Blog #1 -Developing the undeveloped world

poverty

a) Jacqueline Novogratz in her TED talks brings up the question on how to define poverty. What is her answer? What is her main message?

Jacqueline Novogratz begins by saying that poverty is very difficult to define. While some look at the exact dollar amount that individuals make, she says this is only one variable. Another variable is lack of choice. If you are stuck in situation and cannot move or get out of your current situation, you can be seen as impoverished. Novogratz then goes on to tell a story about a woman who lived in a Nairobi and had a very difficult life and eventually turned to prostitution to support her children after her husband left her. The woman’s story is compelling because even though her life seemed to be filled with many unbearable memories, she still felt blessed and went out and served her community by counseling HIV positive women. Jacqueline tells this story to show that even the most impoverished people, who have literally nothing of monetary substance to give, can still share their humanity with others. In her other TED talk, Novogratz talks a lot about how aid has consequences that are often difficult for contributors to understand. When Goodwill and other companies donate clothes to African countries, local apparel markets suffer in response. When Americans get involved in organizations that give nets to African countries as a way to help prevent Malaria, this is a huge help, but we also need to think of ways that African people themselves can access these resources. While donations are generous, it is important to provide people with opportunities that will allow them to prosper down the line so that long-term solutions can be established.

b) What is the vision, the goal of the SDGs? What is the effect of neo-liberalism (cutting government spending promoted by the World Bank and IMF)?

The Sustainable Development Goals are the successor to the Millennial Developmental Goals, which expired in 2015. There are 17 major goals that 193 countries agreed upon. These goals are to be reached by 2030 and include abolishing poverty “in all its forms everywhere,” achieving food security and improving health as well as numerous other goals involving education and gender equality and sustainability. While these goals sound rather ambitious, they have been criticized for their time span, with some saying numerous goals could be achieved by 2025. Neo-liberalism is not a new idea, but rather a resurgence of an older economical perspective that was present mostly in the 1970s. This laissez-faire approach cuts government spending as a way to encourage the private sector to take on a greater role in our economy. Many economists believe this theory is partly to blame for the financial crisis that began in 2007 in the United States. When the private sector began to view itself as “too big to fail,” the economy was eventually tanked as a result.

c) John McArthur in Own the Goals talks about “Players on the Bench”. Who are they and what does he criticize?

The players on the bench as described by McArthur include the Bush Administration as well as The World Bank. The Bush Administration eventually came to support the Millennium Development Goals, but only after public pressure was applied years later. By choosing to stay isolated from these goals, the Bush Administration sent a message to the UN and countries around the world that these issues were not on the forefront of his political agenda. Because MDGs represent goals that are agreed upon by most countries around the world, by choosing to ignore them, the Bush Administration lost the opportunity to build international repertoire as well as domestic political capital. Similarly, McArthur criticizes The World Bank for solely supporting the goals of MDG from afar without ever helping out on the ground level. While it makes sense that The World Bank would be more concerned with economic issues, as an international institution, a main concern should social issues as well because they are interconnected with economic issues. Other institutions seem to have a large distrust of the United Nations and in turn are less likely to get on board with the MDGs. The World Bank had an opportunity to act as a liaison to countries in the developing world, but initially failed to do so because of what seems like a petty distrust of the UN.

d) The article “How to Help Poor Countries” (2005) addresses the question of more aid money. Please elaborate. What are suggestions made by the authors?

As one of the answers to the question of how to help poor countries, the solution of more aid is brought up. Personally, when I think of providing more money to a poor country, I think of this as a short-term solution that will only benefit the country until the money runs out. In my mind, providing aid alone does not sound like a sufficient way to help a suffering country. However, according to the text, more aid does have various benefits, especially in the health field. Smallpox was eradicated and other illnesses like river blindness and diarrhea were treated using aid money. AIDS is a disease that has ravaged many developing countries and aid money has allowed for this disease to be better controlled by the distribution of medication. The article suggests that aid money is most helpful when there is a specific target for the money, not just a blank check. However, the poorest countries that are in need of the most aid, often do not have governments that are able to successfully allocate the aid money how the contributing country imagined it would be used. This disconnect makes it difficult for both donor countries and recipient countries to understand each other’s wants and needs. Like a scrutinizing parent or older sibling, sometimes developed countries believe that they know what a developing country needs better than the country itself. This hierarchal structure needs to be broken down in order for both countries to be able to have a beneficial relationship.

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