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Quick Thought 56 – Winning the War On Poverty

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This is Intentionally Vicarious… I’m Todd Youngblood… And I was just sitting here at my desk pondering aimlessly… And I was wondering why while I personally, am utterly convinced that we all live in the best of times ever in all of human history, all I ever get from TV and internet news is how my neighborhood, my city, my state, my country and the world are all going to hell in a handbasket. continued below

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And you know what? TV and the internet are WRONG. I’m right, and I can prove it. Take a look at the graph to the right.

It has two lines. One shows total global population and the other shows the total number of people living in extreme poverty. In 1800, there were about 1 billion people on earth, and virtually all of them – in excess of 95% – lived at a subsistence level – in abject poverty. Moving forward in time, the two lines in the graph slowly diverge. In other words, the percentage of people living in poverty steadily declines.

Then around 1970, something truly remarkable happened. The % of total population that was desperately poor was still dropping – down from 95% to only 35% – but that’s not what is most amazing – and encouraging. Around 1970 the total number of the desperately poor began to drop.

In the 50 years since 1970, the total number of people living in abject poverty decreased! The total number of the abjectly poor today is less than half what it was only 50 years ago! The total number of people on the planet continues to rise sharply. The total number living in abject poverty is dropping like a stone. It’s literally on an unmistakable trend to zero.

In 1800, there were a billion people living in abject poverty. Today there are about 750 million. And there are almost 7 billion more people in total! In 1800, 95% of people were abjectly poor.  Today it’s 9.5%! We’ve literally moved the decimal point.

Look at the graph. Look at it! The numbers don’t lie. They are proof positive that the world is steadily, relentlessly becoming a better place. Why are we not shouting this amazingly wonderful news from the rooftops? Go grab a copy of the graph from the show notes right now and go shout it from your rooftop!

Think about it…

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Join the discussion 2 Comments

  • Sara Branch says:

    Also from the World Bank website:
    Half of all the people considered to still be in extreme poverty (736 million) live in just five countries – India, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, and Bangladesh. Next, you could point out how corrupt governments cause poverty.

  • Mary Margaret Just says:

    Corruption and abject poverty are strongly connected. Let me know when you find an intervention that works to minimize both. Then we can take the next step, reducing comparative poverty. Promote full time work with benefits for those who can work, adequate support for those who can’t work, and for those whom no sane person would hire.

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