Thursday, 28 January 2010

Reason to be cheerful

*shuffles awkwardly* So yeah, it's been a while...but I'm gonna give the whole blogging thing one final shot.

As a natural optimist I thought I'd start on a positive note with a little celebration of the genuinely fantastic news emanating from the super-intelligent sounding study 'Parametric estimations of the world distribution of income' from VOX, an economics analysis institute. The figures reveal what the incontestably prosaic title cannot: global poverty is falling.

I know, it's a lot to take in. Lemme say it again: global poverty is FALLING. It's a strange one for all of us, especially people of my age: the 'Make Poverty History' generation, the kids who cut their political teeth not on the Vietnam War or apartheid S. Africa but on Live Aid, wrist bands and Geldofian Messianism (well Iraq helped). With my mid-teen years of being brow-beaten by people who appeared more intelligent and more dedicated than myself into feeling guilty for everything bar surviving still a vivid memory (not to mention the considerable brow-beating I did myself. There's a sort of hierarchy, you see...), now I'm told by intelligent, dedicated people (who are NOT blinded by cognitive dissonance, which I understand is considered fairly crucial these days) that actually, socioeconomically, this world of ours is doing pretty well.

The research suggests that over the past 40 years - from 1970 to 2006 to be precise - the percentage of people living on less than $1 per day has steadily declined from 26.8% to... 5.4%! In S. Asia the decline was 86%, in Latin America 73%, in the Mid East 39% and in Africa 20%. It is - to be frank - fucking awesome.

Of course, any study has its methodological limitations. As a complete amateur in this area I read the discussion of it on Liberal Conspiracy, in which the only commenter who pooh-poohed the study in its entirety is clearly ideologically-driven, lacking in evidence and (as we all were once) probably quite young. He posted only once. Conversely, even among the sceptics there seems to be consensus that while not perfect the general trends the research points to is correct.

Meh. Correct enough for now and for me anyway! My exams ended today and I frankly lack the necessary arsing capacity to look further into this right now. Tonight I shall probably get pissed after raising a glass to the only truly revolutionary and liberating economic system: Viva Capitalismo!