Selfish Reasons to Abolish Poverty

Submitted by Ed ORourke on July 8, 2008 – 12:27pm. — Justice & Peace

The United States and the European Union have selfish reasons to abolish world poverty: combat terrorists and reduce illegal immigration flow.

A world wide anti-poverty program will diminish the terrorists’ recruiting pool. Well-fed people do not contribute to terrorists’ causes. Some point out that the 9/11 hijackers were not poor with the inference that poverty and injustice have no bearing on terrorism. In fact, middle class people have always organized social movements. In his classic work, Anatomy of Revolution, historian Crane Britton examined the English, American, French and Russian Revolutions and found that middle class and upper class people lead them all. Poor people became involved only at the fringes. Reducing poverty means reducing terrorist activity.

Well fed contended people have no reason to crash the borders of the United States and the European Union to get jobs performing menial labor. There are many who say that the immigrants should be obeying the law. Considering world wide income inequality, American and European immigration laws have the same legitimacy as the Nazis’ Nuremberg Laws (decreed in 1935 to disenfranchise Jewish people) or American laws that enforced slavery and segregation.

European based groups, the Club of Budapest ( and the Global Marshall Plan ( have been organizing a world wide anti-poverty program for many years.

Granted, corruption and bureaucratic operations have impaired foreign aid results. There are two proposals that will improve performance. Rabbi Michael Lerner argues for that the foreign aid directors include an “international body of internationally recognized spiritual leaders, academics, health care workers, educators and community organizers to supervise the expenditures,” not just the bankers. Economist Michael Easterly in his book, White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good, advocates a bottoms up approach. Taking Easterly’s thoughts, I like the concept of communities writing grant proposals telling what they need, how much the project will cost and how they will accomplish their goals. American non-profit organizations and local governmental units have been receiving grants from the foundations and the federal government for many years.

Both humanitarian and selfish motives are driving forces for all foreign aid programs, including the Marshall Plan. Poverty abolition like slavery abolition will help us all.

Ed O’Rourke is an environmental accountant