Wednesday, August 22, 2007

The Rich and the Poor...

Most of the Development Plans of developing countries in the world focussed on "poverty" and "the poor" as the reason for many public action programmes. It's always to eradicate poverty and help the poor. But poverty and the poor remain, at 4-10% even in rich countries such as the U.S. and Japan. Overt or covert, obvious or invisible! Over in Malaysia, while poverty is said to be disappearing ( <4% ) once in a while when TV3 focusses on the poor, it's heart rending.

What the development plans often failed to highlight is "the amassing of wealth on the part of the rich." Often 90% of the wealth of the nation is enjoyed by 10% of the population which means, if it's not obvious to you, that out of 10 people eating a cake, 1 person eats 90% of it while 9 people get 1% of the cake. Income concentration is increasing in Malaysia itself with the gini coefficient ( that's the measure of concentration) being well above .65 (or 65%).

Hasn't the obvious ever occurred to us that the more the rich have, the less there is for the middle-class and lesser yet for the poor? If the poor is to be helped does it not stand to reason that we must also study the rich, "the filthy rich" they say ( I didn't coin the word!), in order to make certain that a certain portion of the national weath will go to the poor? Those with millions in the bank can easily make more millions but the RM10 a day family cannot even risk the scant source now available to start a new venture!

Shouldn't we examine where the bulk of the river water is flowing to understand why the little outlets are running dry? No, we don't rob the rich to pay the poor but ensure that the poor have their cut in the new wealth of the nation. Islam insists that the rich share their wealth with the poor to save their souls in the afterlife. Those who don't may get melting gold poured down their throats on the Day of Judgment. I wonder what other religions got to say about this?

The fact remains that when the rich are getting too much of the nation's wealth ( and they are the most able to do so) the poor will have that much less. Can we then plan anything at all to help the poor without scrutinizing the rich and very rich, to see in what way they can help? Do we have the very poor because we've allowed too many to become too rich.....? I've a thousand questions without answers!

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