Website owner:  James Miller

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Importance of money

   There have been several articles in the newspaper recently on 
   the subject of child slavery.  It is usually associated with 
   deep, desperate poverty in the poorer countries of the world.  
   There are many countries of this world in which there is a lot 
   of deep poverty.  This is especially true of many of the 
   countries of Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin 
   America.  There are millions and millions of people in this 
   world who live in deep, abject poverty.  What do I mean by 
   deep, abject poverty?  I mean a person living in a hovel (mud 
   hut, tumble-down shack, etc.), perhaps without electricity, 
   running water or toilet, living on less than a dollar a day, 
   eating a very spartan diet consisting mostly of the least 
   expensive staples such as rice, beans and corn ---  and barely 
   making it or hungry much of the time. The most of the people of 
   most of the countries of Africa probably fit this description.  
   So do millions upon millions in many other countries of the 
   world.  Different countries have different definitions of what 
   constitutes poverty.  In the United States the definition of 
   poverty is such that, according to the US Census Bureau, 46% of 
   those officially regarded to be in poverty own their own home 
   with the average poor person's home having three bedrooms, one 
   and a half baths, and a garage. (Rector, Robert E. and Johnson, 
   Kirk A., Understanding Poverty in America).  Compared to the 
   most of the world, these people aren't poor, they are wealthy.  
   With poverty there is often associated a lot of crime and violence.  
   Why? The poor often grow up like animals without moral instruction 
   and when people get hungry many will often do desperate and bad 
   things.  And with poverty there is often associated the problem 
   of child slavery. Consider this couple with a dozen children 
   living in squalor and filth in a gigantic slum district of a 
   large city in the Third World.  They live in a hovel 
   constructed from mud bricks, with a sheet metal roof, and with 
   a squat type toilet and a faucet outside with running water.  
   [And they are among the fortunate of the poor because there are 
   vast numbers of people in this world, living out in rural 
   areas, that have neither toilet facilities nor running water, 
   who may indeed have to hike a considerable distance every day 
   just to fetch water --- and firewood for their cookstove (if 
   they are fortunate enough to have a cookstove)].  Everyone in 
   this family we are speaking of is illiterate and the economy of 
   this country is dysfunctional, providing very few jobs.  The 
   husband makes less than a dollar a day laying bricks.  Money is 
   hard to come by.  Life is hard.  There is no welfare in this 
   country and if you don't have money for food you have a 
   problem.  There is no one to help.  The family is barely making 
   it and the family is in debt.  The father developed a serious 
   illness and they had to borrow money for doctors and hospital 
   expense.  To borrow this money they had to make a deal with the 
   lender.  They hired out a six year old son to him on contract 
   as an indentured servant for $250 a year for 10 years to get 
   money to pay off the debt.  The young boy makes carpets.  He 
   works 16 hours a day.  And he is treated roughly, badly, is 
   abused.  He sleeps with ten other boys on the mud floor of a 
   tumble-down shack and gets hardly enough to eat.  After hiring 
   out the boy, the father continued to be ill, couldn't work, 
   they were still in need of money, and then a fellow came along 
   and told the family he could place their 11 year old daughter 
   with a wealthy family doing housekeeping for $40 a month.  It 
   sounded great and the daughter was eager to go.  They agreed 
   and this unscrupulous fellow takes her to a foreign country 
   where she doesn't know the language and sells her to a brothel 
   owner and she is forced into prostitution.  She dreams of 
   getting away but even if she were to successfully run away she, 
   not knowing the language and being illiterate, would have a 
   difficult time finding a job.  If she tried she would likely 
   very quickly get cold and hungry and end up going back into 
   prostitution.  It is a bad situation she is in.  She feels 
   caught, trapped, doesn't know how to get out.  Life for 
   countless people in this big world is hard.  People in the 
   richer countries of this world, countries such as America, just 
   don't realize how bad things are in much of the world.  A great 
   many people in this world live on less than a dollar a day.  A 
   great many people live in squalor with wretched lives.  There 
   are huge numbers of children living in slave-like or near 
   slave-like conditions.  They were hired out or sold to help 
   their poverty-stricken parents. 

   What is the answer to all this?  I don't know.  But the main 
   point I am trying to make is this.  Money is important in 
   this world.  Very important.  In most cases ready money means 
   something to eat and no money means nothing to eat.  And one 
   gets very hungry very quickly with nothing to eat.  If you have 
   money you have a warm bed and food to eat and the necessities 
   of life.  And if you get caught without it you have a problem.  
   A big problem.  You are in a corner with few options.  You are 
   highly vulnerable.  It is something to be taken seriously.  And 
   education is very important.  Without it decent jobs and money 
   can be hard to get.  Life can be hard.  You can find yourself 
   in the same kind of bad situation as the poor, destitute people 
   of the world.  America is a wealthy country with a vibrant 
   economy (compared with the most of the countries of the world) 
   and offering so many opportunities and so many Americans don't 
   realize how lucky they are to live here.  Children here are 
   given the opportunity to get a good, free education.  How many, 
   especially in certain minority groups, squander this 
   opportunity?  They attend school and put in minimal or no 
   effort.  The country gives them the opportunity but they don't 
   take advantage of it.  On the other hand, there are other 
   minority groups that study hard and do well.  I believe it is 
   mostly culture.  Some cultures appreciate the importance of 
   education and understand the facts of life.  Others don't.  I 
   find it amazing that so many Americans squander all their 
   money, spend it like water, aren't prudent enough to save it 
   (to save it for that bad day when they might find themselves 
   with no job, might find themselves in a corner without money 
   and without options).  I guess they are accustomed to the 
   welfare society and feel the government will always be there 
   for them when they need help. 

   The following are some facts and statistics on world poverty 
   found on the internet.

   Total world population:  approximately 6.5 billion

   Almost half the world --- over three billion people --- live on 
     less than $2.50 a day. 

   At least 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day.

   The poorest 40 percent of the world's population accounts for 5 
     percent of global income. The richest 20 percent accounts for 
     three-quarters of world income. 

   Around 27-28 percent of all children in developing countries 
     are estimated to be underweight or stunted. The two regions 
     that account for the bulk of the deficit are South Asia and 
     sub-Saharan Africa. 

   Nearly a billion people entered the 21st century unable to read 
     a book or sign their names. 

   Water problems affect half of humanity:

   -  Some 1.1 billion people in developing countries have 
     inadequate access to water, and 2.6 billion lack basic 

   - Almost two in three people lacking access to clean water 
     survive on less than $2 a day, with one in three living on less 
     than $1 a day. 

   - Close to half of all people in developing countries are 
     suffering at any given time from a health problem caused by 
     water and sanitation deficits. 

   - Millions of women spend several hours a day collecting water.

   Number of children in the world:  2.2 billion 

   Number in poverty:  1 billion (every second child) 

   Shelter, safe water and health 
     For the 1.9 billion children from the developing world, there are:
      640 million without adequate shelter (1 in 3) 
      400 million with no access to safe water (1 in 5) 
      270 million with no access to health services (1 in 7)

   Rural areas account for three in every four people living on 
     less than US$1 a day and a similar share of the world 
     population suffering from malnutrition. 

   Approximately half the world's population now live in cities 
     and towns. 
   In 2005, one out of three urban dwellers (approximately 1 
     billion people) was living in slum conditions. 

   In developing countries some 2.5 billion people are forced to 
     rely on biomass ---- fuelwood, charcoal and animal dung --- 
     to meet their energy needs for cooking. 
   In sub-Saharan Africa, over 80 percent of the population 
     depends on traditional biomass for cooking, as do over half of 
     the populations of India and China. 

   Indoor air pollution resulting from the use of solid fuels [by 
     poorer segments of society] is a major killer. It claims the 
     lives of 1.5 million people each year, more than half of them 
     below the age of five: that is 4000 deaths a day. To put this 
     number in context, it exceeds total deaths from malaria and 
     rivals the number of deaths from tuberculosis. 

   In 2005, the wealthiest 20% of the world accounted for 76.6% of 
     total private consumption. The poorest 20% just 1.5%. The 
     poorest 10% accounted for just 0.5% and the wealthiest 10% 
     accounted for 59% of all the consumption. 

   1.6 billion people --- a quarter of humanity --- live without 

   Breaking that down further:

   Number of people living without electricity
      South Asia -- 706 million   
      Sub-Saharan Africa -- 547 million   
      East Asia -- 224 million   
      Other -- 101 million 

   World gross domestic product (world population approximately 
     6.5 billion) in 2006 was $48.2 trillion in 2006. 

   The world's wealthiest countries (approximately 1 billion 
     people) accounted for $36.6 trillion dollars (76%). 

   The world's billionaires --- just 497 people (approximately 
     0.000008% of the world's population) --- were worth $3.5 
     trillion (over 7% of world GDP). 

   Low income countries (2.4 billion people) accounted for just 
     $1.6 trillion of GDP (3.3%) 

   Middle income countries (3 billion people) made up the rest of 
     GDP at just over $10 trillion (20.7%). 

   Approximately 790 million people in the developing world are 
     still chronically undernourished, almost two-thirds of whom 
     reside in Asia and the Pacific.


Anup Shah, Poverty Facts and Stats,, Last updated: Wednesday, September 03, 2008

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