Poverty is more than an income measure or financial disadvantage. It is also a state of mind, a feeling of anxiety, and it forms the perception that society has of individuals, and even the perception these individuals have of themselves. It is because of this that people living in poverty face so many limitations, ones that go beyond the mere size of their wallet. They experience a lot more stress and social pressure. Those who consider poor people to be lazy treat them as if they were inferior, and, in turn, poor people try to mask their poverty in order to receive better treatment. Read More »
Last week “Giving to beggars is bad and exploitative labor is good” was posted. This article cited people’s rationalizations for not giving to beggars. Two of the major public perceptions of beggars that the author received were that the adults were on the streets by their own fault and that direct charity would discourage them from doing something pro-active to relieve themselves of homelessness. However, data from developing countries and in particular the United States (U.S) indicates that many homeless people are not to blame for there homeless state, but suffer from mental disabilities and often severe mental illness (SMI). Persons with SMI are identified as “individuals with serious and long-term mental disorders that impair their capacity for self-care, interpersonal relationships, work and schooling.” Read More »
The honest poor can sometimes forget poverty. The honest rich can never forget it.
Gilbert K. Chesterton
Growing up in 1980s and 90s Russia was not easy. For the first few years of my life three generations of my family lived in a tiny two bedroom flat on the fifth floor of a ten story grey Communist monolith. Living in such close proximity, my grandparents on my mum’s side, my parents, and my sister and I shared a lot, except perhaps privacy. With regular state salary payments being rarer than all the world’s blue moons, my mum forwent many meals to keep my sister and I fed. On the flip side, every year, for the best part of the three months that a typical Russian school summer break lasts, my father’s parents inherited the responsibility of taking care of us, the kids. Their apartment, located in a rural town called Gorodovikovsk in the southern Russian Republic of Kalmykia, where my grandmother still lives, was a little roomier, but it lacked many of the amenities that most people living in developed countries take for granted. We used the communal outdoor, hole-in-the-ground latrine, using only old news pages for toilet paper. Meanwhile, on the count of, at best, an unreliable water supply, we filled up every pot and pan in the kitchen with fresh water from the local well, heating just enough every other day to have a quick “bucket wash” (perhaps this explains why I am still unable to take a shower that lasts longer than a minute).
December is ‘Inspiration Month’ here at INESAD, so it seems an appropriate time to draw attention to some inspirational figures from Bolivia. Up until recently, the country suffered from a lack of upward social mobility and high inequality, making it virtually impossible for anybody to become successful unless they happened to be born to the right parents. But finally, that seems to be changing. Read More »
Whether the food industry can play a constructive role in battling public health and environmental problems is a heavily debated question. On the one end, global companies like Coca-Cola are touting their own efforts towards sustainability and are claiming to be making significant inroads. Meanwhile, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) argues that, despite their sustainability rhetoric, companies like the agriculture giant Monsanto only damage sustainability efforts because they are driven mainly by profits and encourage unsustainable practices like pesticide-use. Whereas, writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Professor Marion Nestle of New York University and Dr. David Ludwig of Harvard University, argue that companies could act in the interest of public health and environment only if guided to do so by consumer demand and public policy and regulation.
By Cathy Gerrior
My name is Cathy Gerrior. My spirit name is white turtle woman and I am a Mi’kmaq Elder and Ceremony Keeper from TurtleIsland. I was given an opportunity to visit Guatemala by a group called Breaking the Silence, an organization who works towards justice and fair treatment of the Mayan People in Guatemala.
We joined a delegation in Guatemala led by Grahame Russell with the Rights Action group to learn the truth about Canadian mining companies and what they are doing to our Mayan brothers and sisters in Latin America. Grahame was very thorough in his teachings around this issue. At one point I asked him if this work was his passion. He thought about it for a moment and replied Read More »
What would you do if you were the mother of a young girl born into a social setting where her gender automatically affects her chances of independence, riches and success? Most of us live in such societies as gender imbalances are institutionalised and pervasive the world over. Take the recently exposed gender gap in US election coverage published by 4thEstate.net that showed that even on important issues specifically facing women (such as reproductive health, birth control, women’s rights), the US media consulted the voices of actual women only 12-31% of the time. Read More »
Over the last two days I have been involved in a global experiment – a 48 hour brainstorming session between 1,600 people, from 50 countries who identified the barriers to solving poverty and put forward ideas for solutions.
The experiment was set up in a form of a game called Catalysts for Change. The more you contributed by putting down your thoughts, critiques, questions and ideas in less than 140 character soundbites, the more points you collected. In the end, the two short days yielded over 18,600 soundbite playing cards covering a range of topics from improving education to challenging capitalism itself. Read More »
The following situation has occurred to almost everybody: You are on holiday and want to get money from an ATM cashier; the machine swallows your credit or debit card. This is worse if it happens during night when all banks are closed and even worse if it happens in a foreign country. Last year, at the LACEA-LAMES meeting held in Santiago of Chile, Sendil Mullainathan used this example to explain how budget constraints could affect consumption decisions, which is not surprising, but most important how they could affect the behavior of people regarding their labor supply.
“Money often costs too much.”
–Ralph Waldo Emerson –
The development community has for years been heralding microcredit as a means to escape poverty, but some very simple math suggests that we need to be cautious about pushing it too much.
To do this simple math, let’s compare the life-stories of two fictional boys who are both born poor. Let’s call them Micky and Savvy. Both work part time from age 10 earning 1 dollar per day, but they live at home with their parents, who provide for their basic needs. Micky spends his hard earned 7 dollars every week-end with his friends, while Savvy saves them and manages to invest his modest funds at an average real rate of return of 10% per year (mostly by lending money to needy friends and relatives).