Poverty, it isn’t just a money problem.

What does poverty and environmental degradation have in common? I didn’t know the answer to this question either, until I read the Taking Sides work from Robert Taylor. I had no idea that being in poverty negatively impacted the environment. This author is more focused on the poverty in developing countries, rather than poverty within the developed countries that are making a negative environmental impact. The poor in developing countries must partake in unsustainable practices just to make a living and survive in their unstable environments. I understand that the practices of farming on marginal land, deforestation, and fishing to make a living, is an evil cycle that causes this negative environmental impact. These people do this to make money, once they destroy or use up what resources they have, they relocate and start the cycle all over again.

There was also the topic of vulnerability that I thought was interesting. I hadn’t ever heard that that was something that would be measured when trying to understand and determine poverty. When talking about vulnerability, we talk about not having a voice, control and being defenseless. It makes so much sense that these people are very vulnerable, and don’t have a voice or control of their circumstances. They have no one defending them or giving them opportunities to succeed. Here in the United States, it is different for a couple of reasons. One, we have a lot of resources and programs that can help someone of low income get back on their feet where in developing countries there are no resources or programs like this to support them. Two, the United States enacts programs like social security, Obamacare, and disability checks to those who cannot work because injured or to provide care for those that cannot provide care for themselves. I think more programs like this would really help poverty in developing countries, but then, you have the question of how and where would this money for funding and programs come from. If we were to tax people in these countries like we do in the United States, prices of things would rise and therefor make things unaffordable for even more people. Another thing I relate to being vulnerable is the power structure. Money is power and in these developing countries if you have money, you are going to have power. Power in the justice system, with the government, with locals and with other aspects of livelihood. This makes funding political and often leads to corruption which helps no one in the matter.

For the future of my career in the apparel merchandising industry, poverty and wages really matter, especially for manufacturing in developing countries. We use those resources in developing countries to produce and build products for our needs here. We pay low wage workers to work in unstable conditions just so that they can have little money to live off of. If we were to teach skills for trade, or partner with these developing countries I think we could potentially set them up for economic profit. I believe that given the resources, it is up to the people in low economic places to be ambitious enough to make a way for themselves. The question is, will we take a chance on developing countries? Could we possibly be setting them up for bigger failures, or could we be aiding them with skills that could outdo our own? In any industry it’s important to know just how we are impacting those around us, whether it’s in the United States or developing countries that are doing the work for us. Everyone deserves to have a voice and have an equal opportunity to better themselves.

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