Brenda’s Got A Baby

30 October 2007

The following video shows Tupac Shakur performing his song Brenda’s Got A Baby, which tells the story of a 12-year-old girl from the ghetto who has a baby that she cannot support. The song addresses teen pregnancy and the lack of support for impoverished teens from their families, the government, and society. Watch it:

I wish Tupac still lived today. He has many other songs that address poverty and other serious social and political issues.

Tupac holds the record as the highest-selling rap artist. Drive-by shooters shot Tupac 4 times on September 7, 1996, and as a result he died 6 days later at the age of 25.

The song appears on Tupac’s album, 2Pacalypse Now, which you can buy from Amazon.

You can discuss teen pregnancy and Tupac’s music about poverty at the Hunger and Poverty Forums. It’s completely free, and all viewpoints are welcome.

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Many anti-poverty and anti-hunger efforts consist of simple, short-term acts of charity, such as soup kitchens or free-food picnics. Food Not Bombs, for example, often schedules public rallies where the volunteers provide food that everyone including the homeless and poor can come and eat for free.

Feeding a person a meal will fend off their hunger today, but it fails to provide a permanent solution. Obviously, people need their immediate needs met, or else they will not survive to ever escape poverty. For example, 18,000 children die every day from hunger.

Unfortunately, feeding them a meal will not solve the problem. If we feed each of those 18,000 children a meal today, we will then have 36,000 children starving tomorrow.

We need to include long-term solutions with our short-term efforts. The short-term efforts need to fulfill people’s immediate needs while simultaneously the long-term efforts help the people permanently escape poverty.

People can escape poverty through education and employment or business ownership. (The business owners often then provide more jobs for the others.) To permanently escape poverty, people need to get enough education that they can get a job (or start a business) that earns them enough income to afford food, clothes, shelter and healthcare, and also enough to pay off their student loans as well as secure their retirement. In places without socialized unemployment insurance, the person also must earn enough to pay for that.

We have a long way to go, considering that even in the United States millions of college graduates live in poverty, millions of employed people live in poverty, and millions of children do not have enough to eat let alone have sufficient education.

Anyway, we can start by making sure soup kitchens, food rallies, and such also include long-term help such as job-training, education help, job fairs, and such.

You can help suggest ways to provide permanent solutions for poverty in the Hunger and Poverty Forums. It’s completely free, and all viewpoints are welcome.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Aid Reform |

Inexpensive Nourishment

24 October 2007

A major problem people who struggle financially face is that cheap foods tend to be unhealthier than more expensive foods. It is easier to find unhealthy foods on a tight budget than it is to find healthier foods. Additionally, poor people may have trouble finding enough food of any kind.

It is important for anyone who may one day struggle financially, or who may interact with people who do, to know some basic foods that can inexpensively provide good nourishment.

Some nutritious and inexpensive foods I have found are: pasta, milk (including soy milk), oatmeal, peanut butter, bread and cereal.

The main trick is to avoid foods that have little to no protein, vitamins or minerals. These types of “empty calories” include soda, candy and such.

While snack bars are often tasty and sometimes not even that unhealthy, they are often very expensive per calorie. You will not get as much nutrients per dollar as you will with some of the cheaper foods I previously mentioned.

It is important to try and include fruits and vegetables in your diet also, but they are often not the cheapest way to get calories in your diet. Take your time at the grocery store to figure out whether the canned vegetables or fresh ones are cheaper.

Do you have any suggestions of inexpensive and nutritious foods? If so, please post them in the Hunger and Poverty Forums. It’s completely free, and all viewpoints are welcome.

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An article today from The Canadian Press reports that tougher welfare rules in Canada have proved effective at reducing poverty.

Generally, I oppose government-funded and government-managed welfare. Though, I do not want to abruptly abolish it, because many people and families depend on it. Of course, welfare helps cause this dependency. When we give people things for free, they become dependent on those gifts–much like a spoiled and overprotected child who never learns to take care of him or herself.

They tell us that if you give a man a fish you only feed him for a day, and that teaching him to fish feeds him for a lifetime. They forget to tell us the trouble that giving fish to a man can cause. If you give him the fish, he will never bother to learn to fish, and the other guy who is learning how to fish will stop and come ask you for free fish instead of learning.

We cannot end poverty simply by giving things away for free, and we cannot end world hunger by giving away food. At best, such methods will be ineffective. At worst, they will be counterproductive, by inspiring dependency and undermining self-sufficiency.

First of all, it may help to simply offer needy people loans rather than free gifts. In that way, we can enable them to get back on their own two feet without giving them charity. Unconditional charity is expensive and relatively ineffective.

Secondly, instead of just unconditionally giving poor people food, clothes, shelter and healthcare, I suggest we require that the recipients of the help either get education and job training, or seek employment. If they work at a job that does not pay enough, they either need to also get more education and skills training, or they need to look for a higher paying job. The point is that if the person can get a job that pays enough, they need to get it. If they cannot get a job that pays enough, they need to get more education so that they can get a job that pays enough.

If some people refuse to get an education or get a sufficiently paying job, then I suggest we refuse to help them. The only exception would be the few people who literally cannot earn their own income, such as the elderly, the mentally ill, and the severely disabled.

Supporting people in those ways will help lead to self-sufficiency and thus a permanent solution to poverty. Additionally, it will help us focus our efforts on people who are willing to help themselves, rather than wasting our efforts on people who are not willing to help themselves. To be cliché, we need to help people help themselves.

Andrew Carnegie said, “There is no use whatsoever trying to help people who do not help themselves. You cannot push anyone up a ladder unless he is willing to climb himself.”

In conclusion, I agree with the findings of the Canadian study. Tougher rules on welfare and charity can make them much more effective.

You can post your thoughts about my suggestions at the Hunger and Poverty Forums. It’s completely free, and all viewpoints are welcome. You can also post your own suggestions there.

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 | Posted by | Categories: Aid Reform |

Sarah Simpson wrote today about rallies in Kenyan for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. I include an excerpt:

Thousands of mostly school age kids from the Nairobi slum of Korogocho gathered in a covered churchyard tucked amongst shambling tin houses for a morning of music and songs. It was their contribution to a 90 country, 24-hour campaign to end global poverty.

Event organizer, Sylvia Mwichuli, explained it was appropriate that most of the attendees were children, as poverty hits the youngest, hardest.

“Most families in the poorest slums across Africa do not even have access even to a meal a day,” she said. “And the worst affected, of course, are children.”

In 2000, world leaders from 189 countries signed up to the Millennium Development Goals – eight basic promises to slash poverty, tackle HIV and AIDS and increase access to education, amongst others, all by the year 2015.

The article also included quotes by Kenyan adults who say the government does not listen to them and address their needs. They say that the so-called democratic government there only addresses the people during election times.

Of course, the failure of democratically elected officials to care about the people’s concerns outside of election time affects most democracies throughout the world. Participatory democracy, in which the people vote more often on particular issues rather than just on electoral representatives, could help.

However, I doubt any government will do the job, as a result of the inherent inefficiency and corruption of government.

Instead, the people of the world need to find non-governmental solutions to poverty. We need to spark a global movement to end poverty that involves people organizing locally to fight poverty, by educating children and the uneducated and providing employment for the educated. The education must come with food, clothes, shelter, and healthcare. The employment must pay enough to pay for a lifetime’s worth of food, clothes, shelter, and healthcare.

If you have ideas about how to successfully fight poverty, or otherwise want to discuss these issues, please join the Hunger and Poverty Forums. It’s completely free, and all viewpoints are welcome.

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Do Stand Up Against Poverty

16 October 2007

L. Muthoni Wanyeki, the executive director of the Kenya Human Rights, recently wrote about an international call for action against poverty taking place tomorrow:

This Wednesday, October 17, marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year, once again, the Global Coalition Against Poverty is trying to make it into the Guinness Book of Records by ensuring the largest number of people across the world physically “stand up” to declare their commitment to ending poverty.

Symbolic movements, such as literally standing up in support of the fight against poverty, do not do much directly to actually end poverty. Nonetheless, it can help raise awareness and create opportunities for social networking by anti-poverty activists. Many major social movements have been sparked by symbolic and incidental protests. Take for example the Boston Tea Party and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

Of course, we need to remember to follow these symbolic protests with direct action. We also need to get out and actually implement solutions to the poverty problem. If you have any ideas on how to fight poverty directly, I encourage you to join the World Hunger and Poverty Forums and share your ideas. It’s completely free.

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Children suffering from Poverty