For those of you not already familiar with the Free Hugs Campaign, I recommend you watch the following YouTube video. I bet it will make you smile:
I love it! It is entertaining and pleasantly funny to watch this random long-haired guy walk around with a sign offering free hugs. More seriously, I feel even a small, mostly symbolic gesture such as giving away free hugs can help alleviate the “social disconnectivity” so common in our current society, which represents the first step in coming together and actually building a better world for all. Millions of people have seen that video, and I assume it has inspired almost all of them.
One of the organizers, Jim Wallis, said, “A whole generation of young evangelicals believes that Jesus would probably care more about the 30,000 children who died again today – as they did yesterday and they will tomorrow – from preventable disease than he would about passing a gay-marriage amendment in Ohio.”
I agree! I am not a religious person, but I agree with many of the secular teachings of Jesus. I also believe that Jesus and other caring people would worry much more about issues such as poverty, healthcare, education and the enviornment than about gay marriage.
Regardless of how they feel about gay marriage, I do not understand how anyone could think of it as more important to stop gays from marrying than to alleviate poverty and fix the healthcare crisis. Poverty kills children; gay marriage does not.
In the philosophy forums today, I made a post about how government-managed currency enables a minority to oppress the majority by using currency to claim ownership of more than their fair share of natural resources. Check it out and join the discussion: Government and Currency
Without oppression robbing them of the fruits of their labor, I believe the working class would have so much more wealth that the working class families currently in poverty or at risk of poverty would no longer be in poverty or at risk of poverty. Additionally, the working class people would have enough wealth to fix the problems affecting their communities such as poverty and lack of education.
The people of the world would benefit in many ways by reducing or eliminating global poverty and by increasing education levels.
I believe less poverty and more education would reduce violent crime and other forms of criminal victimization. Poor and uneducated people tend to turn to crime and anti-social behavior more often. The same happens to other people raised in poor and uneducated neighborhoods.
I believe less poverty and more education would reduce terrorism. Actual terrorists generally come from more affluent backgrounds because poor people have too many personal problems to get so actively involved in politics. However, anger and hatred over the perceived injustice of the existence of poverty and socioeconomic inequality helps create and empower terrorists. Additionally, lack of political rights does correlate with terrorism, and a less poor and better educated public often achieves more political rights and equality without as much violence. In other words, though terrorists may not be poor, I believe terrorism thrives in a world with poverty and lack of education. (Terrorism is never justified, in my opinion. Nonetheless, we need to counter the contributing factors if we wish to stop and prevent it.)
I believe less poverty and more education would lead to more wealth and happiness for all. Investing in saving children and communities from poverty helps create a more productive and wealthy society. Educated and working people living in a fair and free society not only benefit themselves but they benefit others. Well-educated and hard-working people will produce wealth in this cooperative system that we call a society. For example, how much better off would the rest of us be if poor, uneducated and homeless single mothers had received excellent education and now had a good job providing valuable services to others for great pay that kept them and their families out of poverty? How much wealthier would the entire world be if those starving Ethiopian children instead went to great schools and performed useful jobs keeping themselves out of poverty?
Breaking the poverty cycle will help us all! Do not look at poverty alleviation as charity. I doubt we will end poverty if we look at it as charity. Charity cannot end global poverty. We need to recognize that helping poor people help themselves not only helps them but it helps us too. To that end, we can find mutually beneficial social interactions and movements that alleviate poverty. Namely, I recommend investing heavily in small businesses and in education including both investing in organizations creating and running schools as well as investing in students with extensive student loans. We need to find ways to get better schools and better paying jobs into poor areas or ways to get poor children and unemployed people out of poor areas and into areas with great schools and great jobs for the educated.
I explained why I think we can prevent overpopulation by doing what we would want to do anyway–end world hunger, poverty, and socioeconomic inequality. I will re-post what I wrote here.
Currently, 18,000 children die every day from world hunger. Billions of people live in poverty. As far as I know, poverty exists in every nation in the world. For example, in the United States, millions of people in the United States live in poverty, including millions of working people and millions of college graduates.
However, the world currently has more than enough food to feed everyone. The world has more than enough resources to provide food, clean water, shelter, healthcare and education to all people.
But we choose not to do it. Partially it is because we are not behaving charitably enough, but I think it is more because some people have claimed much more than their fair share and much more than they need of the natural resources and the productive labor of others.
As a result, we see the problems that would be associated with overpopulation and a scarcity of resources, which includes not only world hunger and poverty as a direct result, but also war, violence, government corruption, and other examples of people fighting over natural resources and getting angry about not receiving their fair share.
Since we already have these problems, overpopulation would not be a significantly noticeable change. Because of that, the people in society probably will not notice the effects of overpopulation since those ‘effects’ will just be more of the same (e.g. war, violence, fighting over natural resources, socioeconomic inequality, etc.).
I believe the way to prevent overpopulation would be to fix the current political system that allows world hunger and poverty to happen now. Fixing the current problems are desirable to me and many people regardless of the fact that fixing them would prevent overpopulation, which is also desired.
Basically, our current system of distribution of wealth is so barbaric and unfair that for most people in the world it feels like the world is already overpopulated (because such people are receiving such an unfairly small share of the world’s wealth). So there is little incentive to stop overpopulation and little notice of the effects of increases in population.
If the people in the world found a more effective and fair way to share the world’s wealth such that world hunger, poverty and so forth were ended, and as a result there would be significantly less war, violence and corruption, then I believe that would prevent overpopulation based on three main points: Firstly, there would be direct consequences of increases in population on most people (since people would be receiving a fair share, which would be less when there is more people). Secondly, as a result of the first, there would be more of an incentive to fix overpopulation (since it would be creating a problem which wouldn’t already exist in a fair, povertyless society). Thirdly, there would be more social ability to address global threats and problems such as overpopulation (and global warming, etc.) because our ability to work together would not be so hindered by the war, fighting, and corruption of a world with poverty and socioeconomic inequality.
In short, I believe the way to prevent overpopulation is to fix those horrible qualities that our current world would have in common with an overpopulated world. Namely, these problems are world hunger, poverty and socioeconomic inequality.
I love that speech. I think speeches like that change the world more than elections and pieces of legislation. I post about the speech here because Obama’s speech addresses many fundamental issues that this blog addresses. Namely, he stresses the need for self-help, for social investment in healthcare and education, and for ensuring that all children receive equal opportunity of success. By coming together for those purposes, we can not only beat the fear and anger that causes racial divisiveness, but also we can end poverty.
I cannot think of a speech that explained the issue in a more accurate, productive, and agreeable way. Better yet, he made the speech not in some isolated, marginalized sector of society. He made it as a front-running presidential candidate.
He explained much more than his relationship with Reverend Wright by offering an excellent speech on modern race relations in the United States.
He mentions the different ways that different groups experience similar emotions such as fear and anger, which can lead to divisiveness, racism, or the accusation of racism. He explains that those emotions can increase divisiveness and contribute to the racial stalemate in the United States. But he encourages the people of the United States to unify and work-together to overcome the common problems that face us all and that can cause the anger and fear.
He points to the common need for education, healthcare coverage, and good jobs–three needs that I routinely focus on heavily in this blog. He points to the common obstacle of government corruption, marked by corporate interests, lobbyists, special interest groups, and backroom deals.
He also makes note of what he fondly calls the “quintessentially American” notion of self-help, which to me empathizes that we need a culture that encourages individuals to work hard to better their lives as much as possible and that we need to unify and help ourselves as a country (and world).
He emphasizes his belief that the United States people want to unify and make the aforementioned mutually beneficial changes and his hopefulness about it. He, of course, has firm hope in his ability to bring about the changes as president.
As nothing specific to Obama, I see reforming the current government “from the inside” through voting and electoral politics as hopeless. I do not vote, and I do not endorse any political candidate. I instead find hope in non-government methods and direct action. However, if all politicians transcended, as much as Obama does, the usual divisiveness and bland political correctness of electoral politics, then I probably would not see it as hopeless.
Regardless of my feelings about reformist politics in general, I love Obama’s speech, and I admire him for using his powerful words to help spread understanding and unity even in the context of an issue as divisive, angering and seemingly hopeless as race. Even though Obama preaches hopefulness in electoral reform, I see the speech as revolutionary!
I have posted a lot lately about the apparent recession of the United States economy because it relates so much to poverty. However, today I want to post something more optimistic and inspiring. So I will post one of my favorite quotes. I hope it influences us all in our attempts to alleviate poverty and make the world a better place for all. The quote has been attributed to an unknown monk (circa 1600 A.D.). Check it out:
“When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to change the nation. When I found I couldn’t change the nation, I began to focus on my town. I couldn’t change the town and as an older man, I tried to change my family. Now, as an old man, I realize the only thing I can change is myself, and suddenly I realize that if long ago I had changed myself, I could have made an impact on my family. My family and I could have made an impact on our town. Their impact could have changed the nation and I could have indeed changed the world.”
The fifth largest US investment bank and securities trading and brokerage firm, Bear Stearns, recently collapsed. And the United States government used a bail out to have JP Morgan buy Bear Stearns. This has some people saying that America has been conned with a huge Ponzi securitization scam; the bubble has burst and it looks like the government will have to keep using tax-payer dollars to save the big guys at the expense of the rest of us.
After the internet bubble burst and after 9/11, the economy was shaky, so the Fed lowered interest rates to spur growth.
Because interest rates were lowered, people could buy larger, more expensive houses.
As a result, the housing market kept doing well, so people kept investing in it and lenders kept giving out riskier and risker loans (expecting prices to continue going up).
But then rising oil prices caused inflation, so interest rates were raised to slow inflation.
When interest rates were raised, the people who had bought bigger houses based on low interest rates couldn’t make their payments. (They had adjustable rate mortgages.) In addition to increased monthly payments from increased interest rates, people’s ability to make their mortgage payments were hindered by the rising prices of day-to-day expenses as a result of the inflation caused by rising oil prices.
As a result, houses flooded the market, and less people could afford to buy houses. The increase in supply and decrease in demand caused the bubble to burst.
Bear Stearns had invested heavily in housing loans through re-using (and re-re-using, etc.) profits from loans before actually receiving the profits. When the real estate bubble burst, the investors pulled out and what effectively ensued was a run on the bank.
Since pretty much all of the big financial institutions have invested in a similar “house of cards” fashion, the government bailed them out by getting J.P. Morgan to buy Bear Stearns at a deep discount and assume the bad debt. That is an attempt to keep confidence in the system because–like with a run on the bank–the system is based on confidence. The value of the system is only there if most people believe in it.
Unfortunately, when people lose their confidence in an economic system that only has value because of their confidence, it will collapse and hurt the people. When this nation-wide ponzi scam of an economy collapses, I fear what horrible effect it will have on the working people. I worry that many people will fall into poverty, and many people’s lives–both poor and not–will take a drastic turn for the worse. But what would be the solution? Do we keep investing in a massive ponzi scam to delay its collapse?
On The Daily Show last night, John Stewart interviewed economist Jeffrey Sachs. Check it out:
I look forward to reading Jeffery Sachs new book, Common Wealth: Economics for a Crowded Planet. Regarding the interview, I like that he empathizes the connection between poverty and wasteful, destructive militarism. Also, I like that he basically says that we can find practical and effective ways to end poverty and the underlying problems if we chose to do it, rather than ignore those problems and focus on throwing more and more resources into militarism. As Henry David Thoreau wrote, “There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.”