Lucky you! I had a long day at work. I go back home turn on the TVand they talk. They talk about war, unemployment, naxalism, corruption andpoverty. Such a sad world! I don’t have to carry the weight of the world on myshoulders. I possibly don’t have time to think about 1 billion people who mighthave to sleep hungry tonight.
I deserve a hot delicious meal after a tiring daylike this. We have created institutions and governments who promise to fightthe battle on our behalf. One such institution which I adored was World Bank. They define “extreme poverty” as living on less than $1.90per person per day. Don’t worry, they are equipped tofight this battle.
This is their millenniumdevelopment goals. One of the way, they tell us, we have to open up ourmarkets believe in free enterprise and welcome capitalism. They say capitalismis the cure, it pulled millions of people out of the poverty. Since the veryintroduction of economics in my life, I have been told how capitalism is theone stop solution to poverty, it is a fact. You don’t think about facts, justbelieve in them. So if you want somecapital, you just have to open your door to free enterprise and then World Bankgives you aid to develop your country.
Just the way World Bank helpedBolivia!In 1998 the IMF made privatization a requirement forBolivia to receive loans to control inflation and help the economy, makingprivatization not just a suggestion but a requirement if Bolivia wished toreceive any aid. The Western powers were effectively forcing Bolivia to obligeby the wishes of large multinational corporations. These corporations had agreat deal of money, influence, and power, so they theoretically had the fundsto invest. These companies had the monetary power and ability to assistcountries like Bolivia.In 1999 the Bolivian government signed a forty-yearcontract to transfer the operation and distribution of Bolivia’s water supplyfrom the municipal drinking water and sewer services to a multinationalcompany. Just at the moment capitalism was in action.
Water became acommodity. Prices rose. Many people could not afford water anymore. Relax, saidthe world bank there has been some glitches in implementation. The free marketwill correct itself.
They call it “invisible hand” in economics. Till then somepeople might die, but it is going to be fine. Violence and protest shook theconfidence of the local government and the “savior” company was forcedout. By the way, this savior company was Bechtel Corporation, the largestconstruction and civil engineering Company in the United States. In 2000Bechtel made an annual revenue of over $14 billion, whereas Bolivia’s nationalbudget at the time was only $2.
7. This is called profit maximization, thegoverning rule of capitalism. I recall that my textbook mentioned oneof the main causes of poverty as lack of natural resources.
Yet in the list ofpoor nations African countries top the chart. I must confess, back then Ididn’t bother to think. Thoughts never gave you good grades, facts does. Nowthat I don’t need grades because I have a job, I think and I think of Guinea, youmust have heard about this country during Ebola outbreak.
One of the largestproducers of bauxite in world, is one the poorest countries. This is an exampleof modern colonialism. Westerngovernments are not supposed to wield commercial and political power at thesame time, and certainly not to use one to benefit the other. In colonialstates, The British would develop a relationship with a small group of localpeople who would fuse political and commercial power to control the economy.After they left, the giant multinational companies alongwith corrupt state officials kept doing the same.
Colonialism, was justan extension of capitalism. You conquer lands for cheap labour, naturalresources and later on use the colony to dump your products. Since by thistime, the colony is so dependent on you that you are even selling it needles!I might not be totally wrong to say that it was the poorcountries that made the rich countries rich. Through debt repayment and throughtheir resources. Did the rich kept the poor, poor?Which brings me to next thought, the rich will keepgetting richer and all the mechanism will be designed in such a way that thewealth remains concentrated in hands of a few. I shall give you facts and figuresunlike me think about it. In the U.
S, 1984, the top .1 % had 9.6% of wealthdistribution of country. The bottom 90 % had 35% wealth. In 2012, top .1% had21.6% of wealth distribution and bottom 90% had 25.6%.
While the super-rich are growing their piece of the pie, justabout everybody else’s portion is shrinking. Think of your organization. Do you see the difference, not bigenough? Good, now think of recession in 2008, while many workers were handed apink slip. The big bankers were bailed out receiving more than $700 billion. Theinequality in income in the wall streets is more than we can think of. Thesebanks are too big to fail.
At this point, you may think I am against capitalism andpro communism. Of course not! Just likeyou, I am waiting for my next increment. We all want to make more money. Thereis nothing wrong with it. But think how many cars do you really need? Capitalismhas helped us so far, but now it has outlived its life. It needs a change indefinition. How about profit maximization with some conditions applied? The problem is capitalism has no sense ofright or wrong. So a cheap labour is a cheap labour even if he is teenagerworking in hazardous conditions in textile mills of Bangladesh.
Some 6 years back Mr Rangarajan defined poverty for us. Hesaid anyone living under Rs 47 per day in urban india and Rs 33 per day inrural india is poor. This made 3 out of 10 Indian poor. So if you are reading thisafter a good meal you are probably not one of them, but imagine what if youhave to spend a day with just Rs 47? May be then we will think, think deep. Prerna Mishra