Capitalism and Poverty


Being that I have many socialist beliefs as far as how America and the world runs governments, business, social issues, etc., Peter Singer’s “Famine, Affluence, and Morality” was an intriguing read.  It’s just not that complicated.  As he often reiterates in various forms. “if it is in our power to prevent something very bad from happening, without thereby sacrificing anything morally significant, we ought, morally, to do it.”  Singer wrote this essay in the 1970’s.  I do not know if he is still alive, but if he is I am sure his heart is heavy living now in our “global village” of concentrated and mass Capitalism.  Although, poverty did exist before the Capitalist boom, it has done nothing to reduce or alleviate it.  Capitalism has made the rich become uber rich and the uber rich become godly rich.  The traditional forms of poverty still exist – there is still famine and hunger across the globe.  One thing that has happened is an additional form of poverty.  Capitalism has bred a “fast food” way of living.  In America, specifically, there may not be an enormous amount of “hungry” adults and children, there is however, a dire increase in obesity due to the fast food lifestyles of the economically disadvantaged.  There is poverty by which people are not obtaining proper nutrition which leads without denial, to heart disease, obesity, diabetes, cancer, the list goes on.  Capitalism has made healthy and nutritious foods highly unattainable to the average citizen because of the high prices of vegetables and non-processed foods and the dirt cheap costs of harmful and unhealthy foods.

Singer states that when all is said and spoken for – nothing really makes a difference unless these applications and theories are practiced.  The sad part is that but for the work of a few NGO’s, not only are we not getting the job done to attempt to abolish poverty and the new forms of poverty, but we are not even having the discussion on the center stage.


3 thoughts on “Capitalism and Poverty

  1. Like we discussed class, Singer’s arguments for “giving away until we must sacrifice something morally significant” are potentially problematic. His argument goes against the fundamental meaning of justice -to not favor any one over the other. I agree that poverty is a problem and that NGO’s do not have enough support to combat the problem. Creating a system where people do not have to work for what they get is antithetical to justice. I do not want to sound too conservative on this matter, but creating a system where people do not receive the full benefits of their hard work is not a solution. Give a man a fish; he will eat for a day. Teach a man to fish; he will eat for a lifetime.

  2. Well Cindy I agree that our nation has turn the hunger problem to making nutrition unobtainable. People who cannot afford the correct fruits and vegetables are being denied the right of life. I feel it’s a way to keep the people in poverty in poverty in to different ways. One way is to deny them to be able to obtain a meal at all and the other way is to deny a human the right to eat healthy. This allows for sickness to kick in keeping the poverty stricken remaining in this state. The godly and uber rich feel they have worked hard for what they have now and those in poverty should do the same. Only those who are rich and have a good heart will start the change of the hunger situation.

  3. I remember reading “Black Boy” by Richard Wright while in high school. It was an autobiography that chronicled his life as a young child living in lack and want. One particular chapter name has always stayed with me: “Not Poor, Just Broke.” I have had several occasions to think about those words since then. What he was saying in that chapter was being broke was a temporary condition while being poor was permanent. Being poor is a mindset; a state of being broke with no hope of changing your circumstance. We often think of the oppressor who keeps the poor in poverty. Maybe we should consider it is the poor that keep themselves poor. Not because they are lazy or undeserving but just because they have lost hope of living any other way. Because they can not see their lives differently they can’t be any different. Solution then? Show them their lives a better light; serve them hope and they will feed themselves.

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