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Making Poverty: A History

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2008

    Good proposals for ending poverty

    Thomas Lines, a freelance consultant in international agricultural markets, has written a most persuasive book on how to end poverty. He points out that poor countries have small populations, are remote, depend on exporting primary commodities to the global market, and import more food than they export. Three quarters of the world¿s 1.2 billion poorest people live in rural areas. Lines writes that the IMF and World Bank `promote and protect the interests of global capital¿. They claim that the market lifts food prices, benefiting the poor. Instead, world food prices have halved since 1960. Twelve of the world¿s poorest countries are poorer than in 1985. In Britain, since 1988, the prices that farmers got for their produce have risen by just 3.4%: retail food prices rose by more than 50%. Global free markets have benefited speculators and supermarkets, not producers or consumers, producing `unfathomable wealth for those who have worked in finance¿. Investors speculate in primary commodities, turning 2007¿s food price problem into 2008¿s world food crisis. The supermarkets have become the masters, the price makers, controlling global supplies. Lines proposes that national governments, not the World Bank or the World Trade Organisation, should decide their own policies. Governments should stop relying on exports to volatile commodity markets: rural policy should start from national food security, not foreign trade. Governments should support domestic agriculture and the production of staple foods, feeding their own people first. Governments should cut corporate power and raise agricultural workers¿ wages. Governments should raise and stabilise agricultural products¿ international prices. Governments should promote domestic and regional trade, especially in staple foods. Lines finishes by writing, ¿this approach is the only humane one and it has to be pursued, in the face of the powerful vested interest that will inevitably oppose it.¿

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