Blog, Thoughts

You Can't Eradicate Poverty

Is that statement true? Well, as we all can see that it's true until today, and it will still be true during our life time, regardless how young we are, and will continue to be valid years and years after, I guess.

How many years is Indonesia behind Japan in terms of education, research and technology, and hence prosperity? You might say ten, or twenty years.

It's quite interesting to know though that it was just about 10 years back, or year of 1997, that there were still poor people in Japan living in cardboard shelters on streets or tent on river banks. Year 1997 was still fresh, and Japan was already one of the strongest economy powerhouses in the world since years before.

Has Japan been able to successfully eradicate poverty now? From what I read in an article written by Makoto Yuasa at the Jakarta Post on March 17, 2007, unfortunately there are still poor people wandering around in Japan, homeless. It’s true that they do not sleep on the riverbanks anymore; instead they sleep in internet cafes or dormitories provided by the company where they get jobs as temporary workers.

Couldn’t the rich Japanese government or their families support those poor people? They could, but the social safety net or the public livelihood protection system is not working as expected. Some local governments and even central government are perceived as not that proactive or transparent in addressing the issues. On the other hand, family ties are no longer as strong as before, leaving people to face their problems alone.

People without enough savings are forced to be on the street when they lost jobs because of sickness or other reasons, and these things are not quite rare nowadays, especially in companies where long life employments are no longer practiced.
In US, the most powerful economy powerhouse on earth, according to US Census Bureau the official poverty rate in 2005 was 12.6 percent, or 37.0 million people. Poverty rates for Blacks 24.9 percent, Hispanics 21.8 percent, whilst non-Hispanic Whites 8.3 percent.

In UK, number of poor people in 2004 was around 11 million, while in Germany was 2.4 million. In Indonesia, the number of people living under poverty line is around 40 million people. Some people believe that the actual number is far bigger than that.
Globally, it is estimated that half of the world population are now living on less than two dollars a day.

Regardless the basis of the measurements, which are quite debatable, the fact remains the same: there is huge number of people living below poverty lines in every corner of the world.

I will not discuss how we address poverty issue and how we can reduce it, I only offer a simple view that the eradication of poverty will never been materialized, simply because we live in an imperfect world.

It doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do anything about it. It only means that people need to be prepared for a never ending journey towards prosperity. Prosperity for all maybe approached for a short period of time but it can never be reached permanently.

The message is that the government, the charity organizations, the wealthier people may need to support for a lifetime to the needy, to beggars, to street hawkers, to those who toil for a simple living.

One of the supports is to help the lower level economy engine moving, where wealthier people spend money not only in malls and nice restaurants, but also in bazaars and traditional markets, where people sell stuffs and food just to survive for a day or two, or maybe a week.

Education for the poor people will certainly help to bring brighter future for them. The government then needs to work hard for the economy to grow better to absorb the increasing number of workforce. Corruption, high-cost economy, security and legal certainties are some issues that are still quite challenging for the government.

Life can change, for better or worse, but we'll never been able to eradicate Yin nor Yang, richness nor poverty, as both make the world round. We just need to deal with it endlessly and wisely.

, seorang pejalan musiman dan penyuka sejarah. Penduduk Jakarta yang sedang tinggal di Cikarang Utara. Diperbarui: March 21, 2007.

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