Poverty

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Poverty

Post #1

Post by Wissing »

How can we alleviate poverty without causing harm in the process?

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Post #21

Post by Goat »

Wissing wrote: [Replying to post 7 by ElCodeMonkey]

I can't deny that I expected this discussion to turn to politics, but I'm encouraged by the fact that one of the first responses reflected my own belief, if only in part: love your neighbor.

Matthew 22:37-40 (NIV):
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’[c] 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’[d] 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.�
I've noticed, on this forum, and in conversations with people, that the word "we" is ambiguous, and a prime source of faulty assumption. This is my fault, for posting so brief an OP, that I did not elaborate on the definition of "we". When I say "we" in the context of this thread, here is a list of things to which I do not refer:
-the government
-humanity
-the nation

My constant effort in all my posts on this forum is to direct the discussion to individual experiences, and limit the scope of discussion to the people posting, and their own actions, whenever possible. Regrettably, this is often considered fallacious. It is only so under such broad-scope definitions of "we" as stated above. But I've found these definitions unhelpful, so I'm glad, ElCodeMonkey, that you were willing to share something from your own life. I find this post very constructive.

Likewise, when I say "poverty", I am not referring to a broad definition of poverty, such as LBJ might have assumed. Nor do I refer to "the people", broadly as Marx would.

Let me rephrase the question, then, with some elaboration:

How can we (you and I) alleviate poverty (in our own surroundings) without causing harm in the process?

I crave examples.


------------------------------
This is a 2-part post. In part 1, I clarified the question. In part 2, I will give my answer.

I believe that every individual, and every society even, has a core motivation that drives all else. I have met people who are poor because they have no drive, and I have met people who, despite their individual drive, are poor because their society has no drive. Or, a misdirected drive. I recently read part of an article by Mikhail Gershenzon (1909) entitled Creative Self-Consciousness, in which he describes the character of two historical figures, Bunyan and Carlyle, in terms of their inward consciousness. He goes on to claim that real-world decisions arise from our core.
Every person is born fully fashioned and unique, with a definite psycho-physical organization never to be duplicated in all the universe. Every living thing has a sensual-volitional core, a central government, as it were, that transmits its decisions from secret depths and acts with infallible expediency.
What does this have to do with poverty? Root cause.

Many of us try to help the poor, only to find that our efforts are in vain. I recently traveled to Swaziland, a very poor nation - one far more objectively poor than my own. Having spent a few years in the US working for a service organization that, alas, probably got its ideas from LBJ himself, I traveled to Swaziland primarily to seek information, rather than to help. Indeed, we spent no time building or constructing anything ourselves. We spent no time even feeding anyone. All that was done by a local organization. The primary goal of this organization was not to feed children (though they did), or to provide day-care (though they did), or to be a beacon of social structure in a place plagued by broken families and orphanhood, ravaged by AIDS (though they were), or to provide 1st-world volunteers with humbling experiences, or to visit people in hospitals, or to console the mourners, or to empower participants to plant gardens, or to play jump-rope and soccer, or to raise up a generation of people uncorrupted by the need to survive by any means... but they did all that too. The primary intention of the organization was Christian discipleship.

How on earth, I thought, with all the millions of things this society has to worry about (economic depression, government corruption, naivety of the rich, medical ineptitude, educational depravity, crime, broken families...) do they have time to worry about religion? Why would the few mature adults in a sea of starving children think "first, love God". Wouldn't they think, "first, eat"? No doubt, many of them do. But this particular structure had God at the forefront. Not at the expense of concern for the poor - but simply as an underlying support for that, and many other practical goings-on.

So yes, I do think that poverty (as I've seen it) cannot be simply 'solved'. By that I mean it's not simple. However, all of us who are not in poverty have an immense responsibility to do something, even if that something is rather tricky and multi-faceted. It's not as easy as just giving out money. It's not as easy as just hanging out with the homeless. It's not as easy as voting for Pete's sake. There's a lot of work for each person to do, individually - but it's not cut out for us. If I must make any universal statement, it's that real solutions are too complicated for me to effectively understand. There are way too many variables, and my mind is simply too small. This is why I simply must deflect the understanding (not the onus) onto God (not myself), so that he can direct me from my core, and I can act, case-by-case, tailoring my actions specifically to my neighbor.

John 7:38 (NASB)
He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'
1) Increase the minimum wage. Make it a LIVING wage.
2) Increase the progressive taxes, particularly on the top 5%.
3) Since certain countries have initiated protectionism against the U.S. products, make sure we take the jobs we sent over there, and bring those functions BACK to the U.S. If you primary job responsibility is for U.S. customers, you LIVE in the U.S.

If the jobs are in the U.S... and the wagers a a living way.. without the bulk of the money being sucked in by the 1%, then we wouldn't need to subsidize the big corporations by giving their workers food stamps. If they had a better wage, and could afford to LIVE, then, we would not have to subsidize their living.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

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Post #22

Post by Wissing »

Goat - do you get what I'm saying? Implement those changes yourself. Don't expect the government to fix everything. You have no control over that. But you do have control over something. Got compassion for the poor? Give them a job yourself. Don't like the minimuum wage? Use your own small business to prove that a higher wage is possible. Don't let your love for "the People" obstruct your compassion for your neighbor.

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Post #23

Post by Goat »

Wissing wrote: Goat - do you get what I'm saying? Implement those changes yourself. Don't expect the government to fix everything. You have no control over that. But you do have control over something. Got compassion for the poor? Give them a job yourself. Don't like the minimuum wage? Use your own small business to prove that a higher wage is possible. Don't let your love for "the People" obstruct your compassion for your neighbor.
The thing is.. the rich is using the government it cause more poverty to happen, so they can get richer. So, your response is ignoring that fact. When the powers that be stop getting corprorate welfare, and a tax structure that is destroying the middle class, then you might be right. The playing field has to be leveled first.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

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Post #24

Post by Wissing »

Goat,

From some of your posts I can tell that you are sympathetic to the suffering of others. But, especially after that last post, I am having a hard time understanding how you implement your compassion. Do you honestly believe that your individual efforts are futile? That you can't effectively work to alleviate poverty because of powers that be?

Please tell me who, or what, taught you that. I cannot agree with your standpoint because everything I've experienced says otherwise. And much of what I've read. Often, not even the poor agree with that. It is debilitating. It takes away what little control they have.

You're going to have to share. That's the whole point of this thread, and you chose to post. Please offer your unique insight into poverty alleviation, not in the form of unprovable opinions, but in the form of real life examples.

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Post #25

Post by Goat »

Wissing wrote: Goat,

From some of your posts I can tell that you are sympathetic to the suffering of others. But, especially after that last post, I am having a hard time understanding how you implement your compassion. Do you honestly believe that your individual efforts are futile? That you can't effectively work to alleviate poverty because of powers that be?

Please tell me who, or what, taught you that. I cannot agree with your standpoint because everything I've experienced says otherwise. And much of what I've read. Often, not even the poor agree with that. It is debilitating. It takes away what little control they have.

You're going to have to share. That's the whole point of this thread, and you chose to post. Please offer your unique insight into poverty alleviation, not in the form of unprovable opinions, but in the form of real life examples.
Individual attempts can help small numbers of people.. but when the issue is more than just one's twoses, then you need something more. While individuals, and independant groups can do things, they can only do so much.

It is not just 'people are poor'. THe individuals can address individual needs. But when the system needs correcting, you need more than just individuals.

The system is currently rigged to suck resources from the middle class and poor to give to ultra wealthy. To help poverty, it is not just enough for indivuals to help individuals. The system has to be corrected in addition.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

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Post #26

Post by ElCodeMonkey »

Goat wrote:Individual attempts can help small numbers of people.. but when the issue is more than just one's twoses, then you need something more. While individuals, and independant groups can do things, they can only do so much.
Ya know, I used to think this exact same way, but I'm now changing my tune. Individuals make up the whole. If individuals start behaving kindly toward one another, others will begin doing likewise. Luckily, everyone dies. Thus, those currently corrupting things cannot do so forever. If we create a younger culture of humanism then they will eventually be the ones in power to do something. I see cultural shifts occurring all over. More green, more peace, more whatever. Eventually, if people put faith in their own actions making a difference for the collective culture, then things will indeed change. There are already many people doing lots of good and as long as we keep uplifting good things individually, such a culture will continue and those capable of doing huge amounts of good will become so inclined to do so. Our actions do matter even if it only seems to be on a mere individual level. Make friends, uplift good, change the culture.
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Post #27

Post by Goat »

ElCodeMonkey wrote:
Goat wrote:Individual attempts can help small numbers of people.. but when the issue is more than just one's twoses, then you need something more. While individuals, and independant groups can do things, they can only do so much.
Ya know, I used to think this exact same way, but I'm now changing my tune. Individuals make up the whole. If individuals start behaving kindly toward one another, others will begin doing likewise. Luckily, everyone dies. Thus, those currently corrupting things cannot do so forever. If we create a younger culture of humanism then they will eventually be the ones in power to do something. I see cultural shifts occurring all over. More green, more peace, more whatever. Eventually, if people put faith in their own actions making a difference for the collective culture, then things will indeed change. There are already many people doing lots of good and as long as we keep uplifting good things individually, such a culture will continue and those capable of doing huge amounts of good will become so inclined to do so. Our actions do matter even if it only seems to be on a mere individual level. Make friends, uplift good, change the culture.
I think you fail to take into account the power and reach of a corrupt system to begin with. Yes, individual actions matter, individual actions matter a lot.

However, when the system is stacked up in a certain matter, individual actions are not enough. Individual actions can help individuals.. The system can be changed so that people can earn their way , rather than depend on others. I have done individual actions that have meant a lot to people. It helped a couple of people.

Change the system, and they could have helped themselves.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

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Post #28

Post by ElCodeMonkey »

[Replying to post 27 by Goat
I'm just saying that the system will inevitably change, albeit in a few decades, if we continue to put our values in individual relationships. Can't change it in a day.
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Post #29

Post by Goat »

ElCodeMonkey wrote: [Replying to post 27 by Goat
I'm just saying that the system will inevitably change, albeit in a few decades, if we continue to put our values in individual relationships. Can't change it in a day.
While the system might change though individual efforts, you can't say that it will address the primary issue.. and that is 'why is there so much poverty to begin with'.

Part of the reason we are in the mess right now is the system changed over the last 50 years, and not for the better.

Individual effort isn't good eough, because it doesn't address the primary issue.
“What do you think science is? There is nothing magical about science. It is simply a systematic way for carefully and thoroughly observing nature and using consistent logic to evaluate results. So which part of that exactly do you disagree with? Do you disagree with being thorough? Using careful observation? Being systematic? Or using consistent logic?�

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Post #30

Post by ElCodeMonkey »

Goat wrote: While the system might change though individual efforts, you can't say that it will address the primary issue.. and that is 'why is there so much poverty to begin with'.

Part of the reason we are in the mess right now is the system changed over the last 50 years, and not for the better.

Individual effort isn't good eough, because it doesn't address the primary issue.
I guess it depends on what you consider to be the primary issue. Greed is often considered the primary issue and indeed that's part of it. But it's not so much greed alone, per se, as it is an imbalance of values and doing what must be done to survive. CEOs often have little choice but to do what's "best" for the company since the shareholders will fire them if they don't. So the primary value is, "hold on to my job." It would be better if the primary value were, "do what's best for everyone." The problem is, that is very clearly a waste of money on paper. It's hard to make a choice that is bad for a company just because it's better for the environment/society. It is still a choice though. And as individuals begin valuing different things (through our individual promotions of values), they will begin making the right choices. People will make the right choices who have the power to alter the system.

There are multiple reasons for poverty:

1. Greed (of course)
2. Lack of Education
3. Lack of Physical/Mental Capacity
4. Lack of Tradeable Resources (location)
5. Lack of Opportunity (too busy surviving)
6. Lack of Concern for Fellow Man
7. Bad Diets Adversely Affecting Mood
8. Lack of Nurturing and Mentoring
(and probably more)

These items can either be resolved or worked around with a culture of concern for those around you. You do your part, I do mine, others do theirs, and these things disappear. The system will correct itself as people correct themselves. For every problem one can find with the system, there is a solution that is correctable via people who care. Of course, we have to develop people who care. So the more we demonstrate it, the more others will learn it and follow suit.
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