Volume 30, Issue 1, Spring 2016
Eradicating Poverty, Resource Allocation, and the Environment
Hennie Lötter, in his book Poverty, Ethics, and Justice, contends that we have a moral obligation to eradicate global poverty, but does so under the assumption that eradicating poverty is possible under current political and economic policy. Roughly 1.8 billion people (the consuming class) currently consume the majority of the world’s economic production. About 5.2 billion poor people (the non-consuming class) would like to consume at similar levels. Is it possible for the non-consuming class to approach levels of material welfare similar to that of the consuming class? What would be the impact on the global environment if the billions of the non-consuming class started to consume at a reasonable standard? The answers to these questions are rather bleak for the cause of eradicating poverty: discussions on global poverty like Lötter’s fail to cohere with data on the environment and regarding resources constraints. Without radical transformation of current economic and political philosophy, the assumption that the eradication of poverty is possible is a false assumption.