The Decline of Poverty
Angus Hervey

This is just appallingly selective. How do you define “extreme poverty”, and why doesn’t the article define it? Are you using the common criterion of “living on $1.25 a day”? So that oh-so-inspiring quote about lifting a quarter of a million people “since yesterday” out of “bone-crushing one-meal-a-day soul-destroying no-doctor no-dentist no-electricity… unrelenting extreme poverty” — what does it really mean? Was it put together by some capitalist who found out that since yesterday, the average daily income of a quarter of a million people has gone from $1.20 to $1.40? And that takes them nicely out of the statistics as “no longer living in extreme poverty”? You don’t really think that that also provides them with doctors and electricity and another meal a day, do you?

Believe me, I’m a soul-brother here in being as committed as you are to “intelligent, optimistic thinking for the future”. Believe me, I know things are relatively better, and I have read Ridley’s “Rational Optimist” and Steve Pinker’s “Better Angels of our Nature”. But the idea of a load of people in affluent countries sitting back and thinking “Phew, I don’t have to worry about doing anything because it’s all getting better anyway and we should all just carry on in exactly the same way”, is just so depressing. It remains a fact that a busful of people have as much wealth as the bottom three billion people in the world. It remains the case that the disgusting economic policies and worldviews of the reigning neoliberal globalized system is still shovelling money like mad upwards to the richest, and suppressing wages, and keeping economic growth down for record lengths of time, while staying pig-headedly committed to stupid stupid ideas like “Private is always good and Public is always bad” and “We need less Government/less regulation/less taxation” — instead of what we need is better infrastructure and responsible government and great consumer protection and great public services and the end of tax havens and decently run multinational corporations all believing in more redistribution in the interests of maximizing the well-being of all conscious creatures and an intelligent attitude towards the environment that sustains us.

And all of this is actually possible, in a vastly resourced and experienced world, while still allowing the freedom to build democracies and build businesses and make yourself rich and explore art and science and be free from unnecessary interference! We’re just still not doing it!

Why am I even bothering to write this, in a world where majorities vote for Brexit and Trump, and think that problems are caused by “foreigners”? Do you have another planet I could emigrate to please? Is there really an intelligent species on this planet other than the dolphin?

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