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  • Bug Arete

    Nine cheers for the Gates Foundation! They totally rock my socks off.

    Regarding Myth #1, at least, the only problem I really have is that poverty is almost always boiled down to cash economy measurements, with minimal commentary on what seems to really count: living longer, healthier, happier lives. Vanuatu, for example, not having a strong cash economy in the rural areas, is thus deemed living in poverty, though as sustenance farmers with beautiful and rich land to work with they flourish in so many ways. But then they're deemed poor, and many of them begin to abandon their old lifestyles to seek ways to make money. It's more complicated that that, of course, since a cash economy is somewhat forced on them via healthcare and schools that require fees. But just like my partner Peter says in his article, 'Peace Corps Prime Directive', "I have seen a village of subsistence farmers struggling to find ways to join our economy; some to find ways to pay for schooling and Western education, others to pay for laptop computers and TV’s."

    But then their desire for those technologies seems to require their participation in the global cash economy. Which brings us back to the idea of Westernization still being a very real thing that is simply now dubbed "globalization".

    My point is, perhaps part of our (mis)perceptions about poverty are due to basing it too much on our idea of economy, rather than looking at how many people are living sustainably with access to things that give them opportunities to thrive as such, which I'm not sure a cash economy provides, per se.

    To be fair, this letter talks about living longer, healthier lives, too. They DO acknowledge that it doesn't all boil down to GDPs and other money measurements. Still, the emphasis on this angle of the topic of poverty throughout public discourse makes me wonder how it could all be different.