Building an Equitable World
(Top Posts - Social/Legal - 121701)

In the past of human history, there has been a varying
degree of resource allocation issues, with the tendency
for resources to flow to the top, most often through
sheer force/coercion/violence and the threat of same,
and with the overwhelming majority supporting with
the sweat of labor (not with heart/desire/freedom) the
welfare of those at the top.

Now, in the modern age, with all the past failures, from
totalitarian communism to religious authoritarianism to
slavery to monopolistic-supporting democracies to ...

The challenge has been how do we, humankind, advance
to the best planet for the most people?

The current state of the modern world does not place us
in the maximized position of the most benefit for the most
people, in my view.

Of note, I agree with much of what is said in the following.
I disagree with some of what is said, especially what is
said towards the end regarding the impotence of the world
community to develop high-level solutions to raise the level
of human potential (looks more like a self-pardon than a
reasonable position, to me), but that does not discount
the difficulty in developing high-level solutions, nor does
it discount the high-minded intentions (many of which
you probably are in agreement with) in addressing the
difficult problems mentioned in the article ...

- - -

Building an Equitable World, by James D. Wolfenshohn,
President - The World Bank Group
Address to the Board of Governors
Prague, Czech Republic, September 26, 2000


"... We live in a world scarred by inequality.

Something is wrong when the richest 20 percent of the
global population receives more than 80 percent of the
global income.

Something is wrong when 10 percent of a population
receives half of the national income -- as happens in far
too many countries today.

Something is wrong when the average income for the
richest 20 countries is 37 times the average for the
poorest 20 -- a gap that has more than doubled in the
past 40 years.

Something is wrong when 1.2 billion people still live
under less than a dollar a day and 2.8 billion still live
on less than two dollars a day.

With all the forces making the world smaller, it is time
to change our way of thinking. Time to realize that we
live together in one world, not two: this poverty is in our
community, wherever we live. It is our responsibility.

It is time for political leaders to recognize that obligation.

And the stakes could not be higher. The conflicts that
have so plagued development are not simply accidents
of history.

Conflicts are much more likely in countries with severe
poverty and primary commodity dependence.

Violent crime is more likely in countries with high income
inequality. And what is true within a single society today
will be increasingly true of international conflict and terror
in this globalized world.

The fight against poverty is the fight for global peace and

What Have We Learned About How To Fight Poverty?

In facing these challenges we must act together. And we
must draw on the lessons of experience. What have we

We have learned that poverty is about more than inadequate
income or even low human development; it is also about
lack of voice, lack of representation. It is about vulnerability
to abuse and to corruption. It is about violence against
women and fear of crime. It is about lack of self-esteem.

Poverty, as discussions with 60,000 poor people in 60
countries have taught us, is about lack of fundamental
freedom of action, choice, and opportunity.

We have learned that market-oriented reforms, if
combined with social and institutional development, can
deliver economic growth to the poor people. We have
learned that economic growth is the most powerful force
for sustained poverty reduction. Growth is central, but
it is not enough.

If we are serious about fighting inequity, we must also
help poor people build their assets, including education,
health, and land.

We must get infrastructure and knowledge to poor
areas — rural and urban alike.

We must confront deep-seated inequalities, bridging
gender, ethnic, social, and racial divides.

We must protect poor people from crop failures and
natural disasters, from crime and conflict, from sickness
and unemployment.

Development must be comprehensive.

It must embrace education and health, but it must also
embrace good governance, the fight against corruption,
legal and judicial reform, and financial sector reform.

Development must embrace infrastructure and
environmental protection as it must also embrace
sound economic policies.

All these elements depend on and reinforce each other.

We have learned -- and this is fundamental -- that
development cannot be imposed from above. There
is no universal blueprint for development. It must be
home-grown and home-owned.

Without a comprehensive approach that is developed
and adopted in each country, we will not achieve the
development that is vital for a peaceful, equitable world. ..."