't frickin' "make it sound" like anything.  I said exactly what I meant, you retard: he does have some ulterior motives, but mostly he's giving because he wants to help.  How was that not clear in the previous post?  Read, then reply - dick.

At least when you and I give 10$ it isn't to help make more profit in that region.

If this was about accumulating more money, I can guarantee he would do better by not giving it away.  But it's not about accumulating money.  It is about the absolute frickin' opposite.

Bill has said many times that he doesn't intend to leave his children billions of dollars.  Originally, he planned on waiting for retirement - but now he realizes he's going to have to start now in order to make effective use of all that cash.  Bill's bank account is going to get steadily smaller, and he's OK with that.  

Is MS going to milk his giving for all the PR it can?  Of course, and I don't blame them.  And they'll donate software in his wake everywhere he goes.  

Has MS, under Bill's leadership, done horrible things?  No.  They stumbled into a monopoly in a business where a monopoly is pretty natural.  They committed such grave sins as "giving away a web browser".  Shall I go get the noose?  

Has MS done illegal stuff?  Yes.  Has it done horrible, morally reprehensible stuff?  Not really.  If you think Bill is some horrible monster misanthrope for his behavior as MS head, you're retarded.  

I regret if I just don't see BG as the magnanimous saint here

Neither do I, you stupid dick.  Read posts, and don't waste my time with strawman crap.  I said about the same frickin' thing as you did.

I think it is clear that his foundation will be giving money where his market will be.

Well you better keep your eyes closed, cause the facts already don't agree with you.  It's obvious you don't know anything here.  Maybe you can scurry off to Google now to try and find a leg to stand on.  You won't find it.

Sure his money will help but I think 10$ someone like me (ie: poor) gives to fight aids represents a more magnanimous action than his planned fanfaresque contribution that helped him get positive publicity in a critical market area

Who the hell cares which action is more magnanimous?  Some damn widow might get into heaven first for throwing in her mite - but Bill's doing a hell of a lot better than most rich folk, most of whom intend to preserve the family fortune forever.  

Screw off, idiot.  And have a good day.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

calm down (none / 1) (#98)
by xutopia on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 10:56:13 AM EST

if I misunderstood you say so without being obnoxious. Just because this is the internet doesn't mean you have to act in ways that would get the crap beaten out of you in a person to person discussion.

Chill out.

[ Parent ]

You're right, of course. (1.00 / 5) (#100)
by jmzero on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 11:00:53 AM EST

In real life, I have to deal with stupid people all day - and I can't say anything vaguely rude.  I find K5 is a good place to release all that pent up anger - it's consequence free, and much more satisfying than punching a chair.

As you can tell from my post, I had a bad morning - but I'm in a much better mood now.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

he has explicitly admitted (none / 1) (#73)
by kobayashi on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 09:46:30 PM EST

that if his charity benefits MS, all the better. Well, good for him, good for MS.

I think its difficult to make any real "conflict of interest" arguments here.

[ Parent ]

it isn't a conflict of interest (none / 2) (#84)
by xutopia on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 12:28:46 AM EST

it's just that people say he is magnanimous when he really isn't.

[ Parent ]
Fuck It's So Simple!! (none / 1) (#143)
by SPYvSPY on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 01:57:13 AM EST

Why do people have trouble with this?! Bill Gates has a fundamental conflict of interest when it comes to his philanthropy. Nearly all wealthy corporate officers do. People have every right to assume the most skeptical view point. After all, the guy "didn't get rich writing checks".
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

fig-leave philantrophy packaged in (1.28 / 7) (#19)
by mami on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 09:44:31 PM EST

obfuscating economic small talk for the young and restless idealists and ideologues to engage in planning sustainable development for their own jobless geeks.

Last time I asked the people of the poor countries what kind of development they want,  they told me they wait for Bill Gates to make money grow on the trees in their backyards.

Other than bananas and baloney he hasn't been able to grow anything so far, they say. May be because too many bugs and worms have plagued his operating procedures on the trees in the Garden of Eden of the poor.


fig-leafs leave lots of things to be desired - (none / 0) (#20)
by mami on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 10:13:58 PM EST

like correct spelling.

[ Parent ]
start by reordering priorities (2.00 / 8) (#23)
by martingale on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 10:37:05 PM EST

So, they want to deal with urgent challenges of the time? And they put Terrorism at the top of the list? Sorry but this is a waste of time.

Terrorism is, by far, so not an important problem. Half the topics listed are way more important than terrorism. Hell, terrorism ranks lower than organized crime, and where's that listed?

These summits are just networking opportunities for the ultra rich. Let them have their fun, while they still can.

You can say that again! (2.80 / 5) (#31)
by Peahippo on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 01:16:29 AM EST

These summits are just networking opportunities for the ultra rich.

This kind of thing is just a facade, designed to make the liberals feel all kootchy-koo, happy warm and fuzzy ... and meanwhile, their ~$60 billion of taxpayer money will essentially be stolen -- converted into corporate welfare as select companies are paid to go into countries to introduce and entrench the concept of wage slavery. All costs will be socialized while all profits will be privatized.


[ Parent ]
stolen (none / 1) (#108)
by syadasti on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 02:41:35 PM EST

their ~$60 billion of taxpayer money will essentially be stolen -- converted into corporate welfare as select companies are paid to go into countries to introduce and entrench the concept of wage slavery

Exactly right, but only AFTER $40B is flat-out stolen by the politicians in charge of the recipient countries, and squirreled away in secret bank accounts in those few places with remaining vestiges of bank secrecy.

"May your chains rest lightly upon you..." --Samuel Adams
[ Parent ]

I'm sorry. Someone has to say it. (2.00 / 7) (#26)
by Big Sexxy Joe on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 11:35:32 PM EST

They found it will take $50US billion to make significant progress on eliminating extreme poverty

And how much are we spending on the fucking war in Iraq?  Click.  But hey at least we took WMD's away from Saddam.  Oh wait, that's right, he didn't have any weapons of mass destruction.

Maybe the best way to fight terrorism is by generating a strong love of the U.S. among the impoverished people of the world.

I'm like Jesus, only better.
Democracy Now! - your daily, uncensored, corporate-free grassroots news hour

$50 billion/year (none / 2) (#27)
by decon recon on Wed Feb 18, 2004 at 11:45:04 PM EST

Sorry, editing the article now:

It is $50 billion anually with the US additional proportional fair share est at $20 billion/year.  That is in the edited version I am making.

But the annual US defense budget is over $250 or $270 billion a year or something like that.  Looking that up now actually.

So, comparing military and development expense is key in this argument.  Development makes us more secure.  Beyond the violence and destruction and ill will and removing Hussein, it remains to be seen what the Iraq war had achieved.
 

[ Parent ]

Hmm (none / 0) (#138)
by kurioszyn on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 11:20:30 PM EST

"So, comparing military and development expense is key in this argument.  "

Yeah, you had to bring the defense , the only constitutionally affirmed duty of the federal government.

Not to mention the fact that 300 billion is still only around 4% of the total budget.
I am just asking where the fuck is the rest ?
I mean everyone whines about military spending but we are only spending $4 out of $100 on it ? again, where the hell is the remaining $96 ?

[ Parent ]

Correction (none / 0) (#139)
by kurioszyn on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 11:27:29 PM EST

Ah never mind ..
We spent %4 of our GDP and about %28 of the budget on military ...
So let me restate again ... where the fuck is remaining $72 ?

:-)

[ Parent ]

How will they get the US to axe tariffs? (2.70 / 10) (#30)
by Russell Dovey on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 01:01:36 AM EST

It ain't gonna happen. The US agricultural lobby is too powerful.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan

excellent point (none / 1) (#123)
by akb on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 06:42:49 PM EST

One would think Gates in particular would be lobbying hard against agricultural tariffs so that M$ can get the concessions it wants on intellectual property protections from developing countries.

Collaborative Video Blog demandmedia.net
[ Parent ]

(Sigh) As usual, the greatest problem is absent. (2.42 / 19) (#32)
by Kasreyn on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 01:22:53 AM EST

1. Overpopulation of the Planet Earth.

Most of the major social ills of our time could be greatly reduced, if not eliminated, by the elimination of this problem. 50 billion could buy a whole lot of condoms and pills and pamphlets. But of course, that would offend the right-winger nuts supporting these fat cats, so it's not an option apparently, even though preventing the poor people of the future from even being conceived would prevent you from having to spend trillions - not billions - of dollars in the future on these same problems. This is called an "exponential growth curve". A pity the extremely rich aren't educated in math, apparently.

Simply put, you can pour the entire GDP of every nation on Earth into the problem of poverty if you want, and exponential growth will swallow it all up and kick your ass, without even a decent time difference from how soon it will kick your ass if you decide to save your money. Nothing beats exponential growth. Nothing. And we can't fire enough people off in colony ships as fast as they're being born. So unless we slow our growth, this is only going to get worse, until it becomes intolerably bad, and then something (Col. Green?) will happen to make WWII look like single-figure shit.

Terrorism: When we stop shoving other nations aside like a bully on a playground to secure greedy foreign interests, and start behaving like a civilized leader of the free world should, terrorism will melt away in a few generations until it simply isn't an issue for America any more. There will still be Kaczynskis, but the Islamic Martyrs Brigade will find someone closer to home to attack. Never underestimate the defensive power of an ocean.

HIV/AIDS: condoms ALSO take care of this! I would like to say I consider slowing the expansion of AIDS to be a wonderful bonus side effect of curbing the critical problem of world overpopulation. And if we don't curb overpopulation, AIDS will do it for us! NBow I call that a Win/Win situation! :-P (j/k)

Environmental Degradation: will be slowed, but not halted, by slowing population growth. As in, it will reduce slash-n-burn farming, but not heavy industrial waste generation. This will require a more forward-thinking generation of politicians than I think we're likely to enjoy any time soon. However, with any luck the "Luckies" (American generation that just missed going to WWII and fought the Korean War instead; a.k.a. the greedy old "me, me, me" coots whose votes dominate America today) will start to die off soon and their short-sighted stranglehold may ease.

Regional Instability: Now this will require better political and economic systems in unstable regions, as well as more capital investment, but the most important factor in stability is removing grinding poverty. As long as people are crushed by poverty, would-be dictators have fertile ground to stir up trouble. If there's a chicken in every pot, no one wants to fight or kill anyone else, and Mussolini wannabees will wind up swinging from lampposts before getting any power, rather than after. And, of course, reducing poverty will be partially accomplished - I'm sure you can sing the chorus by now - by alleviating the overpopulation problem.

Economic Uncertainty: Electronic funds, global commerce, and corporate sponsorship of government lead to a wonderful breeding ground for fraud. I'm with George Carlin: let's start executing one fraudulent white middle-aged banker on live national t.v. every monday night before the football game. Or, more seriously, let's try to remove corruption from our society, and economic systems will tend to balance themselves again due to market forces. Removing such protectionism as tariffs will also help third world nations develop their economies.

I had a hard time figuring out why the rich don't care about preventing the poor from having children. After all, we already know the overpopulation problem isn't really caused by rich selfish white Americans having octuplets on horse fertility drugs. For every one of those there are probably 10 forward-looking or simply cynical Americans not having kids, or who have AIDS. No, the overpopulation problem is prevalent among the poor, so why don't the rich use this as a convenient soapbox to pretend they care about saving the world?

Simple. If you reduce the numbers of poor people, the rich can't maintain their current degree of disproportionate well-being relative to the poor without the poor catching on to how badly they're being screwed. Or, put another way, if you reduce the population of the planet significantly, and all of it from the poor end, a lot of people are going to be ejected from the upper 1% club, and that's not a prospect they enjoy. Remember, the goal is not to be rich - the goal is to be richER than someone else. :-P


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
Overpopulation and poverty (2.87 / 8) (#33)
by m a r c on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 01:54:51 AM EST

I agree with you in some respects that overpopulation causes poverty. If you look at the world vision ads, etc they always show a starving mother with her 4-8 children. No one in the developed world has that many kids and in most developed countries the bith rate has reduced. Some have claimed that this is due to the increase in the standard of living but it is correlation at best.

So why are these people in 3rd world countries having so many kids if they are already poor and having another one is just going to add to it? Probably due to the fact that there is no social security, so an individuals only means of survival when they are too old to work is via support from their offspring. I suppose by having as many as they can increases the chances of some surviving.

I disagree with your last point about the rich wanting the poor to remain poor. If these people are this poor then they are not consumers and therefore do not spend money on what the rich produce. Also the rich people in the world never really know the poor. Sure you can look at your neighbour and know that they are better/worse off than you but you have no real idea about what it means to not have food. Knowing this is not going to give a rich person a sense of satisfaction but instead result in feelings of deep guilt as how they can have so much while some have so little.

What the rich do want is a broader middle class, which will consume the products of the rich. Also, this group is playing the game that the rich want ($$). They are semi-content with their lives and unlikely to revolt against their society. The gap between the rich and the middle is large enough that the rich can feel superior while not feeling guilt.
I got a dog and named him "Stay". Now, I go "Come here, Stay!". After a while, the dog went insane and wouldn't move at all.
[ Parent ]

The products of the rich. (none / 2) (#44)
by fn0rd on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 12:20:14 PM EST

Who do you think is manufacturing these products? In the case of Bill Gates, it's a very well paid, highly educated, upper middle class elites. This is an exception to the rule, though. In most cases, it's some wage slave who has nothing to look forward to but an early grave while she lines the pockets of someone who already has more money then they could ever spend in their lifetime.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Infant Mortality (none / 1) (#173)
by TomV on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 03:36:27 AM EST

So why are these people in 3rd world countries having so many kids if they are already poor and having another one is just going to add to it? Probably due to the fact that there is no social security, so an individuals only means of survival when they are too old to work is via support from their offspring. I suppose by having as many as they can increases the chances of some surviving.

I think your last sentence hits the nail on the head - if you can expect half your children to die in childhood and your survival in old age depends on your children, you need to have plenty of children to beat the odds. Europe used to be just the same.

[ Parent ]
education of poor women is key (2.66 / 6) (#34)
by decon recon on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 04:22:56 AM EST

... to population control and poverty reduction in developing countries.

Education and economic development are the two main ways to reduce population growth the fastest.  Same for poverty reduction.

The article reads:

In the words of the initiatives' brief, "Experts agree that investment in poor people, particularly poor women, through increased access to education, health, land, and credit, is key to successful development."

The words "education" and "health" include the concept of education about reproduction.


[ Parent ]

not explicit, or does it? (nt) (none / 0) (#181)
by Kuranes on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 09:41:42 AM EST




Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Birth rates (2.66 / 6) (#37)
by tetsuwan on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 07:48:49 AM EST

If you decrease child birth mortality and increase the chances of children to become healthy adults, this will most certainly reduce the birth numbers dramatically.

I'm not really worried about the impact the poor has on our global resources - it is the wealtiest billion that consume them all.

Of course the population growth in especially African countries is a big local economic and environmental problem. There's a urgent need for a political stability and more effecient use of resources in many an African country.

I do not think the issue today is that these people today are in a great lack of natural resources. It is the strife of endless wars, corrupt governments and west world exploitation that are the big problems. I'm quite certain that if these problems are solved to a considerable extent, the populaation will stabilize at under 10 billion people, and that this number can be supported without starvation or ecological catastrophe.

On contrary, it is we, the richest billion, that need to rethink our consumption.

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Huh? (none / 1) (#46)
by Kasreyn on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 12:27:10 PM EST

If you decrease child birth mortality and increase the chances of children to become healthy adults, this will most certainly reduce the birth numbers dramatically.

This is counterintuitive. Explain yourself or be vaporized, puny human.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
I think it goes like this: (2.83 / 6) (#49)
by fn0rd on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 01:12:39 PM EST

People in poverty stricken areas of the world know that their child has, say, a 1 in 3 chance of surviving to adulthood, thereby being able to help support the parents in their old age. So, if you think you need at least 2 kids to keep you from sttarving to deat when you're too old to keep scratching a meager living out of the ground, you need to have at least 6 to guarantee that those 2 kids are there when you need them. In the developed world, our kids tend to survive quite nicely.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

thank you (none / 1) (#104)
by SaintPort on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 01:10:59 PM EST

very much.

--
Search the Scriptures
Start with some cheap grace...Got Life?

[ Parent ]
Additional arguments (none / 3) (#90)
by tetsuwan on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 08:33:42 AM EST

If women can take control of how many children they want and (1) the risk of death when giving birth is very small and (2) the risk of a child dying prematurely is small, they can achieve a completely different status and self-esteem. In the case of extreme poor women they can expect 10-15 years of being pregnant or having infants to take care of. When your time as a young adult (15-30) is so preoccupied with pregnancy and nursing, you will not have time for much self-enpowering our long-term efforts.

I think it has been pointed out elsewhere, but basically the there are three steps in the development of a low mortality, low birth rate society:

  1. High birth rates, high mortality
  2. High birth rates , lower mortality (population explosion, typically 300-500% increase)
  3. Low birth rates, low mortality
Now, the ability to sustain the population at a new level is of fundamental importance. But the simplistic argument remains: as people get richer and healthier, birth rates drop. This assumes some sort of conception control, but keep in mind that the largest drop in birth rates in Europe and the USA came before effective contraception.

In modern stereotypes of the extremely poor, the man working in harsh conditions will spend most extra money to temporarily escape his hard life with alcohol or other drugs in the company of other men, while women are more likely to spend them on the family. I think the single most important reason for that difference is that while the men socialize with other men, the women at home cannot for a moment ignore how every little dime could be used to greatly benefit her family. These improvements leads to lower mortality and better educational opportunities for the children.


Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Re: Birth Rates (none / 1) (#149)
by drsmithy on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 06:15:37 AM EST

I'm not really worried about the impact the poor has on our global resources - it is the wealtiest billion that consume them all.

Perhaps you should consider what will happen as all those poor people start to get richer...

[ Parent ]

That's pretty simple (none / 2) (#155)
by tetsuwan on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 11:37:54 AM EST

They will have to get materially richer the way it is possible - in ways not as demanding on natural resources!

Njal's Saga: Just like Romeo & Juliet without the romance
[ Parent ]

Actually, Gates agrees with you. (none / 2) (#40)
by jmzero on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 10:30:42 AM EST

Gates has actually taken a lot of flack for his stance on population - see here.

I had a hard time figuring out why the rich don't care about preventing the poor from having children

You could have saved your "hard time figuring" by first asking whether they do.  

Here's another exercise: how many people use condoms in South Africa?  Do you have any idea?  I looked a while ago, and was very surprised by the results.

I know it's hard to make a cursory examination of facts before a good argument, but it significantly increases the chances of something interesting being said.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

Can you learn THAT from Google? (none / 1) (#45)
by Kasreyn on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 12:24:15 PM EST

Am I a mere click away from finding "southafricacondoms.net/useof"?? :-P

Come on. I really doubt this sort of statistic is on the web. I wrote my story not in lazy ignorance but in the (IMO reasonable) assumption that the data was currently unavailable to me. If that was an improper assumption, then maybe I've underestimated the internet again.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Tried Google. First attempt, first link. (none / 1) (#52)
by jmzero on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 01:30:25 PM EST

Searched for "condom use statistics africa".  First link was to human development reports.  It's data is a little splotchy, but pretty good for sub-Saharan Africa.  Last time I looked I got a document on just South Africa - but I didn't see that in the first page of results in my first search attempt.

Never underestimate Google.
.
"Let's not stir that bag of worms." - my lovely wife
[ Parent ]

No K5 statement is safe w/out a google. n/t (none / 1) (#76)
by Woundweavr on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 10:44:33 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Let's look at this again: (none / 0) (#180)
by Kuranes on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 09:39:16 AM EST

I had a hard time figuring out why the rich don't care about preventing the poor from having children.
Well, if we all had enough, who'd gonna do the starving?

Honestly, if the rich hadn't so much poor people they could bully around with scarce pay, they would cease to exist as elite.

So all what we can do is some charity: Ooh, there's so much suffering, but instead of really changing the way goods are distributed so poverty has no chance of developing, let's drop a lil' bit of money, invest in one or two "opportunities" and fantasize of the virtues of civil society.

By the way, it makes us feel better.

fn0rd said it above, and I agree.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Your naivety is disarming. (none / 3) (#41)
by fn0rd on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 10:35:45 AM EST

This is called an "exponential growth curve". A pity the extremely rich aren't educated in math, apparently.

Oh they've done the math, you can be sure of that. Why do you think they're the extremely rich? Without masses of extremely poor, they'd cease to exist as a class. It is to the benefit of the major property holders of the planet to encourage overpopulation, illeteracy, and poverty. It's refreshing that some of them choose to define themselves as human beings who are members of a community rather than placeholders for wealth, but this is the minority view among them.

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

oops. (none / 2) (#43)
by fn0rd on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 12:16:34 PM EST

I guess I should read your whole comment before replying. You make the same point at the end. Feel free to mod the parent of this on into oblivion :)

This fatwa brought to you by the Agnostic Jihad
[ Parent ]

Actually (none / 2) (#51)
by NoBeardPete on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 01:29:37 PM EST

It seems to be the case that as people climb out of poverty, their fertility rates tend to drop. Fertility rates are below the replacement level in much of the rich world, but tend to be quite high in poor countries. Obviously it's hard to pin down causation. Nonetheless, I think that reducing poverty in poor countries will do a lot to reduce overpopulation.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Uh... (none / 1) (#148)
by drsmithy on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 06:11:49 AM EST

Obviously it's hard to pin down causation.

Children are expensive ?

[ Parent ]

Children are expensive (none / 0) (#209)
by astatine on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 02:42:39 PM EST

in urban environments. To a subsistence farmer, children are nearly-free labor.

Society, they say, exists to safeguard the rights of the individual. If this is so, the primary right of a human being is evidently to live unrealistically.Celia Green
[ Parent ]
Mathematical nitpick (none / 3) (#54)
by czth on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 02:28:07 PM EST

Nothing beats exponential growth. Nothing.

Not even factorial growth? I remember learning/proving that O(n!) > O(k^n) (although n^n beats them both).

What, you want me to provide a real-life example of factorial grown? That's applied math, not my department.

czth

[ Parent ]

Not always (none / 2) (#58)
by Eater on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 03:33:59 PM EST

Factorial growth beats exponential growth as n approaches infinity, but if k is big enough, exponential growth will still be bigger for a long time. Now how's that for off-topic?

Eater.

[ Parent ]
even further off topic (none / 1) (#79)
by kobayashi on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 11:40:11 PM EST

does anything occur in nature having something like factorial growth? or decay?

[ Parent ]
you should check out the correlation with (none / 1) (#68)
by xutopia on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 07:33:28 PM EST

poverty and high natality. It goes hand in hand.

[ Parent ]
Uh, riiiight (2.25 / 4) (#112)
by godix on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 03:17:36 PM EST

So basically you're saying all the problems of humanity are caused because humans exist and if only we could get rid of humans things would be perfect? While I can't fault the logic you're using I gotta wonder if they suck so badly that they shouldn't have a family is the best solution to problems caused by inefficent use of resources, lack of strong government, and basic ignorance. I wouldn't tell someone to stop screwing in order to prevent wars anymore than I'd throw away my computer to prevent getting BSODs. Every problem you mentioned could be fixed with a combination of a strong and fair government, education, and a few 'basic' resources to start off with.

Incidently, overpopulation is a myth. The rate of growth is slowing down already and without the first world arrogantly trying to claim that everyone except them doesn't deserve children. Projections show the world will hit a point of 0 population growth somewhere in the next several decades and several countries have already hit that point. You are right that nothing beats exponential growth, it's a good thing that global population is nothing like an exponential growth isn't it?

As for goals, well your goal may to be richER than everyone else but almost every person I've ever met has goals like owning their own home, some toys like computers, a car, good food, etc. The vast majority don't care how rich they are in comparison as long as those basic needs and luxeries are filled. You may have observed something different from people you deal with, in which case I can only recommend that you get different friends and quit pretending those freaks you hang with now are representive of humanity as a whole.

It's dawned on me that Zero Tolerance only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
- Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

I smell a troll. -nt (none / 1) (#141)
by Kasreyn on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 11:34:51 PM EST

nt in this case stands for, "nice try".
"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
False positive (none / 0) (#153)
by godix on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 10:25:28 AM EST

The troll smell must be lingering from my slumming in various diaries. For this comment I was serious. Global overpopulation is pretty much a myth, at least I've never seen any indication at all that there are more humans than the earth can support, and at it's core fans of overpopulation are basically just asking 'why can't everyone but me go the hell away?' You want to dismiss that view as a troll and that's fine, but that doesn't change the fact I dismissed the original post as arrogant and classist.

It's dawned on me that Zero Tolerance only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
- Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]
Look. 40,000 children a day. (none / 1) (#154)
by Kasreyn on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 11:06:22 AM EST

"What's that?", you say. "The world population growth figure?"

No, that would be 240,000 a day. 40,000 is the approximate number of children (per Sagan) who die of malnutrition daily. To me, that's a serious problem that must be addressed.

Now I'm not, as of yet, making any statements about the carrying capacity of the Earth. For what it's worth, we certainly haven't hit it yet. That is to say, if resources were distributed equitably, at the moment there would be enough for everyone. Those 40,000 children are mostly starving in countries where dictators prevent food relief from reaching them. These are often largely social problems as well as overpopulation problems.

And yet: exponential growth. We can consider the carrying capacity of the Earth as a finite number. We don't yet know what it IS, but it's clear that the Earth can support only a limited amount of life. However, exponential growth will inevitably cross that threshold, and IMO will do so around the 10 billion mark for population (projected in less than 40 years).

Every problem you mentioned could be fixed with a combination of a strong and fair government, education, and a few 'basic' resources to start off with.

Agreed, with the proviso that the government was strong and wise enough to institute some form of nation-wide population control. Oh yeah - and that it was a global government. If one nation - like America - largely controls its population, a less scrupulous nation will simply outbreed it, conquer it one way or another, and the dance on its grave while proceeding to bring the biosphere to the exact same sorry state it would have reached if the first nation had never been so forward-thinking.

The rate of growth is slowing down already and without the first world arrogantly trying to claim that everyone except them doesn't deserve children. Projections show the world will hit a point of 0 population growth somewhere in the next several decades and several countries have already hit that point.

I simply don't believe this. Prove it. This paragraph is why I called you a troll. And as I've stated before, it's meaningless for individual countries to control their population. If it's not done globally, in the long run the result will be exactly the same.

almost every person I've ever met has goals like owning their own home, some toys like computers, a car, good food, etc. The vast majority don't care how rich they are in comparison as long as those basic needs and luxeries are filled.

You know, that's true of almost every person I've met, too! That's because you and I and everyone we know and everyone we have ever met, are not in the upper 1% that disproportionately controls the vast majority of the world's resources. That 1% are not the vast majority, but they are the ones mentioned in the article.

To reply to your second post: again, we haven't hit the carrying limit yet, but it must be conceded that it exists. With technology, we can extend the limit, in fact by orders of magnitude. But that's over many decades of research. Exponential population growth is faster, and it WILL exceed carrying capacity unless we start showing a sort of species-wide self-restraint first.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
Population growth (none / 0) (#158)
by MorePower on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 03:04:27 PM EST

Projections show the world will hit a point of 0 population growth somewhere in the next several decades and several countries have already hit that point.

I simply don't believe this. Prove it.


As I recall from both my economics class and goegraphy class, the concensus is that population growth follows a "logistical curve" that is already showing strong sings of slowing down. Most of the stats I have heard say the population will level off around the middle of the 21st century.

A large part of my geography class dealt with studying the "demographic shift" where as countries industrialize the population initally shoots up, but then the birth rate drops dramatically a couple of generations later. This leads to one generation being really huge (i.e. baby boomers) which causes problems when they all retire at the same time. After they die though, the population should be stable.

Maybe all the experts are wrong (I haven't gone around counting Earth's population myself), but that is the general consensus of the people who study such things.

[ Parent ]
I understand the demographic shift (none / 0) (#167)
by Kasreyn on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 07:23:19 PM EST

But there are quite a few nations which aren't going to have the chance to undergo it any time soon, due to economic inability to industrialize. The first world is trying to hold them down to prevent their competing, and one of the side effects is keeping their populations in poverty, thus keeping their birthrates high.

I understand also that America has curbed its population growth. Kudos for us. However, that's basically useless unless the rest of the world follows suit. And I don't share godix's confidence that the carrying limit is high enough to support very many more people. Well, scratch that, it can - if we're willing to kill off a great deal of competing life in the process. And THAT holds a myriad of unforeseen, and possibly unforeseeable, dangers to the world's ecosystem.

We as a species are a complex organism, high up the food chain, and one of the biggest energy users on this planet (in terms of the energy Earth's systems derive from the sun). To support x amount of humans, y amount of plants and lower animals, as well as other environmental factors, are required. This is not a ratio you can safely increase too much, IMO.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
I dunno (none / 0) (#204)
by NoBeardPete on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 12:03:53 PM EST

The countries that are the poorest are not in their current state because the rich world is holding them down. They're mostly extremely poor because they're run by kleptocratic thugs, or they're in the middle of decades long civil wars. I think it'd be nice if we did more to help these countries out, but I don't think it's fair to pin their problems on our door.

The poor world in general would be better off if the rich world had lower tarrifs and less government subsidy for textiles and agriculture. However, this mainly affects the poor countries that are at the middle or top of the poor country heap.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Pop growth is NOT exponential (none / 0) (#159)
by godix on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 03:15:58 PM EST

That is to say, if resources were distributed equitably, at the moment there would be enough for everyone.

Exactly. The world could support more than are currently alive. Which means we aren't overpopulated and problems such as starvation, disease, etc that we have currently aren't from overpopulation.
These are often largely social problems as well as overpopulation problems.

Largely social problems? SOLELY social problems. Spending on basic education (IE screwing virgins spreads AIDS, not cures it), sanitation, better farming methods, stable government powerful enough to stop petty warlords and wars, etc. are needed much more than condoms.
We don't yet know what it IS, but it's clear that the Earth can support only a limited amount of life.

Hmm, it's almost like I'm talking to an enviromentalist here. Before we take expensive actions on something we don't yet know shouldn't we learn first? The earth obviously does have an upper limit on how many it can support but it doesn't make any sense to make drastic changes until we know if we're even close to that limit. Study overpopulation makes sense, making policies because of overpopulation is just throwing time and money at an invisible enemy that might not even be an enemy.
Agreed, with the proviso that the government was strong and wise enough to institute some form of nation-wide population control.

Actually when I refered to strong government I was refering to a government that can do things like stop gangs of warlords, protect it's citizens from rapist/murders/etc, plan and carry out emergency services, and other things of that nature. A strong government is a solution to social ills, it's pretty useless against population growth. China has been trying that for decades and has met with minimal success.
Prove it. ... And as I've stated before, it's meaningless for individual countries to control their population. If it's not done globally, in the long run the result will be exactly the same.

World Bank Group (PDF link) has the most non-biased figures I can find offhand. If you just glace at the first graph given it supports your theory that population growth is out of control but once you actually start reading the report it shows a different picture. Actual worldwide growth has decreased from %2.0 to %1.5 and is expected to continue dropping (pg 18). Women in developing countries are having less children than before (pg 17). The current growth is largely because people live longer than before. A look at what first world nations have gone through is instructive. Roughly around WWII medical advances increased peoples lifespans which meant less people dying and a large population growth regardless of the fact the birth rate didn't change much. Birth rates didn't drop immediately in response to this though, remember the baby boomers? Around the 60's the first world dropped it's birth rate and are just now hitting the point where our mortality rates are rising because our people are back to dying from old age again. Some first world countries are actually losing population because the mortality rates are finally balancing out and more are expected to hit that point soon. Now lets look at the third world. They are just now starting this pattern with increasing lifespans more than offsetting lowering birth rates. It's not that suprising that a population decades behind the first world in economics, social policies, and medicine is also decades behind in this population growth trend. Assuming they follow the same trend, and so far they have, in sixty years or so the third world will hit the same stabilization point that the first world is now hitting.

Of course this leaves us with 60 years of continued growth. The obvious question is that 60 years of growth going to be to much for the earth the support? Well the reason for the growth, as mentioned above, for it is that the third world is going through what the first world did around WWII. It is instructive, and reasurring, to keep in mind that as a whole the first world was able to expand it's food growth during the same time and as a whole the first world not only feeds it's own population, it exports more food than it did before the population growth trend started. specific countries may have different results, but as you say, what's important is worldwide trends rather than individual countries. It's also worth noting that if the earth can't support the increased population the first to starve will be elderly and infants in the third world, the very two factors that are causing the population growth to begin with.

All of which is a length way of saying we're in a period of large growth but it's not exponential growth, population growth shows strong signs that it'll stablize in about 60 years, and in the unlikely chance growth goes beyond the earths capability the very first to be effected will be the group that's driving that growth. In other words, population growth fears are basically a myth.

That 1% are not the vast majority, but they are the ones mentioned in the article.

Considering that the first world currently supports a far larger population than ever in great comfort and using less resources and land per person than before I'd say that 1% is doing a pretty good job. There are plenty of specific things they do that I don't like but in general they're doing a good job. Especially considering that this article is about the very top person of that 1% giving money to help speed along third world growth thus speeding them along the pattern the first world has just finishing.
we haven't hit the carrying limit yet, but it must be conceded that it exists. With technology, we can extend the limit, in fact by orders of magnitude.

I'll agree with both these statements and I'd add a third one: All indications are that population growth will stabilize in the near future and given that the third world will be exanding it's limits during the same time then population growth probably isn't worth worrying about.

It's dawned on me that Zero Tolerance only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
- Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]
Oh yeah (none / 0) (#160)
by godix on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 03:24:13 PM EST

I almost forgot, since pop growth is mainly driven by increased lifespans rather than birth rates then birth control is not attacting the cause of pop growth. Pushing condoms, birth control, etc would have some effect of course but I doubt there would be enough willing use of birth control to actually change trends all that much. There is of course the possability of forced steralization or the like but somehow I doubt you'd defend that as a valid option.

It's dawned on me that Zero Tolerance only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
- Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]
A few final comments (none / 0) (#168)
by Kasreyn on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 07:45:39 PM EST

first off, see my reply to the other guy.

Exactly. The world could support more than are currently alive. Which means we aren't overpopulated and problems such as starvation, disease, etc that we have currently aren't from overpopulation.

This depends on what level of "support" you're willing to live with. I, for one, am not too interested in (as as Heinlein I believe once put it in a novel), "standing room only, inhale when your mate exhales, and get your elbow out of my eye!" Furthermore, I think we've already reached (and passed) the point at which we are improving the Earth's carrying capacity for humans, while ruining its capacity to support other kinds of life. Unfortunately for those of us with simplistic worldviews, we are dependant on that life for our own survival (at least for the time being). If we do too much damage to the biosphere as we "improve" Earth's carrying capacity, we may wind up with a wonderful planet for humans to live on, but with no food for humans to eat and plenty of lethal UV radiation.

Hmm, it's almost like I'm talking to an enviromentalist here.

Let me think. I live in the environment. So do you. Doesn't that make us both environmentalists? Or at least give us a compelling, self-interest-driven motive to make sure our environment remains livable? I'm sure you meant "extremist crazy ELF environmentalist", though I don't know why you would use the basic term as a generic for extremists. That's like saying "conservatives" when you mean "abortion clinic bombers".

Before we take expensive actions on something we don't yet know shouldn't we learn first? The earth obviously does have an upper limit on how many it can support but it doesn't make any sense to make drastic changes until we know if we're even close to that limit. Study overpopulation makes sense, making policies because of overpopulation is just throwing time and money at an invisible enemy that might not even be an enemy.

Temporizing can't do us any good. "Wait and see" is a bad idea when you're dealing with problems with a global scope and a time scale that can take decades to make the effects of changes felt. It took scientists something like 40 years to catch on that CFC's were directly damaging the Earth's ability to support human life (by destroying the ozone layer); now that CFC's are banned in most nations, the ozone layer has begun to mend, but it is not expected to fully recover for at least another century. Fortunately, no one listened to the DuPont executives who said "Aww, wait and see! We don't know how much ozone we really need to live - maybe we don't even need it at all! This is all theoretical!" For a more recent example, the oil industry and its paid global-warming-denying "scientist" shills are attempting to get us to "wait and see" if the ice caps really will melt and start a runaway warming effect. Of course, if we wait and see and the environmentalists happen to have been right all along, then we're all fucked, and we're all dead. Isn't a threat of that level WORTH risking a costly fix to a non-problem, given the chance that it's actually a costly fix to a real problem that could destroy us?

To make a specific statement about this: we can't wait to make a decision about this, because if the time comes and we decide that we were overpopulating the Earth all along, then all those people will have been born, and then we'll have two options left to us: mass starvation or mass murder. Neither is attractive. However, if we limit our growth now and later find that we didn't have to - then we can just lift the restrictions, no harm done to anyone.

A strong government is a solution to social ills, it's pretty useless against population growth.

I disagree. A strong government can, as the U.S. has, institute mandatory education for all children, and it can add items to the curriculum, such as, say, sex ed and teaching children sexual responsibility. Also, ridding the world of welfare systems that provide indigent women with an incentive to breed would be a good idea; fortunately, the U.S. is one of the only nations silly enough to do that.

All indications are that population growth will stabilize in the near future and given that the third world will be exanding it's limits during the same time then population growth probably isn't worth worrying about.

So what if growth stabilizes? Then we just have a stable growth rate and we'll still cross the capacity. Ideally (note that this is SO ideal I don't believe we'll ever achieve it), we need to figure out how many humans is the "right" amount to live comfortably on this planet, get to that amount (by peaceful, non-murderous means, of course), and then match birth rate to death rate. I personally hold great hopes that with sufficient technology we may in the future be able to settle the oceans and use the other 75% of our planet's surface area for habitation. In any case, I consider it to be of extreme importance that the number of humans be low enough that all can live in comfort, safety, and with a modicum of leasure (but not sloth). Why? Because humans who aren't constantly scrabbling for a bite to eat have time to think, to become educated, and to demand their freedoms. Humans who can't afford to look beyond a daily struggle to live, are easy prey for dictators to gain control of. For this reason I believe we need to improve the standard of living world-wide to at least the level of modern 1st-world nations, if not higher. Unrestrained breeding is not the right way to achieve that.


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
You need to study population some more (none / 0) (#186)
by godix on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 11:26:32 AM EST

No offense but on the topic of overpopulation you need to study up more. You're making quite a few factual errors. I'm not going to bother stating my opinion again, after all we basically agree that the third world needs to be developed even if we have different reasons. However I am going to point out some of your factual errors.

The US has not hit a 0 pop growth level yet. If I recall correctly we're one of the five quickest growing countries in the world. A significant portion of that is immigration but even without that the US is still growing some. Italy, Germany, Spain, and a few other European countries are the ones that are at or close to a 0 population growth point.

The world is not standing room only. You could fit every man, woman, child, and envriomental wacko in the world into Texas and you would have a population density 1/3 LESS than Manhatten Island. The world population is roughly 6 billion and Texas is roughly 695,000 sq km, which gives us a population density around 8650 per sq km. Population density of Manhatten is about 29,000 per sq km. Humanity is has a long way to go before we could make Texas standing room only, much less the rest of the earth.

The first world has not hit limits in it's food production, what we've hit are limits in the market for food. Both Europe and America practice farming methods that are known to be inefficient (ie paying farmers to not grow food). The third world hasn't even gotten that far, for the most part they still use centuries old methods that are far more inefficient that the first world. If needed humanity could produce an order of magnitude more food that we are now.

During the 60's and 70's the enviromental scaremongering tactic of choice was global cooling. Now of course we fear global warming. Imagine how much worse global warming would be if we had actually acted on the global cooling fears despite that we had little proof? Acting without facts can actually increase the real problem. For that reason it's just illogical to act on overpopulation without understanding overpopulation.

The main cause for population growth is NOT birth rates. Birth rates have fallen worldwide. The main cause in our current pop growth is increasing lifespans. Because of this voluntary birth control wouldn't have that much an effect on population growth. The 'solution' to population growth isn't voluntary birth control, it's getting rid of old people OR it's 100% forced sterilization. These aren't solutions I personally endorse, but either would be far more effective than educating women on voluntary birth control. Government mandated education is a good idea for other reasons but would be pretty ineffective in reducing population growth.

You misunderstood my 'stabilize population growth' comment, I guess it was bad phrasing on my part. I didn't mean that growth would continue at a stabilized rate, rather I meant that growth would stop and the population would remain stable in size. In other words, humanity would hit fairly close to a 0 population growth point. This is what trends show happening somewhere between 60 years from now to a century.


It's dawned on me that Zero Tolerance only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
- Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

Hm. (none / 0) (#191)
by Kasreyn on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 05:06:46 PM EST

Well, I will definitely do some more research. Thanks for bringing my ignorance to my attention. :-)

Imagine how much worse global warming would be if we had actually acted on the global cooling fears despite that we had little proof?

Since AFAIK the only threats of "global cooling" are volcanic explosions (which we can do nothing about), asteroidal impact (which we currently can do nothing about, but are working on it), or nuclear war, then I'd say the nuclear disarmament efforts would mean that we DID act on the global cooling fears, but had no actual effect on the climate. If there was some other fear of global cooling in the 60's or 70's, it must have been forgotten before anyone could tell me about it.

And fwiw we DO have facts on global warming. We know which CFC's are being emitted, and in what quantities, and we know how long it takes them to be "rinsed" out of the atmosphere naturally (each CFC molecule stays in the stratosphere about a century). We have reproduced their ozone-destroying effects when combined with UV, in laboratories. CFC's are an example of a seemingly great technology - a true wonder chemical, with tons of amazing and safe uses down here, in the troposphere - which proved to have totally unexpected dangers when it circulated to the stratosphere. Totally unexpected as in, there wasn't the slightest shred of worry, no scientific papers being suppressed, NOTHING until the danger was discovered. I'm all for technological advancement, but we need to be careful about these kinds of things. Most things about Earth's environment are too robust or homeostatic for us to really ruin our environment that easily, but the ozone layer shows that there are at least a small percentage of factors out there that we CAN damage to make this world unlivable. Where there's one such factor, there's bound to be another. The real danger is setting up a positive feedback cycle - which global temperature change is - which would be very hard to get back under control.

As to overpopulation: Perhaps I was misinformed about the speed of Earth's population growth, or just had old and outdated data. I still feel unrestrained growth is irresponsible, but I realize that without a clear and present danger due to overpopulation, no government will gain the moral authority to impose reproductive restrictions on its citizens. Which is to say, we're probably going to have to cross the carrying capacity before we make any personal changes. Of course, if your figures for 2060 are right, maybe we'll never hit the carrying capacity, but I doubt growth will stop. There's too much individual benefit to be gained from outreproducing others, and if the carrying capacity isn't reached, too little individual danger, to cause people to suddenly decide to stop reproducing.

In specific what pisses me off are these religious jerks who deliberately attempt to prevent young girls learning the facts they need to make wise sexual choices. I wonder if anyone has done any studies on the comparative numbers of abortions per million mothers who had sex ed, and those who didn't...


-Kasreyn


"Extenuating circumstance to be mentioned on Judgement Day:
We never asked to be born in the first place."

R.I.P. Kurt. You will be missed.
[ Parent ]
I'm bored (none / 0) (#192)
by godix on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 05:24:03 PM EST

During the 70's a new ice age was the fad of the day. If you poke around publications of the time you'll probably run into info. I've seen one or two old articles on the web but for the most part this info isn't what people bothered preserving on the net. For awhile there were some claims that the only reason we weren't in an ice age in the 70's was that the industrial revolution heated up the earth enough to prevent it.

As for overpopulation, what you say "There's too much individual benefit to be gained from outreproducing others" you are right for the third world. In the first world having large families is a detriment rather than a benefit. All my assumptions about stablizing around 2060 to 2100 are based on the third world being improved to first world conditions during the same time period. If that doesn't happen then your fears of overpopulation may very well prove correct.

I wonder if anyone has done any studies on the comparative numbers of abortions per million mothers who had sex ed, and those who didn't...

I'm losing my internet connection in 7 minutes (getting off work) but tommorow if I'm slow and bored at work I'll look this up, it would be interesting. Offhand I suspect the major differences would be in birth rates and diseases rather than abortions though.

It's dawned on me that Zero Tolerance only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
- Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]
Actually (none / 0) (#205)
by NoBeardPete on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 12:22:14 PM EST

I believe the current state of US demographic growth is this: a large chunk of our growth is due to immigration. Even neglecting immigrants, however, the US population is growing. The total fertility rate in the US is 2.1, which is the average number of children a US woman will have. This is considered to be the replacement value. This indicates that the non-immigrant portion of US population growth is due to increasing life spans and the demographic age distribution. If the US total fertility rate remains at 2.1, the population will level out not far above its current value (again, neglecting immigration).

So your claim that US has not hit a 0 population growth rate is correct, but it may be misleading. US fertility rates have been at or below the 0 growth rate for almost a generation now. Once the number of old people catches up to the rest of the population, we will be at 0 growth, neglecting immigration.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

and neglecting further life-extension (nt) (none / 0) (#212)
by speek on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 06:05:38 PM EST


--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Life Extension (none / 0) (#234)
by NoBeardPete on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 02:37:59 PM EST

Life extension isn't really a big player in population growth rates. In the short term, it can cause the population the rise, perhaps by a fews tens of percent. In the long run, though, it's not going to make a big difference.

Suppose you have a population that's at equilibrium, where everyone live to by 75. Let's say our population is 75 million people. Every year, one million people are born, and one million 75 year olds people die. Now, suppose researchers come up with some new drug, that extends everyone's life span to 80. For the next 5 years, one million people are born, and no one dies. The population growth rate shoots from 0% to 1.3%! People start getting worried, because with a growth rate of 1.3%, the population will exponentially grow out of control!

Of course, nothing of the sort happens. 5 years later, old people start dying again. The population is now 80 million people. Every year, one million people are born, and one million 80 year olds die.

For the population to grow by 10% due to life extension, the life expectancy has to increase by 10%. How much more do you think life spans are really going to increase? To 85, maybe, 95? That will only increase the population of a country like the US by maybe a quarter. This is not a big deal.


Arrr, it be the infamous pirate, No Beard Pete!
[ Parent ]

Thank you (none / 0) (#236)
by godix on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 03:07:32 PM EST

for doing far better at explaining what I meant by increasing lifespans pushing population growth and explaining exactly why it isn't really something to worry about.

It's dawned on me that Zero Tolerance only seems to mean putting extra police in poor, run-down areas, and not in the Stock Exchange.
- Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]
well (none / 0) (#237)
by speek on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 05:39:36 PM EST

How much more do you think life spans are really going to increase?

I expect life expectancy to increase without much limit. I do not expect it will stop, and eventually, yes, people will live 200, 300+ years.

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

Mathusian! (none / 3) (#142)
by SPYvSPY on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 01:53:51 AM EST

You buy of a quiet brand of genocide.

Since there are plenty of resources for all the people on planet Earth today, I suspect the problem is behavioral, and not, as you say, a question of over population.
------------------------------------------------

By replying to this or any other comment in this thread, you assign an equal share of all worldwide copyright in such reply to each of the other readers of this site.
[ Parent ]

or we could spend $50 billion on a moon base (none / 1) (#188)
by auraslip on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 02:17:19 PM EST


124
[ Parent ]
Malthus starved to death (none / 2) (#197)
by bankind on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 10:28:09 PM EST

Please before you make statements on 120 year old economic theories, look at simple fact, where are the famines? Take any famine of the past 100 years and you will see that they result from poor government policy (number one) and then unpredictable weather. The entire anti-population growth theory is based on the belief that humans are not productive and from your elitist belief that poor people just fuck all day and are too stupid to know any better. 90% of the difference between countries in fertility rates is explained by wanted fertility (William Easterly The Elusive Quest for Growth).

Actually the poor are quite rational and know that children can only provide so much capital, which is why no famines have been caused by over population, which Malthus predicted to occur about 100 years from his time.

Seems maybe regarding trade and economic busts, Ricardo was nearly right on both points. But regarding children, you shouldn't worry too much, as countries do develop they are less inclined to shit out more than 2 children (just look at George Bush's America).

So take it easy chicken little.

"Insurgents are blowing up pipelines and police stations, geysers of sewage are erupting from the streets, and the electricity is off most of the time -- but we've given Iraq the gift of supply-side economics." -Krugman
[ Parent ]

For some more insight (2.90 / 10) (#35)
by brain in a jar on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 07:23:23 AM EST

on the way we use aid to manipulate countries and subidize their own economies see what George Monbiot has to say about it.

On the edge of lunacy


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Now a good question.... (none / 2) (#135)
by Woundweavr on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 09:58:54 PM EST

The question is should a government provide foreign aid if it is not also in the best interest of its citizens? I think both sides of that issue have an argument.

[ Parent ]
This is Ass backward (1.50 / 10) (#38)
by minerboy on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 08:36:04 AM EST

The real solution would be to eliminate ALL outside aid to poverty stricken countries, as well as eliminate any immigration from these countries. Let them sort out the resources for themselves or die. One way or the other, the problem would eventually solve itself.



Holy dumbass (2.00 / 4) (#60)
by cosmokramer on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 03:48:59 PM EST

I know your trolling (ok hope) but it's tough to cut off the aid when essentially it's more like "keep quiet" money so they don't scream murder about the richer countries raping them for their resources. Somehow we call ourselves successful because we're good at "wealth generation" which is the equivalent of trading stolen resources for money.

[ Parent ]
Stolen resources ? (none / 1) (#66)
by minerboy on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 07:19:45 PM EST

Its only a partial troll. OFten times it is a bad thing to provide aid to poor people, despite any judeochristian ethic that might be driving your emotions. For example, I recently read an article about aids in africa. The Article tore at your heartstrings, a poor young girl with aids, all because the evil man down the street had raped her. We must help her, I thought to myself. WHat can I do ? It seems that the rapist, who had aids, firmly believed that having sex with a virgin would cure his aids. So he found the nearest virgin, and raped her. Now it seems that this low life scum shit had been kept alive by free anti aids drugs provided by the west. It would have been much better to let him die.

If people in these coutries are so pathetically backward, can't protect their own resources from thieves, they deserve to loose them - they wouldn't know what to do with them anyway. We don't turn resources into money, we turn resources into stuff that we can use -like hospitals, aids drugw, and so on.



[ Parent ]
My argument (none / 1) (#102)
by cosmokramer on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 12:05:56 PM EST

Was mainly with the point you repeated at the bottom although my reasons for thinking aid can sometimes be questionable are quite different. If we're turning resources into stuff that we can use like hospitals drugs etc we're making money off of it. So we're turning resources into aids. And seeing as a smaller percentage of money goes into healtchare than the military I can hardly agree regardless.

[ Parent ]
But (none / 2) (#107)
by minerboy on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 01:59:16 PM EST

US government spending for Health, Medicare, medicaid, and social security are much higher than the defense budget - See The Federal Budget, 2001-2006

[ Parent ]

maintenance (none / 1) (#125)
by gdanjo on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 07:34:13 PM EST

If people in these coutries are so pathetically backward, can't protect their own resources from thieves, they deserve to loose them - they wouldn't know what to do with them anyway. We don't turn resources into money, we turn resources into stuff that we can use -like hospitals, aids drugw, and so on.
The problem with your solution is that it leads to spiraling amoralism. When we see people die that could be saved, we get "immune" to their pain; immunity to other peoples pain then spirals inward, closer and closer to home. Soon you will be "immune" to the pain of your fellow countryman, your neighbour, your friends, and your fellow man. Helping people to live - even "dumbasses" - is a way to keep your morality from fading away. You'll praise it when other people's morals save you one day.

Think of it as "morality maintenance" - without it, the whole thing (complex life) falls apart.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

a story about my dog (none / 2) (#150)
by minerboy on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 09:20:23 AM EST

A give him food and water, pat him on the head, buy him a few toys, and he does tricks for me. I feel good about providing for him. Of course, he probably would be better of if he were running with the pack, hunting for his food. Mating with any bitch he could find. Luckily, I don't think he knows he'd be better off on his own, and so he begs for food and and performs his clownish tricks.

The point, of course, is that the moral thing to do is not always the thing that will make us feel best about ourselves. Redistributing our wealth to impoverished countries, in my view, only serves to institutionalize their poverty. It makes beggars of them, and tyrants of us.



[ Parent ]
dog? (none / 0) (#196)
by gdanjo on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 07:46:31 PM EST

But the last post said:
If people in these coutries are so pathetically backward, can't protect their own resources from thieves, they deserve to loose them - they wouldn't know what to do with them anyway. We don't turn resources into money, we turn resources into stuff that we can use -like hospitals, aids drugw, and so on.
I don't see how this has anything to do with your dog.
A give him food and water, pat him on the head, buy him a few toys, and he does tricks for me. I feel good about providing for him. Of course, he probably would be better of if he were running with the pack, hunting for his food. Mating with any bitch he could find. Luckily, I don't think he knows he'd be better off on his own, and so he begs for food and and performs his clownish tricks.
You assume a little too much; if your dog could talk, he would probably say that he's happy where he is and wouldn't want to go into the cut-throat world of the bitch-mating packs. In other words, you are projecting your beleifs onto your dog.

Similarly, you shouldn't assume that the poor are in it for the long term - they just want their food and clothes for now. When their world is stable, then you can talk about tough love and long term projections. Your "it's better for them cause that's how I'd want it" argument is weak at best.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

Poverty? (2.37 / 8) (#47)
by Armada on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 12:51:30 PM EST

Define Poverty.

Does poverty include cable tv/Internet?

Does poverty include owning your own home?

The United States (along with Canada and nearly every country, including third world countries) has no defined poverty level. This is why it is impossible to use the term in any argument and still keep a straight face. You're either talking about the next-door neighbor with no wife and kids making 15,000 a year or you're talking about the guy down the street with 2 kids and a wife making 23,000 a year. Or you're talking about the family in Korea with 6,000 a year.

Different individuals might have all the same toys: cable, Internet, one night of drinking at the bars and more. So where is the actual poverty line, and more importantly, what is the definition of "extreme poverty" which, until now, is a term I had never heard?

Extreme poverty is less that $1/day (none / 2) (#48)
by decon recon on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 01:11:35 PM EST

... as a means for living.

So that this can't be missed: I move this from near the top of the essay to the top of the essay.

[ Parent ]

You can't "end" poverty (1.29 / 17) (#63)
by foon on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 06:40:04 PM EST

Poverty isn't a result of some grand systemic failings in the world, except in the few remaining Marxist dictatorships where free enterprise is stifled.  Every person in a free society has the opportunity to succeed, and if they don't it is a result of a failure of their own character.  You can't change human nature, so there is nothing that can be done to change their condition.  Any top-down attempt to eliminate poverty totally fails to turn the current poor into responsible, productive citizens, but it does destroy the incentive of productive members of society to innovate and ultimately restricts the growth of markets, the only thing which has ever improved living standards.

but you can rasie standards of living (2.50 / 4) (#67)
by thankyougustad on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 07:20:15 PM EST

While I don't think a person's being in poverty is always a result of their own failings, in fact I think it rarely us, I do agree that there is no way to get rid of it. In order to have privliged people, you have to have people who eat shit. It's fucked but it's the nature of the global system. Until we invent a method of providing everyone with what they need and want, we are screwed. This doesn't mean however, that everyone can't have a reasonable standard of living. There is no reason everyone shouldn't have enough to eat, access to clean water, medicine, and education. That not everyone does is the result of selfishness and lack of concentrated efforts to insure universel access to these things.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
raise the minimum income threshold (none / 2) (#70)
by cronian on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 08:46:20 PM EST

You could just implement a program like in Alaska. In Alaska, every person gets a check for a couple thousand dollars every year, which comes from oil, and a bunch of money which the state invests, that has done quite well over the years. Can you point out any problems this has caused for Alaska? The program has helped stimulate growth because retailers are able to market to people when they get their check every year. Why not implement a plan like that nationally, or maybe even internationally?

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
SA (none / 2) (#137)
by kurioszyn on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 11:14:07 PM EST

That's what Saudis did for the last 40 years. Read up on Saudi Arabia and how fucked up their society is .. Things like almost their entire work force being composed of foreigners, complete lack of any skill on the part of locals who have to rely on Idians and others to do just about everything.

[ Parent ]
different situation (none / 2) (#156)
by cronian on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 12:06:46 PM EST

Saudi Arabia has many other problems. Saudi Arabia has a complex welfare state, but I don't believe that every citizen gets the same fixed cash payment every year. Can you find any fault with Alaska's permenant fund dividend program? It may not be a huge amount, but it does provide some sort of minimum for every Alaskan.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
Comming soon to the US of A (N/T) (none / 0) (#166)
by RandomAction on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 06:28:51 PM EST



[ Parent ]
There are plenty of non-free societies (none / 2) (#72)
by magney on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 09:24:07 PM EST

Free enterprise is stifled in large parts of the world - quite often as the result of bribery by monied interests and not by Marxist ideology. Seems like a "grand systemic failing" to me.

Do I look like I speak for my employer?
[ Parent ]

Bill Gates (2.81 / 11) (#74)
by kobayashi on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 09:57:42 PM EST

is remarkably well informed and educated about the real problems affecting poor countries and people. His donations are often targeted, not at trendy causes that make good PR (such as covering a country with wireless internet access), instead he supports dull, difficult progams that will have long term benefits - for example, working to eliminate or minimise Malaria outbreaks (Malaria is a huge burden on African economies).

As a side note, i read this in a Bill Gates interview (paraphrased):
IV: Do your kids realise how much money you have?
BG: They have started to; they noticed that their friends houses dont have trampoline-rooms.

War! Whats all this good for? (2.63 / 11) (#77)
by Woundweavr on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 11:19:00 PM EST

While 50 US billion a year may be all thats needed to "simply" end poverty and theoretically create economic sustainability its also very naive. What good is that in Sub Saharan Africa where not only is there the AIDS pandemic (as many as 1 in 4) but also numerous civil wars? Or in nations or governments unwilling to accept any aid (such as countries with strong fundamental Islamic factions or oppressive dictatorships)?

Its all well and good to say this is cheaper than the US military. However, how can you end poverty in, say, Angola? Liberia? Sudan? Norht Korea?

These are some of the places in need of this kind of help the most. However, some of the very reasons for the poverty make simply going in impossible. Relief workers can't just waltz into these places magically. Ignoring the fact that many villages in these places are remote and unmapped, they would either be in danger for their lives or prevented by that countries government (or war chiefs or whatever the situation was)(or both).

Thats not even getting into issues of sovereignty likely to be brought up by certain UN Security Council members (*cough*chirac*cough*).

It sounds great in theory, and is applicable in some areas. But even those places it currently seems feasible to act in, can suddenly destabilize. Haiti is quickly devolving into civil war. What happens to all the work that would have been done if similar plans had been put into place there a year ago. Or Liberia two decades ago (when it was seen as one of the most stable African nations). The work would largely be undone and the workers would be in mortal danger. The only recourse is to provide protection and enforce stability.

Yet then you have situations where costs are tremendous and you are accused of nation building / imperialism. And military protection cannot be provided by private groups, and as the UN has shown since the Korean War, not even truly by most international coalitions.

While it would be nice if plans of this nature could work, they are too naive to truly eliminate extreme poverty.

You are a realist! Leave K5 immediately! :-) NT (none / 2) (#78)
by morewhine on Thu Feb 19, 2004 at 11:34:13 PM EST



[ Parent ]
Cop-out (2.25 / 4) (#113)
by wurp on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 04:09:58 PM EST

It sounds to me as if you're trying to say "I don't need to give anything since it wouldn't do any good anyway".

Now I don't know what this organization is planning on spending its money on.  I agree that if all they're doing is handing it out to those in extreme poverty, it's not going to do a lot of good and could even do harm.

But investing in educational systems for the extremely poor on how to manage land and manage families, making condoms freely available, encouraging mini-businesses by providing small loans (see http://www.grameen-info.org/dialogue/dialogue40/cover.htm ), providing disease education and vaccination, and providing clean water, staple food and housing could make a vast, vast difference.  If an organization could get inside the head of a foreign culture and present solutions to rampant population growth, clean water, food and disease then they could change the world, and donating to them would sure as hell make a difference.

Maybe your point was that this organization is doing the wrong things, but it didn't look like it to me.  It looked to me like your point was that giving can't help, and if you give to the right people, that's just dead wrong.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

Even teaching to fish is useless to a corpse (2.25 / 4) (#115)
by Woundweavr on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 04:21:59 PM EST

The point I was making is the very instability that causes extreme poverty also makes it impossible for any large scale effort to alleviate the condtions that lead to poverty is doomed without military (or if you prefer "peacekeeping") forces. This group seems to ignore this fact. Nowhere in its Policy Brief is anything of the kind mentioned even in passing.

You can't implement the Marshall Plan until the war is over.

[ Parent ]

Agreed (2.00 / 4) (#121)
by wurp on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 06:07:36 PM EST

But I am certain there are lots of areas with extreme poverty that could benefit from what this organization has to offer.  Not every area that needs help is under an actively hostile government, or in conflict.

In fact, catching the areas in Africa that are frequently in conflict between conflicts could help stop the constant fighting.  If you give people a reason to believe life can be good, they're a lot less likely to let bullies take it away.
---
Buy my stuff
[ Parent ]

Long term process (3.00 / 4) (#134)
by Woundweavr on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 09:54:42 PM EST

Unfortunately, the period of time between conflicts in Africa are generally not very long. While they may be three or five years, that is not a long time to achieve any of the goals of initiative using any of the methods they suggest. You can't educate a populace in less than a generation (or at least close to that). Most of the civil wars in SubS Africa are sparked, supplied or influenced by other nation-states in the area. This makes it not only difficult and dangerous to reach the areas not currently active combat zones but also threatens to destroy any physical work done to improve the economic situation. Infrastructure is vulnerable to explosions as anything.

Furthermore, large scale attempts to improve conditions can be seen as imperialistic forays, and thus they, and their works, become targets.

I'm not saying nothing can be done to help end extreme poverty. I'm saying that this initiative is naive and doomed to failure without military protection and/or forced stability.

I'm trying to find a place with a lot of extreme poverty that is not also highly instable (as in either in war, or is otherwise unsafe such as Somalia or Columbia) or under an oppressive government (such as N. Korea, Vietnam, even Western China). I can't currently think of one but perhaps someone can.

[ Parent ]

Everybody sing: Life can be so gooood... (none / 1) (#179)
by Kuranes on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 09:25:49 AM EST

So I guess it just takes some turn of perspective? Send a letter, not only to all those African Warlords, but also to the White House, and maybe they'll open their hearts. Just try.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Points of information: stable gov is addressed... (none / 0) (#164)
by decon recon on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 05:32:31 PM EST

Points of information:

The question of stable government is directly addressed in the Seattle Initiative.  

The Initiative brief notes it is an open policy question as to how to support the development of stable governments in the least developed countries, which are often unstable, as you note. They note there is no simple solution. But, the Initiative writers are optomistic noting that policies to support stabalization of governments do seem to work, but could be a long process including conflict.

Of the four main planks of the Initiative, the second platform is this:

Investing in Countries: Supporting Good Governance and Open Political and Economic Systems

Some quotes from this section:

"Good policies are not enough and markets cannot do everything. Government plays a crucial role in
establishing the rules of the game and ensuring that they benefit all members of society, including the poor."

*** added

"Good governance and rule of law are preconditions for lasting development and the elimination of extreme poverty. These include elements of accountability, ***political stability***, government effectiveness (including
effective public service delivery), rationalization of the regulatory burden, and control of corruption, all of which combine to create a stable environment for investment and
equitable economic growth."

"While there is no simple solution, the promotion of open political systems and ***strong institutions*** is an essential component of development."

"Past efforts to support civil society, establish property rights, ***empower local governance***,
increase voter participation, promote free and fair elections, and bring new voices to
elected office have had significant impact in many countries. For example, 140 of the
world's nearly 200 countries now hold multiparty elections, more than any time in history."

"It is important to remember that attaining open markets and open societies in industrial
countries in the 19th and 20th centuries involved a great deal of conflict, some of which was
violent. It required the ***establishment of the rule of law***, competent and fair systems of
justice, a constant battle against blatant corruption, respect for human rights as well as
property rights, and the ***maintenance of law and order***. It also required social policies
(including safety nets) to protect and compensate those hurt by inevitable economic dislocation. Finally, it required governments that were willing and competent to initiate and manage change. The process was neither easy nor automatic."

"...the key policy question is how to promote and support these capacities successfully."

source:
http://www.seattleinitiative.org/SIPolicyBrief.pdf


[ Parent ]

It's funny how they swerve around the question... (none / 0) (#178)
by Kuranes on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 09:22:31 AM EST

...of using violence. Just a small hint on page 4:
The United States has the ability and responsibility to use its unprecedented strength to spread opportunity to those who have yet to share in the advances benefiting much of the world at the turn of the 21st century.
So I'm curious: Thid the US use its unprecedented strenght in Iraq to spread opportunity or did they just have fun killing people so they could sack some $$$ afterwards?

In short, a plan for changing the world has to adress the question of violence. Stating to simply put forward some objectively legitimated process that everybody can agree on is naive at its best, if not hypocrite.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
various options in stabalization (none / 1) (#185)
by decon recon on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 11:07:01 AM EST

The U.S. is not the only international actor. There are many. The Seattle Initiative calls for an international effort.

This is enormously complex.  We need to move beyond being U.S.-centric in analyzing this.  The Initiative does that.

There are various ways that countries can stabilize.  

The Initiative proposes that U.S. only carry about 40% of the cost of the additional burden ($20 billion/year of the $50 billion/year needed).  

The current Iraq war comparison is timely but not accurate here.  More accurate analogy would be the first Iraq war where there was U.N. approval.  More accurate would be the use of U.N. peace keeping forces in various trouble spots.  Perhaps that would be what it comes down to...

However, there are various options...  Looking down the road a bit...

- Some states may achieve relative stability through a dominant block or balance of powers emerging

- Pan-Africanism has been a growing movement in Africa for some time... African states may initiate the efforts to collectively establish order in states that ask (or don't ask) for help...  

- Similarly, trade and political blocks are forming in Latin America and S.E. Asia.

- The G-21/22/23 etc. (including India, China, Brazil, and Africa) which formed to resist global north agenda the latest WTO meeting in Cancun may initiate development work

- Perhaps groups of NGOs will pool their resources and be able to establish significant demostration development projects in specific relatively safe regions of unstable countries.  This might then tip the balance in some countries to protecting and encouraging aid work.

- Some individual states may ask for political and military support from neighbors, which then draws in larger pools of actors.

There are a lot of options.

These are difficult questions and the Initiative writers, while identifying the issue of stability of governments and various factors that make that up, do leave the political questions open for debate - for experts in developing countries, the U.N., in NGO development circiles, in the WB/IMF (unfortunately), and, yes, in the Pentagon.  This isn't hypocritical. It's not their job, nor expertise. It is too complex to sum up in a short brief.

It is good to be critical. But, we need to be creative and open to options as well.


[ Parent ]

Not U.S.-centric? (none / 0) (#203)
by Kuranes on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 12:02:36 PM EST

Well, why don't they rightly step in and get their proposal to the U.N.?

And why does the U.S. play the central role in the paper? It sounds a little bit like "we'd like to keep the world secure in cooperation with everybody, but if you don't cooperate, we'll do it alone"!

You need to be careful to which options you're open. I doubt the Pentagon guys are people I'd like to work on stabilizing countries.

A propos: You haven't given me your definition of stability yet. Is it simply "balance of power"?


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
more points of information (none / 1) (#206)
by decon recon on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 12:30:29 PM EST

We're talking about the Seattle Initiative here.
After the essay, I have been providing some points of information.

The Initiative mentions it focuses on the U.S. because of its wealth and because these are U.S. business men wanting to raise police questions and money for aid. The goal is to raise $20 billion/yr of $50 billion/yr because that is roughly the proprotion of wealth in US to other aid giving countries.  

I support any constructive critique you or anyone want to make of U.S. initiated development work that does not want to go to work directly with the U.N., service networks and the peoples and networks of indigenous development workers in developing countries.

There were a list of options in the previous note, including countries pulling it together on their own or with help of neighbors and some cash - Pentagon based planning for development would probably be the one I was least interested in seeing evolve.

The Intiative mentions a dozen or so factors related to "stable" government.  Please consult that. Beyond points of information and clarification and responses to misunderstandings, I'm going to wait till next weekend to respond to specific points.


[ Parent ]

Well, just to clarify my main point again... (none / 0) (#207)
by Kuranes on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 01:02:44 PM EST

I agree with your post.

My main point in the previous comment was not: US = War = Great Satan.

I only saw a problem in the paper's ignorance of military conflict. If they had included a view on it, it probably would have sounded like: "Oh, war is so bad. We should have evolved enough to keep from it."

I do think that violence should and can be avoided in most cases, but as a commandment unavailable to be questioned, pacifism is simply ideology. Think of the Kosovo case: As soon as the population didn't want to be only victims anymore and fought back, the rebel forces (UCK etc.) were dismissed as "Warlords", because they got blood on their hands instead of just comfortably throwing some bombs from the air above.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
re: Your main point (none / 1) (#208)
by decon recon on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 02:40:06 PM EST

This is a good point.

Included in the quotes above, earlier in this string, was this:

*** added

"It is important to remember that attaining open markets and open societies in industrial
countries in the 19th and 20th centuries involved a ***great deal of conflict, some of which was
violent***. It required the ***establishment of the rule of law***, competent and fair systems of
justice, a constant battle against blatant corruption, respect for human rights as well as
property rights, and the ***maintenance of law and order***. It also required social policies
(including safety nets) to protect and compensate those hurt by inevitable economic dislocation. Finally, it required governments that were willing and competent to initiate and manage change. The process was neither easy nor automatic."

So, they do not ignore conflict - and later they say it is an open question how to proceed.  The Initiative opens a dialog and raises a lot of questions. Unfortunately or not, it does so in a way that allows development approaches that are inimical to the environment and interests of poor people to be advanced.

If the U.S. has a new democratic administration in 2005, then these questions may well become matters of policy debate and not just a brief.

To repeat: I don't think the Initiative ignore the question of violence in state building - it just doesn't get very specific on this or very many things. It is a short paper.

[ Parent ]

No Danger In Iraq (none / 0) (#233)
by SEWilco on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 01:41:08 PM EST

Relief workers could have gone into Iraq during recent years. They probably wouldn't have been in any danger, and probably would have had a government escort. But Saddam and his thugs would have been stealing whatever they wanted, even if keeping at a distance. They were good at playing games, whether it was pretending to tell inspectors everything, or threatening everyone by behaving as if they had a strong military with many kinds of weapons, or pretending there was an embargo while skimming profits from exports.

[ Parent ]
That's great. (1.85 / 7) (#88)
by bhearsum on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 01:22:29 AM EST

Let's let a few elite people deal with the worlds problems. That'll sure help the rest of us.

As opposed to... (none / 1) (#110)
by liquidcrystal3 on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 02:54:21 PM EST

not letting them deal with the problems? Or forcing them to deal with non-problems?

Seriously though I think it's great news. +1 FP!

[ Parent ]
Go right ahead... (none / 0) (#232)
by SEWilco on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 01:33:30 PM EST

It's called philanthropy, when rich people give money to those they want to give it to. It's what Bruce Wayne's day job is. (Well, that's what he was called for decades; recently he's been shown being active in his businesses)

If you were rich, shouldn't you be able to decide what to do with your money? Or should someone else decide? (Note that when riches are inherited, eventually various descendants decide to do philanthropy. Also, sponsorship of artists or researchers is an old tradition...which can be interpreted as philanthropy if nothing of intrinsic value is produced.)

[ Parent ]

Defense Budget (2.37 / 8) (#109)
by anaesthetica on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 02:53:35 PM EST

The U.S. national budget in 2004 is estimated at $2.3 trillion dollars, with the GDP estimated at $11.5 trillion. The current U.S. aid budget is approximately 1% of the total national budget vs. around 18% for defense. The U.S. Department of Defense budget for 2005 is projected to be over $428 billion (so far); 2004 is projected at $434 billion.

The U.S. military budget is equal to that of the budgets of the countries with the next 10 largest military budgets. The U.S. can afford to trim its Defense department alone by less that 5%, or $20 billion.

While not commenting on the desirability of defense spending in general, I would like to point out that in relations to the historical spending habits of Great Powers, the US spends relativily less on defense than any of the past Great Powers ever did.

The general window for Great Power defense spending over the last 500 years (perhaps more) has been to spend at least 5% of GDP, and no more than 25% of the total government budget on defense during peacetime. Obviously those numbers would change significantly during wars. The US currently spends under 5% of US GDP on defense, even while carrying the burden of being the sole super power in the international system. If anything, the US is underspending on the military, in light of the historical spending on those in its position. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing is up for debate.

The simple fact is that the role of a global hegemon over the past 500 years (portugal/spain 1500-1600, holland 1600-1700, UK 1700-1900, US 1900-2000--roughly) has been to ensure free commerce through the maintenance of the largest and most powerful navy. Still over 90% of all international trade in goods is conducted by the sea, and the US guarantees the security of this free trade with its navy. Navies, more than armies, air forces or nuclear weapons, are the most expensive pieces of military equipment that a country can invest in. The cost of an aircraft carrier group is staggering. I believe we maintain 11, although I'm not sure--since the end of the Reagan era the total size of the navy has gone from almost 600 ships to just barely above 300. Still we maintain about 70% of all military ships operating on blue water.

One may question why we need to maintain such a vast navy, controlling all the world's seas. The Romans felt the same way when they conquered all the lands surrounding the Mediterranean. But when they disbanded their navy, they soon found out that piracy flourished and "their lake" (Mare Nostrum as they called it) was virtually unusable for any form of commerce. Like it or not, an aircraft carrier battle group sitting off someone's coast can make them think more than twice about doing something shady.

But, to come back firmly on topic, I do believe I've heard that the State Department has been planning a modern or updated Marshall Plan, wherein US foreign aid will target the poorest of the poor nations in an effort to lift some of these regions out of their poverty trap. I'm not sure if there are any specifics widely available at this point--I heard about it through a well-connected professor of mine actually. It should be interesting if it ever comes to fruition.

One final nitpicking comment: I'm not sure that one the five central planks of this whitepaper is that poverty is the cause of terrorism. This is not entirely correct, and is probably more misleading than anything else. The obvious example are the highest eschelons of Al-Qaeda, men who have massive personal fortunes, good education, access to wonderful material comfort, etc, but still wallow in extremist homicidal manias.


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


heh (none / 3) (#116)
by Battle Troll on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 04:28:59 PM EST

But when they disbanded their navy, they soon found out that piracy flourished and "their lake" (Mare Nostrum as they called it) was virtually unusable for any form of commerce.

Uh, do you mean when the Vandals invaded North Africa, or are you talking about when the Arabs took to the seas to conquer the Balearics and Crete?

Anyhow, the Romans hardly 'disbanded' their navy, it's more that economic decline during the 5th century made the Western Empire incapable of fielding massive navies like those that won the first Punic war. But the Byzantine Empire continued to be a formidable presence at sea for hundreds of years; witness Justinian wresting Africa from the Germanic kings ca. 530 AD or the amphibious invasion of Alexandria in the middle of the seventh century.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

Ice Skating (none / 0) (#161)
by anaesthetica on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 03:56:55 PM EST

As far as the Roman navy, I'll have to re-read my history for the specifics. I'm fairly sure I'm not referring to the Arab navies-- I'm not sure about the Vandals. But, point taken.

As a side note: I read Njal's Saga freshman year in high school and it was really rough on me. However, my favorite part was when some badass (I think Gunnar) ran and slid across an iced over lake and eviscerated some enemy of his. That was hot.

—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Re: Njal (none / 0) (#163)
by Battle Troll on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 04:41:06 PM EST

That was Skarp-Hedin, and I presume he used Battle-Troll.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]
evil (none / 2) (#124)
by gdanjo on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 07:25:31 PM EST

One final nitpicking comment: I'm not sure that one the five central planks of this whitepaper is that poverty is the cause of terrorism. This is not entirely correct, and is probably more misleading than anything else. The obvious example are the highest eschelons of Al-Qaeda, men who have massive personal fortunes, good education, access to wonderful material comfort, etc, but still wallow in extremist homicidal manias.
The highest eschelons are able to convince the lower eschelons (the poor) to do their dirty work. The fact that the poor are poor is a cause for them to listen to people in higher eschelons - if the poor had opportunity, they would most likely tell them to fuck off; to leave them alone.

But isn't this always the way? Evil, by definition, is caused by those that convince other people to do the dirty work - and is enabled by the other people's willingness to do the work, in absence of anything worthy to work on on their own.

Dan ...
"Death - oh! fair and `guiling copesmate Death!
Be not a malais'd beggar; claim this bloody jester!"
-ToT
[ Parent ]

One point of contention. (2.00 / 4) (#130)
by Kiyooka on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 08:37:18 PM EST

"The US currently spends under 5% of US GDP on defense, even while carrying the burden of being the sole super power in the international system. If anything, the US is underspending on the military, in light of the historical spending on those in its position. Whether this is a good thing or bad thing is up for debate."

An informed and thoughtful post, but I'd contend with your characterization that the US must "carry the burden of being the sole superpower in the international system".  This is no burden, it is a privelege.  This position was actively pursued by the US government, not a chair of honour thrust upon the worthy US out of love and respect.  The US wants to be the world's superpower because it wants (here we go:) to take over the world.  Outlandish?  United States is built on the philosophy of Manifest Destiny:  that the destiny of the US is to take over the world.  Hence, the insane military budget.  The previous superpower was England, who went around colonizing (i.e, trying to take over) other parts of the world.

To sum, please don't try to excuse the US's huge budget spending by claiming it spends less than the previous world power spent.  It's a deflection of the issue at hand:  the necessity and agenda behind the military spending.  Characterizing the US as a victim carrying the burden of the being the bully of the block makes it even worse.

[ Parent ]

Manifest Insanity (none / 1) (#140)
by kurioszyn on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 11:30:30 PM EST

Take over the world ?

I think it is the other way around - at last judging by the numbers of people trying to get into this country.

[ Parent ]

"Take Over", (none / 0) (#211)
by Kiyooka on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 05:55:28 PM EST

as in exert dominating political/economic/military/cultural force over.  The immigration of citizens is nothing.  The export of MTV culture to erase tradition/culture and dislodge a country's identity, the infiltration of a country by CIAs, the meddling of local politics on the other side of the globe, and the control of an economy is to "take over".

[ Parent ]
Hehehe (none / 0) (#216)
by kurioszyn on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 09:16:11 PM EST

I am sorry but you are nuts.

What you call the MTV culture is simply another product available for sale.
Let me get this thru your thick skull - there is nobody forcing you or anyone else to buy and watch this stuff.
Same applies to US style fast-food and other US exports.

People voluntarily pay money for these products because they want them - they themselves are "dislodging tradition and culture".
It is called freedom of choice and apparently it is an alien concept to you.

"the infiltration of a country by CIAs,"

Yeah, yeah .. you need to stop reading indimedia.org.

[ Parent ]

None so blind as those who won't see. (none / 0) (#235)
by Kiyooka on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 02:58:07 PM EST

MTV culture is addictive.  It's shallow, sexy, trashy, but irresistible.  A sort of opium.  Bringing it to a very traditional hierarchical country will disrupt the transmission of culture, and hence cultural identity.  The social framework itself will be disrupted.  Did you hear the U.S. is setting up a "pop radio station for youth" in Iraq?  It will play Britney, Eminem, etc., because of course that's what all the youth of Iraq want, right?  It doesn't matter if they don't know what this trashy music is at first, nor does it matter that none of them asked for it in the first place--they will hear it, and they will love it, or they will have to grow to love it.

If you think mainstream junk culture evolved by chance then you're naive.  If you think there's nothing strange about half a billion people spanning several continents listening to the exact same songs over and over, and it's all shallow crap but the radio insists its "THE HOTTEST AND BEST MUSIC TODAY!!!", then you're naive.  If you think you have as much freedom of choice as you believe, then I leave you to your placid, happy ignorance.

And an example wrt the CIA:  did you know the Dalai Lama had to flee Tibet because of China's takeover?  Most people do.  Did you know that the CIA were involved?  No?  The Dalai Lama himself writes about it in one of his books.  Maybe the Dalai Lama has been reading too much indimedia.org too.  I mean, there's no way the CIA would be involved in politics on the other side of the world 50 years ago near the Himalayan Mountains, right?  And that was 50 years ago.  I'm sure the CIA have shrunk, right?  Because we all know the US likes to give up power.

Go do your research outside of National Enquirer, New York Times, Fox TV, and US Govt press releases.  Maybe it'll teach you to think critically, instead of pigeon-holing people and their ideas because they don't fit in with your perspective of the world.  Then again, maybe National Enquirer would teach you to use your imagination, if nothing else...

It's people like you who would spout about how much you hate Saddam because he was involved with 9-11 and has lots of big bad weapons, as the US anthem roars in the background and the US flag reflects in your wistful eyes.  And its people like you who would keep loving the people in the US government buildings with all of your heart and soul and spirit and mind even after they admit that there was nothing found except 25 000 corpses of innocent people.

[ Parent ]

Well well ... (none / 0) (#238)
by kurioszyn on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 01:04:36 AM EST

You still don't get it , do you ?

It is called freedom. Yeah, US is setting up a radio station over there but so can everyone else. What do you really want ? A French style ban where couple of snobs like you dictate what people are allowed to consume ?

" If you think you have as much freedom of choice as you believe, then I leave you to your placid, happy ignorance."

No, it is not ignorance. It is simply a fact.
Majority of people enjoy participating in trashy culture and there is nothing you can do about it short of forcing them into "approved" forms of entertainment.

I still don't get it what is exactly your problem ?
You don't like Britney or Eminem ? Neither do I but I don't run around screaming about a fucking conspiracy because I am smart enough to realize that the only conspiracy here is the basic fact that people like to make money and thus will try produce stuff that sells best. And as I mentioned, generally most people enjoy the simplest forms of entertainment and consequently this is what is being played all over the world.

"o do your research outside of National Enquirer, New York Times, Fox TV, and US Govt press releases."

Don't be so presumptuous because you are not the fucking Oracle and , believe it or not ,there are other people who are just as smart or even smarter than you.
Having different opinion does not equal being uninformed so stop acting like a fucking Enlightened One because that simply makes you look like a pompous fuck.

[ Parent ]

It's ME that doesn't get it? (none / 0) (#249)
by Kiyooka on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 04:55:13 PM EST

I said the CIA meddles in other people's countries, and you said I read indimedia.org too much. I gave one example to show you that I'm not a conspiracy theorist, but now you ignore that and claim that I don't get it?

Then you say I'm a pompous fuck. If you look back, I briefly posted that immigrating citizens aren't an invasion. Then you replied and started throwing insults out of nowhere, saying I have a thick skull, etc. You started this flame war. If you throw shit at me, I throw shit back at you. If you don't want me to act like an asshole to you, don't start fucking with me out of nowhere. What else did you expect? For me to powder your ass after you say shit about me? All your actions have consequences--my attitude towards you was simply another.



[ Parent ]
Bully on the block... (none / 2) (#162)
by anaesthetica on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 04:20:22 PM EST

Well, if the US were really trying to take over the world, I'd say they've done a much worse job of it than the British ever did. The Brits, in their day controlled 25% of the earth's landmass, and a corresponding 25% of the world's population, through their control of commonwealth colonies throughout each of the continents. The US is nowhere near those numbers, yet by every conceivable measure we have more power and resources at our disposal than the Brits ever did.

And your correction is right on the spot: it's not only a burden, it is in fact primarily a privilege. Under Presidents McKinley and TR, with Naval advisors like Alfred Thayer Mahon, the United States attempted to fashion itself into a Great Power equal to any European power of the time. We didn't count on Europe imploding twice leaving us the only power and only advanced economy standing. It is said that whereas the Brits acquired an empire in a fit of absentmindedness, the Americans acquired an empire by invitation. You'll find that as much as other countries find the US arrogant and abrasive, they're more afraid of the US leaving than staying. To a great extent, our fleets sitting off their coasts eliminates the security competition between neighboring countries, which might otherwise treat each other with suspicion. Even the European diplomats have remarked in the past that they'd rather face an insular and offshore US superpower than a European Great Power on the continent.

The point I was trying to make with the historical comparison is simply this: the US's defense budget, as a percentage of GDP, is significantly lower than any other historical Great Power, much less sole superpower. It is a large absolute number (insanely large as you call it), but it is not proportionally any larger than normal--in fact it is proportionally smaller than usual. Further, spending a lot on the military is only indirectly related to your charge of the US being a "bully," as that is directly the result of political decision-making. A country can have a vast military force and still be relatively benign: something that other countries said of the US during the Bush Sr. and Clinton presidencies.


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Bully on the block. (none / 0) (#214)
by Kiyooka on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 06:53:29 PM EST

"Further, spending a lot on the military is only indirectly related to your charge of the US being a "bully," as that is directly the result of political decision-making. A country can have a vast military force and still be relatively benign: something that other countries said of the US during the Bush Sr. and Clinton presidencies."

I disagree with the above statement on the grounds that the amount of military spending is *not* indirectly related to my charge of the US being a bully;  they are *directly* related, because both political decisions and military spending are determined by the same entity:  the US government political body.  Someone once said (sorry forgot who) that "war is merely an extension of politics".

I would agree with you that Clinton's era did seem relatively benign (although we as regular citizens will never know the full story).  However, I would hardly call Bush's era benign:  he's called the country to war to supposedly valourize democracy, yet acted against the decision of the United Nations--the world democratic council.  25 000 civilians dead.  If he had allowed inspectors more time, then they would have clearly found nothing.  But I think that was the point:  Bush's group seemed almost desperate beyond all cause to start a war in the middle east, hence the "either with us or against us" and the "absence of proof is not proof of absence" speeches.  Perhaps they knew there was nothing, but didn't want the world to know there was nothing so they could have a pretext for war.  Well, this is getting too detailed here, but my point is:  Bush's era so far has been anything but benign.  Please don't buy into the double-speak:  "defense" spending means miltary spending, "peace-keepers" are weapons of destruction, "floating fortresses" are ships of mass destruction, etc. etc. etc.

The only ones I've heard describe Bush's era as benign are those who live in the U.S., curiously enough.

[ Parent ]

Extension of Politics (none / 0) (#253)
by anaesthetica on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 07:48:06 PM EST

Someone once said (sorry forgot who) that "war is merely an extension of politics".

You are paraphrasing the Prussian military officer Carl Von Clausewitz, who wrote his major work On War (Von Krieg) on the coattails of the Enlightenment.

I should have been clearer in the grandparent post: I was referring to Bush Sr. not Bush Jr., along with Clinton. Military spending was high during both, and increased in absolute terms under both, yet neither were considered particularly militant, despite wars in the Gulf and in Kosovo. Despite quoting Clausewitz, you still seem to agree with my point: war is a policy decision, the amount of armaments you have is not a deciding factor. Witness Rwanda: millions of people killed with machetes. Didn't require much of defense budget to make that policy choice.

One final technical point: Bush didn't act against the decision of the UN. No decision was made by the UN Security Council after 1441. A resolution for war, or against war, would have been vetoed. No decision is not by default a decision against the war. The legal interpretations are in fact much more complex than you would have it seem.


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Huh? (none / 2) (#147)
by steve h on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 05:58:50 AM EST

Still over 90% of all international trade in goods is conducted by the sea, and the US guarantees the security of this free trade with its navy.

The US Navy's job is to defend the US and it's interests, not to protect international shipping from piracy.

As for ensuring free trade, the US is is the single largest source of unilateral economic sanctions. Lately, the US has been emphasizing unilateral trade deals rather than multilateral free trade arrangements. The US gets it's power from restricting and controlling free trade, not protecting it.

[ Parent ]

Free Trade (none / 1) (#195)
by anaesthetica on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 06:05:36 PM EST

Well, the reason we initially developed a Navy, and subsequently strengthened that Navy, was to protect US interests. Those interests, historically, have been to protect US naval commerce from interference, either from foreign powers or pirates. However, in the post-WWII world, the US assumed the position as one of the world's superpowers. On blue water, the US was the sole superpower, as the USSR's fleet was small and regional, not global. One of the Navy's jobs is to patrol international waters, not only maintaining the safety of US commerce, but of all seaborne commerce. It engages in what would otherwise be nearly useless maneuvers called Freedom of Movement Maneuvers, in which its fleets sail up to and along the territorial waters of various countries to demonstrate that US force guarantees free movement in international waters for all boats.

You cite the US being the source of the most unilateral economic sanctions, but statistics can sometimes be misleading. If it were the leader of unilateral economic sanctions proportional to the volume of international trade and trading partners it has, then that would be a telling statistic. But saying it simply has the most is misleading, because the US is also the single most traded with country in the world. There are virtually no countries that do not engage in trade with the US, something that very few other countries can claim. Further, the effect of trade sanctions from the world's largest economy is clearly significant, whereas having unilateral trade sanctions placed on your country by the Czech Republic would not really make much difference at all.

You also say that the US emphasizes unilateral trade deals rather than multilateral trade deals of late. Perhaps this was a typo, because unilateral trade deal is somewhat of an oxymoron. I think you meant bilateral trade deals. And frankly, so what if it has--there's no requirement to fashion trade deals in either manner. In fact, large multilateral trade deals are a very recent phenomenon. Finally, there is no inherent characteristic of multilateral trade deals that somehow makes them freer than bilateral trade deals, or vice versa.

And your last point about US power and free trade I think may be a bit confused. The US most certainly does get its power from free trade between nations. The distinction I think you want to make here is that the US exercises its power by restricting and controlling free trade. Not too different from what you said, but I think a difference that is significant nonetheless.


—I'm the little engine that didn't.
k5: our trolls go to eleven
[A]S FAR AS A PERSON'S ACTIONS ARE CONCERNED, IT IS NOT TRUE THAT NOTHING BUT GOOD COMES FROM GOOD AND NOTHING BUT EVIL COMES FROM EVIL, BUT RATHER QUITE FREQUENTLY THE OPPOSITE IS THE CASE. ANYONE WHO DOES NOT REALIZE THIS IS IN FACT A MERE CHILD IN POLITICAL MATTERS. max weber, politics as a vocation


[ Parent ]
Transhistorical comparison is a bad argument (none / 0) (#182)
by Kuranes on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 09:52:23 AM EST

Compared with the Aztec empire, the US spends only very few human lives to appeal to the gods.

But at least, some comparison with the Roman Empire (which was structured similar with allied states etc.) could do some good.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
true but (none / 1) (#194)
by Battle Troll on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 05:43:46 PM EST

But at least, some comparison with the Roman Empire (which was structured similar with allied states etc.) could do some good.

Comparison with the Eastern Empire is far more apt than comparison with the Western Empire, especially considering the far greater degree to which foreign races were assimilated into the Roman system in the East.[1] I know that last clause sounds odd at first reading, but when you consider that Justinian and the Azens were Vlachs, that as early as Diocletian[2] Illyrians sat on the Imperial throne, and that by the ninth century the Eastern Empire had seen Armenian and Bulgarian emperors, it makes a lot of sense.

[1] For an example too large to be obvious, the Greeks.

[2] Although Diocletian reigned before the so-called "fall of Rome," the centre of political gravity was already drifting away from the City of Rome, witness the rise of Ravenna and Milan as administrative centres closer to the front lines.
--
Skarphedinn was carrying the axe with which he had killed Thrainn Sigfusson and which he called 'Battle Troll.'
Njal's Saga, ca 1280 AD
[ Parent ]

HAHAHAHAHAHA! (none / 0) (#221)
by For Whom The Bells Troll on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 09:10:21 AM EST

Boy.... so Portuguese/Spanish conquest of the seas led to greater FREE trade in the world?

I believe, sir, that if there was any award for the most revisionist theory, you'd win it effortlessly.

---
The Big F Word.
[ Parent ]

Those Who Don't Know History, nor Current Events (none / 1) (#231)
by SEWilco on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 01:05:11 PM EST

One may question why we need to maintain such a vast navy, controlling all the world's seas. The Romans felt the same way when they conquered all the lands surrounding the Mediterranean. But when they disbanded their navy, they soon found out that piracy flourished and "their lake" (Mare Nostrum as they called it) was virtually unusable for any form of commerce. Like it or not, an aircraft carrier battle group sitting off someone's coast can make them think more than twice about doing something shady.

All that still applies.

  • The U.S. Marines cleaned up "the shores of Tripoli", with help from other countries and the Navy, when governments decided to stop paying the Barbary Coast pirates. Pirates would kidnap people and crew and hold them for ransom. Many countries rewarded this behavior by paying ransom. Also, the governments where the "pirates" were based demanded annual payments from countries so the pirates would leave alone ships from those countries. Talking didn't stop them. Payment supported their continued threats.
  • Piracy is taking place now. Particularly in areas of extreme poverty, governments without protective police, and where life is short and cheap. When life is not valued, it is easier to buzz 70 miles out to sea in an unsafe boat in order to try to steal or kidnap.
  • See the current Weekly Piracy Report Have you seen this ship?
  • Note in the Annual Piracy Report" press release says that now "military-style operations by militant groups seeking to hold crew members for ransom" are common. Recently a company paid ransom in SE Asia, and pirates in the area saw kidnapping made business sense (Somali pirates have been using ransom for some time).
  • As is most visible in the maps, the area around poorly-enforced Indonesia is dangerous. On the other side of the dotted line in the water, Malaysian waters have fewer problems due to their enforcement...but can't pursue into Indonesian waters. Similarly, other navies can't patrol there -- although they are entitled to defend themselves if someone decides to try to pirate a big gray ship bristling with weapons.


[ Parent ]
Well, which is it? (2.60 / 5) (#111)
by Skywise on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 03:10:12 PM EST

Are the IMF and WTO, neo conservative organizations hellbent on enslaving humanity for the sake of the almighty dollar?

Or are they neo-liberal organizations which are wonderful tools for the use of spreading the noble cause of socialism?

liars and thieves (none / 1) (#119)
by JyZude on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 05:16:28 PM EST

They are money-hungry conservatives parading around as altruistic liberals. They want to liberalize stuff to the point that they can control it, and no further.

...a little bird told me so.

-----
k5 is not the new Adequacy k thnx bye


[ Parent ]
obviously (none / 0) (#170)
by aetheroar on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 10:50:04 PM EST

Anything that starts with neo- is bad. Neoliberal, neoconservative, neo-Nazi. I'm boycotting places with Neon lights, and I'm getting pretty suspicious of neolithic era.

[ Parent ]
why not both? (none / 0) (#177)
by Kuranes on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 09:12:55 AM EST

I can't await the day some people take over IMF and WTO to do some real altruism instead of all this alibi stuff.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
I'm sure it'll all work out.. (1.40 / 5) (#117)
by Sesquipundalian on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 04:29:38 PM EST

Just as long as they get;


1) "unconditional love" child wlefare legislation first.

2) radical feminist divorce legislation second.

3) total commoditization of the artisian class third.

4) homosexual marriage fourth.

5) ???

6) PROFIT!!!

After all, it's probably at work right now in a first world country near you!


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
+3, Funny (none / 0) (#228)
by SEWilco on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 11:35:31 AM EST

There is no Funny rating, so I just Encourage more.

[ Parent ]
How? (2.75 / 4) (#120)
by virtualjay222 on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 05:20:39 PM EST

A voluntary redistribution of wealth for the greater good is a refreshing change of pace from the various corporate scandals that pollute the "news" today. I do, however, have a few questions.

Who would get all the money that would be donated? Private charities perhaps? A new organization devoted to the cause?

Would the money be used to set up a new infrastructure, support existing ones, or to simply supply various vaccinations, pesticides, etc? Who would head up the operations: Americans? An international coalition? The indiginous people?

---

I'm not in denial, I'm just selective about the reality I choose to accept.

-Calvin and Hobbes


The Wealthy Define Poverty As Lack of $ (2.80 / 5) (#122)
by Baldrson on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 06:18:28 PM EST

They are so full of shit they deserve whatever they get.

Lack of $ isn't poverty -- lack of self-sufficiency is poverty.

You can be a corporate dilbert and still be in poverty compared to the "poorest" man in Africa if the man in Africa can raise his own own food while the dilbert has to go to grovel in front of his boss-man to get $ to go to the grocery store.

Can anyone think of why the wealthy might want the rest of us to think of poverty in terms of low incomes as opposed to life-sustaining assets?

Gee... kind of obvious when the question is approriate to the issue.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


Interesting point. (none / 3) (#126)
by Kiyooka on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 08:05:23 PM EST

I'm not sure what to make of it though. 2 possibilities:

1) As you implied, this philosophy is dangerous to businessmen, because if everyone realizes what you say is true, they won't spend $1000 on clothes, $500 on coffee, $3000 on computers, and $20 000 on a nice shiny car.  I.e., they'll see through bullshit consumer culture and realize that material possession isn't what life's about.

2) However, businessmen and others, in the right position of power, might like this philosophy among the masses.  If people don't care about material possessions, they won't care that they don't have any.  This makes them easier to screw over.  Dominate the market, raise the prices bit by bit, and there's less resistance because people don't buy as much so they have more money. This also means less competition and more placid happy proletariet who won't actively try to disrupt the existing social order, because they'll be pursuing their own non-material form of happiness.

In the end, I guess it depends how much this philosophy affects their bottom line.  If its some struggling $2000/t-shirt company, then they'll hate this philosophy.  If its, say, Nike or DeBeers, they won't really care because they've got such a solid grip on culture anyway, nor would Shell care because their profits are almost impossible to undermine.

[ Parent ]

Buying the nice shiny car (none / 1) (#133)
by synik on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 09:49:12 PM EST

...often makes more sense than driving an older car.

Case in point. My laser TX3 (escort) cost $6000 (Australian dollars). I've spent $3000 in 6 months keeping it running.

Now, a 1 year old Astra SRI costs $23 000 with a 5 year (175 000km) warranty. Over 5 years that is $100 a fortnight, compared to $150 a fortnight for my current car.

Sometimes that nice shiny car is a good idea.

---
The human race has suffered for centuries and is still suffering from the mental disorder known as religion, and atheism is the only physician that will be able to effect a permanent cure. -- Joseph Lewis
[ Parent ]

And Then There's My 69 VW (none / 1) (#136)
by Baldrson on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 10:02:13 PM EST

I've spent 0 dollars keeping my 69 VW running for the last year. Well.. I guess I did have to negotiate a deal where I did some Linux work for the VW mechanic -- he had a printer problem with his home Linux system that needed straightening out -- but that was rather easy since both of us appreciate the other's skills.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

not quite (none / 2) (#165)
by cronian on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 05:46:59 PM EST

The poor man in Africa can probably only raise his own crops until an army shows up, and steals his land. Unless you can militarily defend your own land, you aren't really self-sustaining.

We perfect it; Congress kills it; They make it; We Import it; It must be anti-Americanism
[ Parent ]
One can compare that to the US farmers... (none / 2) (#171)
by Baldrson on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 12:45:22 AM EST

When the IRS/government can come up to a farmer and say, in effect: "Explain to us everything you've done for the last 10 years in audits to our satisfaction or you lose your land and go to jail to be raped by gangs of African Americans for the crime of being white." one is hard pressed to see the situation of the African farmer as much worse.

-------- Empty the Cities --------


[ Parent ]

We should fight poverty by selling weapons ;) /nt (none / 1) (#176)
by Kuranes on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 09:10:18 AM EST




Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Poverty is Relative (none / 1) (#227)
by SEWilco on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 11:32:41 AM EST

The group's policy states they are concerned about extreme poverty and not relative poverty. They define "extreme poverty" with a U.N. definition of $1/day.

But all wealth is relative. If you're in a climate with no freezing winters and minimal shelter is cheap, with cheap vegetables and some chickens in your backyard, and bread or admission to entertainment costs one U.S. penny, then how much is necessary? If you're living at the South Pole, where all your food and supplies have to be brought in, and you'll be stuck there for the long winter months, then how much wage is necessary?

[ Parent ]

Bill Gates wealthiest with asterix (none / 3) (#128)
by nsayer on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 08:08:42 PM EST

BG is indeed the wealthiest person only if you leave out herreditary monarchies and presidents-for-life and other governmentally connected people.

A small nit, I realize, but what would kuro5hin be without them?


B-G (none / 0) (#131)
by Roman on Fri Feb 20, 2004 at 08:48:46 PM EST

Funny :) this is how they write 'god' in Russian if they decide not to write the entire word (for some stupid reason.) In Russian 'god' is written and read as 'bog', so b-g.

[ Parent ]
Let me get this straight (2.57 / 7) (#145)
by trhurler on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 04:35:23 AM EST

Some of the world's richest people devise a seemingly workable plan that would eventually put an end to almost all starvation, homelessness, malnutrition, and so on, and your response is "this might hurt open source software!"?!?

Are you on drugs?

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

It might also... (none / 0) (#175)
by Kuranes on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 09:07:19 AM EST

...hurt the environment, Public Institutions, Human Rights (which were, as far as I skimmed it, not even mentioned in the paper), at those points where they interfere with the priorities set in the paper, including a naive praise of deregulation.

Simple said.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Two things (none / 0) (#213)
by trhurler on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 06:27:30 PM EST

First of all, if Maslow was right, starving people could care less about any of the above, and people who are not starving will begin to demand those things. So, that would make this initiative favor those things, even if it is not intended to do so - in the long run.

Second, Maslow was more or less right.

Third, look at the countries where extreme poverty is common. Their public institutions are usually military dictatorships. They have no enforcable "rights" to speak of. "Regulation" means being threatened at gunpoint by a member of the secret police. Surely helping these people not to starve and giving them homes cannot make those situations much worse. As for the environment, the pattern is quite clear: developing nations temporarily make their environments worse, but if they become developed nations, it starts getting better again. The solution is obvious.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Nonsensical (none / 3) (#146)
by Xenophanes on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 05:54:00 AM EST

It seems to me the author is kind of shooting him/her self in the foot with this.

The main points of this essay are: first, it is feasible to greatly reduce extreme poverty and, second, the effort to fight extreme poverty could be used to promote neoliberal economic strategies that are destructive to the environment and to worker's rights.

It reads almost like someone wrote an article praising the Seattle Initiative, then someone else edited it adding paragraphs every so often to stress the point about promoting neoliberal economic strategies. It jumps from promoting this initiative to saying its just a way to make the rich more rich without any attempt at segue. Perhapse I missed the point? Could someone help me out here.

liberalization: various types (none / 1) (#151)
by decon recon on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 09:40:22 AM EST

OK, here are some points of a clarification (and a bit of discussion it turns out).

First, the Seattle Initiative is promoting foreign aid and development programs.  I argue that it leaves open the possibility of tagging neoliberal conditions on its programs, which is detrimental to the Initiative's aims.

Second, the article I wrote says this:

"In other words, do we want equal and liberal trade where the environment and workers are protected and trade grows? Or, do we want liberal trade where these are not protected and mostly it is only corporate profits that grow, for a while? In a sustainable world, the former is necessary."

In other words, there are various ways to liberalize:
1. open trade with environmental and labor protections at same time: that is, everybody accepts regulations equally and are free to trade anywhere. Moderate progressive "globalizers" like most large (D.C.-based, by the way) environmental movements like this model because you get capitalist development without sacrificing the environment and labor protections.

2. neoliberalism: basically laissez faire trade, no regs, anything goes, no protections. Capitalists like this because they get to maximize profit. This is more or less what the WB/IMF are pushing. Now that trade is getting more and more international (while the bulk is still fairly local, in terms of being regional), transnational corporations and transnational institutions based in wealthy countries (with the U.S. and IMF/WB leading the way) have gotten an upper hand over the many poor countries in the world - and have taken us backwards. Neoliberalism or laissez faire trade is a retreat back to 19th century days of the worst forms of abuse under capitalism. The labor movements of 19th and 20th centuries fought many political and literal battles to create state and social mechanisms to regulate trade and create a social safety net. These struggles are now being fought again through the global justice (anti-globalization) movement mobilizations and the World Social Forum gatherings and the breakdowns at the WTO ministerials and on many other fronts.

3. (what we have now) liberalization of poor countries' international trade (due to IMF/WF requirements on loans) and protectionism for rich countries.

4. liberalization equally but also some protection of key industries:  liberalization only of nonessential goods and many protections of vital industries for local economies - and that is where the debate between what is essential and what is not starts. Both decentralists and nationalists like this option. Something between this option and 1. above is probably what we will evolve through a global tussle between publics, states, social movements and corporations.


[ Parent ]

More Clear (none / 1) (#152)
by Xenophanes on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 09:58:27 AM EST

I argue that it leaves open the possibility of tagging neoliberal conditions on its programs, which is detrimental to the Initiative's aims.

Ok, now that makes sense. I couldnt figure out from your article if the initiative was using neoliberalism or not.

The last three of the four points all leave a lot of room for promoting neoliberal strategies, with the middle two almost including descriptions of neoliberalism in the text of the brief.

That paragraph along with the paragraph I quoted in my first reply were the ones that made me unsure of the motives of this initiative. Perhapse you might add more clearly that the initiative has good intentions but has the possibility of unintentionally promoting neoliberalism. Or perhapse I shouldnt try to read articles at 5 in the morning, heh. Thanks for the clarification.

[ Parent ]
re: more clear (none / 1) (#157)
by decon recon on Sat Feb 21, 2004 at 12:29:59 PM EST

Welcome...

Well, the Initiative is complicated.

It does mean well. But, it does leave room, it seems to me, for neoliberalism. And I'm not so sure that that this is unintentional...  

The Initiative does mean to promote good works. It uses social justice language and describes progressive development strategies but...

The bussinessmen who drafted this are aware of the dominant neoliberal view in washington, especially given the Republican control of both houses (though Clinton promoted neoliberalism as well and so would Kerry, if he gets in, on some fronts at least), hence they use fuzzy trade liberalization talk... further...

It is possible they hold the contradictory possitions of both supporting helping the extreme poor through local development but also promoting neoliberalism which ultimately hurts the poor and the environment.

But, they don't spell that out. And these are very rich and powerful people who can influence U.S. policy, especially if Kerry or other Dem gets in. This is why I think this Initiative needs to be closely read, interpreted and watched.

So. It may be that... If one has the power of Gates and company and they have to work with neocon Bush administration and republican majority in congress and yet they wants to be progressive in today's political environment, then perhaps they have to have these contradictions in their policy making.

Progressives and humanists need to critique these contradictions and argue for more sustainable and democratic possibilities in development and to carve out some power themselves and pull the progressive power brokers in current context to the left (democracy and justice and sustainability).

[ Parent ]

Here is a fucking idea. (1.00 / 6) (#172)
by ShiftyStoner on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 12:53:24 AM EST

 How about paying workers what they fucking deserve. Like, I don't know, enough to survive.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
The problem lies also... (none / 1) (#174)
by Kuranes on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 09:04:39 AM EST

...in the asymmetrical relation of the owner of the business and the worker. That's the basic idea in Marx' concept of surplus value: The worker even gets exploited if he gets paid the right amount of money.

Striving to pay people "just what they deserve", so "we can ignore all this ideology going around", leads to the fight about just what it is that they deserve. You know who's in the situation to make definitions: Definitely not the poor.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
living wage (none / 2) (#187)
by thankyougustad on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 12:16:41 PM EST

I don't know about what workers deserve, but I think the concept of a living wage involves something like calculating the rent costs of a specific area, adding nurishment for a number of children etc, and figuring out what at forty hours a week a person should be paid to meet those demands. That is a minimum before we begin talking about what the worker deserves, wage slavery, and so on.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Exactly (none / 1) (#198)
by ShiftyStoner on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 11:20:15 PM EST

 $5.15 an hour is not enough to meet these demands. The minimum wage needs to be rased. I sure as fuck wouldn't work for minimum wage. If I had to I would leve this fucking state. Minimum wage in other states probably isn't enough to live either(without help) but I don't know how much it costs to live in other states.
69
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]
Minimum wage (none / 1) (#222)
by SEWilco on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 10:24:19 AM EST

So you are not being paid minimum wage. Why do you think it should be higher? Employers know they have to pay more than that -- and wages are self-regulating because people already try to earn enough for their needs thus avoid jobs which don't pay enough. And employees also consider tips.

Straw Man: Now, the extreme case would be if all employers paid minimum wage. If workers had no choice, what would happen? Landlords wouldn't get paid enough so maintenance would stop on all rental housing. All businesses would have fewer customers. Employers would have trouble with workers stressed by working two jobs. And employers who broke from the pack and paid a little more would have plenty of workers. Every good business man knows he has to be fair to employees, customers, suppliers, and competitors.

[ Parent ]

Because (none / 1) (#240)
by ShiftyStoner on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 02:02:12 AM EST

 Minimum wage should be enough to live, without help... A multibillion dollar company like mcdonalds can afford to pay people more than minimum wage. The minimum wage for large companies should be rased.

 Who knows, maybe if these fucking burger places start paying people what they deserve the employees just might work better. Like, not spiting in your food. Not making your food look like it came out of a fucking tornado. Might give them incentive to work a little faster to. They probably wouldn't have to hire new people every fucking week either. Hey, then maybe the'll get more buisness because the food is better qualety.

 The reason why they pay so fucking little is cause they can. The people who work at burger places can't get a better job, no one has respect for them. Because of stupid things like amount of education and age.

 I think they are to stupid to realize it would be better for buisness if they payed people more. Even if it does slightly hurt them, how much it will help the people making more, and how many people it would help, outways them not getting that extra million in their multibillion dollar profit.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

Well there's incentive... (none / 0) (#230)
by Lenny on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 12:09:32 PM EST

to study in school!


"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
-Me
[ Parent ]
You shouldn't (none / 1) (#239)
by ShiftyStoner on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 01:44:13 AM EST

 Have to blow 20 years of your life just to live comfortabley. The only thing school does is help stupid people get beter careers. So why should you need incentive.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]
school (none / 0) (#242)
by thankyougustad on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 08:42:10 AM EST

School isn't really blowing your life, it's a hell of a lot more fun than working, certainly. That doesn't change the fact that not everyone has the opportunity to attend.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Know what's funner? (none / 0) (#243)
by ShiftyStoner on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 09:31:07 AM EST

 Sitting on your ass at home, watching tv, hanging out with freinds, or doing whatever you do when you're no their.

 It's not funner than all work either. It's just funner than work you get with the education.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

that's just your opinion, man (none / 0) (#244)
by thankyougustad on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 01:19:56 PM EST

I mean, it takes all kinds. I hate sitting around on my ass at home unless I'm doing a personal project, but I can't always keep myself busy. The TV drives me insane. I like my friends but they have things to do too, so I can't waste all my time with them. On top of all that, I sometimes enjoy school. Learning new things is often amusing.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Yeah (none / 1) (#245)
by ShiftyStoner on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 02:32:39 PM EST

 I enjoy learning as well. I just don't like learning lies, much less the same lies over and over and over just because a couple of morons arn't getting programed properly. Now if your talking about college whole differant story.

 If school is the highlight of your life, than I almost pitty you. I could always find something better to do. Like, blow my brains out. Worst case cenario.

 Hey, even if you think all work is worse than schoold(probably an idea you got at school) at least your making money to do things you do enjoy. Or buy an education that is acctualy worth something. Or just move out of your horrible fucking parents house.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

learning lies and learning spelling (none / 1) (#246)
by thankyougustad on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 02:52:37 PM EST

Alright man, calm down. I don't live in my parent's house and I didn't say I lived for school. No one at school suggested it was better than work, the fact is, I work, too. The idea is in fact that school is used to prepare a good, obedient work force. That doesn't stop me or anyone else who cares to do it from drawing enjoyment from the things they are interested in, or in preparing themselves to work at something they might enjoy and is more demanding cervically than checking out videos to young mothers. It is rare that someone does something for a living that they enjoy, but less rare that someone with an education do something they enjoy.



No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
Wrong. (none / 1) (#248)
by ShiftyStoner on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 03:03:32 PM EST

 "It is rare that someone does something for a living that they enjoy, but less rare that someone with an education do something they enjoy."

 That is the idea you got from school. Fact is, doctors are miserable, lawers are miserable, teachers are miserable, programers are miserable, damn near everyone who gets an education for their job likes it.

 Who enjoys their jobs. Actors, musicians, pro athletes, porn stars, etc. And they don't make shity pay. Ontrapaneurs, now their is a title with millions of possiblities and a lot of money. No fucking peice of shit boss, no one robin you besides the government. You don't need an eduation either. Chances are if your good at something, or have a good Idea, you can make yourself a buisness, with plunty of cash.
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

well (none / 1) (#251)
by thankyougustad on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 08:30:32 PM EST

Entrepreneurs, thats an idea I got from school. An idea I got from hanging around on earth is that SOME engenieurs like their jobs, some physicists like their jobs, some programmers like their jobs, and some mechanics like their jobs. Only the retards that shovel chicken like it.

I'm not saying only people who go to school succeed either, I might even be tempted to say those that suceed don't go to school.

And I say most people hate their jobs, regardless of weather or not they go to school. I personally love what I study and think I'll like my future, should I persue what I studied in the real world.

No no thanks no
Je n'aime que le bourbon
no no thanks no
c'est une affaire de goût.

[ Parent ]
What about basic income? (none / 0) (#202)
by Kuranes on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 11:53:34 AM EST

This would change the whole way the economy works because survival would be ensured and workers would get kinda independent.


Gentlemen, Chicolini here may talk like an idiot, and look like an idiot, but don't let that fool you: he really is an idiot.
[ Parent ]
Government Decree (none / 1) (#223)
by SEWilco on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 10:45:45 AM EST

You're right, that the cost of living is based on the local market price of necessities. The issue really is whether the job market will adjust to the proper wages, or whether some government official will state what the minimum is. There are additional risks that more employers will consider such an "official minimum living wage" as being a fair wage, thus more employers will drop wages to that minimum...or that the government will alter laws to reduce employer wage options.

One of the problems is that the government will have trouble finding the true prices and trouble updating the minimum properly. For example, the mean rent price is not the minimum rent price in an area, so the mean is not what all worker's minimum should be. But if more workers can only get the minimum, there will be too many workers who need those minimally-priced living spaces.

[ Parent ]

Uh... (none / 1) (#247)
by ShiftyStoner on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 02:55:39 PM EST

 Why should we sit around and wate for the buisneeses to wate for the economy to fall appart before they decide to make a change. Their rich, it's not their lives that are at stake, wtf do they care. As long as the government if fucking with every part of our lives they might as well do one thing to help us out.

 NO. Why the fuck would any of them drop to that minimum wage? Who would work for them, people would chose an easy job over a hard job for the same price. Common sence isn't it? If anything, they would also raise what the're paying.

 Pinch the pocket of the rich to aid the rest of society, it'll do far more good than bad. While I'm on the subject, taxes for the rich should be rased, taxes for the middle class should be lowerd, maybe just slightly. Taxes for the the minimum wage workers should be goten rid of. Also, there should only be one tax. Income tax, that's it.

 "But if more workers can only get the minimum, there will be too many workers who need those minimally-priced living spaces."

More workers wont be only able to get the minimum. There will be to many workers needing the minimum. Hmmm, well, don't just base the minimum wage on price, base it on availability and price.

 Would you kill one rich man to save ten middle class men? I would. But this is more like giving a little less profit to a few thousands rich fuckers, whom it wont do any real harm to. In order to greatly benifit millions.
   
( @ )'( @ ) The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force. - Adolf Hitler
[ Parent ]

Right is not Right (none / 1) (#224)
by SEWilco on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 10:54:58 AM EST

That's the basic idea in Marx' concept of surplus value: The worker even gets exploited if he gets paid the right amount of money.

Umm.. how can the "right amount" not be the right amount?

Is this based on a win-lose theory of limited wealth which ignores the fact that wealth can be created?

Or is the concept that everyone should benefit equally from everyone's effort so everyone in a company should be paid the same...and also all companies should benefit equally from everyone's effort thus all companies should the paid the same...?

[ Parent ]

"I don't know" (none / 1) (#225)
by SEWilco on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 11:09:17 AM EST

How about paying workers what they fucking deserve. Like, I don't know, enough to survive.

OK, so what do they deserve and what is enough to survive? They need good enough housing, enough food, enough clothes, a car that is good enough, a retirement plan which is good enough, a vacation home which is good enough...

So how much pay do they deserve?

  • $1/hour
  • $5/hour
  • $8/hour
  • $10/hour
  • $15/hour
  • $20/hour
  • $30/hour
  • $40/hour
  • $50/hour
  • $75/hour
  • $100/hour
  • $500/hour
Can you select a wage which is a definite minimum?
What if someone needs prescription medicine, don't they deserve enough medicine?
Enough dental care? Enough education? Enough entertainment and other needs so as to pursue enough happiness?
You probably at least can mark some level which you think is excessive. Why that amount?

[ Parent ]
Well I think (none / 3) (#190)
by auraslip on Sun Feb 22, 2004 at 02:23:38 PM EST

We should spend all of the money devolping floating colonys on the oceans. They would live off the rich bounty of the sea and be powered by the oceans heat. Completley self sufficent they would even produce an excess of food and supplies.
124
Nope (none / 0) (#226)
by SEWilco on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 11:12:58 AM EST

No, not floating colonies, they'd be exposed to storms. Obviously they should be safe underground, where they can mine the resources produced by the numerous deep-living bacteria, until the surface world is safe again for humanity. Or underwater, where they have more direct access to the resources under the sea. Under the sea, under the sea...

[ Parent ]
A colony of suficient size (none / 0) (#241)
by auraslip on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 02:26:51 AM EST

could eaisly with stand waves 50 feet tall. Oil tankers do it daily.
Plus underground you can't tap into the sun, and you have to worry about ghopers and termites.
124
[ Parent ]
They can do one thing better than give money. (none / 3) (#199)
by Apuleius on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 12:48:26 AM EST

And that is, give attention. If they give clear expectations of what they want their money to achieve, and redirect their dollars whenever their expectations are disappointed, they can do quite a bit of good.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)
The Best Interest (3.00 / 10) (#200)
by brain in a jar on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 04:10:52 AM EST

is to give development aid that works. Many of the problems that the western world faces are to do with the devastating poverty in the developing world.

Governments in Europe are for example getting rather hot under the collar about immigration, and are typically responding to this by making it harder to get into the EU and less pleasant once you get there (if you are from a developing country). But they are largely ignoring the "push factors" i.e. the reasons why people are choosing to leave their home countries in the first place. If we were to implement policies which improved the lives of people in the developed world, we would see less immigration. Though maybe with the demographic problems the EU has (ageing population etc.) it could be that present measures against immigration aren't too rational in any case.

Also, not to labour the point but poverty tends to breed political instability and extremism. Which also has impacts in the developing world. In the last couple of years probably too much effort has been spent debating terrorism, but if there is one policy which I think would make a big difference it would be an enlightened development policy.


Life is too important, to be taken entirely seriously.

Not extremism - reality (none / 0) (#217)
by chanio on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 09:30:10 PM EST

Sorry, but we must admit that living comfortable (U now what I mean), makes us less interested in solving extreme situations.

But when things go to extremes (I mean: hunger, empty belly, no tomorrow) people's solutions are more real than others' comfortable ideas.

So, extremists are we, who are not living in extremes, right?

We are not sufficiently taught about the importance of not buying a stable situation where we might stop thinking for the rest of our lives.
________________
Farenheit Binman:
This worlds culture is throwing away-burning thousands of useful concepts because they don't fit in their commercial frame.
My chance of becoming intelligent!
[ Parent ]

Thank you (2.00 / 5) (#201)
by o reor on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 11:45:10 AM EST

for pointing out a few hypocrisies in the so-called "altruistic" schemes of those "non-profit" foundations. Particularly about "support[ing] trade liberalization efforts that benefit developing countries."

Which really means : "please George, Dick, Alan (Greenspan), get us rid of those pesky Medicare programs, minimum wage and social welfare system, so that we can enslave Americans too -- sorry, so that the 3rd World countries may develop too. (guffaws). Oh, and let us hire 6-year-olds too, at least they'll be doing something useful instead of getting bored at school."

South Africa (1.83 / 6) (#210)
by Vendor on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 04:27:09 PM EST

One of the nations most in need of financial aid at the moment is South Africa. South Africa's economy has been declining rapidly since the early 1990s and will soon rate amoung one of the world's worst economies.

To make matters worse, Zimbabwe-style land invasions are a near certainty in the coming years, which will put the agricultural sector under severe pressure.

It seems the USA has abandoned South Africa since South Africa became a democratic country. The question is why? Why such a change? Why did the USA support South Africa during the 1980s, but refuses to help South Africa in South Africa's time of greatest need?



actually (none / 1) (#219)
by Cackmobile on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 07:22:28 AM EST

I read in the economist that SA has one of the best performing economies around. The ANC and Thabo Mbeki and managing it very well. The biggest problem for them is the AIDs epidemic

[ Parent ]
The 3rd world needs more hardship, not aid (1.00 / 6) (#215)
by Awakened One on Mon Feb 23, 2004 at 08:57:35 PM EST

I don't think any amount of "aid" will ever end poverty. Humans, like other animals, are naturally lazy. Aid leads to more laziness, since it makes it unnecessary for the recipients to really tackle their own problems on their own.

Laziness is bad because it leads to ignorance. Ignorant people are easy to exploit. People who are easy to exploit usually end up being exploited.

Why did European peoples become so dominant? Because they faced a lot of hardship in the past. In the past, Europe with many wars, diseases and bad climate, was probably a worse place to be than much of the rest of the world. This hardship forced Europeans to invent better governmental systems and better technologies. Plato observed long ago that necessity is the mother of invention.

In the past, the 3rd world had it relatively easy. The great climate made it easier to survive, and the geography made wars and diseases less common. The relatively friendly environment caused the 3rd world to fall behind Europe.

What the 3rd world need, in order to develop, is not aid, it is more hardship. Wars, famines, diseases, corruption and greedy corporations wrecking their environment are exactly the kind of things the 3rd world needs. It takes serious adversity for people to get off their lazy butts and build better societies.

Aid usually only slows down progress.

what (none / 0) (#218)
by Cackmobile on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 07:17:31 AM EST

So China has a great climate. maybe down south but what about the north area. how about mongolia and the central asian republics.

[ Parent ]
nice troll. needs more research. (none / 1) (#252)
by porp on Thu Feb 26, 2004 at 09:40:05 AM EST

Not a bad troll, but it probably needs more research so as to avoid being obviously a troll. The central argument is easily shattered by the observation that, for example, according to your troll, the Eskimos should be the most developed culture in the world because of their environmental hardships. Need to try another angle to troll more effectively.

[ Parent ]
drop the debt (none / 2) (#220)
by Cackmobile on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 07:25:30 AM EST

One of the best things they can do is get the third world debt dropped. For many of these countries debt repayment makes up the largest part of their budget. Usually the debt was run up by a former dictator. This would be a start.

Great idea! (none / 1) (#229)
by Lenny on Tue Feb 24, 2004 at 11:59:46 AM EST

That way, the current dictator has more money to build more palaces/estates/mansions/etc.


"Hate the USA? Boycott everything American. Particularly its websites..."
-Me
[ Parent ]
At the end of the day; (none / 0) (#250)
by Sesquipundalian on Wed Feb 25, 2004 at 07:54:25 PM EST

you either have to eliminate the poor, include them in whatever your up to, or work around them.

I would suggest that most people try first to eliminate the poor (eductate and empower them, thus rendering them "not poor"). That way they will do what you do and go around generating wealth. Then you can trade with each other and reap the benefits of a secret sort of magic that the very best western hoodoo success makers call "economies of scale".

If they distrust western hoodoo and persist in doing nothing to help themselves (and thus insist upon remaining poor, and you can't ship them off to someone else nearby) then try to include them. This might mean using casinos in order to get them to participate economically, or putting them in jail in order to train them to respect property rights, whatever. Religions and punitive legslative strategies are giving way to advanced culture management technology(mind viruses and such), so it pays to talk to your smart University and Colledge Educated friends about this.

If these standard strategies fail (and assuming your not the genocidal dictator type), you will have to resort to marginalizing them via ever more complex administrative procedures and such. Licensing, tracking, registration and reporting systems are all the rage and can be installed into any enterprise for the price of a consultant.. so.


Did you know that gullible is not actually an english word?
Equality (none / 0) (#255)
by zx4u on Wed Mar 03, 2004 at 12:01:53 AM EST

Firstly, the biggest issue in the future will not be poverty but HIV. HIV will be the biggest killer disease in the world and maybe it already is in some parts of the world. A large population of Sub Saharan Africa is infected with HIV and these regions will struggle to stand up to this issue. Greater HIV awareness and safe sex practices needs to be implemented. In parts of the world people are still do not have information about this disease. Infected people don't have access to health care and cannot afford the expensive medications. What we need is concerted effort from business and world leaders to tackle this issue.

Secondly, if you want the people in the world to be rich then the people in developed countries will loose some jobs. Jobs will move from the Developed regions to the under developed regions as labor and other fixed costs are cheaper. Manufacturing and other ancillary jobs will move as a worker in developed regions demand higher salaries whereas in poor countries workers are willing to work for a lot less money. The question that needs to be asked are the people willing to loose there jobs temporarily. The talks at the WTO, showed the unreasonable demands of the developed countries as there were unwilling to cut farm subsidies. If these farm subsidies were cut then agricultural products from poor countries could have been exported to developed countries. However, this was not to be. The developed countries want the poor countries to open the markets to foreign products on the basis of free trade, however, they distort the free trade environment by providing subsidies to local manufacturers and by imposing unjustified tariff. At the end of the day the poor countries want a Level playing field and Equality.

The Wealthiest Seek End to Extreme Poverty | 255 comments (211 topical, 44 editorial, 6 hidden)
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