Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Living In Butland

It can be a bit of a shock to the system to wake up one day and realize you're living in Butland, part of Butworld on planet But.

It seems that everything these days is delivered with a big, shiny "But." We're winning in Afghanistan, but... . Iraq is a huge success, but... . We're going to tackle the greenhouse gas business, but... .

"But other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"

We're stuck in the era of "Ifs, Ands, or Buts." For every proposal, every problem, every event there's bound to be an If or an And or a But thrown in somewhere around the very end to make everything you just heard or read almost completely meaningless. You get your hopes up and then - someone drops the But bomb.

Take this story out of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund. They just came out with some wonderful news. They're on track to cut global poverty by half by 2015. Now that is big news, certainly the best thing I've heard in a while. Until the But arrives.

It seems we're poised to cut global poverty in half but, if we don't want to see that success completely reversed, we'll have to tackle the little problem of - wait for it - global warming. The bank and the fund define extreme poverty as living on less than $1 per day. That bottom rung still stands at about a billion people.

The industrialization of India and China is creating market demands that spread newfound wealth to many impoverished corners of the earth. Unfortunately that wealth can come at the cost of a nation's rain forests and fisheries.

Raising a person's income from under $1 per day to over $1 per day may be significant to the World Bank or the IMF but it isn't that great a blessing for the individual who finds that grain prices and his basic sustenance have increased 100% in just one year. It isn't much of a boon if that individual can no longer find affordable fish to buy.

What it all boils down to is that the World Bank/International Monetary Fund goal of halving global poverty is being assessed in the context of a world that doesn't exist - a world without resource depletion, food shortages and all the environmental effects that are already being felt due to global warming. Give them credit for good intentions, but...


LeDaro said...

You know, MOS, I pretty well read all your posts. There is more information here than in any newspapers that I have access to. Again a great post.

Part of the problem is that we have too many Buttheads running North America and the globe - Bush, Cheney, Harper to name a few.

Oldschool said...

The World Bank isn't saving people from poverty . . . we are!!!
Just keep buying all that stuff from China and India . . . and they all raise themselves out of poverty. Since their population is half of the worlds . . . the numbers improve . . yes!!
Govt organizations just waste money, and couldn't raise anything . . . even Al Bore won't raise the oceans!!
But Capitalism and Free Enterprise will raise people out of poverty . . .
The Socialist experiment of the last century was a dismal failure . . . yet so many "Progressives" want to repeat it!!!

LeDaro said...

Oldschool, you have an interesting point. Yes China is getting more business but (sorry another "but") it is producing many billionaires and rich are getting richer and poor are getting poorer. Unfortunately capitalism has never solved that problem for centuries now

The Mound of Sound said...

Nice rant, Preschool. Now can you think of anything fresh to say? Maybe something original that you didn't mentally download from NewsMax? It's not so much that you're offensive,it's that you're utterly boring.

Anonymous said...

So MOS what is new in your blog? People have been talking about the gap between rich and poor due to Capitalism since I was old enough to read about it, listen to it and see it....and that is some years ago. When I was young India had to be raised out of its poverty...yadah, yadah, yadah. The "but" syndrome has always existed and will continue to exist all while there is the rich at the top telling the government what they will do while the government continues to keep those under the level of government controlled. What is the solution?

The Mound of Sound said...

The solution? To what? We are in a moment in which solutions are needed to so many problems. We use caveats to mask our lack of solutions and to conceal our failures and mediocrity and that has the potential to be dangerous should it become our transactional norm. If we lose sight of what failure looks like we'll never see the path to success.

Anonymous said...

super post!


LeDaro said...

There was a time that smallpox was the biggest killer. Now it is almost completely eliminated because some made effort to overcome this epidemic.

Likewise greed is a disease where greedy rich people accumulate wealth without sharing it and exploit the poor. We have come a long way to overcome this disease, many social programs, but it is still quite widespread and we got to find the solution and do something about the victims.