A catastrophe can introduce poverty to a village or a family.

But too often, poverty is generational, systemic and amplified by some of the very forces designed to eradicate it.

Those in poverty are likely to raise children prepared to live in poverty as well.

It is no surprise when parents are unable to educate, to breathe and to hope for much, they often create a cycle inherited by their children.

Worse, the system of poverty isolates people from markets. When there is no access to productivity, to education, to efficiency, the poverty gets worse.

If all the shops you frequent disappeared, you would quickly become poorer because everything you need to do your job would disappear.

Your food would get more expensive. And you would waste days and days of your life traveling to obtain the things you need.

Anytime someone engages with a market, both sides benefit.

If you freely choose to buy a bag of rice for R20, you are doing it because you would rather have the rice than the R20. Not only does the farmer benefit, but so do you.

As markets get competitive, efficiencies can arise and more interactions can happen.

Once the market takes hold, the systems that enforce poverty begin to break down. Jobs need to be done. Workers need to be educated.

Most of all, free markets thrive on hope, and good government forces begin to arise to push certain forms of corruption aside.

When an entrepreneur sells a solar lantern to replace a family’s dirty, expensive kerosene, or build a power system that enables a worker to triple the productivity of his home sewing machine, or devise a method to enable purchases fast, fairly and efficiently via cell phones, they begin to break this cycle.

Poverty is a chronic disease, one as long-term and horrible as many diseases that we’ve managed to eradicate over the years.

The cure for this disease, though, is the action it takes to bring access, hope and dignity to the people who need it.

To get rid of poverty we need trade, not aid.

Aid [that encourages consumption] creates dependency, it does more damage than good. Aid is when helping hurts.

There is more dignity in earning your living, than being feed a living.

You cannot tell a hungry person that you gave him food yesterday.

To get rid of poverty, we need to take people from their remote place and make them economically active.

Communities thrive when there is movement, trade, production, flow in and out of good and services, that’s doing work that matters.

Giving aid is not what matters, but creating a system that will free people to dependency is what matters.

Poverty is often part of a system failure, not an event. Giving people aid is an event, training them to trade is a sustainable system.

One thought on “P is for Poverty: Poverty is a system failure, not an event

  1. Love this.

    It’s a pity that when you try to help people in such a way, oftentimes they fail to see you’re actually empowering them to stand on their own in future.

    Dependency is an illness many are unaware of.

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