The Least, First

Monte Asbury's blog

Quotable comments on poverty

with 14 comments

Moving quotes from the Campaign to Make Poverty History

“The US cannot win the war on terrorism unless we confront the social and political roots of poverty.”
– Colin Powell

“It’s not about charity, it’s about justice.”
– Bono

“Poverty is like punishment for a crime you didn’t commit.”
– Eli Khamarov

“It is poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”
– Mother Theresa

“The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have too much…it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
– Franklin Delano Roosevelt

“Poverty is the worst form of violence.”
– Mahatma Gandhi

“I believe that, as long as there is plenty, poverty is evil.
– Robert Kennedy

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Written by Monte

October 26, 2007 at 6:05 pm

14 Responses

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  1. Why to we go on pertetuating the nonsense that we can make poverty history, poverty is a residue left over from obscene wealth. Wealth is a machine it has no heart its engine runs on greed and its workings are economic. Its called the human condition it will tell you of its plans to make poverty history to divert you from the truth that poverty is an unfortunate result. My comments dont even begin to scratch the surface of a world riddled with hypocrisy and deciet where power has no restraint and greed no end, when the world finaly does ends it will do so with poverty firmly in tact.

    david dodds

    September 15, 2011 at 2:10 pm

  2. Ajuh Joshua Fon – these are brilliant, erudite, and fact-filled observations. Thank you for honoring my blog with them! I am most grateful to have the voice of one who sees more clearly and personally than do I into the nature of African poverty, colonialism, and poverty generally. Please keep saying it, for we here in America are often unaware of these things.


    March 7, 2009 at 12:54 pm

  3. The development of Information and Communication Technologies and other ICT facilities were introduced in Cameroon and many other African countries during the colonial era, with the introduction of the telegraph and radio. This was mainly used by the colonial officials for the dissemination of information, communication as well as entertainment purposes. After the First World War, the French colonial administrators used various telecommunication media to spread the European culture amongst the Cameroonians and in many other African countries where the French colonial administrators were established. This was one of their methods in the ruling of their colonies which they considered as “France d’autre mer”. After independence, most of policies of the government of Cameroon at the time did not include the development of telecommunication infrastructure. The most commonly used means of communication and information transmission was the newspapers. But how many Cameroonians at the time could afford for such newspapers? How many Cameroonians at the time could read? How many rural dwellers at the time had access to the newspapers?


    March 7, 2009 at 12:43 pm

  4. According to Ajuh, J.F.(2009), Poverty is pronounced deprivation in wellbeing. But what precisely is deprivation? The voices of poor people bear eloquent testimonies to its meaning. To be poor is not to be hungry, to lack shelter and clothing, to be sick and not cared for, to be illiterate and not schooled. But for the poor people, living in poverty is more than this. Poor people are particularly vulnerable to adverse events outside their control. They are often treated badly by the institutions of states and society and excluded from voice and power in those institutions.
    Other authors hold that poverty in its most general sense is the lack of necessities. Basic food, shelter, medical care, and safety are generally thought necessary based on shared values of human dignity. However, what is a necessity to one person is not uniformly a necessity to others. Needs may be relative to what is possible and are based on social definition and past experience (Sen, 1999). Valentine (1968) says that “the essence of poverty is inequality. In slightly different words, the basic meaning of poverty is “relative deprivation.”
    The World Bank Development Report (1990) encompasses not only material deprivation (measured by an appropriate concept of income or consumption) but also low achievement in education and health. Low levels of education and health are of concern in their own rights, but they merit special attention when they accompany material deprivation. This report also broadens the notion of poverty to include vulnerability and exposure to risk – and voicelessness and powerlessness. All these forms of deprivation severely restrict what Amartye Sen calls the capability that a person has, that is the substantive freedoms he or she enjoys to live the kind of life he or she values.


    March 7, 2009 at 12:40 pm

  5. Giannakali, it’s kind of circular to say that we shouldn’t criticize someone else’s hypocrisy. If that person is being quoted as an authority, then it is perfectly good and, I would say, necessary to scrutinize his performance. I wouldn’t, for example, want to learn about business ethics from the Enron crew.

    Yes, it is human to criticize others and ignore our own shortcomings. You have my complete agreement on that point.

    Again, I don’t think its petty to find out if a self-styled philanthopist is as generous as he claims. If he didn’t make the claim, and didn’t demand that others pay their taxes, then it would be petty to criticize him for not doing so himself.

    Monte Says: Maybe I missed something – does Bono “demand that people pay their taxes”? And, why is it hypocritical to get the best tax deal one legally can? Should I decline to take exemptions and deductions?


    November 8, 2007 at 4:45 pm

  6. I hadn’t consciously directed it at anyone. But I guess your remarks triggered it. (actually upon going back and reading more closely it was darthben I was responding to who said we all have hypocrisy in our lives—I was suggesting we look at out own rather than others) I wasn’t implying however that you necessarily did not do your share in this specific situation. Just that it is really easy to criticize those we don’t know and much more useful to take a look at oneself. I am certainly not above doing the the former from time to time either. It’s human.

    Frankly, I think Bono has some ego issues, but that doesn’t make me doubt his sincerity in helping those less fortunate. It could if I wanted to be petty.


    November 8, 2007 at 8:09 am

  7. Monte, yes I can agree with you that Bono is a better example than most. Yes, I can applaud his fundraising efforts, and I have learned that the programs he supports are quite cost effective.

    Darthben, that could be the case for some people. I’m not a wealthy person. In fact during several years of my adult life my family has been just above the poverty level, according to the US government. Nevertheless, I give at least 10% of my income to those more needy (in addition to what I donate to my church). I also give time to various helpful projects. I could do more, but I’m not racked with guilt.

    So for me it is about whether people live by what they say. I do not honestly know how much of his personal money Bono gives away. I might change my tune completely if I knew. From what I see, however, his criticisms of governments are not fair as long as he gets tax exemptions and uses tax shelters.

    Giannakali, is that directed at me or at Bono?


    November 7, 2007 at 8:17 pm

  8. to support darthben:
    “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.


    November 1, 2007 at 10:41 pm

  9. I think that Bono does have some hypocrisy in his life, as does pretty much everyone. However, his hypocrisy does not cancel out the truth has to say about poverty, I think. I think that a lot of people don’t like what he has to say about poverty and compassion, so they attack the questionable parts of his life so that they can, they think, ruin the credibility behind everythign he says and does, and thus does not have to deal with what he says about poverty because they either don’t agree with it, or they don’t want to be confronted with perhaps some lack of generousity in their lives.

    This is how it goes with most people. If we don’t like what they have to say, we’ll just find a bad part of their life and put it under the micorscope so we don’t have to listen to what they say. The problem is that everyone has a bad side, so we can do this with anyone.


    November 1, 2007 at 10:19 pm

  10. OK, I’ve been thinking about this overnight, and here’s what I don’t get about Bono criticism.

    Bono raises money and gives it to poor people. He uses his public platform to urge others to do so, likewise. Is that bad?

    Now, you say he avoids taxes and doubtless lives a wealthy lifestyle; those are arguably hypocritical. But hundreds of people like him do nothing to help the poor, avoiding taxes at every opportunity purely for personal gain. Isn’t Bono’s example an improvement?

    Am I missing something here, or are we much more down on those few who do something than we are the many who simply don’t care? Why is it he’d get less criticism from us if he were a just another fame-hungry rock star who ignored the poor altogether?


    November 1, 2007 at 5:29 pm

  11. Monte, check out Bono’s tax situation.

    Ireland had an exemption on money earned from artistic endeavors, which means that Bono’s royalties were not being taxed. The Irish Parliament removed the exemption, and just before the time ran out, Bono moved what is called his “musical catalogue” to the Netherlands.

    The Netherlands has an exemption similar to the one that Ireland had, although I think it still requires musicians and other artists to pay a small percentage of tax.

    So millionaire Bono avoids taxes but insists that other people’s tax money be given away. How. . .convenient!


    November 1, 2007 at 2:29 am

  12. One of the best ways that could help end poverty is for wealthy countries such as the US to change the way they do business with less powerful contries. Right now, we are in the position to use our power to pay other countries whatever we want to pay for their products, even if that sum is much less than they need to live on-and to often we use our power to do it. Giving to other countires and good organizations is good, because we don’t need all the money we have (unfortunately, though, we think we do, so we spend it all-the fact that the majority of people living in the wealthiest country in the world are in debt to crediters, outside of college loans and mortgages maybe, shows how much consumerism has a hold on us).

    Another quote I really appreciate, but am uncomfortable with at times because it is so challenging: Generousity is not about how much money you give, generousity is about how money you have left.

    Monte Says: complete agreement on both. The history of American relations with the developing world is nothing short of rapacious, and Americans mostly are unaware of it. Regarding the quote, it reminds me of a comment I just left on the three maps healthcare post, comparing the sacrifice per person of Americans for foreign aid (the USA is 21st or 18th, just a fraction of the world leaders) compared to other countries. The President touts the size of the number, but per person, many countries give upwards of ten times what the USA does.


    October 30, 2007 at 8:23 pm

  13. Bono is a great person to quote. He criticizes his country for not helping poor countries more and then moves his musical assets to the Netherlands to avoid paying taxes in Ireland. It’s okay to spend other people’s money–but not his own!

    Monte Says: I’m afraid he’s “out of the frying pan and into the fire.” Ireland spends about six times per person on foreign aid than the USA does. The Netherlands, about 14 times. See it for yourself at Nationmaster graphs. I know almost nothing about Bono – but perhaps he simply preferred the larger generosity of the Netherlands.


    October 29, 2007 at 10:23 pm

  14. But what about “natural selection”?
    We have to vote the “weakest link” out.
    People are poor because they sit on their lazy asses, or because they are stupid, or members of an inferior race, or disconnected from certain networks.

    there is one thing i like about cultures of “not-have-much” countries: richness is not defined in terms of what is there to consume, or to have … but in terms of how much one has to give. And the richness is not defined in terms of matterial, but the soul … the mind … the intellect … this is not to condone poverty, and to let the fat man get fatter and starve one to oblivion … but it is about re-defining the meaning of richness.

    I dislike anything Bono-related! It is hypocritical!
    I also dislike the “charity” hand-down actions.
    To fight poverty, the nations need to be given their pride and their dignity back. And that means, kicking the white man out, and declaring self-determination!

    Monte Says: Thank you, naj – I believe the time is long-since here for white people to shut up and do some serious listening; and to stop expecting leadership roles and start becoming support people under the direction of people in their own nations. I have long held a dream that I’d like to ask you about – I yearn to go for short periods (as in, a couple of weeks) to “not-have-much” countries and work at tasks that need to be done (doing routine labor in a malaria-prevention clinic, for example) under the direction of nationals who run them. I would not be there for expertise reasons, nor to teach anything, but merely to be a temporary labor cog in something good that someone is trying to do. Maybe I could be a little help, but, more importantly, I think I could learn a great deal. I’d appreciate your reaction to my idea, especially to that which would seem negative or counter-productive to you.

    I have been in Romania a couple of times, and stayed among people who were “not-have-much” folks. I was astonished and humbled by the richness of their friendships and their generosity to me, and quite convinced I could never measure up to their hospitality if they came to the USA to visit me. I came home convinced that there was a wealth there that I had not expected, and one of which my country knew little. All my stereotypes were wrong – vast oversimplifications.


    October 26, 2007 at 9:17 pm

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