Many world leaders were in New York, this past week, to discuss the management of poverty in the world. We have two wars going on at this time with several other fires smoldering around the world fueled or supposedly caused by terrorism. It is my feeling that terrorism is caused largely by desperation. Lack of education, the inability of a region to feed its people or supply even basic services contributes to the cause of terrorism. So, with more and more people descending into poverty, how do we turn this around?
The population of the continent south of the Sahara, decimated by the slave trade and colonization, stood at 100 million in 1900, according to the study by Centre Population et Development. It had grown more than seven-fold to 770 million by 2005. By 2050, it will grow by as much as 2.6 times above that level, to 2 billion. The population of the entire world today is 6.6 billion.
For the last decade, per capita G.D.P. growth in Africa has averaged more than 3 percent per year.
Only six nations had economic growth above 7% – the rate believed needed to support population growth of this magnitude. The human toll of such poverty would be steep, and many environmental advocates warn that unique wildlife and landscapes cannot be protected over the long term unless people’s lives are first made secure and relatively prosperous.
This brings to mind the plight of the low-land and eastern mountain gorilla and the elephants. “Bush meat,” I am sure you have heard of it. People are eating these creatures. Given what we have learned about elephants and gorillas, like Coco, this is tantamount to cannibalism, but what are we to do?
Let’s look at it this way. A nice young couple graduate high school. Their job skills don’t really set them up for high incomes, but they are optimistic. They find a cute, two-room apartment and she gets pregnant. Their income has not risen very much, but their family has increased by 50%. Oh, their responsibilities have doubled. The new kid doesn’t eat much, but there is now child-care. They get some foreign aid in the form of grandma taking care of the new addition to allow the mother to go back to work. The kids are kind of making it and she gets pregnant again. Now their family has doubled, but their income growth has been relatively flat. We need to greatly increase their income. We could do that with education, but how do we take care of the family while they go back to school? Oh yeah, these kids do not live in a vacuum. There are lots of kids and because they are all doing the same thing, food costs are going out of sight because the families are growing faster than the food supply.
The population growth has put a strain on the resources needed to support it. Shortages spur thefts and fights and blame and anger. President Obama has pledged to help these families and urged other countries to help get these families (countries) out of poverty. But, how much can we help. Poverty, homelessness, lack of education is soaring here at home. How can we help out in Africa when we can’t even help here at home? We can’t.
For the last decade, we have had a Republican administration that has spent us trillions into debt while cutting taxes, largely on the rich and not enforcing corporate taxation. I keep hearing that we are in horrible debt. We are. However, we must get us out of this hole. We need to put people back to work. Government must initiate a gigantic jobs program. Can we afford it? We cannot afford not to do it. But, look at it this way, the money spent puts people back to work and “working people” spend their money, which puts more people back to work. These working people pay taxes. As income and collected taxes grow, the deficit decreases.
The people who put us into this mess will not get us out. Obama’s plan to put people back to work worked. The problem with it is that it was not big enough to get us out of the hole the Republicans have dug. If the Tea party or the Republicans get a bigger foothold, we will lose health care gains, Medicare, and Social Security. If you think we have poverty today, you ain’t seen nothing yet. In one swell foop, this country will make Africa look like a walk in the park. We are that close.