Saturday, November 16, 2013

On Poverty

This essay is taken from a much longer work that will be released in book form in December.

Poverty can not be described by simply claiming "I have no money to feed my family," because if you live in an area with fertile soil, fresh water to drink and animals to hunt, you have no need for money. (This assumes that you don't have someone stopping you from growing food, taking water or killing animals.) However, the poverty stricken African living in a straw hut is quite different than the poverty stricken American living in Detroit. How you came to be poor is of no consideration for our discussions. (For instance, we are talking only about the issues that seem out of our control. If you are just poor, living on the street because of a mental problem or drug addiction, you are excluded from our discussion, destitution due to a lack of effort or ability is merely a result of weakness. Get help. Steal if you must. There are three meals a day in jail, go get them. What you may judge as harshness is mere evolutionary correction rendering your concerns irrelevant.) What matters is that money doesn't always have to factor into the quantification of our problems. 

Many communities, such as Native North Americans, flourished for thousands of years without even the concept of money. Certain African, Indian and Asian communities live the same way now that they have all along, without money. For our purposes, the word Poverty must mean a lacking of the ability to provide the basic necessities of life. Such as it is, if you have these necessities, by any means, you are not actually poor. It might seem strange, but the homeless man in the big city, living in a box in an alleyway, eating at a Church or even digging in dumpsters may seem poverty stricken, he is not. In such a case the man is poor, certainly, but he is still able to provide the necessities. In Canada, the "poverty line" is at about $18,000 per year. This amount would feed an entire village of destitute people in India. Money must be taken out of our concerns about poverty as it is imaginary and relative to the power we give it. We will discuss money, but as for the concept of poverty it must remain mutually exclusive. 

So what are the problems that lead to poverty? Simply put, the answer is "that which inhibits us from providing for ourselves." The reasons normal, healthy humans are unable to provide for themselves can be many and varied, but we are addressing only those that are naturally unavoidable: Bad soil, bad water, no resources for shelter and, of course, our old friend war. Excluding war, for now, is there anything to be done about bad soil and water, (or lack of?) Yes, the most useful combatant is knowledge. If you don't know how to grow food in dust, it is only because you haven't learned how yet. If you don't know about irrigation, it is only because you haven't learned about it yet. The Earth goes through natural, (and unnatural) changes that render certain areas infertile, this is going to continue with or without our help. Sometimes a people must migrate, this is also going to continue. However there are things that can be done to assist any people, anywhere. It's simply a question of getting the right information to the right people. Information is free, or at least it should be. This is the part of the poverty problem that harkens back to the money problem again. Not because the poverty stricken lack money, but because the rest of the world thinks it takes money to solve a problem. (Or rather, no one is interested in solving problems that they can't cash in on.) One doesn't need to provide UNICEF food drops to a village resting beside a river polluted beyond providing fish and water, if one simply chose to stop the factories from polluting the river. Thus we come full circle to the money problem again, in that the making of it trumps all other concerns. 

Solving the problem of poverty is going to be accomplished by free education, reason and willpower. Some dirt will not grow anything, sometimes you will have to move, sometimes the Earth will rear up and remind you who is boss by, for instance, flooding you out, but more often than not you will be poverty stricken because either you or someone near you has done something stupid. (Such as ruining your immediate environment, or forcing you out of a successful environment.) This "stupidity" might take the form of corporatism, (old fashioned greed,) it might even be a lack of foresight. It might happen all at once or take decades. Don't be tricked into thinking that just because you have no money you are poverty stricken. The truly poverty stricken are not fighting for income, they're fighting for their lives. You could throw money at poverty all day every day, it won't fix a damn thing, only knowledge and effort will. So the solution to poverty is education and foresight.

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