October 18, 2012

The luxury of being able to make mistakes

In India 63% of the population uses a mobile phone. 37% has a toilet. While the mobile phone can obviously be useful for work and might be a symbol of emancipation, a good sewage system and toilets of course prevent diseases and save lives.

Often people think that the poor, because of their situation, will be more careful and purely focused on the essentials of life. But what this statistic and reading the book 'poor economics' made me realize that in fact the poor make the exact same mistakes the rich make. It's just that the impact of those mistakes is a lot bigger in their case.

So the poor, just like the rich, often let luxury and fun win from necessity and health. Social patterns determine useless decisions. Yet the rich simply go to the gym to work off those extra calories when they indulged one night in too much food and drinks the night before. But when a poor person decides to buy and eat something expensive and unhealthy, just because it's so tasty, he looses a day's wages. That doesn't make him stupid. It just makes him human.

Therefore, if we want to truly do something about poverty we first of all need to realize we're dealing with humans and not with 'problems'. The neoliberal idea that the poor wouldn't be poor if only they put enough effort into it, is quite silly therefore. Such an idea originates in the brain of someone for who it simply doesn't matter whether or not he's capable of putting the same efforts into everything all the time since he forgets his own moments of failure exactly because they didn't really matter.

No comments:

Post a Comment