Poverty and its alleviation

Discussion in 'General Science & Technology' started by hansda, Aug 25, 2012.

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  1. hansda Valued Senior Member

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    I think poverty is one of the most grave problem of our world.

    Is there any technology-solution for poverty?
     
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  3. Buddha12 Valued Senior Member

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  5. hansda Valued Senior Member

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    I think if suitable technology, innovation can be developed in the farming sector; it may generate some solution for poverty.
     
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  7. billvon Valued Senior Member

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    Short answer - no. You could give everyone a million bucks a year and someone would figure out how to lose/squander it. We will always have the poor.

    That being said, the state of "being poor" has gotten much better over the past few centuries. In many countries, for example, "poor" means you can't afford cable TV. Compare that to the 1700's where it meant starvation and sickness.
     
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    The solution does not lie in technology. Well, at least not anymore. Before the Industrial Revolution, about 99.9% of the population were doomed to "jobs" as farmers. There was very little surplus wealth or "capital" in an agriculture-based economy, so if a family's production dropped below subsistence level due to a disaster, illness, drought, etc., it was quite possible that their neighbors weren't prosperous enough to rescue them.

    But the conversion of chemical energy in fossil fuel into heat and/or kinetic energy, the fundamental technology that made the Industrial Revolution possible, increased the productivity of farmers so much that today only about 6% of us work in food production and distribution. So the poverty of the Iron Age was indeed solved by technology--although not evenly among all humans.

    But today, poverty is primarily a problem of politics, not technology. Countries with more-or-less democratic, representative governments almost uniformly out-produce countries run by dictators or outright despots. Someone's going to yell "China," but China's a great example because it's on the cusp of a transition: the workers themselves have only slightly more freedom than their grandparents, but the people who run the industries have considerably more leeway, and that's a far more prosperous economy than one run by bureaucratic central planners with no stake in the outcome of their planning. As their industries mature, the leaders will have no choice but to build management pyramids and allow ever more citizens to perform roles other than grunt labor.

    Look around at the countries whose poverty brings tears to your eyes. They're run by despots who deliberately keep their people uneducated and under-productive because uneducated and under-productive people are seldom capable of mounting a revolution. All of us in the rich countries have done our best to lift these people out of poverty. Whether by contributing to World Vision International and sending boatloads of food and other goods to the Third World, or by politely paying our taxes and letting our national leaders send it, we're doing it. And the result is that the despotic leaders hijack the food, medicine, etc., sell it on the black market, and use the money to buy champagne, hookers, Mediterranean villas, Bentleys, and lots of weapons to shoot at the despot in the adjoining country.

    The Third World will remain in poverty until they overthrow their despots. Fortunately, they've been doing this for quite some time. The number of countries run by dictators gets smaller with every passing decade. As a result, the U.N.'s goal for poverty reduction for 2025 (less than one billion people living in poverty) has already been achieved. Even Africa, the poster child for both despotism and grinding poverty, finally has a poverty rate below 50%.

    Now it's time for me to admit that technology actually does play a role in this: information technology. Cellphones and the internet have allowed people in the poorest regions to communicate with each other. They organize. They plan. They build political power. They act. Every despot's worst nightmare is an informed populace, and all over the world despots are having nightmares.
     
  9. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    The problem has always been political. Every civilization had the technology required to alleviate poverty for the population of that era, and also power concentrated in a few vested interests who made damn sure the technology was used to the benefit of themselves and detriment of others - hence the preponderance of science funding to weapons research, all the way back to 4000BC.
    Indeed, more knowledge and political power spreading to the common people does tend toward better distribution of wealth (hit and miss, though; clumsy, inefficient), but the elites counter that with religious dogma, very effectively turning people against their own best interest. Other forms of propaganda: war-, fear- and hate-mongering, advertising, cultural imperialism, the suppression of information, etc. all work to the same end, but none are as effective as religion.
    Those little despots are nothing without international moneyed backers - without the weapons and support they receive from transnational sources. Were technology - or more generally, science - freed of the control of those interests, it could end poverty everywhere, within a generation.
     
  10. hansda Valued Senior Member

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    I think if water can be resourced and managed properly, it will be a great boon for cultivation, food-production and in-turn poverty alleviation.
     
  11. elte Valued Senior Member

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    Cheap and abundant energy is the key to prosperity and the supplies of it are dwindling. We're in big trouble.
     
  12. hansda Valued Senior Member

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    If rivers in a nearby region can be connected through pipelines, i think it will facilitate water management; controlling flood and drought in the respective areas.
     
  13. Verse Registered Member

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    Some believe that nanotechnology may bring abundance in the future, bringing a revolution to most everyone.

    If nanotech does have this ability, it has yet to display proof of concept - speaking of no minor task here. Something very heavy in technical and financial investments while carrying high stake risks.

    - A long wait and see period on this one. But I thought worth mentioning as it might provide a longer term solution.
     
  14. hansda Valued Senior Member

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    How nanotechnology can help generate more food for the world?
     
  15. Jeeves Valued Senior Member

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    Poverty does not result from insufficient production. Almost every country would be able to feed itself on its own territory, with the level of technology available, if the resources and effort were not mis-allocated, and misdirected to destructive ends. Imagine everything - energy, money, manpower, raw material - that goes into war channeled into the production of food and shelter. Then change the luxury crap for a few to useful items for all... The causes of poverty are not ignorance or lack technology: the causes of poverty are wealth and aggression.
     
  16. Neverfly Banned Banned

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    Poverty cannot be effectively eliminated without also eliminating concept of ownership.
     
  17. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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    Representative government has proven to be a powerful catalyst for raising a country out of poverty. Despots like to keep their people poor because that makes them easier to handle--no education, no roads, no communication network.

    There's no shortage of food on this planet even with the dismal state of agriculture in the Third World. The sparsely populated (by world standards) Western Hemisphere could feed two planets. Even the USA is a net exporter of food. You're probably eating our corn, or "maize" as some of you call it.

    The USA and other wealthy nations have been sending boatloads of our surplus food to the Third World for decades. But once it's offloaded, the despots hijack it, sell it on the black market, and use it to buy champagne, hookers, SUVs, Mediterranean villas, and guns to fight the despot in the next country.

    But technology rides to the rescue. The proliferation of cellphones and internet access suddenly allows the downtrodden people to communicate with each other and organize. That's the death knell of a dictatorship.

    Indeed, every decade sees a larger number of nations with at least some semblance of democracy, and in lockstep with that trend every decade sees their per-capita GDP increase. The U.N. had a goal of fewer than one billion people living in poverty by 2025... but they didn't foresee the communication revolution. That goal was reached five years ago! Africa now has less than half of its population living in poverty for the first time in... well for the first time since anybody's been counting.

    It's long been said, "The Truth Shall Set You Free." But before you can hear the truth, you have to be able to communicate.

    Let's hear it for the Information Revolution, the new post-industrial Paradigm Shift. All those of us who have been building the world's information infrastructure, please take a bow. 45 years in my case.

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image!

     
  18. Read-Only Valued Senior Member

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    That's the silliest thing I've heard in quite a while. Ownership is VERY strong in the U.S. - in fact, it could almost be called the backbone. Yet true poverty is almost non-existent.
     
  19. Saturnine Pariah Hell is other people Valued Senior Member

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  20. elte Valued Senior Member

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