India’s drought foretells of greater struggles as climate warms | New Scientist


India is in the grip of a severe drought as a result of two successive weak monsoons and a searing heatwave. Its reservoirs dipped to less than a fifth of their total capacity in May, and a quarter of the country’s 1.1 billion people are estimated to be affected in some way.

Reports of parched, cracked soils, farmers’ suicides and desperate migration from Marathwada in the west of the country – one of the worst-hit regions – are at odds with the country’s image as an emerging economic and technological power, aspiring towards a trillion-dollar economy “with no poverty” by 2032.

Turbulence ahead.

The Melting Away of North Atlantic Social Democracy

Plutocrats and their ideologues like to claim that too equal an income distribution destroys incentives to work and turns us into a “nation of takers.” But a return to the inequality levels of the 1960s would not turn us into Maoist China. In the relevant range of levels of inequality, it is much more likely that higher inequality will slow growth by depriving the non-rich of the resources to invest in themselves, their children, and their enterprises; It will further slow growth by focusing effort on helping the rich keep what they have at the cost of squelching the development of the new.
-J. Bradford Delong


You can’t build the new thing when you’re fighting for survival.

Power, Poverty, Gender and Injustice: The local impact of inequality | ActionAid

Much of the recent debate on inequality has focused on the big picture of how a few individuals (62, in Oxfam’s January paper) have the same wealth as half the world’s population. As usefully provocative as these findings are, ActionAid wants to be sure that we also focus on the lived experience of inequality at the local level. Although we have victories against inequality, this piece aims to highlight how in our work we have witnessed the impact of the excessive power of the wealthiest, of transnational corporations, of large-scale farmers and other elites devastating the lives of the poorest and most disadvantaged people.

Inequality is about power and the domination it allows. Such domination is common at the global, the national, the community, and the household levels, perpetrated by both local and global actors



Leaving it behind | The Economist

BRAC came up with a scheme to help the ultra-poor. It gives them a small stipend for food, followed by an asset such as a cow or a few goats, which they are expected to manage. Field workers visit weekly for the next two years, teaching recipients, for example, how to tell when a cow is in heat and how to get it inseminated. The aim is to help women “graduate” from extreme poverty to the normal kind—as Sir Fazle puts it, “to help them back into the mainstream of poor people”. Then, perhaps, they can start borrowing.

Source: Leaving it behind | The Economist

It’s time to move beyond growth for growth’s sake

There are two problems with economic growth as a measure of wellbeing. First, the correlation between economic growth and poverty reduction is weak. It’s a reminder that intuition and ‘common sense’ do not always correspond to evidence. Globally, the trends are clear. Since 1990, global gross domestic product (GDP) has increased 271 per cent, and yet both the number of people living on less than $5 a day, and the number of people going hungry (using the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN’s definiti

Source: It’s time to move beyond growth for growth’s sake —…

Could you live on $1.90 a day? That’s the international poverty line – Jason Hickel for The Guardian

Image: Martin Baxter

Image: Martin Baxter

A few weeks ago the World Bank changed the international poverty line from $1.25 to $1.90 per day. Normally, changes to the poverty line slide by without attracting much attention, but for some reason this time people got excited. At first glance, it looks as if the bank has finally admitted that the old line was just too low, and has raised it to a more meaningful standard.

But the reality is closer to the opposite. The World Bank didn’t raise the poverty line at all – it simply “rebased” the old line to adjust for depreciation in the purchasing power of the dollar. The bank claims that the new poverty line is roughly equivalent to the old line, in real terms. But in effect it is actually significantly lower, and therefore makes it seem as though there are fewer poor people than before.

This is why the bank has suddenly announced that the global poverty headcount has decreased by 100 million people overnight, and that the poverty reduction trend has been declining more rapidly than we used to believe.

-Jason Hickel

Read the full story: Could you live on $1.90 a day? That’s the international poverty line

We can go on playing this game where we move the goal posts, claim victory, and throw a party. But there’s only so much field, and the farther we push the posts, the more obvious that’ll become. Or we could just be honest now, and dedicate ourselves to helping the billions of people mired in deprivation. If you ask me, I’d say our humanity demands it.