We know that if solving poverty was simple, it would already be done. Still, we do not need to despair. Way-smart people have some great thoughts on this matter. We should all take heed.
In The Poverty of Nations, Wayne Grudem and Barry Asmus describe “79 factors that will lead a nation to prosperity.” You can read this book (it’s on my list), or you can read this summary article on the Crossway blog. And if you don’t even want to read that (lazy!), just know that the main take-away is “work hard.”
Or, as a friend (who has read this book twice) notes, “The phrase repeated continually throughout the book is ‘a nation must produce more than it consumes.'”
Are 79 factors too much for you? Than you may prefer this video of Dr. Jay Richards. He boils down those 79 factors into 10 tough steps to ending poverty. (The video is 90 minutes long — 60 minutes of his lecture, followed by 30 minutes of Q&A. It’s totally worth it.)
I didn’t agree with all of his ideas. But that doesn’t mean I’m right. I like being challenged with new ideas, to help me either to confirm what I believe or to grow in my knowledge.
Here are Dr. Richards’ principal requirements for a nation to be prosperous:
- Rule of law
- Government must focus only on maintaining the rule of law
- Property ownership that is accessible and consistent
- Economic freedom and free-trade
- Stable families and other important private institutions
- A belief in the truth that the universe is purposeful and makes sense
- The right cultural mores (delayed gratification, willingness to risk, respect others, etc)
- A proper understanding of the nature of wealth and poverty
- A focus on your comparative advantage
- Hard work
My other main take-aways from this presentation:
- Get away from continuous foreign aid, although “aid can help around the edges” (idea of the poor gleaning from fields in the Old Testament).
- “People get wealthy in a free society largely by serving other people, by producing things for other people that they want and that they’ll buy.”
- “The number one predictor of childhood poverty in America is whether the father lives in his home or not.” (see principle #5)
- These 10 principles are all immaterial things, and not based on a nation’s access to natural resources.
Dr. Richards makes a good case that these principles apply at all levels — from whole nations to smaller communities. Which, for example, explains why Nasha Lending is working to enable individuals to become producers.
And remember, all these ideas are worth nothing unless we mobilize ourselves to put them into action.
- How Do You Define (and Solve) Poverty
- How NOT to Do International Aid
- What Do You Know About Poverty in the US?
- Poverty Cure
- We Created This Monster
**image courtesy of siewlian via sxc.hu