Of Bono, Capitalism and Orphans

Prism Magazine this month carries an excellent article by Rudy Curasco titled “Bono on Capitalism with a Conscience.”  Although not addressing orphans directly, it touches incisively on a vital question:  what really lifts people from poverty?

For orphan advocates, that should always be an essential query.  Poverty is a primary driver of the orphan crisis.  Admittedly, children are orphaned by many other factors as well:  war, disease, famine, and abandonment.  But poverty is frequently intertwined with these other causes…and it often stands on its own as the biggest single factor causing families to disintegrate. 

Bottom line:  lifting families from poverty helps prevent children from becoming orphans…and also betters the community supports for those that do. 

But of course, that’s far easier said than done.  Recent history is littered with well-intended anti-poverty programs that accomplished little.  Some even exacerbated the problems they sought to solve.

What more and more people are increasingly recognizing is that the greatest potential to lift people from poverty comes not from government or NGO programs but with vibrant, growing economies.  Over the past twenty years, the number of people living in extreme poverty has been cut by more than half in the developing world, from 43% to 21%.  About two-thirds of that improvement has come from economic growth.  Foreign aid can be a stopgap measure, but it almost never creates a long-term solution to poverty.  Meanwhile, thriving economies boost jobs, wages, and opportunity like no philanthropic initiative can do.   

So those of us who really care about addressing poverty need to understand and champion the factors that help economies grow responsibly.  Meanwhile, we can be equally strong in championing the involvement of nonprofits, churches, individuals and (sometimes) governments in aid, relief and care for orphans and others not likely to see immediate help from growing economies alone. 

If that’s a topic you want to understand more fully, I’d encourage you to read the full article:  Bono on Capitalism with a Conscience.”