Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Blog Action Day for Poverty
With UK headlines showing the highest rate of unemployment, in seventeen years and the highest rate of inflation in sixteen - on top of the market turmoil of the last three weeks, and the credit crunch of the last eighteen months, suddenly you can see that poverty is a reality around the corner for a lot more people than it was this time last year.
But that's just the UK, where to be honest absolute poverty (i.e. living on less than US$1 a day) is unheard of. But at the same time yesterday, the UN was warning that the global financial crisis has pretty much crashed the chances of achieving any of the Millenium Development Goals for those living in absoloute poverty. And the World Health Report has come up with some alarming figures on the widening health gap in health and life expectancy between rich and poor.
Already, the hike in food prices is affecting poorer people in most countries, let alone the poorest of the poor who already could not afford to buy food. And if you cannot eat, you get ill, and if you get ill, you cannot work, and if you cannot work, you cannot earn money to pay for food - and so it goes, and so it goes...
In short, the global credit crunch has done in for the world's poor. But it's not the bankers who created the problem that will suffer. First it is the poor Americans who were conned in to taking out loans that they could never have repaid and who are now bankrupt and homeless. Next it will be the poor of Africa and Asia who find aid budgets squeezed, protectionism closing down the markets they were just hoping might help them earn a decent living and discover that food, fuel and other essentials are increasingly priced beyond their means. And while the rest of us will have four or five lean years, and some may lose homes and jobs, most of us in the West will come out of it OK and alive.
But there are kids alive today in Zimbabwe and Pakistan who will not be this time next year because of the credit crunch. Credit they would never have had access to in their wildest dreams.
You can understand now why there is a clamour for criminal investigations. But what justice will there be for the poor, yet again shafted by crisis not of their making? Precious little I fear from the global banking system and the governments of wealthy nations.
God looks on, but is He weeping or angry?