|An insight into the facts as we are today
a: The have nots
- The level and severity of poverty have increased in the Third World countries on both absolute and relative terms over the past half century - a period during which substantial amounts of foreign aids had been pumped into those countries (Elahi)
- The bottom 90 percent of the people of the USA own only 17.1 percent of the USA's wealth. (People's Tribune, March 2000)
- It is estimated that Africa will require average growth of 8 percent per year in order to halve poverty by 2015, as stipulated in the DAC goals for the 21st century. Given that recent growth rates have averaged about 4 percent per year, it is unlikely that Africa will meet those goals within a decade and a half. (Global Poverty Report - Kyushu-Okinawa Summit 2000)
- The sheer magnitude of the numbers of people in poverty in the Asia and Pacific region poses an extraordinary challenge to societies, governments and the development community. (Global Poverty Report - Kyushu-Okinawa Summit 2000)
- In the Ukraine for instances, 80 percent of all workers earn a wage that is below the subsistence level. (Global Poverty Report - Kyushu-Okinawa Summit 2000)
- Britain's recent debt relief is only a mere 1/5000th of the total Third World debt.
- Globalization of Poverty - In the 1990s, local level famines have erupted in Sub-Saharan Africa, South East Asia and parts of Latin America; health clinics and schools have been closed down, hundreds of millions of children have been denied the right to primary education. In the Third World, Eastern Europe and the Balkans there has been a resurgence of infectious diseases including tuberculosis, malaria and cholera. (Chossudovsky)
- 90 percent of Bulgarians are living below the poverty threshold...Old age pensions in 1997 were worth two dollars a month. Unable to pay for electricity, water and transportation, population groups throughout the region have been brutally marginalised...(Global Poverty in the 21st century - The World Bank)
- In the 1997 Asian currency crisis, billions of dollars of official Central Bank reserves were appropriated by institutional speculators. In other words, these countries are no longer able to "finance economic development" through the use of monetary policy. (The World Bank)
- This new international economic order feeds on human poverty and cheap labor: high levels of national employment in both developed and developing countries have contributed to depressing real wages. Unemployment has been internationalised, with capital migrating from one country to another in a perpetual search for cheaper supplies of labor. According to the International Labor Organisation, world-wide unemployment affects one billion people or nearly 1/3rd of the global workforce. (Chossudovsky)
- Real wages in the Third World and Eastern Europe are as much as seventy times lower than in the US, Western Europe or Japan: the possibilities of production are immense given the mass of cheap impoverished workers throughout the world. e.g. China with an estimated 200 million surplus workers. (Chossudovsky)
- The expansion of output (through Globalization) in this system takes place by "minimising employment" and compressing workers' wages. This process in turn backlashes on the levels of consumer demand for necessary goods and services: unlimited capacity to produce, limited capacity to consume. In a global cheap labor economy, the very process of expanding output (through downsizing, lay-offs and low wages) contributes to compressing society's capacity to consume. (Global Poverty in the late 20th Century)
- The tendency is therefore towards overproduction on an unprecedented scale. In other words, expansion in this system can only take place through the concurrent disengagement of idle productive capacity, namely through the bankruptcy and liquidation of "surplus enterprises". The latter are closed down in favour of the most advanced mechanised production: entire areas branches of industry stand idle, the economy of entire regions is affected, and only a part of the world's agricultural potential is utilised. (Chossudovsky)
- When the world's largest populations are situated at the bottom of the economic scale while a minuscule number of people hold all the wealth, something is amiss, and that something is the globalization of poverty. (People's tribune, March 2000)
- Ironically, the ideology of the 'free' market upholds a new form of State interventionism predicted on the deliberate manipulation of market forces. Moreover, the development of global institutions has also led to the development of "entrenched rights" for global corporations and financial institutions. The process of enforcing these international agreements at national and international levels invariably bypasses the democratic process. Beneath the rhetoric on so-called "governance" and the "free market" neoliberalism provides a shaky legitimacy to those in the seat of political power.
- The manipulation of the figures on global poverty prevents national societies from understanding the consequences of a historical process initiated in the early 1980s with the onslaught of the debt crisis. This "false consciousness" has invaded all spheres of critical debate and discussion on the "free" market reforms. In turn, the intellectual myopia of mainstream economics prevents an understanding of the actual workings of global capitalism and its destructive impact on the livelihood of millions of people. International institutions including the United Nations follow pace, upholding the dominant economic discourse with little assessment of how economic restructuring backlashes on national societies, leading to the collapse of institutions and the escalation of social conflict. (Chossudovsky)
b: The haves
- Some individuals own net worth of US100 billion dollars. (Schmidt)
- 1 percent of the people of the USA own 47.2 percent of all the USA's wealth. (People's Tribune, March 2000)
- ...a privileged social minority has accumulated vast amounts of wealth at the expense of the large majority of the population. The number of billionaires in the US alone increased from 13 in 1982 to 149 in 1996. The global billionaires club with some 450 members has a total world-wide wealth well in excess of the combined GDP of the group of low income countries with 56 percent of the world's population. (Chossudovsky)
- The US investment bank, Merrill Lynch, conservatively estimates the wealth of private individuals managed through private banking accounts in offshore tax havens at $3.3 trillion. The IMF puts the offshore assets of corporations and individuals at $5.5 trillion, a sum equivalent to 25 percent of the total world income(1996). The largely ill-gotten loot of Third World elites in numbered accounts is placed at $600 billion, with one third of that in Switzerland. (Chossudovsky)
- ..the World's largest corporations have experienced unprecedented growth and expansion of their share of the global market. This process, however, has largely taken place through the displacement of pre-existing productive systems, i.e. at the expense of local-level, regional and national producers. Expansion and "profitability" for the World's largest corporations is predicted on a global contraction of purchasing power and the impoverishment of large sections of the World population. (Global poverty in the late 20th Century)
- Survival of the fittest: the enterprises with the most advanced technologies or those with command over the lowest wages survive in a World economy marked by overproduction. While the spirit of Anglo-Saxon liberalism is committed to "fostering competition", G-7 macro economic policy (through tight fiscal and monetary controls), has in practice supported a wave of corporate mergers and acquisitions as well as the bankruptcy of small and medium-sized enterprises. (Chossudovsky)
- The deregulation of trade under World Trade Organisation rules combined with new clauses pertaining to intellectual property rights will enable multinational corporations to penetrate local markets and extend their control over virtually all areas of national manufacturing, agriculture and the service economy. (Chossudovsky)
- The 1997 Financial Services Agreements under the stewardship of the World Trade Organisation, as well as the proposed Multilateral Agreement on Investment (MAI)...a charter of rights for multinationals...derogates the ability of national societies to regulate their national economies. The MAI also threatens national level social programs, job creation policies, affirmative action and community based initiatives. In other words, it threatens to lead to the dis-empowerment of national societies as it hands over extensive powers to global corporations.
- One-fifth of the world's population living in countries that have the highest income control 86% of the world's export markets and 68% of all foreign investments according to UNDP.
- The 200 richest people with an estimated wealth of $1 trillion, have more money than the combined incomes of more than 2.36 billion people in the developing world. (Globalization of Poverty - Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 14 1999)
- In 1960 the top 20 percent of the population earned 30-times more than the bottom 20 percent. By 1990, the highest income earners were getting 60-times more. In 1999 they were earning 74-times more. (Globalization of Poverty - Philippine Daily Inquirer, July 14 1999)