On Poverty

Evolution Institute

Response to a comment on the Mandela photo/quote “Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice.”…

“Unfortunately poverty is the natural state of humanity”

Not actually true.

Poverty is a possible state, and has been normal in many locations at many times.

It is however, not a necessary state, and in many places for extended periods it has not been present. Everything hinges on the density of people vs the density of available energy. If people find various stable mechanisms to limit the population before reaching the energy limits of the particular set of customs and technologies available to them, then they will achieve a state of relative abundance. Elinor Ostrom received the Nobel prize in economics for extensive work documenting such systems which have existed for extended periods – thousands of years in some cases.

We now have available the possibility of technologies that can extend the range of energies available to us beyond anything previously available to known living systems by many orders of magnitude. At the same time some few of us understand the systemic requirements for stability within such sets of strategic environments, at potentially infinitely recursive levels.

Thus there is a clear theoretical and practical foundation to the claim that poverty is a human construct (in that it results from using one subset of possible strategies). It also seems beyond any reasonable doubt to be true that any system based upon market values (which are scarcity based) must result in poverty for a significant fraction of the population. And it is possible to base social interaction on non-market values, and the indications from systems theory are that poverty can be avoided in such systems (and there are constraints – freedom of choice is not freedom from consequence – all choices have consequences, even inaction).

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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