Monday, March 26, 2007

Poverty

The following text is part of a series of leaflets/flyers written by a member of the World Socialist Party of the United States.

Poverty, starvation, and want do not exist because of scarcity, as the central teachings of capitalist economics would lead you to believe.

It has been shown many times over that present agricultural and manufacturing technology can produce enough food and goods for a human population actually larger than the one that exists right now. Stores in western nations are constantly fully stocked, and food is thrown away because it spoils before it is sold. Houses sit empty and cars fill sales lots. However, the fruits of the planet and human labor are only available to those who have the money to buy them. Since the capitalism tends to deny access to far more people than it allows, it is therefore the restriction of access to the means of survival, such as food, water clothing and shelter that creates poverty!

It would be nice if everyone could obtain or produce the things they need to live a comfortable and healthy life from their nearby environment. However, the wide range of planetary conditions prevent it. Due to property law and the money system, the two most important features of capitalism, people living in areas of the world where the essentials of life cannot be produced as needed are forced to buy it from those who can. Most often, if they cannot buy what they need, they go without it. The existence of national borders and other political divisions also provide barriers to the flow of food and goods to where they are needed, further preventing millions from enjoying a healthy living standard both inside and outside these borders.

Unfortunately, the lure of capitalism has always been the supposed ability for any given person to gain wealth beyond the value of their individual labor. We see rags-to-riches stories on television and are constantly updated on the lives and activities of the rich and powerful, many of whom got that way through hard work and sacrifice. What is never glorified, however, is the ability of capitalism to create poverty for billions of people.

Think about it, poor people did not invent capitalism. For every millionaire, dozens must necessarily be doomed to squalor and destitution. So why should anyone expect anything different than the continued existence of poverty when that was exactly what the capitalism is supposed to accomplish?

Strangely, many well-meaning individuals believe they can make governments force capitalism to take care of the poor, or that vast networks of charities can help to eliminate poverty. These folks engage in reform politics or join "humanitarian" organizations, hoping to somehow force the system to work exactly opposite of the way it is designed to work. Attempts to reform the present system (no matter how well intentioned) to eliminate poverty are doomed to fail because the core structure of capitalism creates the problem. Capitalism can never be reformed to work against it's own operating principles!

Our Movement thinks that providing for a world of billions requires a revolutionary change from the way things are done right now. That is why we demand nothing short of the complete replacement of the property and money systems - the "heart and soul" of capitalism. Socialism, a system based on free access and administered by the democratic action of the entire world's population, can accomplish the elimination of poverty, because that is what it is designed to do! Socialism does not exist to create rich or poor people, but to make available a sustainable and healthy standard of living for every human being. Future advances in technology and agriculture should be enjoyed by the entire world, not just a privileged minority. Given that, the ability of socialism to succeed in providing for every human being will lie in creating fair and efficient distribution and accounting methods to ensure that both the resources of the earth and human labor are applied when and where it is needed most.
Tony Pink