Thursday, April 05, 2007

Power and Poverty

Ethics Daily had an interesting article about the UN's program to halve global poverty by 2015. As we are now at the half-way mark, John McKinnon challenges those of us living in wealthy countries to consider the role that power plays in sustaining global poverty. It is, he writes, more than "simply a deficit of food, water, income, housing, land and/or services." It also involves disempowerment. If you want to read more, here's the link.

"Poverty as disempowerment exposes the myth of economic growth as its solution. Economic growth may increase a nation's income without addressing the question of power. In the absence of specific action to redress inequality and power distribution, economic growth will tend to benefit those who already have the power."

"John Kenneth Galbraith said, 'Power is the great black hole in economic theory.' To seriously tackle global poverty that black hole needs to be addressed. The elephant in the room, however, is that to empower some means disempowering others. That is, it involves a redistribution of power. The problem of poverty will not be solved by the rich continuing to donate their excess while failing to give up their privilege."

2 comments:

Sara Ardrey-Graves said...

Wow. I'm humbled, more than I can say, by that last sentence.

The Episcopal church has recently published these "Millenium Development goals" that highlight an end to global poverty and call for gender equality, reduction in infant mortality, and a renewed sense of stewardship to our environment. But I have to admit my serious doubts that they'll change anything. Unless we're able to change our hearts and recognize the distribution of power between the poor and the rich, no real change will result.

I'll have to check out that article - thanks! Have a good rest-of Holy Week and Easter weekend!

dinah lou said...

Yes, Alan makes up silly songs ALL THE TIME! It hasn't gotten old, yet. I hope it doesn't...

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