The End of Poverty

I just finished watching an excellent documentary called, “The End of Poverty?” The film explores how international poverty has been perpetuated by corrupt capitalism, through multinational corporations and the U.S. government. The film can be viewed instantly if you have NetFlix, or you can purchase the DVD from the web site. You can also view clips from the film on YouTube. Take a look at the trailer below.

The film features some of my favorite scholars, such as John Perkins (“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man“) and Chalmers Johnson (“Blowback“). The film, and these authors, bring to light some important facts about world poverty, including:

  • Twenty-four thousand people die every single day because they are unable to obtain life-sustaining food (Perkins, xii)
  • More than one billion people in the world live on less than one dollar a day. In total, 2.7 billion struggle to survive on less than two dollars per day.
  • More than 800 million people go to bed hungry every day… 300 million are children.
  • Every 3.6 seconds another person dies of starvation and the large majority are children under the age of 5.
  • Less than 5% of the world‟s population lives in the United States and we are consuming over 25% of the world‟s resources, creating over 30% of the pollution.
  • Today, if everybody was living like the Americans, we would need 6 planets. In 2050, we would need 30 planets.
  • We are already consuming 30% more than the world average of what the biosphere can generate. (Sources)

For further study, check out:

  • John Perkins, “The Secret History of American Empire”
  • Eduardo Galeano, “Open Veins of Latin America”
  • Naomi Klein’s book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” (or watch the recent documentary by the same title, based on her work).
  • Noam Chomsky, “Hopes and Prospects,” “Year 501: The Conquest Continues” and “Deterring Democracy”
  • Arundhati Roy, “An Ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire”
  • Joseph E. Stiglitz, “Globalization and Its Discontents” (or read his article on this subject)

Film Synopsis

Global poverty did not just happen. It began with military conquest, slavery and colonization that resulted in the seizure of land, minerals and forced labor. Today, the problem persists because of unfair debt, trade and tax policies — in other words, wealthy countries taking advantage of poor, developing countries. Renowned actor and activist, Martin Sheen, narrates The End of Poverty?, a feature-length documentary directed by award-winning director, Philippe Diaz, which explains how today‟s financial crisis is a direct consequence of these unchallenged policies that have lasted centuries. Consider that 20% of the planet‟s population uses 80% of its resources and consumes 30% more than the planet can regenerate. At this rate, to maintain our lifestyle means more and more people will sink below the poverty line. Filmed in the slums of Africa and the barrios of Latin America, The End of Poverty? features expert insights from: Nobel prize winners in Economics, Amartya Sen and Joseph Stiglitz; acclaimed authors Susan George, Eric Toussaint, John Perkins, Chalmers Johnson; university professors William Easterly and Michael Watts; government ministers such as Bolivia‟s Vice President Alvaro Garcia Linera and the leaders of social movements in Brazil, Venezuela, Kenya and Tanzania. It is produced by Cinema Libre Studio in collaboration with the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation.

Can we really end poverty within our current economic system? Think again.

The film has been selected to over 25 international film festivals and was released in US theatres starting November 13, 2009. Directed by Philippe Diaz, produced by Cinema Libre Studio with the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation, 104mins, 2008, USA, documentary in English, Spanish, and French with English Subtitles. (source)