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4 Reasons to Question the Official ‘Poverty Eradication’ Story of 2015


4 Reasons to Question the Official ‘Poverty Eradication’ Story of 2015

Martin Kirk

The United Nations, large NGOs and lots of big corporations are gearing up to tell the world that we can eradicate global poverty by 2030. As a new paper by the economist David Woodward confirms, however, this claim is so far from reality that it deserves the label of cynical hype.


Wealth reform, income equality, a fair share for all.

This requires deep structural changes in the economy, and in consciousness. At the same time as a planet-wide ramp-down of extractivism. We need deep, pervasive humility among the humans. We need a large majority to impose this on the small minority who engineer the structural systemic looting, but most of us have only dim inklings of what needs to be done.

And it needs to happen like 45 years ago. Instead, we got exacerbated looting, as outlined in the article above.

Time’s past, but do what you can to work in your community to truly understand the transformation that is needed, and carry it out as best you can.


We need to curtail ‘extractivism’ to such a degree that the human population must decline by at least 90% over the next two generations to save the planet and ultimately humans. The most logical way to do this, is to reduce the amount of children we bring into the world for two generations across the globe. This isn’t possible without having a global democracy in which women can also choose not to have children and be equals in a male dominated society. But of course all of this flies in the face of the capitalists’ model of perpetual growth at all costs. I’m not sure that we will even be allowed to educate the world about the consequences of failing to act immediately as this would pose an immediate threat to corporatism. Instead we will all have to keep dancing to the music on the deck of the Titanic.


We need to quit rewarding corporate spawned psychopaths with powerful political positions.


“we will even be allowed to educate the world” KPMG, Koch Industies, Microsoft, and Google are well on their way to making education their Orwellian dictat. The truth is what they say it is. Revolution now now.


“These particular ‘eradicate poverty’ claims mask a very particular ideological intent, namely to validate the idea that we just need more of the same basic economic model.”

This is right up there with:

  1. Charter schools improve education and teacher accountability
  2. The War on Terror makes U.S. safer
  3. Biotech plant products more efficiently feed the world
  4. That elections are what counts and that we still have a functioning Democracy



Excellent article. As to useful actions, I would add that a reduction by one-half in US military/security/intelligence expenditures – which would still leave an ample resource for truly needed expenditures in those areas - could release sufficient resources to make a huge dent in (if not eliminate) world-wide poverty, at either the $1.5 or $5 daily “poverty line.” And if the US were to decrease its military-related expenditures to that degree, other nations could and would follow. Of course the political questions remain whether such cuts in military expenditures can be achieved, and whether the money saved could be redirected to reducing poverty. Given the record of the Obama Administration (let alone the previous Bush Administration) on militarism and poverty (Obama has scarcely even pronounced the word “poor” during his campaigns and tenure), the outlook is not encouraging. But that is all the more reason for those who care, to act.


The need to grow out of greed


I would just like to add an angle on our situation to pull this set of effects out of the cause silo and push the envelope to consider an aspect of history that is generally inverted to be considered as something that only happens to ‘others’. - because it is becoming increasingly obvious that ‘they’ are ‘us’.

So, I invite you to kick back and consider some facts about US territories and wonder…


The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were established in 2000, with their objective to halve poverty by 2015.

I moved to Laos in 2002. At that time, a bowl of noodle soup - which is probably a sufficient diet for one person for one day - typically cost 4,000 Lao kip.

There were 11,000 kip to one US dollar.

So, at the absolute poverty bar of US$1.25 per day (= LAK13,750) one could buy almost three -and-a-half bowls of noodle soup.

In 2015, the end date for the MDGs, a bowl of noodle soup might just be purchased for LAK15,000 (my Lao wife insists that you cannot get a bowl of noodle soupo for less than LAK20,000).

Today, there are LAK8,000 to the US$. $1.25 = LAK10,000.

At the absolute poverty level, you might just get two bowls of noodle soup every three days.

However many people have risen above the absolute poverty bar in Lao PDR, they will almsot all find that it is an illusion.


Exactly. We need to look at purchasing power for actual necessities if those numbers are to have any meaning.

Beyond that, in a humane, densely interconnected culture, people rely on family and village networks around common land to meet a lot of their needs without money.

We can’t have that, of course… Everything needs to be for sale, see, otherwise those who are hogging all those fancy strips of papers / zeros and ones parked in some offshore tax haven cannot “legally” buy up everything under the sun.

Imagine us going back to a world where being rich would mean relationships with people who know the land and each other rather than with people who know loopholes and complex derivative Ponzi schemes.

But let’s instead pat each other on the back as more of us who used to not rely on money exclusively are instead now assigned crumbs valued at close to $1.25 a day instead. Also, let’s ignore that the only reason even this is true, is really because China and Latin America managed to chart their own course outside of the rules agreed on by the select rich old white men.

If we had met the millennium goals, plan 2020, etc. then all those NGO types would be out of a job. But this time we will totally meet the 2030 development targets. By 2050 at the latest. Crisis? What crisis?