July 18, 2014

A good definition

One book that has recently found its way onto my pile is The Locust Effect: Why the End of Poverty Requires the End of Violence by Gary Haugen and Victor Boutros. The book highlights how predatory crime and violence and the lack of effective law enforcement contributes to misery for the world's poor.

The focus of the book isn't so much on war and organized armed conflict as much as "ordinary" violence, domestic and otherwise. It's an angle I must admit that I hadn't thought much of  before.

The book also contains a primo definition of poverty:

I recall the way an old history professor of mine defined poverty: He said the poor are the ones who can never afford to have any bad luck. They can't get an infection because they don't have access to any medicine. They can't get sick or miss their bus or get injured because they will lose their menial labor job if they don't show up for work. They can't misplace their pocket change because it's actually the only money they have left for food. They can't have their goats get sick because it's the only source of milk they have. On and on it goes. Of course the bad news is, everybody has bad luck. It's just that most of us have margins of resources and access to support that allow us to weather the storm, because we're not trying to live off $2.00 a day.

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