Archive for the ‘Poverty Article’ Category

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What’s the best way to help people stuck in poverty get out of poverty? Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute, shows where conservatives and progressives differ.
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Script:

What’s the best way to help poor people escape poverty?

Progressives and conservatives have very different answers to this question, but before we explore those answers, let’s agree on this:

Both progressives and conservatives believe that the government has a moral obligation to help those who, through bad luck or unfortunate circumstances, can’t help themselves.

Here’s what a conservative icon, Nobel Prize-winning economist, Frederic Hayek, said on the subject:

“There is no reason why, in a society that has reached the general level of wealth ours has attained, the first kind of security should not be guaranteed to all…some minimum of food, shelter, and clothing sufficient to preserve health and the capacity to work.”

Whatever the media might tell you, there isn’t a conservative out there who would not agree with Hayek’s statement.

As I have documented in my book, Who Really Cares, when it comes to philanthropy and charitable giving, conservatives actually out-give progressives — by a lot.

Where the two sides disagree is on the role the government plays – not in protecting the poor from poverty, but in lifting them out of it.

Here’s a disturbing piece of data: On balance, since President Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty programs came fully online in 1966, the poverty rate in America has hardly budged.

That rate, as computed by the United States government, was 14.7 percent in 1966.

And today?

It’s 13.5 percent.

The rate has fluctuated a few points up and down over the decades. The net result is just one percentage point of progress. And this is after the government has spent over 20 trillion dollars on poverty relief programs.

20 trillion dollars – the current size of the US debt — and the needle has barely moved.

Now, it’s true that the official poverty rate doesn’t measure consumption. Certainly, poor people today have many more things than poor people did in 1970.

Across all income levels, including the poor, Americans are likely to have cell phones, air conditioners, flat screen TVs, computers and a car. And life expectancy has lengthened considerably thanks to overall improvements in health care.

But it demeans poor people to say that this material progress makes poverty less of a problem. Our goal should never be to merely make poverty less miserable for people. Our goal must be to make poverty more escapable.

Many progressives offer a straightforward solution: more funding for poverty programs. They believe that we need to transfer more wealth – through government taxation — from people who have money to people who don’t. This is the income inequality argument.

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Poverty is a universal term and poverty elimination is a universal motto. Poverty destroys individuals, societies and nations. Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. It is the state of being sick but unable to see a doctor (Gordon et al., 2003). It is the condition which doesn’t allow one to have basic necessities in life. Poverty is the condition of not having a job and no resources to live with. It brings fear of future. It is the synonym of powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom (Gordon et al., 2000). Poverty can retard the overall growth of a society. It can negatively affect the progress of the nation itself. “Poverty is produced by circumstances, not individuals,” (Fincher & Wulff, 1998). Economic crisis increases the so-called ‘poverty sector’, leading to joblessness and social unrest. A proper planning and a better utilization of the available resources of the nation will lessen the poverty level to a great extent (Narayan & Parker, 2000). Diverting the existing resource to the disadvantaged people is the need of the hour. Every nation needs a proper governing authority to plan, accomplish and accelerate its growth. In developing countries especially, governments and political parties lead the show and try to bring progress to the society and stability to the economy by eliminating the curses like poverty. The ruling party and other political parties try to uplift the general status of the society and go deep into the problems and grievances of the people to a certain extent. Even though they do have opinion disputes and conflicts among them, they contribute a lot for the progress of the society and nation (especially rural areas where poverty is still a problem) (Pantazis, Gordon & Levitas, 2006).


Political interests and competitions play a major role in eliminating poverty from the nations. In the third world countries especially, political parties contribute a lot for the development works. Political parties try to perform well during their ruling tenure and take various actions for the negatively privileged sections of the society. They try to look into the agonies of the people of ill developed areas since such areas have the majority of the population in it. These less developed areas would be eagerly looking forward for a government which can help them to improve their total grade. No political party can ever think of getting rule in their hand without the votes of these majority weaker sections. So these thickly populated less developed areas are very important as far as political parties are concerned. They try to give alluring promises in their election campaign so that they can drain the votes of these areas. Filling the manifesto with various poverty reduction policies will definitely help the political parties to get the ballot in their favour. Poverty reduction will be the proclaimed motto of political parties of less developed countries. When they come into rule, these parties try to implement their poverty reduction policies to a certain extent at least. Political parties are very well aware of the fact that unless they bother about the poverty-stricken areas, nation will not see any progress in general and also they will not get the following election in their favour. Increasing number of political parties has thus favoured the development of nations in many ways. Progress of the nation is the declared motto of politics though we should doubt how far it is true in the cases of certain countries that have a corrupted political atmosphere.


Interest groups play a major role in the flow of democracy, especially in developing countries. Numerous interest groups exist in countries where there are more issues and problems. A political interest group can be a group, who tries to influence the government in order to get their interest about the society done. These political parties, especially the main opposition parties can fight to get their demands met by the government. In certain cases opposition parties perform extremely well and they do represent the weaker sections. They can point out the flaws and weaknesses of the ruling party and can help them improve their rule. These competing political forces are of different nature. They vary in their size, ideology, policy focus, influential capability, and mode of representation. For example, some groups may focus on certain issues or geographical areas and some may be interested in certain special topics. Also there are certain political groups who work on broader areas of public policy. Certain interest groups focus on government alone to get their demands done whereas some groups try to influence non-governmental and other private organizations and associations to uphold their objectives. The political party which is in power (the representative government) is supposed to encourage the interests of other competing groups also. They will consider the opposition’s opinion regarding major issues and will take decisions accordingly. The competing groups help to establish a balance by introducing arguments and resources to bear on various aspects of public policy decisions. They will equip themselves with power and influence and have a support from the public such that they can suppress any majority or minority group of vested interest who become strong enough to weaken the rights of others. Political groups compete on the playing field created by the constitutions (national as well as state) and laws. They develop their own policies and rules based on the constitution and will represent people for the progress of the nation. In short, these multiple competing groups try to create a stable political environment that allows the interests of the common people to be presented before the government.


In Calhoun and John McGowan (1997), the author asks, “Is politics really nothing more than power relations, competing interests and claims for recognition, conflicting assertions of ‘simple’ truths?.” But the political groups of certain countries have proved that they do offer their best for the development works of their nations. Political parties come out with various policies and plans that would eradicate poverty, according to their claims. They try to convince people that they are able to meet their demands and would repair their impoverished civic and private life. Even though it is true that ideology has waned and identity and interest based politics have come to the scene, political parties still try to improve the poverty-stricken state of the disadvantaged strata of the society. New new political parties appear into the political scene daily and they also come up with new promises so that people make their choice on their favour. These political parties are very well aware about the fact that unless they implement their poverty reduction policies, they will no longer get favour in the following election. In less developed countries especially, political parties have started attending the worries of poverty-stricken areas. In another words, in certain poor nations, political groups compete among themselves in providing best policies for people so that they gain the favour of the poor majority who look forward for a better government that can eradicate poverty from the society (Lustig, 2000). In other words, the competition between the political parties have become a boon for people who expect nothing but a better government that can implement developmental policies for the improvement of the unprivileged people.

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Generations of African rural communities have used locally grown plant extracts and oils for nutritional, medicinal and cosmetic purposes. One such plant product is marula oil, which is extracted from the fruit kernels of the marula tree, native to southern Africa. Previously unheard of outside of Africa, the oil is becoming increasingly popular because of its superb antioxidant, nourishing and moisturising properties.

The increasing global demand for marula oil and other seed oils brings enormous potential to local producers in southern African countries. Swazi Indigenous Products (SIP) is a community-owned company that strives to empower rural women in the fight against poverty, generate income sustainably and create high quality natural products using traditional indigenous knowledge. SIP is an accredited Fair Trade Organization and operates in line with the highest standards of Fair Trade. The company operates from a small factory in Mpaka, in the heart of the Swazi lowveld, producing a range of natural cosmetics products using marula oil and other natural plant-based ingredients.

Income Generation
Around 2,000 rural Swazi women generate much-needed income by selling marula nuts at fair trade prices. Many of the harvesters live in extremely poor, drought-stricken areas and have previously relied on UN Food Aid to survive. Through their sales of marula seeds, the women now earn the money needed to buy basic food and clothing, access medical care and pay school fees. With production set to increase, thanks to an increase in consumer demand, local women will be able to improve their situations even more.

Quality Control
SIP staff travel into the rural communities to buy the kernels, weighing and grading them at source to ensure high quality raw material. The kernels are then brought to the factory at Mpaka where they are manually cold pressed to produce pure, natural marula oil. The oil is then tested in the laboratory to ensure that only top quality is produced. SIP then exports the oil to cosmetics companies or uses it in the company’s own skin care oils and natural cosmetics.

Added Value
Instead of just simply exporting the oil as a commodity product to cosmetics companies in the developed world, SIP adds value locally with its own range of pure, simple and natural cosmetics, including lip balms, shower gels and hand lotions. In addition, SIP has gained organic certification for its marula oil, becoming the first Swazi organisation to achieve this.

Environmental Sustainability
Swaziland retains a wonderful biodiversity of indigenous plants and trees and as elsewhere in the world, that biodiversity is under threat. SIP works in harmony with its surroundings and is completely environmentally sustainable. Marula fruit is left to fall when ripe and just 5000 of the two million marula trees in Swaziland are used to meet current requirements. In addition, the company is working with suppliers on community planting of a range of indigenous trees.

Eileen Murphy is the founder of Scotia Fair Trade, a business that promotes Fair Trade natural skin care products and crafts from Africa, Asia and South America. Visit http://www.scotiafairtrade.com for more information.