Oxfam, British charity platform’s new report last weekend must interest all of us, especially the excellent summary of it reproduced below from Aljazeera website. The report is a new dimension – bringing out most succinctly where we can locate the resources for ending poverty. In a way, this particular report is a critique of the rather feel good diplomacy of poverty – endless resolutions that leaves no one under ‘firing line’.
Like its fellow traveler, the Jubilee Coalition, Oxfam has brought under the ‘firing line’ a certain category of players from whom we can obtain the resources to end poverty. All the time, it is either that resources are too scare and they have alternative uses that we cannot end poverty or that poverty is divine and cannot be eliminated. Oxfam has, once again, put a lie to all that propaganda.
Rather, it has, impliedly, argued that there is enough resources to go round and it is not going round only because the logic of redistribution at work disallows that. It has also gone ahead to locate the custodians of the legal but unjust hoarding of global wealth.
All these are important reminders to us all because it is clear that the level of violence in the world today is proportional to the sense of deprivation and denial.
In Africa, in particular, the reality, for over several centuries now, has been grim existence for a resourceful and relentless populace but a populace weighed down by poverty. Historic responsibility by ordinary village farmers, artisans and traders to feed in the midst of plenty has been the frustrating story. The result, for them, is a life of permanent pressure and an embarrassing National Wasted Productive Human Potentials of old people who are not cared for, young men women who have exhausted their bodies in laborious tasks, blind beggars and a disease ridden citizenry. And this is worsened by senseless violent conflicts.
Instead of pumping billions of funds directly to village farmers, artisans and traders, our leaders are happier selling brilliant nonsense about market forces, waiting for development to come from the World Bank, foreign capital, experts and imported technology.
The outcome is Africa’s miserable Human Development Index in contrast to much of Asia. This is in spite of the abundance of enterprise spirit which should have been properly directed/supported to stimulate the development of commerce and industry. Instead of challenging the poor to look beyond the here and now, to confront the issues of enhanced productive capacity, start thinking about use of appropriate technology, about producing for the market, about the possibility of employing labour and generally, transforming into a capitalist producers, the leadership, locally and globally are busy blabbing about government having no business in business.
Yet, all the magic formulae have failed, ranging from such models as Growth maximisation and trickle down policies in the 1950s; Economic Growth through Social Change in the 1960s, Economic Growth with Social Equity and its three sub sets viz: i) Integrated Rural Development (IRD), ii) Basic Human Needs and iii) Assistance to Special Publics, (Women, Children and the Poorest of the poor) and, finally, the disastrous Structural Adjustment Programme, SAP.
Secondly, if, indeed, governments have no business in business, what were the colonialists doing by sponsoring and escorting their companies like Unilever, Tate and Lyle, Turner and Newall, John Holts, the United African Company, Dunlop, Patterson Zochonis, Barclays Bank, Standard Bank, G.B. Ollivant, United Trading Company, K. Chellarams, Esquire, Bhojsons, Societe Commerciale Orientale dâAfrique (CFAO) and even the oil companies of today?
Governments have business in business, most especially in Nigeria whose economy is, by the admission of the NEEDS document, characterized a collapsing economy viz very high income inequality; social cohesion and democracy threatened by unemployment; a potent time-bomb waiting to explode in HIV/AIDS epidemic, all of which have potential dire consequences for productivity in the economy.
So, at the domestic level, it is time for the system to offer concessions to the peasants, agrarian proletariat, urban poor, market women, lumpens, workers, shop keepers and middle class pro- fessionals. Meanwhile, read and digest the summary of Oxfam’s new report as published below in Aljazeera website:
Oxfam says world’s rich could end poverty
UK-based charity says the world’s 100 richest people earned enough in 2012 to end global poverty
four times over
The world’s richest one percent have seen their income increase by 60 percent in the last 20 years [EPA]
The world’s 100 richest people earned enough money last year to end world extreme poverty four times over, according to a new report released by international rights group and charity Oxfam.
The $240 billion net income of the world’s 100 richest billionaires would have ended poverty four times over, according to the London-based group’s report released on Saturday.
The group has called on world leaders to commit to reducing inequality to the levels it was at in 1990, and to curb income extremes on both sides of the spectrum.
The release of the report was timed to coincide with the holding of the World Economic Forum in Davos next week.
The group says that the world’s richest one percent have seen their income increase by 60 percent in the last 20 years, with the latest world financial crisis only serving to hasten, rather than hinder, the process.
“We sometimes talk about the ‘have-nots’ and the ‘haves’ – well, we’re talking about the ‘have-lots’. […] We’re anti-poverty agency. We focus on poverty, we work with the poorest people around the world. You don’t normally hear us talking about wealth. But it’s gotten so out of control between rich and poor that one of the obstacles to solving extreme poverty is now extreme wealth,” Ben Phillips, a campaign director at Oxfam, told Al Jazeera.
‘Global new deal’
“We can no longer pretend that the creation of wealth for a few will inevitably benefit the many – too often the reverse is true,” said Jeremy Hobbs, an executive director at Oxfam.
“Concentration of resources in the hands of the top one per cent depresses economic activity and makes life harder for everyone else – particularly those at the bottom of the economic ladder.
“In a world where even basic resources such as land and water are increasingly scarce, we cannot afford to concentrate assets in the hands of a few and leave the many to struggle over what’s left.”
Hobbs said that “a global new deal” is required, encompassing a wide array of issues, from tax havens to employment laws, in order to address income inequality.
Closing tax havens, the group said, could yield an additional $189bn in additional tax revenues. According to Oxfam’s figures, as much as $32 trillion is currently stored in tax havens.
In a statement, Oxfam warned that “extreme wealth and income is not only unethical it is also economically inefficient, politically corrosive, socially divisive and environmentally destructive.”