Friday, March 23, 2012

World Bank boasting on poverty reduction called a lie

The World Bank's claim that it has helped reduce poverty worldwide by one half is being called a lie by scholars and observers independent of the neo-liberal monolith.

I always thought the World Bank's program was a cruel joke. A few years ago, I read about the WB boasting that poverty had been significantly reduced because a few hundred million people had doubled their incomes. There were no longer living on just one dollar a day. They now had two dollars a day to survive on.

Why the World Bank has no real intentions of reducing poverty

The World Bank congratulates itself for slashing poverty, while global hunger soars. "It's a massive crime against humanity. By Joel Elliott

It’s time for the World Bank to stop pretending significant progress is being made in reducing extreme global poverty. The self-congratulatory report it issued recently claimed it had achieved its stated goal of cutting global poverty in half. This was extremely misleading at best.

This goal (the first of the eight Millennium Development Goals) was originally announced as being to cut in half the total number of people living in extreme poverty by 2015. When it became obvious that the economic policies of the Bretton Woods Institutions of the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and also the World Trade Organization would never allow for that to happen — because they were not intended to reduce global poverty, as will be explained — the UN General Assembly redefined the goal as being to cut in half the proportion of the global population of those living in extreme poverty. This redefinition enabled the World Bank to put forth the illusion of progress when none was actually occurring.

Thomas Pogge, Director of the Global Justice Program and a professor of philosophy at Yale University, is deeply skeptical both of the World Bank’s findings and its methodologies. In his 2010 book, Politics as Usual, Pogge argues that, besides the troubling redefinition of MDG1, the World Bank’s methods of calculating consumer price indices (CPI) and purchasing power parity (PPP) fail to count many people who actually are experiencing extreme poverty, which is defined as living on less than $1.25 a day.

“It’s a massive crime against humanity,” he said in an interview. “How can this be? How can people be less and less poor, and more and more people are hungry?”

The number of chronically undernourished as tracked by the United Nations increased from about 800 million in 1992 to 925 million in 2010, according to this UN report, and increasing food prices are likely to have pushed it much higher since.

Between 1990 and 2008, the number of people living in extreme poverty shrank only incrementally, from 1.2 billion to 1.1 billion, when you exclude China. And you should exclude China, because its radical poverty reduction has been achieved via methods that are completely at odds with World Bank and World Trade Organization policies.

Read more.
UPDATE: President Obama has nominated Dartmouth College President Jim Yong Kim to head up the World Bank. Kim was born in Korea, and is a public health specialist, so this hopefully breaks the tradition of the World Bank president being an Anglo-American establishment figure - usually a bankster (list of World bank presidents).

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