chapter  18
18 Pages

The Beautiful Expanding Future of Poverty: Popular Economics as Psychological Defense

WithAshis Nandy

The undying myth of development, that it will remove all poverty forever from all corners of the world, now lies shattered. It is 483surprising that so many people believed it for so many years with such admirable innocence. Afterall, even societies that have witnessed unprecedented prosperity during the last five decades, such as the United States of America, have not been able to exile either poverty or destitution from within their borders. The world GNP has grown many times in the last fifty years; even more spectacular has been the growth of prosperity in the United States. Yet, consistently more than 11 per cent of its citizens — the figure, according to some, rose to something like 18 per cent a decade ago — have more or less consistently stayed in poverty throughout almost the entire period of American hyper-prosperity. 1 We are told that in the current capital of world capitalism, New York, 25 per cent of all children and 50 per cent of African-American children live in families with incomes below the official poverty line. Around 40,000 homeless adults live in the streets, subways, under bridges and train tunnels of the city (Lou De Havenon 1996). Cardinal Paulo Everisto Arns once said, ‘there are 20 million abandoned and undernourished children in a country that not only has the means to feed all its own children but also hundreds of millions in other countries’ (1985: 31).