One of my dear friends tweeted this yesterday, “How about we spend an hour discussing how we can eliminate poverty in underdeveloped countries. As opposed to Sidney Crosby’s vertebra.” In response to that tweet, the first thing that came to my mind was, “do we even need to work on it in the first place?” Then I thought, okay, let’s indulge in some borderline altruistic thinking — I could argue that it isn’t really altruistic to want to help those in a subhuman level of existence, but that’s a topic for another discussion.
So anyway, the first thing that comes to my mind about poverty is that we have a very glamourized view of it in our minds, all thanks to Hollywood and other media. The harsh truth is that many people are poor because that’s a direct result of their own actions — or lack of action in case of those who are born in poor families. How can I say that? I lived in a slum-like place for 27 years. Some of the people I saw around me while growing up are minimum wage workers to this day; some ruined their lives drinking and probably breaking the law; and a few worked hard and ended up leaving the place for greener pastures just the way I did. Each one made their own bed and are sleeping in it today. Moral of the story: you are responsible for your life and how it ends up.
Of course, that’s India where a semblance of human life exists. And since a few of our prime ministers started economic liberalization, there’s actually a really good chance for someone to make a decent living there if they have the fire in themselves to do well. However, what about those in the poor regions of Africa? There’s no system, no government that would protect individual rights, and certainly, many of the people there aren’t even aware of the concept of human rights. In that place, it’s so bad that sometimes it seems pointless to even try to help those people. To elaborate on that point, here’s my dilemma:
- You can’t bring a revolution there with a handful of missionaries. If you tell those poor people that their rulers are bad, they’d end up being dead for saying it out aloud in that environment
- If you tell them their rulers are trying to help but they need more support from developed countries, it makes them continue to believe in a system that is obviously corrupt and doesn’t care about their development
In other words, any help you give them is at best going to alleviate their symptoms temporarily. Lasting change can’t be made unless their system is overthrown and replaced with one that genuinely frees their people and allows them to develop. However, if you follow the USA’s modus operandi to accomplish that, you’d have to invade those countries and hope that you’ll win and create a good system there. We’ve seen how that usually turns out! That leaves only one option that sounds both logical as well as practical to me:
All civilized countries should come together and warn those governments that all trade with them and help will be cut off unless they adopt a system of governance that firmly establishes individual rights in their laws — of course, this is assuming that these countries ever get politicians who give a damn about making a positive change rather than bombing dictatorships solely for their natural resources. Assuming such a thing happens, not only can the underdeveloped countries receive aid for trying to do the right thing, but also a number of businessmen willing to set up shop on their land. Developed countries could even offer relief from import duties to a developing country in which they’re able to create products and bring them home or sell them on the International market.
However, doing this would make sense only if those third world countries accept a free market economy and firmly protect their citizens’ individual rights. Otherwise, providing them with aid would mean rewarding them for having a bad system — in other words, offering incentive for their system to continue to remain bad — which is worse than leaving them alone in their miserable current state.