CSM On Poverty

At first blush many of the issues, such as poverty, don’t really seem connected to food (though the current food crisis has highlighted the opposite). It’s about economics right? Well, food plays a role in the endemic nature of poverty, particularly at the bottom of the globalization totem pole. The bottom of that pole is not, as many think, sweatshops where small children make your Air Jordans. No, it is the farmers producing our coffee and organic produce that face the most difficult climb out of poverty.

The Christian Science Monitor recently had an excellent multi-part series on poverty (start here) by Mark Lange, a former speechwriter for President George H.W. Bush. Although I don’t agree with everything in these articles (I’m not as confident in globalization), they certainly raise a lot of good issues in an easily digestible, but not sugary form. Here’s a few good quotes:

Moral obligation is enough…We need reasons that engage a broader political spectrum. Humanitarian, labor, and environmental goals must be joined with economic and geopolitical priorities, each in service to the other.

Post-9/11 terrorpolitik makes ending extreme poverty a security priority. The left responds to the promise of a more compassionate world; the right, to the threat of a more violent one. We must enlist both.

the greatest asset anyone from a wealthy nation might bring to the challenge of eradicating extreme poverty is a healthy balance of audacity and humility.

It’s ironic, but for the last billion China has proved to be the most inspiring example and a direct brake on progress.

aid agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and contractors suffer from an inherent conflict of interest: They exist to run projects and perpetuate themselves – not to put themselves out of business.

and now for the food connection…

The encouraging lesson here is that astute agricultural development can be a life-saving first rung on the ladder to more diversified industry and export-driven growth.

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