There’s an ugly secret of global poverty, one rarely acknowledged by aid groups or U.N. reports. It’s a blunt truth that is politically incorrect, heartbreaking, frustrating and ubiquitous:
It’s that if the poorest families spent as much money educating their children as they do on wine, cigarettes and prostitutes, their children’s prospects would be transformed. Much suffering is caused not only by low incomes, but also by shortsighted private spending decisions by heads of households.
Cuz when I write the same thing, I usually get in all kinds of crap. Weird, huh?
Lots of poor people the world over are poor not because they don’t have any money, but because they spend the money they do have on crap.
I’m assuming they don’t have “rims” in Africa yet, but watch for it.
But there’s more. Stop me if this sounds familiar:
Here in this Congolese village of Mont-Belo, we met a bright fourth grader, Jovali Obamza, who is about to be expelled from school because his family is three months behind in paying fees. (In theory, public school is free in the Congo Republic. In fact, every single school we visited charges fees.)
We asked to see Jovali’s parents. The dad, Georges Obamza, who weaves straw stools that he sells for $1 each, is unmistakably very poor. He said that the family is eight months behind on its $6-a-month rent and is in danger of being evicted, with nowhere to go.
But Mr. Obamza and his wife, Valerie, do have cellphones and say they spend a combined $10 a month on call time.
In addition, Mr. Obamza goes drinking several times a week at a village bar, spending about $1 an evening on moonshine.
I’ve always wondered, in that Heathers “Aren’t they fed yet?!” way: if those Sponsor a Child things are so great, why aren’t they out of business. The first batches of kids must be well educated, and pulling up the rest of the bunch. No such luck, though.
Now you know where your money goes…
Education evidently isn’t a cultural priority for everybody.
PS: Every other case on Judge Judy and the other judge shows is about someone who got another person a cell phone (cuz they had no/bad credit) and now that person won’t pay them back the hundreds and even thousands of dollars in charges.
Anyway, Sailer adds:
For example, the President’s father killed a man while driving drunk in Kenya, and later died in a drunk-driving accident. Also, the President’s half-brother David, son of the President’ father’s second American wife, died in a motorcycle crash after a night out drinking with his half-brother Roy/Abongo, son of the President’s father’s first African wife, after Roy was jailed for drunken brawling.
I’m always saying “the poor are the rich Jesus warned you about,” but tend to add that, in Jesus’ time, the poor really were poor. Pre-capitalism, in a more or less tribal society, they had no opportunity for advancement, unlike today’s fat, materialistic, shallow, indifferent and selfish, self-centered “poor.”
And sometimes I’d even add that the only equivalent today to the poor Jesus was talking about would be people in Africa.
Guess I was wrong.
UPDATE — Kate adds (complete with helpful links that don’t appear below):
The poverty racket is an intentional lie, refined and perpetuated by that certain political class and their enablers in the gated-community community.
It’s why those of us who live modest lifestyles, who rub shoulders with the dysfunctional poor, have so little sympathy for them. They’re not victims of circumstance. They’re creatures of entitlement.
You see – this is what I love about blogging. You don’t need to write for the New York Times to get blunt truths into the newspaper.