Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Some Challenging Thoughts on Poverty

I don't check it everyday, but I should. Scot McKnight's blog,, is fantastic. Check out this challenging and, I think, pretty spot on post about dealing with poverty as believers:


Wacky Weavers said...

followed the link and read it... all I can say is AMEN

matthew.allan said...

So I read the post and its an inspiring story, but I am troubled with the authors ideas of how to solve poverty. He writes, "Getting out of the poverty trap is a long journey. And it involves slow, unsexy work, like building roads and schools and bridges and cell phone networks. And it probably involves lots of factory jobs."

This is just not true. We've been doing this for the last 50 years in Africa, Asia and Latin America and guess what there all still poor. In Cambodia we have roads, schools, cell phone networks and plenty of low paying factory job." Cambodians are still very poor.

The author failed to take his fish analogy far enough. He is right to point out that giving people a fish is a bad idea but what good is knowledge of how to fish if you don't have a fishing pole and the corporations have convinced the government not to allow you to fish anyway.

My point is that top down development (roads, schools, cell towers) makes it easier for the rich to make more money but it does nothing to assist the flow of cash into the hands of the poor. Rather what we need is bottom up development helping people start farms, or small businesses. Taking a farmer off his farm and putting him in a factory is the last thing poor countries need, but if we can help him increase his output, diversify his crops and give him access to markets through just and moral middle men, then we are helping he poor.

Justin said...

Thanks, Matt. I linked the story because I appreciated how individuals took on the issue as a personal, individual mission. Kind of like what happened this morning in church. We were doing testimonies for 40 Days of Community and someone, challenged by the call to live out community opened their home to a friend/relative who needed work and a place to stay until they got on their feet. A beautiful picture of helping people up on a micro level in real ways. It's amazing how many people come by the church looking for a handout, but when we work with another organization to give more lasting and meaningful help (with a little accountability), they're not interested.

Actual economic systems is beyond my depth so I appreciate you bringing some insight to the broader issue.