The statement addresses two issues as causes of poverty, namely: individual complacency, which is the contented self satisfaction of an individual and the absence of motivation to improve oneself; and bad governance, which refers to problems within or concerning the organization exercising authority in a political unit. I agree to the statement to a certain extent. In my essay, I shall address the reasons and evidence of my agreement with the hypothesis, and provide other factors which work in tandem to these two factors to give rise to poverty.
Firstly, individual complacency is a cause of poverty. Individual complacency is defined as a singular person feeling contentment or self-satisfaction, and is unaware of danger, trouble, or controversy. This will lead to poverty as with self satisfaction setting in the mindset of an individual, the cancer of remaining status quo in terms of ability will spread within the society. Hence, there will be no progress in the political unit as there is an unwillingness to improve and keep up globally, and eventually lose out to competition on the global scale.
A society that believes that status quo will hold will not be prepared for economic upheavals that could cost them their jobs, and should such a situation occur, the political unit may self destruct as with influx of competition; the citizens will be unable to keep up and lose jobs, even going bankrupt. With no stable rice bowl due to large scale retrenchment, many may fall below the poverty line, resulting in a steep increase of poverty in that area due to a lack of preparation to withstand unforeseen financial difficulties that will deplete their savings.
Also, the existence of welfare benefits will result in individual complacency and eventually poverty. The need to work hard to ensure the stability of their jobs may disappear as the people might not feel the necessity to stave off poverty as they can always fall back on the safety net of unemployment benefits and charity handouts. Should this epidemic affect the society of a political unit, taxes on the small working race will sky rocket and they will have to shoulder the heavy funds needed to provide welfare to so many able yet unemployed people in the unit.
No economic progress will occur and the unit might collapse as the working race might also rely on welfare benefits and stop working, totally eliminating the working race. With no tax payers, the welfare system will not be able to function and hence the unit will collapse. One such example of over reliance of the welfare system would be Australia, which has suffered a high unemployment rate since the mid 1970s. This is due to the poor not bothering to find jobs as they feel that they can be well provided for by the welfare given by the government.
Hence, the reluctance to find jobs and contribute to the economy but yet feeding off the government will cause the country to sink deeper into poverty. However, there are cases of poverty which are not caused by individual complacency. Heavy financial commitments resting one a single individual may lead to poverty. A single breadwinner supporting a large family, or one who has no spouse or extended family to share the burden of bringing up a family and thus has to engage surrogate caregivers can easily face financial difficulties.
This situated could be further exacerbated by the limited education the breadwinner has and therefore little advance in wages or the death of said breadwinner. Hence, poverty may not only be caused by individual complacency as it is only one plausible reason, but there are other personal factors which contribute to impoverishment. Secondly, complacency and other personal factors cannot by themselves account for the extreme poverty in many developing countries. Bad governance is also a crucial cause of poverty at the level of a country. Bad governance can be due to many reasons, like corruption for one.
A government administered by corrupted officials interested only in lining their pockets will be incapable of formulating effective policies. Also, as the leaders of the country are too preoccupied immersing themselves in the wealth siphoned from the treasury, less or even no money is channeled to the poor, and so, the poor will most likely remain in the vicious cycle of impoverishment. Take Africa for example. Though the continent is abundant in human and natural resources, even leading in amount of farmable land, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest proportion of people: nearly half of the population, who fall below the poverty line.
The lost in potential revenue is due to greedy and visionless leaders, which is evident as statistics show that at least $140 billion has been extracted from Africa’s wealth since its independence. In Cameroon for example, successive regimes have misappropriated Southern Cameroon’s’ financial and economic structures that formed the lifeline of the region. Cameroon government spent over FCFA30 billion of the country’s money on a new presidential plane even though Cameroon Postal Service customers are currently being owed over FCFA 54 billion of their savings and teachers of the region have not been paid their salary for a year.
Hence, as can be seen, corruption within the government will cause a country, even one as promising as Africa, to sink deep into poverty. In addition, bad governance can be due to inequality and deprivation of certain rights to a particular race, class, gender or ethnicity. In such cases, the ostracised race will be deprived of their rights that would have helped them move up the social strata and out of the poverty circle, like education for example.
Though some governments might have drafted laws and policies to eradicate social injustices and inequity, but a lack of active enforcement or efforts to change entrenched cultural beliefs and social practises will not alter the situation for the better and the offspring of the poor will still remain with the vicious cycle. India has a strict caste system in place, where the higher castes (like the Brahmins for example) practise untouchability and discrimination in social, cultural, religious, political and economic spheres.
The higher castes are then able to create and maintain their monopoly over cultural capital (knowledge and education), social capital (status and patriarchal domination), political capital (power), and material capital (wealth). Though efforts have been made by the government, they were mostly insignificant and little effort was placed as the government is mainly made up of Brahmins, who are reluctant to give up their control over lower castes and their power in the country.
Hence, the pariahs, or untouchables, in India remain poor as they are unable to break out of their caste system or advance in their jobs as the only occupations they are allowed to do concern serving the higher castes and even when they wish to improve their standard of living, they are unable to as they have no access to capital or credit to do so. Therefore, it can be seen from India’s caste system that inequality in a country and lack of effort on the government’s part is detrimental to the poverty situation within the country. However, bad governance is not the only factor that causes poverty at the level of a country.
A poor country, even with a government which aspires to improve the poverty state of the country, maybe too handicapped by a lack of means to develop its people. Furthermore, the country might already be hampered by its poor economic performance and has to service debts to other countries or international organizations. The World Bank for one, though loaning money at a low interest rate of 1%, still poses as a huge problem for poor countries as 1% of the loan may be in terms of millions as poor countries usually needs a huge amount of money to develop in order to alleviate poverty in the country.
Hence, the deep entrenchment of poverty in the country and heavy debt servicing within the country are also other factors which causes poverty at the country level. Therefore, to conclude, I agree to the statement as I feel that personal complacency and bad governance play a major role in causing poverty. However, other factors like heavy financial commitments on one individual and the toil of debt servicing also work in tandem to cause poverty. Hence, I agree to the statement to a certain extent.