Sunday, March 21, 2010

The Overholt Solution to Poverty--Hypothetically Speaking

Poverty and Philanthropy
Robert Overholt

Poverty sucks.

There is so much poverty in the world that there is no single “Peter Singer” solution. There is no possible way to end poverty in its entirety. There is, however, a way to minimize it. Here is Robert Overholt’s Solution to American Poverty…

My solution may seem hypothetical, but it is all that it takes to help the cause.

The first part of my solution is to clear out all of the ghettos. Simply force everyone out of these inner city slums where homeless people and crime are most prevalent. These people should be sent to a large “Ronald McDonald” type facility where they are temporarily placed. This place will provide food, shelter, etc. and temporarily provide income. Such a facility will be funded by tax refundable donations (it’s a fact that most people aren’t about to donate money unless it helps them in return…it’s human nature). Notice that these facilities are not government funded.
Next, these ghettos will be renovated completely. Volunteer work and community service helpers will come together to clean and repair these inner cities. At that point in time, the people would return to their homes. These people would likely turn the place back to how it was, but the standard of living would at least increase. The poverty there before would be higher quality than that of before. These renovations would have to take place in one city at a time. The number of these places needing renovation makes this idea impossible to actually do. However, this is what it would take to truly reduce poverty in America.
Poverty is inevitable and incurable. $200 donations are not enough to end world poverty. There is no single amount of money that could “cure” world poverty. However, one life saved makes a small donation worth it. In America, we all need to donate more money to organizations like UNICEF. In African nations, a simple, ten dollar mosquito net could save an entire family from Malaria.
People living in poverty in America are often equivalent to a wealthy person in a third world country. This fact is undeniably true due to the standard of living in America. A homeless person in an American city has the relative luxury of American organizations such as Salvation Army. Moreover, a homeless person in America has the relative luxury of a bridge to live under, while a homeless person in another country may be living in a shack built of cardboard. The standard of living and established infrastructure of America makes it “easier” to be homeless.
Poverty is unfortunate, but it is a given in the natural cycles of life and economics. People are poor, and people are rich. What I find an annoying, yet common solution to poverty is socialism. Everyone spread the wealth. Hey you, you’re rich. Why don’t you give half of your money to this poor guy so that both of you are about equal. Meanwhile, the rich guy is working his butt off to make the money. This is just unacceptable. The rich guy should definitely help the poor guy and donate some of his wealth to reinforce the work ethic of the poor guy. However, the poor guy should not just get half of the rich guy’s money simply because he deserves it.

1 comment:

  1. I agree with what Robert said about how it is in human nature to be selfish and would only donate for a tax refund. It is also true, to me, that a rich person should not have to give half of his or her life's savings to someone who may not have worked as hard as he or she has throughout their lifetime. To restate what Roosevelt said during the Great Depression, poor people should not just get a hand out they should get a hand up.
    On a different note, I disagree with Robert's solution because it is definitely a hypothetical situation. If there were a Ronald McDonald house large enough to feed and house thousands of people, then his plan would be sufficient. However, there is no such thing. Also, if the slums were renovated and restored to what they may have previously looked like, that does not change the people who will be placed back in them. You can take the man out of the ghetto, but you can't take the ghetto out of the man. If the quality of life went up in these cities, then the prices would also increase. These people live there because they can not afford to live in a good neighborhood so they would just be forced to find another run down area to call home which would just repeat the cycle.