Sunday, October 3, 2010

What Would It Cost To End Poverty?

Poverty is one of, if not the leading factor that leads to the exploitation and trafficking of people. Desperate people in desperate situations act in desperation and there are always opportunistic evil men lurking in the shadows.

Current estimates are that it would take 50 billion dollars a year to end world poverty. If that is correct than truly, at least that part of the human trafficking equation should, and
can easily be eliminated.

The following statistics are not meant to disparage America or Americans, they serve as a starting point, certainly other countries will have similar spending patterns.

Americans spend more on gambling then groceries. Upwards of 100 billion dollars a year. Twice the going rate of ending poverty.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that a combined $276 billion was spent or lost in 2005 on health care, lost productivity, premature death, auto accidents and crime relating to drug and alcohol abuse. That was in 2005, the numbers now are closer to 6 times the going rate to end poverty.

Americans spent
$705 billion for entertainment and recreation in 2004, according to a Unity Marketing study Entertainment and Recreational Products Report. 14 times the cost of ending poverty.

Junk food and soft drinks over 200 billion.

In 2000 spending on the lawn and garden industry equaled $85 billion. Of that, $6.3 billion was spent on lawn and garden accessories like sundials, fountains and sculptures.

I could go on. About tooth art, vacation homes, air conditioned dog houses. Valentines day, Easter, Christmas and Halloween.... Sports cars, 52 inch plasma screens, 5 dollar lattes and 20 billion dollar annual bottled water sales....

Half of the world lives on less than 2 dollars a day. 2 dollars! Or an ATM fee, a late charge for a movie.

Even if it were 500 billion instead of 50 billion to end poverty, it's still well within reach by only cutting out waste and luxury. Once again if only we would would heed Gandhi's words and "Live simply so that others can simply live". Literally, a lifestyle change can save a life.

What would it cost to end poverty? That's not the question we should be asking. Instead....

What will it cost if we don't?


  1. Well said Mark.
    Let me add another stat for you which lead to my boss founding our organization (UEnd Foundation)... 1 trillion dollars are spent each year in North America at Christmas alone.
    So we offer the ideas that if people committed to giving just 5% of their annual gift budget towards a gift that changed the world we get to 50 billion very easily. At UEnd they can do this by buying e cards. Either the purchaser or the recipient choose where the money goes- no hidden admin fees, no surprises, just on-the-ground, honest, hard-working sustainable projects working to give people living in poverty the skills they need to help themselves get out of poverty.
    Check out the site or join our facebook group!/uendfoundation.

  2. Thanks Kim. That sounds fantastic. With Halloween just around the corner I have been daily confronted with the waste and ridiculousness the holiday in light of the poverty and suffering in the world. Keep up the good work!