Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Where does modern poverty come from?

Modern poverty is different from ancient poverty - and this is true whether we are talking about 'relative poverty' in The West (where the poor do not work, are overweight and tend to overuse drugs); and 'absolute poverty in the Third World (where people work long hours, are thin and malnourished, and cannot afford any inessentials).

200 years ago, the modern poor would have been dead.

In other words, as a generalisation, the people who are poorest nowadays would not have been alive in the past.

(Socialism probably got its start and its moral force from observing the 'new poor' - and misunderstanding their origin. Socialists assumed that the new poor had been immiserated by capitalism from the old prosperous working class. But they had in fact been created by saving some of the children of the poor from death: but saving them from death to only-just-subsist in extreme poverty.) 

In The West, instead of being part of a chronically unemployed/ sick/ unemployable and socially pathological underclass, the modern poor would have been long-since dead - probably in the womb or in early childhood; plus quite a lot more in the teens. 

In the Third World  - they modern poor would have been dead from infectious diseases, or predation, or starved to death, or by violence (all of which have now been significantly prevented or cured by importing technology and expertise and other resources from The West).

The average poor woman woman 200 years ago would have had close to zero children surviving to sexually fertile adulthood on average (no matter how many babies were born). And if she personally did not raise the children, they would even-more-certainly die.

Nowadays, even in the poorest areas the average woman can expect to raise a majority of her children.

And in The West, she can expect that very nearly as many children as she gives birth to, will reach adulthood in a condition to have their own children (even if she personally does not rear them, someone else will be paid to do so - and there is no limit to the number).  

This analysis seems to suggest that the problems of modern poverty are essentially ineradicable - since there is no compelling reason to believe, no precedent to assume, that the problems can be solved.

Maybe they can be solved? - or substantially ameliorated? But, if we are hard-nosed and sceptical, we would have to acknowledge that that is just a wish and a hope, and - as yet - there is nothing at all to support the idea.