Yep, poverty is shit, isn’t it?

Fanja Randriamihavo, 15, is one of 3,000 people who live and work in Ralalitra, one of Africa’s largest rubbish dumps. The site, in Madagascar’s capital, Antananarivo, spans about 50 acres. Each day, it receives more than 600 tonnes of waste from the capital and from the three million residents of its sprawling suburbs.

People who work on the dump site collect metals, coal and plastic from among the chaotic mess of needles, rats, faeces and aborted babies. They are paid just 3,000 Malagasy ariary ( 70p) a day.

As a side issue, it’s amazing how they become aborted babies when there’s shock horror to inculcate, mere blobs of tissue when we discuss abortion or not.

Still, yes, poverty is shite:

But matters are not that simple, and the moral lines are not that clear. In fact, let me make a counter-accusation: The lofty moral tone of the opponents of globalization is possible only because they have chosen not to think their position through. While fat-cat capitalists might benefit from globalization, the biggest beneficiaries are, yes, Third World workers.

After all, global poverty is not something recently invented for the benefit of multinational corporations. Let’s turn the clock back to the Third World as it was only two decades ago (and still is, in many countries). In those days, although the rapid economic growth of a handful of small Asian nations had started to attract attention, developing countries like Indonesia or Bangladesh were still mainly what they had always been: exporters of raw materials, importers of manufactures. Inefficient manufacturing sectors served their domestic markets, sheltered behind import quotas, but generated few jobs. Meanwhile, population pressure pushed desperate peasants into cultivating ever more marginal land or seeking a livelihood in any way possible–such as homesteading on a mountain of garbage.

That is, we’ve a cure for this sort of absolute poverty. Neoliberal globalisation.

Please note that my proof comes from a left wing New York Times columnist (but I repeat myself) and Economics Nobel Laureate. This ain’t just ideological burblings, this is the real world cure for the ailment.

12 comments on “Yep, poverty is shit, isn’t it?

  1. Poverty is indeed shit. And one good way to help alleviate it is to let pepole keep more of their own money. Ideologues like Corbyn spout that cutting corporation tax is just feeding the ‘fat cats’. But what is the very first thing AT&T, Boeing, and a whole bunch of other US corporations have done with their tax cuts? Given the staff a hefty bonus! This is worth a post on its own Tim. The incidence of corporation tax cuts has been a direct benefit to the employees not the fat cats. Who’d a thunk it? Certainly not that fucking moron Jezza.

  2. As a side issue, it’s amazing how they become aborted babies when there’s shock horror to inculcate, mere blobs of tissue when we discuss abortion or not

    Yep. Tactical weapon, use, discard.

  3. Yeah. You know what would really help these people? Communism. Then they would be brutalised and poor.

    This is a problem with the government of Madagascar. In the end, economic development is pretty much a monopoly of White people. Some East Asians have caught on, but hatred of the West is holding much of the rest of the Third World back. Perhaps if they give up that hatred they can copy the West. Perhaps not. Either way, adding inflation, the KGB and high taxes to the burdens said poor people have to bear is not going to help them one bit. If you want to improve their lot, the choices are really Western capitalism, religion or opiates.

  4. But I’m also trying to work why coal is being found in significant amounts on rubbish dumps.
    Coal. Arrives at cities in bulk & held at coal depots. Distributed to homes & commercial premises & burnt. How does any of it end up in garbage? Rejected as the wrong shape, á la EU bananas?

  5. Africans are not like the Iceberg People – cold and indifferent. They are like the sun and the warm Earth of Mother Africa – kind and giving.

    So clearly the coal is donated by richer people so the poor can barbeque their rats. It is called Ubuntu or something. We could learn from them.

  6. Too many people want the third world to remain poor as it can lead to experiences uncommon at home. I can’t say how many times I’ve been told to visit some impoverished nation to see it before tourists and modernization ruin it. A cynic observed that poverty can be picturesque.

    And you do indeed see some memorable sights. I can remember watching farmers in Thailand working fields with bullocks, and people streaming out of favelas in Asuncion, Paraguay to jobs in the city. Some Guarani women balancing baskets and vases on their heads. These images do stay with you.

  7. @ bis
    This is the Grauniad so why expect facts to get in the way of a good story? Madagascar gets more than ten times as much energy from charcoal than it does from coal (Power generation is from hydroelectric or diesel-fired using imported oil).
    It is just possible that scavengers find charcoal among the rubbish and the subeditor changed “charcoal” to “coal”; it is also possible that the journalists had watched “Lion: A long way home” where scavengers also stole coal to feed their families and extrapolated.

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