CARACAS, Wednesday April 01, 2009 | Update
In spite of the crisis, humankind has a huge potential and a formidable scientific-technological basis. However, its basic social organization has proven to be completely inefficient and biased toward a few. If policies remain the same, exclusion, poverty, inequality and consequently wars, insecurity, xenophobia and racism can grow over the next 50 years
Photo: Freddy Henríquez
The UN University measured global personal wealth distribution. The richest 10 percent, concentrated in 20 countries, has 85 percent of capital; the poorest 50 percent, 1 percent. Income differences between the richest 20 percent and the poorest 20 percent were 20:1 in 1960; they increased to 60:1 in 1990 and jumped to 74:1 in 1997.
These gaps are ultimately expressed in life expectancy. This indicator is close to 80 years in rich countries and only 50 years in poor countries. The UN has reported that "global inequalities in income and standard of living reach grotesque proportions."
Concerning the current crisis, Somavia (ILO Director) highlights that "the core issue is inequality growth." Koffi Annan already warned: "Without a measure of solidarity no society can be truly stable. It is not realistic to think that some people can go on deriving great benefits from globalization while billions of others are left in, or thrown into, abject poverty."
The human gender is experiencing an exceptional technological explosion in 2009, which is accompanied with acute asymmetries that prevent the majority from having access to the great benefits from new technologies and to the most basic goods. The ongoing crisis aggravates these problems.
As a result of this situation, the world is confronting demanding challenges. The way they are faced will determine how the world will be 50 years from now. Some of the most important challenges are:
a) It is essential to unite ethics and economy again
Explaining the causes of the US economy collapse, Obama says: "Our economy is badly weakened, as a consequence of greed and irresponsibility on the part of some." He was referring to factors like the lack of ethics in public policies that ceased to protect the collective interest, leaving key markets, such as the financial ones, unregulated at the mercy of economic operators that wildly speculated, of top executives that put their banks and funds at systematic and extreme risks to obtain the highest personal profits. All this was legitimized by an economic orthodoxy that separates ethics from economy, presenting this latter as a mere technical process. The lack of orientation and ethical control of markets and economy lead to what the French Prime Minister Fillon called a "casino capitalism," where a few gambled everybody's savings.
Returning to an economy regulated by ethics, as appears in the encyclicals of John XXIII, will be a key challenge during the next half century.
b) Current poverty levels are inadmissible
Revolution in science and technology has given rise to unprecedented productive instruments, from biotechnology to the Internet. Today, the world could produce food for twice the current population and meet everybody's basic needs. However, more than 900 million are starving, 1.2 billion do not have drinking water, 2.6 billion do not have sanitary facilities, and 2.0 billion do not have electrical power.
Ten million of children die every year from unavoidable causes and 500,000 mothers in poor countries die during pregnancy or while giving birth. While one mother dies every 14,000 births in Norway, in Latin America the ratio is 1:160.
As a consequence, the World Faiths Development Dialogue has expressed that "all faiths see extreme poverty in the present world as an insult to humankind and a loss of confidence in human family."
c) Profound inequalities represent a fundamental obstacle to development
Huge gaps among and within countries stop development. Due to rich countries' protectionism, poor countries lose more than US$ 800,000 million every year.
Furthermore, no matter that a poor country grows; if this growth is very unequal, its effects will not reach the most part of the population.
The 21st century should be the century when the humankind that defeated slavery centuries ago and made human rights universal, fights deep inequalities.
d) Facing environment deterioration
In spite of the crisis, the world should face the growing ecological imbalance as soon as possible. The dismal forecasts of the Nobel Prize panel, composed of two thousand scientists from 130 countries, are being overwhelmed by facts. The release of pollutant gases to the atmosphere has been greater this decade than during the '90s. Poor countries are already immersed in these imbalances. Over recent years, while only one of every 1,500 inhabitants in rich countries was impacted by those imbalances, the ratio in poor countries was 1 of every 19.
Facing these and other critical challenges requires developing a new economic model, focused on equity and inclusion; a model where all people can be producers and consumers.
In this regard, it will be necessary to set new rules of play in world economy, which promote the development of the poorest countries and substantially increase international solidarity; as well as designing active, transparent, well-managed, and high quality public policies, controlling markets, developing entrepreneurial social responsibility, strengthening civil society, citizens' involvement, social control, and harmonizing State, business and civil society.
In spite of the crisis, humankind has a huge potential and a formidable scientific-technological basis. However, its basic social organization has proven to be completely inefficient and biased toward a few. If policies remain the same, exclusion, poverty, inequality and consequently wars, insecurity, xenophobia and racism can grow over the next 50 years.
In this scenario, both poor and rich countries will be extremely dangerous and the standard of living will fall vertically for everybody.
If challenges are met with perspectives and policies that address the calls for social justice, equality, universal access to opportunities, which are contained in the oldest spiritual wisdom of humankind, the scenario will be one of much more symmetry among and within countries and more access to happiness.
The author has been recently awarded degrees honoris causa of Universidad Simón Bolívar, Venezuela, and Universidad Rey Juan Carlos of Spain
Translated by Alix Hernández
5.- Renewed status
6.- Radio Capital
9.- Cyber Radio
MEMORY GAME >>
Try your ability to keep images in your head and discover wonderful pictures of all times !