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Can famine and poverty be eliminated?



Hunger and poverty plague millions of people. Read about measures to fight hunger and poverty and help people



- (Matt 24:7,8) For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.

8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.


People living in poverty and hunger should not be forgotten when studying the basics of economy. It has been estimated that half of the people on earth are malnourished and almost a billion people suffer outright hunger. This is despite the fact that too much food is being produced in many Western countries and hundreds of millions of people are obese. Wellbeing is not evenly distributed.

   Is it possible to eliminate poverty and hunger? People often think that it is not possible, even though it is. Many experts on this subject (most of the ideas below are theirs) have noticed that the problem most often lies in organisational structures and people’s unwillingness to make the correct choices rather than the amount of food being produced. There is enough food, but it is not available to everybody.


MYTH: Even though the food production resources in many parts of the world are stretched to the extreme, there is simply not enough food for everyone and some people must, regrettably, be hungry.


REALITY: Enough wheat, rice and other grains are produced to provide every human being with 3,500 calories a day. Most of us would become obese with such a huge amount of calories! That doesn't even count many other commonly eaten foods – vegetables, beans, nuts, root crops, fruits, grass-fed meats, and fish. Enough food is available to provide about two kilos (at least 4.3 pounds) of food per person a day worldwide. A little over half of this would be grain and the rest vegetable and animal products. (1)


Poverty and stock market speculation


- (Prov 11:24-26) There is that scatters, and yet increases; and there is that withholds more than is meet, but it tends to poverty.

25  The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that waters shall be watered also himself.

26  He that withholds corn, the people shall curse him: but blessing shall be on the head of him that sells it.


People often think that a famine is always caused by draught, flood or another natural catastrophe. People take it for granted that a famine is caused by factors people are unable to influence.

   This is only part of the truth, however. When studying famines, it has been observed that food would have been available nearby but some of the people were unable to buy it. The price of food had become too high or the people had become unemployed and thus were unable to buy food.


As a child, during the great Bengal famine of 1943 in which five million perished, Amartya Sen handed out cigarette tins of rice to starving refugees as they passed his grandfather’s house. Thirty years later, still haunted by those images, his research revealed that India’s food supplies at that time were not unusually low. Rather, the famine resulted from a run-up in food prices spurred by wartime panic and manipulative speculation. The British colonial rulers, immune to democratic pressures, simply stood by.

   In his landmark study on the causes of famine, Poverty and Famine, Sen demonstrates that famine is not just a consequence of acts of nature, such as drought or flood, which often precede it; rather it is an avoidable economic and political catastrophe in which the poorest people can no longer afford to buy food because they lose their jobs or because food prices soar. (2)


Expensive healthcare can also be another factor that increases poverty. People may be impoverished when they need to receive health care. After paying for healthcare they no longer have money to buy food.


According to the WHO, 100 million people fall back to poverty each year due to healthcare expenses. Healthcare charges (user charges) and the trip to a distant hospital, not to mention the lost income, may be an insurmountable obstacle in many poor countries. In Nepal, a normal childbirth in a hospital, travel expenses included, costs around a quarter of the average annual income of one person – this is way too much for many poor families. In Bangladesh a difficult childbirth that may include a Caesarean section may cost 90% to 140 percent of the average annual income. (3)


One of the key reasons for famine and the expensive price of food is stock market speculation. It seems to be a key reason why food is so expensive for people. Since most of the people in the world consume less than two dollars per day and spend 60% to 80% of their earnings on food, a price increase of a mere 20- to 40 cents will be a catastrophe. The fact that the grain prices have sharply risen recently has caused a predicament for many people. Consider: the price of grain has increased 88% from its March 2007 price; the price of wheat has increased 181% over a period of three years; the price of rice has increased 50% within three months (according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization FAO). These increases have also caused food riots in several countries. The most important underlying cause is stockmarket speculation with the price of food:


Another factor is speculation with the price of food: it is used as a stock market speculation tool and it causes short-term food price spikes. 

   The media has misled people when describing why the price of food has increased. The media says that the price of food has increased because of the increased production costs, the climate and other factors – that naturally do influence the price to some extent – but left out the main reason: market manipulation. The global market price of grain is mainly influenced by speculation at the New York and Chicago stock markets.

   (...) The current food crisis has mainly been caused by speculation with market prices. Speculation is not meant to cause a food crisis. Instead, the crisis is caused by the lack of regulation. There is no law regulating speculation. If a political decision on speculation with foodstuffs were to be made, the prices would immediately start to decrease. This has not been proposed by the World Bank Group or the IMF, however. (4)


Lack of democracy and insecurity


- (James 5:1-4) Go to now, you rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come on you.

2  Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are moth-eaten.

3  Your gold and silver is corroded; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. You have heaped treasure together for the last days.

4  Behold, the hire of the laborers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, cries: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth.


- (Mal 3:5) And I will come near to you to judgment; and I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, and against the adulterers, and against false swearers, and against those that oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow, and the fatherless, and that turn aside the stranger from his right, and fear not me, said the LORD of hosts.


- (Deut 24:14) You shall not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of your brothers, or of your strangers that are in your land within your gates.


The solution to eliminating poverty that is most often proposed is financial growth. People think that the only way to eliminate poverty is to increase people’s income, and the preconditions for financial growth in poor countries must be improved to achieve this. People consider it self-evident that all citizens would benefit if economic growth were to be supported by means of investments.

   This is only part of the truth, however. In many countries the economy has improved but only a small number of people – the elite – have been able to reap the benefits. Wealth has not been evenly distributed; instead, it is in the hands of a couple of groups that hold all the power and control the security forces. Some of these groups or governments are supported by Western investors. The everyday life of the rest of the population may include rapes, insecurity, police oppression, constant threats of violence, ruthless landowners, forceful evictions, and a government that oppresses the people. Many people consider their national government to be an oppressor to be feared instead of a supporter  to be welcomed. They believe that they should keep as far away from the legal system as possible. They do not receive justice because it is only available to the rich and powerful elite.


We believe that democracy is everything in terms of the hunger problem. In a democratic system, people can participate in decision-making about the issues that are most important in terms of their well-being and the decision-makers are held accountable to their voters, whereas the power is centralised to a small minority and the majority has practically no voice in an undemocratic system. The decision-makers are held accountable only to the elite in power.

   (...) In our effort to grasp the roots of hunger, we have identified the problem: the ever greater scarcity not of food but of democracy, democracy understood to also include democratic decision-making about the life-and-death matters of economics. But we must dig deeper. Why have we allowed this process to happen even though it causes millions of needless deaths every year?

    (...) The elite in power have made the majority even more vulnerable to natural disasters. The poor have been pushed onto marginal drought-prone lands or deprived of land altogether. They are in debt to moneylenders or wealthy landowners who claim most of their harvests, unemployed or so poorly earning that they have nothing in store for a rainy day, and they are continuously weakened by hunger. This is why millions of people will die when a natural catastrophe is the straw that breaks the camel’s back. (5)


Unfair world trade is one of the main causes of poverty and hunger. This has been proven in many ways:


Low producer prices are a problem. The prices paid for export products and raw materials in third world countries have decreased while import prices have increased. This maintains poverty. It has been estimated that an increase of five percent in raw material prices would cover all the subsidies currently paid to third world countries. At present, a producer in a third world country will get very little for the work he or she has done.


There is yet a fourth level on which democracy is scarce – the international arena of commerce and finance. A handful of corporations dominate world trade in those commodities that are the lifeblood of third world economies. Efforts by third world governments to bargain for higher producer prices have repeatedly failed in the face of the supremacy of the global corporations and the trade policy of the industrial countries. Industrial countries import $60 billion a year worth of food from the third world, but the transport-, processing-, and sales businesses of industrial countries reap most of the profit. For every dollar a U.S. consumer spends to buy cantaloupes grown in El Salvador, less than a penny goes to the farmer, while importers and traders receive eighty-eight cents. (6)


Export restrictions and export subsidies. Underlying reasons for the problems in third world countries are import restrictions and customs duties that the rich countries have set for commodities in order to protect their own production. Each country should be self-sufficient in terms of the basic foodstuffs, for example, but unreasonable restrictions can be the reason why poverty still exists.  

   Many rich countries set these restrictions while demanding that the third world countries open their markets to the products of the rich countries, and this can be considered wrong. If customs duties were lowered and some restrictions were lifted, the third world countries would receive more money than they currently get as development aid from rich countries.


In 1994, UNDP researchers calculated that third world countries lose around $72 billion per year in the clothing, textile and agricultural trade alone due to duties set by the Western countries. According to 1992 calculations by OECD researchers, a simple cut of 30% in the duties for products from third world countries would bring around $90 billion more for the third world countries. Both of these figures clearly exceed the annual amount of aid to third world countries from the OECD countries.

   President of the World Bank Group Lewis Preston stated in 1993 that he considers it highly ironic that the developed world is protecting itself by setting obstacles to trade while the third world countries are opening up their markets. (7)


All the countries in the world could agree, for example, that handicraft will be freed from all customs duties and other export/import restrictions and simultaneously the customs duties of industrial products will be retained or even be raised. This would save the hundreds of millions of people who receive their income from handicraft or village industries, and whose livelihood is in danger because of the modern industrial production and free trade policy. Similarly, governments could limit the fishing quotas of large fishing vessels and fleets and reduce the amount of fish imported and exported with protective tariffs and import restrictions. This would save the fifteen or twenty million families whose income from fishing is threatened by free trade and large fishing vessels. (8)


Export subsidies paid by rich countries present a similar problem. Producers in poor countries are unable to protect themselves against rich countries that are supporting their own exporters. These subsidies have caused many people to lose their jobs and become poor.


At the same time, the EC was importing thousands of tonnes of meat to the area with the help of price support. After the mid-1980s, the EC used around 450 million ecu in supporting export to gain markets, particularly in Ghana, the Ivory Coast and Benin. More than 50,000 tonnes of beef was exported to West Africa each year. The annual exports amounted to around 300,000 local cows. The export effectively destroyed the local meat production, robbing the opportunity to a sustainable livelihood from the local stockbreeders. (9)


Production for export. One cause of famine is the practice of producing food for export only. It means that large farms in the third world are being managed by transnational corporations or wealthy nationals and they focus on producing crops that will only be exported. They do not grow food for local sale. Everything grown is exported, which means the growers earn more money. Furthermore, the prevailing policy supports these huge farms devoted to producing for export while ignoring smaller farmers who grow food for themselves. This leads to less availability of locally produced foods and continuing problems with hunger.


Before the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank restructured Costa Rica's economic policies in the name of easing its foreign debt problems, Costa Rica was widely known as one of the most equitable countries in Latin America. In Costa Rica the number of small farmers was large compared to other Latin American societies, in which owners of large farms dominated production. The policies imposed by the IMF and the World Bank shifted the economic incentives away from small farms producing foods that Costa Ricans eat toward large estates producing for export. As a consequence, thousands of small farmers have been displaced, their lands have been consolidated into large ranches and agricultural estates producing for export, and Costa Rica's income gap is becoming more like that of the other Latin American countries. An increase in crime and violence has required sharp increases in public expenditures on police and public security. The country now depends on imports to meet basic food requirements, and the foreign debt that structural adjustment was supposed to reduce has doubled. (10)


Structural change programmes of the IMF and the World Bank. Structural change programmes of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank Group for indebted countries are a cause of the increase of famine and misery. This was probably not their intention, but the programmes have in practice caused hundreds of millions of people to fall into poverty and famine. They have had the following effects, for example:


- Cutting subsidies for basic foodstuffs to free up more money to pay back debts. This has made food even more expensive for the poor.


- Making the public health and education systems subject to a charge, or more expensive than before, has increased the number of illiterate people, caused more diseases and increased the death rate.


- Privatisation programmes have caused millions of people to lose their jobs. This has increased poverty because there is no Western welfare system in third world countries.


- Relaxing control of capital has made it easier to move one’s money out of a country. This has only benefited the governments who oppress the poor, and rich people who have large properties in western countries. - Cultivation focuses more on production for export to free up more money that is then used to pay overdue national debts. This has caused locally sold food to become more expensive, thereby increasing famine


- Taking away customs duties from import goods or completely freeing up the trade has brought transnational corporations and their products to the third world countries and caused many local companies to go bankrupt. Furthermore, the level of foreign debt –which structural change programmes were originally designed to relieve – has doubled in some countries.


Medicines and seeds. Patenting of medicines is a cause of misery because patents prevent third world countries from manufacturing cheap generic equivalents to pharmaceutical companies’ products. What this means in practice is that thousands of people in third world countries die because they cannot afford to buy the more expensive products. Naturally, companies should receive something as a reward for their extensive product development efforts, but humanity should not be overlooked either.


The scandalous prohibition on manufacture and distribution of generic pharmaceuticals (to fight AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, etc.) based on the fact that transnational pharmaceutical corporations have patented the products is simply participation in genocide. It confirms in the eyes of the world the idea that trade, assets and profits are more important than anything, even a human life. This is unacceptable. (11)


Patenting of seeds presents a similar problem. Some companies have demanded the right to patent some seeds and genetic materials and natural medicines. In practice, this would mean that poor people in India and elsewhere who use the patented plants would have to compensate the companies.


Particularly ominous is the extending of international patent rights of GATT-WTO to genetic materials including seeds and natural medicines. U.S. companies have aggressively pursued patent protection for seeds and genetic materials in the United States. They have convinced the U.S. government to extend patent protection to all genetically engineered organisms, from microorganisms to plants and animals, excluding only humans.

   (...) Through the ages, farmers have saved seed from one harvest to plant their next crop. Under existing U.S. patent law, a farmer who saves and replants the offspring of a patented seed violates patent law. The corporate move to create global monopolies over seeds and other life-forms through patents has been the subject of massive demonstrations by farmers in India, who realized that under the GATT-WTO agreements, they could be kept from growing corn from their own seed stocks without paying a royalty to a transnational corporation. (12)


Exhaustive fishing. One cause of poverty in the third world countries is exhaustive fishing in their coastal areas by Western countries . For example, the EU has purchased fishing rights on the waters of more than ten third world countries. The vessels used in these waters are so efficient that they empty many areas of fish altogether. Furthermore, plenty of fish that is not exported to the Western countries but that the local people could eat is thrown back into the water.

   Such exhaustive fishing can only have one consequence: loss of jobs. Many local fishermen have lost their livelihood because the fish stocks have deteriorated. Their unemployment has increased misery at the local level. Another consequence of the lost livelihood is increased emmigration from these countries to Europe.


Exhaustive fishing aggravates misery in Africa


Highly efficient fishing vessels of many industrial states cruise the shores of Africa. The fishing partially takes place based on agreements with the local powers-that-be.

   In some areas, it is purely exhaustive fishing. Super trawlers using positioning devices can suck all the fish from a part of the ocean to such an extent that the local fishermen with their primitive equipment will not catch anything.

- The local residents lose both an important source of protein and their traditional livelihood. Many of the illegal immigrants in Europe are unemployed fishermen. Many of the pirates in Somalia are also former fishermen, says Sampsa Vilhunen, head of WWF Finland’s ocean programme.

   An interesting piece of information is that Finnish mine-sweeper Pohjanmaa has been sent to the coast of Somalia to protect sea transport vessels from the dangers that are at least partially caused by exhaustive fishing by European vessels. (Newspaper Etelä-Suomen Sanomat, 20 February 2011)




Some of the major causes of famines were listed above. Famines do not occur simply because there is not enough food. Beneath the shortages we find a root cause: injustice that some people do not want to make right. Making mere financial improvements does not guarantee everyone will be healthy and have enough to eat; people must want to change and correct the flaws.   Below are some measures proposed by experts. These measures could alleviate much suffering. We must start with something if we want to change the prevailing situation.


Addressing stock market speculation is necessary. It is wrong that greedy people are allowed to become rich at the expense of others.


Subsidies on basic foodstuffs are useful. Riots have occurred in countries where the subsidies have been withdrawn making food clearly more expensive. People cannot afford to buy more expensive food if they only earn a couple of dollars per day.  


Employment should be made a priority over payment of national debts. No state can pay back its loans if a large portion of its population is unemployed. The programmes of IMF and the World Bank Group that are based on privatisation and relaxation of all trade barriers and capital flow controls have in practice caused more unemployment and increased the indebtedness of many countries.


The Indian Government decided to listen to the World Bank. The liberalisation caused imports to India to increase by 30% in a short period of time but the export profits hardly changed. Even though the export profits of India increased in many industries later on, import continued to grow at a faster pace. The annual balance of payments deficit and foreign debt of India started to grow like never before. In 1991, India’s foreign debt exceeded the $80 billion limit.

   India’s balance of payments was in the red already before the new export policy was introduced in 1985, but only by around $2 billion per year. If the World Bank had actually aimed at improving India’s balance of payments, it would have encouraged India to regulate imports and protect its market with protective tariffs, import quotas and other forms of protection. Instead, the World Bank encouraged India to liberalise its economy and open the doors to foreign imports and investments.

   (...) But the programme had disastrous social consequences. Millions of employees in state-owned enterprises and other Indian companies that ended up in bankruptcy lost their jobs. (13)


Opening up a market too quickly to foreign competition is not wise (see the quote above). Free trade can be good if the countries involved are on the same level, but it has been disastrous for many third world countries, increasing the number of bankruptcies and the employment rate. Free trade is usually beneficial only to large transnational corporations and people who are already rich. It does not help the poorest people. The excerpt below illustrates what this kind of policy could cause in China if this country were to completely remove its market barriers, as many Westerners have demanded.


In April 2000, Time magazine quoted a study by the World Bank, according to which. “China preparing for the WTO membership threatens to eradicate 50 million jobs from the country.” Is there any other organisation that could force a superpower like China to surrender 50 million jobs as a sort of an admission fee? (...) This doesn’t make any sense, unless China believes that WTO will have a key role in the global financial and political system. (14)


Education must be inexpensive or -- preferably – free of charge because even a small tuition fee may prevent poor people from enrolling their children. It has been clearly shown that education and literacy improve financial well-being.


Healthcare is similarly important. Changing healthcare in such a manner that it becomes subject to a charge – to meet the budget-related demands of a structural change programme – has caused a lot of pain in third world countries. The poorest people cannot afford to pay the medical fees or buy medicine.


According to the WHO, 100 million people fall back to poverty each year due to healthcare expenses. Healthcare charges (user charges) and the trip to a distant hospital, not to mention the lost income, may be an insurmountable obstacle in many poor countries. In Nepal, a normal childbirth in a hospital, travel expenses included, costs around a quarter of the average annual income of one person – this is way too much for many poor families. In Bangladesh a difficult childbirth that may include a Caesarean section may cost 90 to 140% of the average annual income. (15)


Production of food solely for export must be limited. It is shocking that some Third World countries, or large farmers in them, export grains (because of the better price they get on the world market) while hundreds of thousands of people in their own country are gripped by famine. This is why protective tariffs have been suggested for imports of agricultural products from countries where a large part of the population is malnourished.


India ranks near the top among Third World agricultural exporters. While at least 200 million Indians go hungry, in 1995 India exported $625 million worth of wheat and flour, and $1.3 billion worth of rice (5 million metric tons), the two staples of the Indian diet. (16)


In Fishing, benefits to local small-scale fishermen must be ensured. This would clearly improve the employment rate, reduce poverty and assist in retaining fish stocks better than large foreign fishing vessels. Large foreign vessels employ only a small number of people, are expensive to maintain, and waste a lot of fish that could be eaten.


Rights of the poor must be taken into account. Most solutions, which have been made to reduce poverty have been related to trade, new technologies or investments rather than increasing people’s safety, eliminating evictions and preventing the violence that is faced by the poor.


A financial study does not show the whole picture of poverty nor are financial solutions the sole answer to the problem of poverty. You must see the issues economics fails to see – shortages, insecurity, feeling an outsider and lack of own voice – and see them for what they really are: human rights problems. Furthermore, you must see that they are interconnected and create a vicious cycle that makes people even poorer and keeps them in poverty. (17)


Microloans that are given to the poorest of people in Bangladesh, for example, have assisted the needy. Such loans have enabled them to employ themselves in small companies and thus lifted them out of poverty.


The largest civic organisation of the world, BRAC (Building Resources Across Communities), Grameen Bank, the pioneer in microcredits, and Gonoshasthaya Kendra (”The Health Centre of the People”) that is known for community-based health centres, all hail from Bangladesh. Investments in the empowerment of people living in poverty partly explain why Bangladesh has had some success in the fight against poverty despite the country’s poor administration. (18)


Land reforms. The problem in some countries is that a small number of rich people own most of the land. Most of the people work as sharecroppers and receive only up to half of their crops (the tax rate is more than 50%). It has been observed, however, that a peaceful land reform implemented by the state is one of the most efficient means of eliminating poverty. It will also increase the quantity of crops and efficiency of production. South Korea, Taiwan, China and Japan are good examples of this. The description below is about the Kerala province in India.


Kerala, India. The 1969 land reform in Kerala, India, abolished tenancy, allowing for a massive redistribution of land rights. In effect, absentee landowning, a system characterized by high levels of exploitation and oppression, was abolished and the foundations for participatory democracy and protection of human rights were laid. Over 2 million acres have since been redistributed, with 1.5 million tenants becoming small owners. For the vast majority of people in the countryside, subsistence and the general quality of life improved greatly. (19)


Taxation should favour the poor. When the Indian Government agreed to reduce – on a suggestion of IMF and the World Bank – funds used for healthcare, welfare and food price subsidies, the problems among the poor multiplied. Simultaneously, property tax paid by the rich was abolished and the capital gains tax rate was lowered. This caused the gap between the poor and the rich to become larger.


Basic needs and helping people. The most important basic human needs are food, clothing, a place to live, and access to education and healthcare. Most countries would be able to provide all these if their governments wished to do so. It is not a question of how much is produced; it is a question of how fairly the profits are distributed. We must do more to narrow the gap between the poor and the rich.

   People can also personally help others. For example, people in Brazil have been encouraged to do something to stop famine: help people in their own neighbourhood. This would have a major impact if thousands of people were to do so.


- (2 Cor 8:13-15) For I mean not that other men be eased, and you burdened:

14  But by an equality, that now at this time your abundance may be a supply for their want, that their abundance also may be a supply for your want: that there may be equality:

15  As it is written, He that had gathered much had nothing over; and he that had gathered little had no lack.


- (Luke 3:10,11) And the people asked him, saying, What shall we do then?

11  He answers and said to them, He that has two coats, let him impart to him that has none; and he that has meat, let him do likewise.


Another way to help is to provide direct aid to third world countries. A relatively small amount of money can have a major impact on national health and literacy. It has been estimated that a mere one percent of the combined national products of the rich countries would be enough to eliminate extreme poverty in the world.

   There are many organisations that provide aid to third world countries. One of them is Feed the Hungry. Feed the Hungry focuses on distributing food – mainly through congregations – while preaching the Gospel. It is an organisation doing something for the hungry, which is what this article is about.


Transnational corporations often have a key role in promoting human rights and eliminating poverty. Unfortunately, not all corporations do the right thing; instead, some of them pay low wages, trample on the rights of their employees and fail to respect human rights. They are more interested in their profits and the benefits of their shareholders back home than in the local employees and society.

   Some corporations have changed their ways, though. They have started to invest in the local communities to help the needy, and have improved working conditions and increased wages. Such actions are usually very effective in eliminating the hate the locals feel towards foreigners. Furthermore, a corporation that values its employees and their society will have a clearly better reputation. When you lose your reputation, it is difficult to get it back.


Restructuring debt. Lowering the interest rate on loans or forgiving all debts could help third world countries to cope with their poverty. The debt payments of some third world countries are up to three times the amount they invest in healthcare and social services. The high interest rate has also caused thousands of companies to go bankrupt and thus has increased the number of poor people. The strict financial policy that is favoured by many creditors usually only causes more misery. but lowering the interest rate and completely or partly forgiving debt can be more effective means. They can be even more effective than the development money given to the third world countries.


Almost everyone involved in development, even those in the Washington establishment, now agrees that rapid capital market liberalization without accompanying regulation can be dangerous. They agree too that the excessive tightness in fiscal policy in the Asian crisis of 1997 was a mistake. As Bolivia moved into a recession in 2001, caused in part by the global economic slowdown, there were some intimations that a country would not be forced to follow the traditional path of austerity and have to cut governmental spending. Instead, as of January 2002, it looks like Bolivia will be allowed to stimulate its economy, helping it to overcome the recession, using revenues that it is about to receive from its newly discovered natural gas reserves to tide it over until the economy starts to grow again. In the aftermath of the Argentina debacle, the IMF has recognized the failings of the big-bailout strategy and it’s beginning to discuss the use of standstills and restructuring through bankruptcy, the kinds of alternatives that I and others have been advocating for years. Debt forgiveness brought about by the work of the Jubilee movement and the concessions made to initiate a new development round of trade negotiations at Doha represent two more victories. (20)


Leaders of the people


- (Jer 22:15-17) Shall you reign, because you close yourself in cedar? did not your father eat and drink, and do judgment and justice, and then it was well with him?

16  He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know me? said the LORD.

17  But your eyes and your heart are not but for your covetousness, and for to shed innocent blood, and for oppression, and for violence, to do it.


- (Isaiah 1:21-23) How is the faithful city become an harlot! it was full of judgment; righteousness lodged in it; but now murderers.

22  Your silver is become dross, your wine mixed with water:

23  Your princes are rebellious, and companions of thieves: every one loves gifts, and follows after rewards: they judge not the fatherless, neither does the cause of the widow come to them.


Corrupted leaders are another cause of misery. For example, the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia (in 2011) were caused by the juxtaposition of the misery of the people and the rich elite that held huge assets. A similar situation prevails in many poor countries: the state has become subordinate to the rich. Ruthless landowners, corrupt officers and leaders do not care about the poor and their rights; they only care about their own wellbeing.


Nowadays, people advocate reforms of state structures to standardise and streamline them in the name of “good administration”. The reforms would be much faster, however, if the voices of the people who need the reforms most were not silenced. It is no coincidence that some of the poorest countries in the world are also some of the most corrupt and most poorly administrated countries. Let’s use Bangladesh as an example again. Under the polish of democracy, you will find greed, corruption and mutual nepotism running rampant among the selfish political and business elite. In my home country, corruption ranging from small-scale bribery to large-scale embezzlement of state funds has robbed the poor and allowed the resources to pool in the hands of the rich. (21)






1. Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, Peter Rosset, Luis Esparza: 12 Myyttiä maailman nälästä (World Hunger: Twelve Myths), p. 20

2. Dada Maheshvarananda: Kapitalismin jälkeen, Proutin näkemys uudenlaisesta yhteiskunnasta (After Capitalism – Prout’s Vision for a New World), p. 95

3. Irene Khan: Kohtalona köyhyys (The Unheard Truth – Poverty and Human Rights), p. 138

4. Michel Chossudovsky, artikkeli Magneetti-lehdessä, viikko 5 / 2011

5. Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, Peter Rosset, Luis Esparza: 12 Myyttiä maailman nälästä (World Hunger: Twelve Myths), p. 14,17,29

6. Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, Peter Rosset, Luis Esparza: 12 Myyttiä maailman nälästä (World Hunger: Twelve Myths), p. 16.17

7. Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, Peter Rosset, Luis Esparza: 12 Myyttiä maailman nälästä (World Hunger: Twelve Myths), p. 195

8. Risto Isomäki: Kohti vuotta 1929?, p. 240

9. Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, Peter Rosset, Luis Esparza: 12 Myyttiä maailman nälästä (World Hunger: Twelve Myths), p. 201

10. David C. Korten: Maailma yhtiöiden vallassa (When Corporations Rule the World) p. 70

11. Susan George: Maailman kauppajärjestö kuriin, p. 94,95

12. David C. Korten: Maailma yhtiöiden vallassa (When Corporations Rule the World) p. 237.238

13. Risto Isomäki: Kohti vuotta 1929?, p. 137.140

14. Risto Isomäki: Kohti vuotta 1929?, p. 63

15. Irene Khan: Kohtalona köyhyys (The Unheard Truth – Poverty and Human Rights), p. 138

16. Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, Peter Rosset, Luis Esparza: 12 Myyttiä maailman nälästä (World Hunger: Twelve Myths), p. 21

17. Irene Khan: Kohtalona köyhyys (The Unheard Truth – Poverty and Human Rights), p. 29

18. Irene Khan: Kohtalona köyhyys (The Unheard Truth – Poverty and Human Rights), p. 32.33

19. Frances Moore Lappe, Joseph Collins, Peter Rosset, Luis Esparza: 12 Myyttiä maailman nälästä (World Hunger: Twelve Myths), p. 131

20. Joseph E. Stiglitz: Globalisaation sivutuotteet (Globalization and Its Discontents), p. 330,331

21. Irene Khan: Kohtalona köyhyys (The Unheard Truth – Poverty and Human Rights), p. 32





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More on this topic:

The book and society. Read how the Bible and the Christian faith have affected literacy, health care, and other positive ways. Many are blind to this fact

Can economic recession be avoided? What things do you need to pay attention to if you want to prevent the recession from coming or how to avoid the worst consequences of the recession? Read here

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Finances and the Bible. What does the Bible say about the economy? Dozens of Bible passages relate to this important topic