“Until we get poor people involved in their own exit out of poverty, we will see its continuation”
It took me the whole of my life to write the little book that is now published, and available through The Big Issue. It’s only 20,000 words but it was like pulling teeth.
The Necessity of Poverty is a rather tough piece that suggests that most of our actions over poverty are limited. That we may end pockets of poverty here, there, but never everywhere.
Our actions are not all unified and we don’t work together. We are like bright lights on a Christmas tree. It also explains that the gap between rich and poor is not created by one percenters. No, it is us who create the gap, because we buy the goods of Steve Jobs, Amazon, etc. We, by our buying patterns, put untold wealth in the hands of the few. The wealthy don’t raid our wallets overnight.
No, we get up in the morning and trade with them and make them stinking rich. But this is not a slag-off. This is not pouring criticism on us, the fortune-creating public. Rather it is a simple explanation that most poverty is there because it is the very backbone of the system we live under. The market system, which we all work in and feed off of.
One thing I don’t do is ‘define myself by the failures of others’. I am as much a part of this problem as everyone else who buys Apple computers and then pushes up the fortunes of the wealthy, making them wealthier.
I suggest that we need to start trading differently. That we need to build big and new distribution networks. To create bio-diversity in the market place, and not keep piling up the money in a certain handful of accounts.
It took me a lifetime to write this small book, whereas it took me three months to write my 234,000 word autobiography, because of its content. Because it was about my own poverty and my own struggles to get to understand poverty better.
I was once a part of the poverty class. And once you are out of it, most people move away from it, as soon as possible. I, reluctantly at times, have hung around to try and get people out of poverty. And try to understand why poverty exists. Once out of it I wanted to get as far away as possible but kept getting drawn back to do something about it.
And build an understanding of why it is that for all the politicians in the world, they have not solved it. That all the aid and charitable projects in the world have only scratched the surface. That we talk about it, worry about it, try and do something about it but it continues.
I looked at poverty from below, upwards, and I was astonished to realise this one overwhelming thing: that most poverty programmes involved doing stuff for the poor. As if they were sick patients in a hospital. That things ‘were done to them’. And they themselves were largely passive receivers.
You’ll have to read the book. You’ll get a lot out of it. Poverty is the backbone of the marketplace. It is not some bit of wobble in an otherwise healthy marketplace. It is there to keep our costs down.
Until we get poor people involved in their own exit out of poverty, we will see its continuation. Until we stop treating them as a separate species, we will continue to have the poor.
And only by us combining and working collectively will we ever end the tragedy of poverty. The poor themselves are the cure for poverty. That is my dumb conclusion. And we have to create the chances for poor people to make and take, so that they can exit poverty. There is only one cure for poverty. And that is to get out of it.
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