Will There Really Be No Poor Countries by 2035?

By Daniel Nardini

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Commentary

It must be really wonderful for someone like Bill Gates to be able to look out his mansion situated on an island and think that most countries in the world today will not be poor by 2035. Gates has made a prediction that in 21 years most countries, even those in the Third World, will not be poor by the year 2035. I find his reasoning interesting but very flawed. He is talking about incomes rising, and economies showing more “stability” that lends support to his argument that many, many countries will become more stable and with this rise out of poverty in 21 years. I wish this argument mirrored the reality that I have seen in the 20 plus years I have traveled this world.

The world is a far more complex place than the state-of-the-art home that Bill Gates had constructed for himself. In case he and so many other extremely rich people missed it, and they usually do, incomes in so many parts of the world have actually been going up for well over 100 years. This has been due to the cost of goods and the rise of incomes to try and match the ever-changing cost of living. Yet this still leaves people poor to extremely poor. I only need to take a look at China as one example. The income gaps of that country is greatly varied. If taken as a whole, it looks like China has gone from being an extremely poor, backward and isolated country into a fairly stable, rich and growing nation of entrepreneurs. This is not the entire story, and what is not included in the equation are the hundreds of millions of Chinese who still live in rural areas and whose incomes are still fairly low.

Since the incomes in the major city areas have risen far, far faster than the many rural areas of China, it seems that China as a whole has risen well above what it was. However, the incomes of the average Chinese in rural areas have NOT kept up with the rate of inflation in the country, and the costs for so many rural Chinese means they are still in as much poverty now as they were 40 to 50 years ago. This is true of many, many Third World countries I have seen today. Just as equally true are the hundreds of millions of homeless, destitute and desperately poor people I have seen in just about every Third World country I have been to. This will not change in 2035. What will also not change are the wars, conflicts, corruption and misrule in so many, many countries that is an everyday reality of life for so many hundreds of millions of people everywhere in the Third World.

One can talk about someone’s income in a Third World country going from U.S. $50 a month to U.S. $125 a month, but they will still be living in the same broken down hut, lacking electricity and running water, and being forced to walk for miles to simply buy food. Meanwhile, food will cost U.S. $75 a month, so they will be no better off than before. And the other sad truth of the matter is that local corruption will chomp out probably a further U.S. $30 a month to pad the wallet of some local official. I have seen this reality in so many countries in the Americas and in Asia, so telling me there will be no more poverty or “poor” countries by 2035 is pure fantasy. Just as equally pure fantasy will be wars and regional conflicts that have and will continue to tear up parts of this world. When I have looked at so many parts of this world, I have in fact found fairly few stable areas where war, conflict, poverty and corruption are not factors of everyday life. But I guess that an extremely rich person who lives on an island like Bill Gates does not have to worry about any of these things.

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