Category: Poverty

globe-hands-missionsMore and more, Western churches are opening their eyes to the risks and temptations inherent in so-called “short-term missions,” whether manifested in our basic vocabulary, paternalistic attitudes, or reactionary service.

As films like Poverty, Inc. and the PovertyCure series demonstrate, our cultural priorities and preferred solutions often distract us from the true identities and creative capacities of our neighbors. Paired with a passion to “do good,” and standing atop an abundance of resources, it’s easy to forget and neglect the importance of real relationship, holistic service, and long-term discipleship.

For missionary Nik Ripken, those missing pieces were made clear through a range of interviews with persecuted Christians in over 45 countries, whose opinions about what makes a “good” Western missionary challenged his own approach and priorities.

In a stirring set of reflections, Ripken describes this shift in his thinking. Serving in an unnamed Islamic country, Ripken was interviewing a group of persecuted Christians about their trials and struggles with their families, communities, and government. They were remarkably open and vulnerable in their answers until he changed the topic to Western missionaries.

“What do we do well?” he asked. “What things do we not do well? What should we start doing? What should we stop doing? What should we pick up? What should we lay down? What makes a good missionary?” (more…)

Blog author: jcarter
Friday, September 9, 2016
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foodinsecurityIn policy and social science hunger is defined as a condition in which a person, for a sustained period, is unable to eat sufficient food to meet basic nutritional needs. While the vast majority of people who suffer from hunger live in developing countries, far too many people in America also suffer from hunger.

Determining how many are affected, though, is made more difficult because we do not have an exact way to identify who lacks food. A common proxy is the metric known as “very low food security.”

Since 1998 the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has conducted surveys to determine levels of “food security”—access by people at all times to enough food for an active, healthy life. The survey includes a category for “very low food security” which identifies households in which the food intake of one or more members was reduced and eating patterns disrupted because of insufficient money and other resources for food. Households without children are classified as having very low food security if they report six or more food-insecure conditions. Households with children age 0-17 are classified as having very low food security if they report eight or more food-insecure conditions among adults and/or children.
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malthus-glasses1The doom delusions of central planners and population “experts” are well documented and refuted, ranging from the early pessimism of the Rev. Thomas Robert Malthus to the more fanatical predictions of Paul Ehrlich.

Through these lenses, population growth is a driver of poverty, following from a framing of the human person as a strain and a drain on society and the environment. As Michael Mattheson Miller has written, such thinking suffers from a zero-sum mindset wherein the economy (or any web of human relationships) is a fixed pie “with only so much to go around.” “But the economy is not a pie,” he explains, “Economies can grow, and population growth can actually help development. A growing population means more labor, which along with land and capital are the main factors of production.”

Yet even still, despite the range of agricultural and technological innovations, and the worldwide evidence of booming prosperity in highly populated areas like Hong Kong, Japan, and South Korea, the Malthusians of yesteryear are connecting their cramped imaginations to present-day concerns.

In an article at National Review, Kevin Williamson identifies this wrinkle, noting that the “new new Malthusians” are worried less about human impacts on natural resources and instead worry about the human costs of our own unbounded ingenuity: (more…)

pessimism2Global poverty is on the decline. Technological progress is pacing at break-neck speed. Freedom and opportunity are spreading across the world. And yet our political classes and popular masses continue to preach of impending doom.

Why do we have so much pessimism in an age of such pronounced prosperity?

In a splendid essay for The Spectator on the “doom delusion,” Johan Norberg argues that, on the whole, there is actually great cause for optimism. Writing in a vein similar to thinkers such as Matt Ridley and Deirdre McCloskey, Norberg reminds us that, according to a range of data about poverty alleviation, economic growth, scientific discovery, and population growth, the present looks great and the future looks even brighter. (more…)

Photo courtesy of Flickr

Photo courtesy of Flickr

It’s a common misconception in public discourse that the global poor are trapped in poverty because of globalization.  We frequently hear things from our public leaders about how markets are crushing the poor.  “The reality is that the poor aren’t dominated by markets. They are excluded from them.” says Michael Matheson Miller in an article for The Stream.

Miller hits on four different problems and misconceptions of how international economic development is currently addressed.  He starts out by explaining how the current system benefits the wealthy and well-connected.

Many of the powerful and wealthy don’t have an economic incentive to build institutions of justice like clear title to land or broad access to the formal economy. They are doing well under the status quo and many of them are actually benefiting from the current situation through connections, access to special privileges, bribes and sweetheart deals on things like mineral rights.

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abq-betterwayThe scene can be found in almost every major U.S. city: a panhandler stands on a street corner holding a sign saying, “Need a job.” But one U.S. mayor decided to try something different — by taking them up on the offer and give the person a job

One year ago Berry started a campaign to curb panhandling, called There’s a Better Way. The goal of the campaign is to give panhandlers a chance at a change in life and provide caring members of our community with a better way to donate their money.

“When I’m out in the community, I’m frequently asked about the rise in panhandling and people are concerned,” said Richard Berry, mayor of Albuquerque, New Mexico. “People give money because they are compassionate, but don’t have the benefit of certainty to know where that money is going.”

According to the Washington Post, a key part of the program is hiring panhandlers for day jobs beautifying the city:
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??????????This week at the Institute for Faith, Work and Economics, contributor James Clark asked, “Can microfinance really help the poor?” His conclusion: yes microfinance can work, but with certain caveats.

In the last decade, microfinance has become a popular strategy in poverty alleviation, yet many economists and philanthropists often call its effectiveness into question. In his article Clark says that “Christians have embraced microfinance as a solution to poverty that helps the poor help themselves, but we must ensure that our efforts are really helping people rather than simply making us feel good.”

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