Category Archives: Eradicating Extreme Poverty

Living in the Global World Staying Ahead of the Curve

The dangers, setbacks, frustrations, and opportunities of living in the global world.

This is a final term paper response written by Aleksandr Biyevetskiy for the Business Government and Society class taught by Dr. Frank. F at Rhode Island College. This paper focus on the effect of Globalization forces and how they change our world. On the macro level, I examine the roles of governments for successful integration in the global world. On the micro level, I examine the roles of individuals, companies, and institutions, and the specific steps that people and organizations can take to be successful stay ahead of the curve in the ever changing global world.

I would like to get some feedback on this, so be sure to tell me what you think!

The change is upon us!

Like it or hate it, we’re living in a world that is becoming increasingly global and integrated in terms of information accessibility, global trade opportunities, and the global scope of potential and often unforeseen unintended consequences of making poor decisions in the global world.

The global world we’re living in, makes it almost necessary for companies and individuals to embrace the paradigm shift brought on by the emergence of new technologies and innovations.

Globalization and Global Forces of change

Those companies and individuals who manage to keep up and understand the potential benefits that can be derived from the emergence of new technologies and innovations, will be successful and prevail in the increasingly globalized world. On the flip side, those who neglect the new ways of thinking and choose to stick to the old guns, the traditional “old” and “proven methods” of thinking and operating in the increasingly global world, vs. acknowledging and exploring the potential benefits of new technologies and innovations, will become less effective and probably fall behind and lose their former prevailing positions in the world.

Embracing the paradigm shift is important not only for commercial companies, and individuals, but it is also becoming ever so important for the institutions and the governments.

Let’s examine some of the recently successful nations of the global world and those who were better off in the past, but have already fallen behind in a big way.

The Asian Tigers countries such as Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong epitomize the successful adoption of global strategies and paradigm shift in the approach to management-labor relations that helped Asian Tigers to better their position in the world.

In the early 1960s, Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, and Hong Kong adopted and successfully integrated the management-labor culture of harmony, which originated and became highly successful in Japan. This new approach involving a paradigm shift in management-labor relations, helped the Asian Tigers attain rapid industrialization and economic growth of their economies.

Their global world and export orientated approach combined with judicial and effective management of their global trade policies, resulted in high rates of economic growth and development of highly educated and skilled work force.

An extreme and radical example of North Korea shows what can happen to the countries that choose to remain isolationist in their economic and social policies.

North Korea is not the only country embodying national extremism as a countermeasure against globalization and shifting cultural and social values. Unfortunately, there are numerous examples of countries that are left behind now because they failed to embrace the forces of globalization as well as shifting social and cultural norms and values.

Cuba, which was under communist rule, and Zimbabwe, which was doing well economically until the redistribution of wealth took place are among many other sad and shocking examples of the governments missing the boat in every sense of the word.

Going back to the example of North Korea, it is interesting to note that North Korea has been engaged in perpetual military attacks on its southern neighbor-South Korea. The motive for the perpetual attacks on South Korea is believed to be the cry for attention and coerssion for economic and humanitarian aid for North Korea. It’s highly pervasive and twisted that North Korea uses military attacks as a leverage to induce South Korea into rendering economic aid to the North Korea.

From the global economic, geopolitical, cultural and social perspectives, North Korea is a perpetual isolationist loser in denial who keeps missing the boat to become an integral part of the global world, and instead uses its military might to terrorize the world around it.

Fortunately, China, which has been following the successful example of the Asian Tigers, has embraced a totally different approach from North Korea, and is actively becoming a part of the global world.

It is ironic, but not surprising that China is still supporting North Korea in geopolitical and economic sense. And, while China, a communist regime, maintains ideologies that threaten the Western world, it has proven to be a savvy industrialist and global trade-dominating nation.

Indeed, China’s average 9% economic growth rates since 1978 are impressive by any standards! And it is equally impressive that China has reduced its number of people living in extreme poverty from 500 millions to just over 100 millions in just a few decades.

As a side note, it is also scary that China holds some 25% of the U.S. national debt, and there is no clear way in sight, as to how the U.S. will pay back its national debt.

Yes, there is no doubt that ideology-wise China is at odds with the rest of the Western world, but there is some hope for its eventual integration. There’s also a hope that China will drop its support for North Korea, which could lead to a great change in the balance of power between North and South Korea.

The lesson of this analysis is that despite all the global forces and the emergence of new technologies, good politics and integration of successful policies by the governments’ plays a far more important role than perhaps any technology, no matter how powerful, ever will.

This is also true of the situation surrounding Iran, which poses a major threat to the world as we know it. How the United States, China, Russia, Israel and the European Union will handle the situation, we’ll have the major impact on the world’s future.

Yes, with the US being engaged in fighting global war on terrorism and subsequent wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, as well as the instability surrounding North and South Korea and Iran, the world is has become an increasingly global, fragile and unpredictable place.

While it is hard to predict where the world is headed, it is clear that taking individual responsibility has become ever so important for individuals, companies, and especially governments to ensure a successful integration and coexistence of cultures, social norms and values dominated by the new technologies, and the very survival of the world as we know.

Now that we have examined the macro perspective and the global roles of governments and nations in securing a prosperous and healthy environments for its people and other nations, it is time to examine how individuals, companies, and the institutions can benefit from the emergence of new technologies and forces of globalization. After all, the above-mentioned entities are the basic building blocks of the nations they represent.

Historically speaking, from the individual perspective, people who learn the new skills and embrace new and useful ideas and technologies are better equipped to face the changes that are part of human existence, especially in the rapidly changing Western world.

When the computers came out, people who wore too used to the typewriters and too dismissive of computers fell behind and became obsolete for the work force. Those who embraced the change and earned the computer skills became in demand for employers seeking people who posses modern skills.

This example illustrates why it is ever so important to keep up with the technological innovations and the ever changing business world around us. Old skills and conventional manufacturing needs have become largely irrelevant in the U.S. as they’ve become largely outsourced overseas. We may not like it, and we may even hate it, but it does not change the reality that will live in a global world which means that production factors are likely to move to where it is cheaper to produce.

Making oneself competitive, marketable and desirable to a potential employer is becoming a part of new reality. Modern employers demand high-end technological knowledge and skills.

As an example, consider the corporate rivalry between Facebook and Google for recruiting and retaining the top talents in the information technology and computer science fields.

Their rivalry tells us that there is a high demand for well trained computer science and information technology professionals. This is the reality, and it’s not going away!

The truth is that a high school diploma will no longer suffice for a person who wants to live a reasonably good life. Attaining specialized training and high quality skills is now a prerequisite for getting a decent job. That truth is that the times have changed, and high school education is no longer sufficient for people to be successful.

The reason for that is that the high school no longer provides the skills that are sufficient to satisfy the modern technologically oriented and financially savvy employers. The employers have to be technologically and financially savvy to survive in the face of global competition. To do that, they need to hire quality people who possess top financial, technological, and entrepreneurial skills.

Such is the situation in the United States of today. What it means is that educational institutions such as high schools, junior and four year colleges have to change their curriculum and approach to education. They need to catch up with the times and start teaching the skills that are relevant to modern employers who demand the best talent, knowledge and ability.

While the demands of the employers keep going up, the level of preparedness of modern high school graduates is just inadequate. People come out of high school with poor English speaking and writing skills, poor math skills and poor understanding of the world around them. The educational system is failing its students by failing to prepare them for the rigors and high demands of the ever changing world.

The colleges and universities, in turn, have to work with poorly educated incoming freshmen. Further many colleges and universities need to catch up with the times and start teaching the highly competitive and relevant skills, and fostering competitive abilities of their students.

Real changes need to happen. High schools and colleges need to emphasize the important new and emerging technologies. They need to teach the students about the benefits of exploiting the opportunities given by the Internet and information technology. This goes beyond the basic knowledge of using Myspace and Facebook.

Students need to understand and appreciate the power of new technology and see it as a great set of tools at their disposal. Students need to have a better financial understanding and improved market factors knowledge if we are to prevent the future housing bubbles and other bubbles that result from lack of education and poor governance.

The long and short of it is that it is a good time for students and people in general to understand and accept that the good old days are over, and that the age of increased competitiveness and globalization has arrived. People need to catch up with the trend, or they will fall in behind and find themselves unhappy. On the flip side, people who embrace the change will be the ones who will benefit the most from the emergence of new technologies and the onset of new reality of the global economy and the global world.

As an example of technology and information skills paying big benefits, consider the fact that Massachusetts institute of technology graduates’ start-up companies generate enough revenue to to be considered the world’s 17th largest economy.

Keep in mind, that it is just one educational institution that has produced so many talented graduates who started so many successful companies. It means that people who graduated from MIT learned the skills necessary to go into the real world and start successful companies.

Perhaps, more colleges and universities should consider revamping their curriculum in order to start teaching relevant and competitive financial, technological, and entrepreneurial skills.

Not everybody is born or can learn to become a sensation of social media success like Mark Zuckerberg. Not everybody has that sort of vision and luck to become a symbol of change in the world. Yet, many people can still benefit from the changes given their desire, commitment and drive to learn new and useful skills and be in sync with the technological, social and business changes that take place all around us. Staying on top of the changes and really understanding them for what they are, as well as what they potentially can become as well as their meaning to the world, can ultimately lead to some small and positive incremental changes in the ever changing world. Will you be the one to make the change?

Poverty, Inequality, Development Role of Governments and NGOs

My Essay on Poverty, Inequality, and Development for Development Economics class.

To paraphrase Adam Smith, no society can be jolly, happy and flourishing when a great part of its members is poor, miserable and suffers greatly due to poverty, malnourishment, and social exclusion.

These words resonate strongly with the innate sense of social justice inherent to majority of feeling, breathing and thinking human beings, but the feeling of pity for the poor is not enough; taking proactive steps in eradicating poverty, misery, suffering and great inequality of human beings should become the primary role of government and the people in the society. For, how can a person enjoy a festive meal in the comfort of his/her house knowing that there is a poor person outside his door who has not eaten, or bathed in days, and spent numerous sleepless nights freezing from not having adequate cloths?! How can a rich family, take its children to good private school, without a feeling of discomfort from knowing that there are children doing slave-like labor because their parents cannot afford to feed them?!

The great danger for any society lies in it becoming too comfortable, immune and indifferent to the painful conditions of unfortunate poor and hungry people who may add up to great numbers in the society.
There are many countries across the globe facing the sort of problem stemming from extreme poverty and disproportionate inequality between the rich and the poor. If a rapid and effective policy is not adopted on the part of such a society, then the problem is likely to persist for many years and even decades, like it did in Brazil, and this problem will not only perpetuate unnecessary suffering of the poor, but it will also prevent the society from moving forward until these problems of the many poor and unfortunate have been addressed.

The hypothetical situation of the poor presented above is not unique to any one particular country, and it is not limited to just LDC such as Nigeria, Mozambique, and Zambia. In fact, it extreme poverty and inequality affects many different countries across different levels GDP and GNI; Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, South Africa, and Honduras are greatly affected by the disproportionately high degree of inequality between the top 10% percent of income earners and bottom 40% of income recipients in those countries. These statistics do not account for the source of income, but rather they depict the disproportionate gap between the rich and privileged and the poor and isolated in those countries.

The role of Governments should always be to protect the safety, and well being of its citizens, because the governments are generally assumed to be entrusted with the power derived from the people, its constituencies, in order to make fair policies and decisions that should better the lives of people and the society.

The country’s government actions and decisions, as well as lack thereof, can have the single most influential and profound impact on the lives of people, especially the unfortunate ones in the society.
As we have seen in the case of Asian Tigers such as China, Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and Singapore, successful and disciplined governmental policies can help pave the road to success for its citizens, if only the governments truly desire to attain such lofty goals.

As nice it would be for a country’s government to take a stance and create the policies that can help eradicate poverty, and shorten the gap between the rich and the poor, all too often the reality is far from the ideal. The unfortunate reality is that the world is filled with inefficient, selfish and outright corrupt governments ruling over its people. Countries such as Russia, Brazil, Bangladesh, South Africa, and many Latin American countries are prime examples of lazy, ineffective and inefficient at best, and sometimes outright corrupt at worst, governments. Notably, Brazil and Russia, the countries that are among some of the biggest countries in the world, have drastic levels of poverty and inequality that has persisted for decades in case of Brazil, and disturbing levels of corruption and lawless that plaque people ever since the fall of the former Soviet Union in 1991, now Russia, an upper middle income country, where many people are malnourished and live beyond the poverty level in Russia’s rural areas. The Russian government seems so corrupt and preoccupied with power and secretly stealing money from the state funds, which goes towards purchases of multimillion dollar real estate in London and the like places, or quietly gets funneled to the Swiss Bank accounts on behalf of many corrupt individuals in power, that is seems like there is no awaking in sight, and thus little hope for the poor.
And, if the territorially vast and resourcefully rich countries like Russia and Brazil seem to be caught up in an endless cycle of corruption, poverty and inequality, what more is there to expect from the poorer Nations?

Indeed, it is very unfortunate that there are so many corrupt and ineffective/inefficient country governments, even in the 21st century! The unfortunate truth is that if the government is corrupt or too comfortable and lazy to implement the successful poverty elimination policies, then there is very little that can be done unless some powerful NGOs such as BRAC that originated in Bangladesh, choose to enter the scene and start making some real positive changes in the lives of the poor and disadvantaged, as well as taking strong proactive steps to strengthen the local governance through outreach and education, which may eventually enable it (the local governance) to be in a better position to serve the needs of its people, especially the poor and misfortune ones.

So what can we learn from NGOs in Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest countries? BRAC, which is the most important and influential NGO in the world works with poor and disadvantaged, especially helping poor women in areas of health and nutrition, education and legal help. BRAC also targets the bottom 27% of Bangladesh’s poorest people who own no land. It provides significant help by fighting hunger, improving health and sanitation situation, providing legal help and education, and issuing micro loans to entrepreneurial women through the Community Based Organizations for women.
It is now widely established that although eradicating immediate poverty and hunger through the efforts such as those of BRAC and other NGOs are immensely important, it is good governance that puts interests of the poor and malnourished people first and establishes the policies that help the poor escape the extreme poverty, and their kids become educated in order to stop the perverse cycle of poverty and misery.

Weak governance and governance failure sets persisting stumbling blocks such as lack of clean drinking water that perpetuates and magnifies health problems and children’s mortality rates, lack of / or inaccessibility to education for the poor, which is necessary to break the cycle of poverty, and lack of appropriate safety nets and social welfare programs that are necessary for the least protected members of society such as women and children.

Thus, the role of good government in the eradication of poverty and inequality is of a paramount importance, and cannot be underestimated. Many NGOs have become active in creating awareness against the bed governance, as well as helping the government with the implementation of projects to help the poor. Continuous efforts and resolve will be required on behalf of many NGOs operating in countries experiencing extreme poverty and inequality, people who can voice their strong desire for a sensitive, fair, and corruption free government, as well as the courage and commitment from governmental officials to push forward and implement policies that could help attain significant objectives in eradicating poverty and inequality, advancing education among the poor, and helping poor women and disadvantaged with their pressing needs for shelter, health and nutrition. Much remains to be done, in Bangladesh and other parts of the world, but the hope and drive are there.

References

Economic development Tenth Edition

http://www.bracresearch.org/publications/good_governance.pdf