The Most Misunderstood Difficulty with Being in Poverty

“If someone can’t live on what they make, they should get a better job. If they can’t get a better job, they should go back to school.” These kind of naive and careless expressions are heard often by those of us trying to promote social justice and combat poverty. So many people fail to grasp the greatest reality of being in poverty: That you have less time than you have money. I have been broke, but I have never been poor. So what’s the difference? The difference is that I always had time to improve my circumstances. When you are a young adult, going through college, you may have little to no money, but you are not poor. Your family, community, and social systems are conspiring together to give you time to improve your standing. Those in poverty seldom have anyone but themselves to rely on. We may have 24hrs in-a-day, but none of us have 24 hrs of “brain time.” Let’s be honest, even the most professional among us can only really focus on an intense mental activity for at most six hours without sleep. Even as a writer, I need to be completely undistracted for at least four hours a day to be productive. Those in poverty aren’t just always distracted, they are consumed with worry and...

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foreignaid

even the best of intentions…

“Maybe their hearts were in the right place. Maybe not. Either way, these are solid contenders for the title of “worst attempts at helping others since colonialism.”   So begins this article by Richard Stupart, titled “7 Worst International Aid ideas” and while you may not agree with all of them, i imagine at least everyone will have some kind of agreement that some of these ideas were not well thought out. Read the article to get the full commentary on each point, but to give you a taste of the themes, here are the ideas he lists: 1. One million t-shirts for Africa 2. TOMS Buy-One-Give-One 3. Machine gun preacher 4. 50 Cent ransoming children in Somalia 5. Donor fund restrictions 6. Making food aid the same colour as cluster munitions. 7. Making USAID a foreign policy tool Check out the complete article over here. This closing paragraph sums it up: Sometimes bad foreign aid is just the consequence of someone caring too much, but knowing too little. Other times it’s people who should have known better not being diligent in considering the consequences of their actions. And sometimes politicians and unscrupulous businessmen are simply manipulating the suffering of others for their own ends. When it’s benign or thwarted, it’s easy enough to laugh it off. But when a...

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rich

Why the Rich don’t know they’re Rich

[a guest post by Yaholo H] I live in Hamilton County in Indiana. If you are not familiar with it, it is kind of the Dubai of the Midwest. Our churches look like a combination of Hogwarts and a Frank Lloyd Wright concert hall. (I will stop for a minute so you can Google all that…. Ready? Ok.) You can’t throw a rock without hitting a conservative evangelical. (BTW, don’t throw rocks at conservative evangelicals.) Yet, with all this wealth and religion, our central city, Indianapolis, struggles with poverty and is one of the largest food deserts in the country  Those who work to overcome poverty, or raise awareness of social issues, often find themselves wondering, “Why is this so hard?” Are rich people just bad? Do they hate the poor? In areas like mine, it can be infuriating to see all the need with so much wealth just on the other side of the road. But here is the shocking part, the wealthy in my community don’t even know they are wealthy.  Say What?!? – The Miserable Wealthy  You heard me. In these huge castle churches with parking lots packed full of SUVs, most people are just worried about losing what they have. The men’s prayer groups really highlight this (I am not being sexist, I am just...

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socialent

5 insights from social entrepeneurs on how business can lift people

 As one participant put it, “wouldn’t it be great if ‘billionaire’ was re-defined to mean someone who had improved 1 billion lives?”     Thus ends this insightful article by Mark Cheng, titled, ‘5 Insights from Social Entrepeneurs on how Business can life People out of Poverty’ which seeks to answer the question:  How do you profitably sell to a customer who earns less than $2 per day? It begins with realising the enormity of the group of people who are living on such limited resources and then moves on to suggest that reaching these people has to do with both immense potential as well as a kind of moral obligation. Ashoka’s Globalizer initiative, in partnership with the eBay Foundation convened 20 of the world’s leading social entrepreneurs in Chennai, India, for three days in early March. The Ashoka Globalizer on Economic Inclusion provided a robust forum for sharing and improving their strategies to scale their impact. A list of some of the strategies that these groups are using to have a deep and transformative impact [and really go and read the whole article to dig a little deeper into each one] follows: [1] Recruit and Empower Local Changemakers [2] Build a Movement, not just Marketshare [3] Embrace Competition [4] Motivate with Mission, not Money [5] Maximise Distribution, not profits...

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market

God’s First Economy Lesson

Each of them gathered as much as he could eat. And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over till the morning.” But they did not listen to Moses. Some left part of it till the morning, and it bred worms and stank. – Exodus 16:18-20 Exodus 16 contains the story of God sending manna from heaven. You have likely heard this story as an example of God’s grace or a demonstration of Israel’s childlike obstinance. What if I told you it is actually a divine lesson on economics? Manna was a kind of “training wheels” for Israel to set a foundation for a strong economy and society later. If we listen, we can find the problems of our own economy today, the real meaning of gluttony, and much of our own self-inflicted suffering. Take Only What You Need for Today Israel was trained as it wandered the desert to learn to look at resources as a daily provision. Not to try and horde more than it needed. Gluttony is not about eating too much food, it is about taking more of anything than you really need for today. This isn’t just a Christian principle, it is a solid economic foundation. If a whole nation of people live in fear for what tomorrow will bring,...

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wage

Outsourcing Slavery: How Our “Free Market” Ideology has Come Back to Bite Us

[Guest post by Yaholo:  practical mystic, a passionate writer, a paltry poet, and an old-school Jesus freak. ] The economy has been slow all across the First World. In the USA, our middle-class is smaller than it has been in half a century. Few economists seem to truly understand the root issues of this problem. Robert Reich,  who just released the documentary “Inequality for All,” grazed the core issue but did not go in depth. The greatest reason for our stagnant wages is from what I am calling “Outsourced Slavery.” The truth is that our blind love for “free market” ideology has led us to be deceived by political propaganda and social prejudice into digging our own economic valley. You Can’t Compete With Slavery What the South knew during the Civil War, and what global corporations know now is that slave labor is cheap. When slavery was abolished in the US, we moved to child labor. When that was outlawed we moved to the kind of poor working conditions which led to the formation of unions. Once unions were formed, corporations finally realized that to get that oh-so-cheap labor they relied on, they would have to outsource it. The truth is that we never abolished slavery, we just moved to where it was invisible. You see, business thrives on competition,...

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