Desperately Poor Or Just Not In The System?


So, I happened upon a video a friend of mine posted on Facebook and while the man certainly made some good points regarding the issue he was intending to shed light on, my mind wandered off into other things as it is often inclined to do. In it, he keeps referring to these people the World Bank calls “desperately poor” because they earn less than $2 per day on average in income. But, this assumes those people even live within the system the rest of us do and how relative things can be in terms of living and survival.

The system?
The system?

The dominant culture within our society of the industrialized world has no use for people who are not in the system of exchanging labor for money (which is in fact a certificate of debt) for goods and services (many of which were previously freely available to our ancestors for the taking from the abundance of the land or through their own efforts.) Have you ever seen the 1980 movie ‘The Gods Must Be Crazy’? It’s a humorous, campy, obviously eighties flick but with an excellent message, I think, about the differences in cultures.


So, how many among these billions of people Mr. Beck refers to in his gumball analogy come from cultures for whom that $2 per day is neither here nor there because they live a life very much like their own ancestors in which money isn’t necessary? One simply lives off the land, shares with his family and neighbors and thanks the gods for the abundance offered? Not a taker culture but a leaver culture as Daniel Quinn referred to in his novels. The takers take it upon themselves to define how things should be and the leavers leave it up to the gods. Also, even among those who live in the world of money, what $2 may purchase in one part of the world can differ greatly from what it might purchase in another part so as a measure of “wealth” it is rather iffy in its own right. When Europeans first came to the Americas the natives who were living here made less than $2 per day too but did they consider themselves to be “desperately poor”? Probably not. Because theirs was a culture which lived in balance and harmony with the land. Oh, I don’t mean to imply that they did not know struggle and strife. Certainly there was disease and war among them. All human cultures are faced with these maladies. All I am saying is, whether or not $2 per day in income is a sign of “desperate poverty” is relative depending on the way the people live and what is considered valuable.

Just a few thoughts that wandered into my mind and now out through my keyboard. My two cents as it were.


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