An opinion piece by Lauren Rumpler, Communications Consultant for the LPIN
On April 10, “Global Poverty Project” stopped at Ball State University along their national tour. Speaker Brittany Aubin, urged the audience with a series of emotional videos to consider the issue of global poverty. Aubin, who believes in storytelling to eradicate poverty, spoke about how our generation can be the one to end poverty on a global scale. She told the audience that there were three barriers to ending poverty: corruption of government, trade and lack of resources.
While the presentation was heartwarming and well put together, it was a bit short sighted. The group advocated for increased humanitarian aid to foreign countries. While this is an understandable request, the group didn’t seem to have any long-term goals in how to use this finance to end poverty.
“We want people to take small actions… Melissa Riepe, GPP’s Logistics Roads Scholar, told me in an interview “We hope that poverty will be part of people’s discussions in the future.”
But people are already talking about global poverty. Anyone who has seen a talk by Dr. Andrew Bernstein or has spoken with a member of the LPIN, knows that the capitalists are very concerned about free market approaches to end poverty. So I spoke to Melissa about this free market approach. Earlier the speaker had told the audience about South Korea’s phenomenal GDP growth. She did not however mention that South Korea is a free market economy, which is why it has sustained itself after aid from the U.S. was pulled. I asked Melissa if the group was in favor of free market approaches to sustain themselves after this aid.
“The Global Poverty Project does not take a stance on political issues…” said Riepe, “We agree that aid is a temporary solution… it must go away eventually.”
Again, this offered no permanent solutions to issues of world poverty. Aid is a band-aid over an infected wound. If no medicine is administered then the wound may be covered, but it will never heal. In this case a free market movement for these countries is the medication that they need in order to heal completely. The group speaks of self-sustainment, but does not seem to know what this means. Also they do not seem to grasp the difference between politics and economics, a very basic idea that anyone who hopes to solve world poverty should make the effort to understand.
This leads me into another concern. Though the group says that they do not advocate for any politics, they are quick to promote a larger humanitarian aid budget for the United States government. (This did not seem consistent with their stance on the corruption of government they mentioned earlier). They told me in the interview that they did not want to raise taxes, only “take money from other budgetary spending.” They were not specific on this, but it is important to note that with this stance, one must have a clear idea of where in the budget they want to cut spending. There are two sides to the coin of opinion.
Along with advocating larger government spending, which was not specific to any certain action, the group stated that they hoped to work with private donation centers. This makes it difficult to pin the group as either government activists or promoters of voluntary free action.
Finally, the biggest issue that I found with the group was in the closing part of the speech. The story was told that in Zambia, a region where the group worked for a time, the residences greeted each other in a certain way. They ask in their native language, “Are you strong?” The response is “We are strong.” The people of Zambia refer to themselves in this exchange as “we.” Ayn Rand addressed this phenomenon in her novel, “For the New Intellectual.”
“Your self is your mind;” says Rand, “Renounce it and you become a chunk of meat ready for any cannibal to swallow.”
In other words, the people of Zambia are suffering from even more than poverty. They have lost the passion for their own lives. Their hopes for the future are as a group. They have lost the drive for individual ambitions because of their lack of career opportunities that would give them pride and sustainability.
The Global Poverty Project failed to recognize the true problem with poverty, the self-esteem and ego that only comes with a free market approach to their lives. One where everyone can seek a job to obtain true fulfillment in their lives. That is why being a Libertarian means so much to me. It is not enough just to survive. Living can only truly be great because of the opportunities that a free society affords me.
The group talked about investing in women and showed a beautiful video of one woman who had begun a career and could now support her family. She was appreciative to be given the opportunity to earn her money.
“I am glad to have a job,” she said, “and to be able to be an important part of my family.”
There are many young people today supporting projects like this one. Projects that are really more like complaint forums. They don’t offer lasting solutions and in some cases they don’t offer even a starting point. If young people care about poverty then they should work for the LPIN. My experience with them over the past year has taught me that I can take actions against things that I find distressing. I am fully capable with my two hands of making a difference… and I don’t need a big government by which to do it.