The Norman Transcript

Opinion

January 28, 2014

Gates (almost) right on poverty

NORMAN — The talk of the day at last week’s World Economic Forum annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, was Bill Gates’ audacious forecast that there will be almost no poor countries in the world by 2035.

Was it an outburst of exaggerated optimism by the richest man on earth? Or are there solid grounds to be that upbeat about the future?

In a public letter published shortly before the opening of the Davos gathering, Gates said that the 35 countries that are classified as low-income by the World Bank will emerge from that category over the next two decades.

“The belief that the world is getting worse, that we can’t solve extreme poverty and disease, isn’t just mistaken. It is harmful,” Gates wrote. “By almost any measure, the world is better than it has ever been. In two decades it will be better still.”

But almost simultaneously, Oxfam, a non-governmental coalition of 17 anti-poverty and relief organizations, released a study showing a much grimmer picture.

In its report titled “Working for the Few,” it said that the 85 richest people on earth own as much as the bottom half of the world’s population, or 3.5 billion people. Inequality is rising, and “the extreme levels of wealth concentration occurring today” threaten to exclude hundreds of millions from the benefits of modernity, it said.

Likewise, a World Economic Forum survey among its members — some of the world’s richest and most influential people — revealed that inequality ranked No. 2, only after a new economic crisis, in the list of what they see as the biggest global risks of 2014.

So who is right? I posed that question to Marcelo Giugale, the head of the World Bank’s poverty reduction programs in Africa and former head of the bank’s anti-poverty programs in Latin America, who has just released a book titled “Economic Development: What Everyone Needs to Know.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Opinion
  • Call up National Guard

    We’re not sure it will help, but you have to hand it to Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He deployed up to 1,000 Texas National Guard troops to help secure his state’s border with Mexico this week....

    July 23, 2014

  • It’s only getting worse

    Conditions for children in Oklahoma were starting to look up for a few years, according to the annual Kids Count reports. Now we know it wasn’t getting better. The recession was impacting the rest of the country, dropping their scores....

    July 23, 2014

  • Noting a life well lived

    James Garner never intended to be a movie and television star. He just kind of lucked into it, he would tell those who asked. If you have the itch to act, get a good-paying job and spend your free time at your local community theater, he ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Recount that really matters

    Americans have been hearing a lot about Congressional elections, but there’s another one halfway around the globe that will matter far more....

    July 22, 2014

  • Runoffs get no respect

    The Aug. 26 Republican runoff election for the Cleveland County District 3 commissioner post is one of only 18 races on ballots around the state. Only two races are statewide — the Democrat contests for U.S. Senator nominee and state ...

    July 22, 2014

  • Change some lines

    Editor, The Transcript: Looking at how our elected Republican friends are reacting to the refugee children crossing the border and now being housed in Lawton, I have a suggestion. Let’s edit the Christian Bible in several places to reflect ...

    July 21, 2014

  • New health care system demonized

    To the Editor: In October 2013, soon after we were asked to take over management responsibilities at our family business, we were visited by the company’s health insurance agent. She explained that a decision needed to be made regarding ...

    July 21, 2014

  • Norman Forward builds momentum

    The quiet campaign to build momentum for a citywide public works project is beginning to attract some attention....

    July 20, 2014

  • The longer the wait, the higher the cost

    Editor, The Transcript: Thanks for the great article of July 3 on the Norman chapter of the Citizens Climate Lobby group that recently went to D.C. as citizen lobbyists, working to get a revenue-neutral carbon pollution fee, refunded in ...

    July 20, 2014

  • Tax those trees out of here

    I read your editorial “Pesky red cedars” in the Norman Transcript of Tuesday, July 15, 2014. I have attended two meetings where the problem of the eastern red cedar trees was discussed. Because of the drought conditions in Oklahoma, we ...

    July 20, 2014