(Suarez-Orozco & Qin-Hilliard, 2004, p. 62) Nonetheless, even promoting universal primary education can interfere with the profit-making motives of multinationals and global finance. Achieving universal primary education is a double-edged sword. Though highly conducive to future economic development in low-income nations, it is an extremely expensive proposition for the wealthier nations. The World Bank itself revealed in 2002 that the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals of halving poverty would require, not merely enormous financial aid, but also the full cancellation of all debts of impoverished nations. (Buxton, 2004, p. 76)
As in the past, programs aimed at reducing global poverty continue to run up against problems of cost vs. benefits. Globalism essentially demands that small local – and in the case of developing nations – traditional communities must compete against one another to attract investment from abroad. In many ways, this produces a situation similar to that of the old colonial regimes, one that has been entirely discredited in today’s international climate:
The international economy makes “local subsistence economies” extraordinarily vulnerable to small shifts in market conditions. Globalization unsettles the bounds of national and local economic self-regulation…. pits particular interests against each other, exploiting, for instance, ethnic divisions and the sexual division of labor for profit. (Ingram, 2002)
Current schemes to bring together capital from wealthy nations and planners from poor nations frequently result in reproducing conditions of dependence and division. The new factories in previously undeveloped communities quickly become integrated, not into a macroeconomic success story within their own nation-state, but into a vast and unwieldy global system. As the profits go not to the local people, but to a multinational corporation, the putative benefits of globalization prove almost non-existent. In turn the world that globalism represents comes to seem increasingly alien and undesirable. The Millennium Development Goals, being as they are, a tool of a “global agenda” appear as a scheme to replace traditional values and ways-of-life with those that are of importance only to large profit-making Western, or Westernized, corporations. A case in point is the Middle East where,
Western-style economic methods brought poverty, Western-style political institutions brought tyranny, even Western-style warfare brought defeat. It is hardly surprising that so many were willing to listen to voices telling them that the old Islamic ways were best and that their only salvation was to throw aside the pagan innovations of the reformers. (Bendle, 2002)
Based as they are Western ideas (and not necessarily all Westerners at that) ideas of the ideal society, global anti-poverty programs come into conflict with alternative and traditional notions of community and social structure.
Worse still, programs such as those advocated by the Millennium Development Goals, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and others, typically favor large scale privatization of economic assets – a process that leads to further destruction of traditional life-ways and loss of local control over socio-economic conditions. Governments that are impelled toward privatization at the urging of global organizations quite frequently fail to take into account best-practice methods. Bidding for purchase of government-owned enterprises should be a fully transparent process open to all investors, both domestic and foreign, with the business going to that concern willing to pay the highest price. (Anderson, 2004, p. 90)
Policies that favor one group of investors over another or that attempt to advance narrow interests do nothing to further the beneficial goals of private investment. Bretton Woods Institutions, like the World Bank, have been criticized, however, for their apparent insistence on privatization at any cost – the faster the better; there being no evidence that rapid, forced privatization aids in the elimination of poverty in the developing world.
(Noman, 2005) Best practice scenarios may help to streamline the processes of economic development, but by themselves they do nothing to guarantee that “best practice” is applied in all aspects of development. Elimination of poverty requires not only that developing nations adopt modern economic models and create stable macroeconomic conditions, but also that the underlying conditions that have, until now, impeded growth and development, are fundamentally altered in ways that tend toward an amelioration of the quality of life. A comprehensive view of the goals of a global anti-poverty program,
Embodies the vision of an economic system based on equitable sharing of resources; a decent quality of life for all in a healthy environment;
people’s empowerment to participate at every level in decisions affecting their lives; accountability by public and private institutions for the social and environmental consequences of their operations (Robra, 2002)
The destruction of poverty entails addressing conditions that may, on the surface, appear to have little to do with economics. Social relationships and moral values must be preserved, along with environmental and human resources.
The Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, have not so far been successful for many of the same reasons that past attempts to eliminate global poverty have been unsuccessful. First of all, the provision of assistance must be regulated and subject to clear accountability. In the case of the MDGs this has been addressed to some extent. The Millennium Development Goals are subject to specific markers of success, points of comparison that can be used to gauge the effectiveness of the program. Still, effective measurement of success requires a real partnership between the global community and the local communities these anti-poverty programs purport to serve. What appears to be a success from the point-of-view of the World Bank, or a multinational corporation, may seem an abject failure to the people of a developing nation. The globalism that goes hand-in-hand with today’s anti-poverty assistance is too often viewed as a destructive force in the developing world. Global financial institutions, especially the Breton Woods Institutions, and the large corporations that are linked to them, can be seen as exploitative – new evocations of an old colonialism. Robbed of the full and equal participation of poorer nations, the assistance of wealthy nations can appear as another attempt to control the means of production, and physical resources, in the Third World. Privatization, even if pursued in accordance with best practice methods can give the appearance of seizing control from local peoples and forcing local communities into the bottom rung of a distant, global system. Anti-poverty programs must meet the needs of those whom they purport to serve.
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