Wednesday, September 14, 2005

I'm Poor!

We are at that stage in the month when money feels it has run out and we've still 2 weeks to go to the end of the month. The second half of every month is always one of belt-tightening and frugality. Clearly in this well-off world, we are poor! Mind you, I'm not as poor as some.

  • One-sixth, or 1 Billion people live on less than £1 a day.
  • 800,000 people do not get enough food to meet their daily energy requirement.
  • Less than 1% of the Worlds budget on arms and weapons would be needed to put every child through school.
  • A few hundred millionaires now own as much wealth as the world's poorest 2.5 billion people.
  • The developing world spends $13 dollars on debt repayment for every $1 dollar it gets in aid.
  • According to UNICEF, 30,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they "die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world. Being meek and weak in life makes these dying multitudes even more invisible in death."
    That is about 210,000 children each week, or just under 11 million children under five years of age, each year. - 200,000 people died in the tsunami earlier this year, and the world thought that was a disgrace, when in reality it was just an average week.

Clearly these people are making life choices, living the way they do. They are lazy, totally responsible for their predicament and have chosen to live in a country whose government has made decisions that have actually proved harmful to development.

Or is it because behind the increasing interconnectedness promised by globalisation, are global decisions, policies, and practices. These are typically influenced, driven, or formulated by the rich and powerful. These can be leaders of rich countries or other global actors such as multinational corporations, institutions, and influential people.

In the face of such enormous external influence, the governments of poor nations and their people are often powerless. As a result, in the global context, a few get wealthy while the majority struggle.

Globalisation has become a fact of life. I don't like it, but I'm not sure how I can fight it. The destruction of the local by the global is a trend that has no conscience and makes no moral judgment other than the requirement to make money. The world does not need another McDonalds; it doesn't need another Starbucks; it doesn't need another Tesco's yet we will get them because the aim is no longer to provide a service, but to make money that gets shared between a few.

The bottom line is that globalisation provide cheapness for consumers, riches for the shareholders and poverty for the suppliers and while we continue to support these companies, their disgraceful activities will continue unchecked.

I am proud to have played a miniscule part in the downfall of apartheid. Many people boycotted goods, services and companies who maintained connections with South Africa during the '70's and '80's to the point where some major companies cut their relationship such as Barclays Bank. Well, we would go into supermarkets with a trolley, put 1 tin of South African produce in the bottom, then fill up ttrolleylly with lots and lots of goods, take it to the checkout and in those days it was all manual, get it checked and when we got to the South African produce pull it out, look at it and then say to the cashier that we didn't shop in places that sold South African goods and just walk out. This happened a lot across the country which meant that major stores stopped selling SA goods. My point is that it is targeting the economic interests of these companies can, in some cases, change their practices. I'm realist enough to know that we live in a global economy, but the players in that economy must learn their actions have a reaction.

Any ideas?

1 comment:

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