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Impermanence and poverty define their lives. But with faith, hope, and back-breaking work, the family endures. Examines the realities of welfare dependency and the true cost of subsistence living. Welfare mothers are popularly viewed as passively dependent on their checks and averse to work. Reformers across the political spectrum advocate moving these women off the welfare rolls and into the labor force as the solution to their problems. Making Ends Meet offers evidence toward a different conclusion: In the present labor market, unskilled single mothers who hold jobs are frequently worse off than those on welfare, and neither welfare nor low-wage employment alone will support a family at subsistence levels.

What an incredible, amazing book. Annawadi is a makeshift settlement in the shadow of luxury hotels near the Mumbai airport, and as India starts to prosper, Annawadians are electric with hope. Asha, a woman of formidable wit and deep scars from a childhood in rural poverty, has identified an alternate route to the middle class: political corruption. But then Abdul the garbage sorter is falsely accused in a shocking tragedy; terror and a global recession rock the city; and suppressed tensions over religion, caste, sex, power and economic envy turn brutal.

Unleashing and equipping people to effectively help the poor requires repentance and the realization of our own brokenness. When Helping Hurts articulates a biblically based framework concerning the root causes of poverty and its alleviation. A path forward is found, not through providing resources to the poor, but by walking with them in humble relationships. Should we do relief, rehabilitation, or development, and how can we help people effectively here and abroad.

Competing Answers

While the world has made strides in the fight against global poverty, there is a hidden crisis silently undermining our best efforts to help the poor. It is a plague of everyday violence. And like a horde of locusts devouring everything in their path, the unchecked plague of violence ruins lives, blocks the road out of poverty, and undercuts development. How has this plague of violence grown so ferocious?

In one of the most remarkable — and unremarked upon — social disasters of the last half century, basic public justice systems in the developing world have descended into a state of utter collapse.

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This book is a powerful tool designed specifically for social, health, and legal services professionals. Yet all too often, experts recommend solutions that fix immediate problems without addressing the systemic political factors that created them in the first place. Easterly argues that only a new model of development—one predicated on respect for the individual rights of people in developing countries, that understands that unchecked state power is the problem and not the solution —will be capable of ending global poverty once and for all.

Theodore Dalrymple, a British psychiatrist who treats the poor in a slum hospital and a prison in England, has seemingly seen it all. Yet in listening to and observing his patients, he is astonished by the latest twist of depravity that exceeds even his own considerable experience. The key insight in Life at the Bottom is that long-term poverty is caused not by economics but by a dysfunctional set of values, one that is continually reinforced by an elite culture searching for victims. This culture persuades those at the bottom that they have no responsibility for their actions and are not the molders of their own lives.

Record unemployment and rampant corporate avarice, empty houses but homeless families, dwindling opportunities in an increasingly paralyzed nation—these are the realities of 21st-century America, land of the free and home of the new middle class poor. Award-winning broadcaster Smiley and Dr. As the middle class disappears and the safety net is shredded, Smiley and West, building on the legacy of Martin Luther King, Jr. For more than 30 years, humankind has known how to grow enough food to end chronic hunger worldwide. More than 9 million people every year die of hunger, malnutrition, and related diseases every year—most of them in Africa and most of them children.

Now, an impending global food crisis threatens to make things worse. In the west we think of famine as a natural disaster, brought about by drought; or as the legacy of brutal dictators. But in this powerful investigative narrative, Thurow shows exactly how, in the past few decades, American, British, and European policies conspired to keep Africa hungry and unable to feed itself.

As a new generation of activists work to keep famine from spreading, Enough is essential reading on a humanitarian issue of utmost urgency. One of the most important and controversial writers of the 20th century, Knut Hamsun made literary history with the publication in of this powerful, autobiographical novel recounting the abject poverty, hunger and despair of a young writer struggling to achieve self-discovery and its ultimate artistic expression.

The book brilliantly probes the psychodynamics of alienation and obsession, painting an unforgettable portrait of a man driven by forces beyond his control to the edge of self-destruction. Hamsun influenced many of the major 20th-century writers who followed him, including Kafka, Joyce and Henry Miller. Required reading in world literature courses. This book about two young men growing up in the Chicago projects is a modern classic of the genre. It took the author three years of reporting to tell their story. With this important work, he continues the stories of year-old Lafayette Rivers and his younger brother Pharoah as they confront tragedy on a daily basis.

For most people, the Great Crash of has meant troubling times.

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Not so for those in the flourishing poverty industry. These mercenary entrepreneurs have taken advantage of an era of deregulation to devise high-priced products to sell to the credit-hungry working poor, including the instant tax refund and the payday loan. Timely, shocking, and powerful, it offers a much-needed look at why our country is in a financial mess and gives a voice to the millions of ordinary Americans left devastated in the wake of the economic collapse.

This is the story of young, sensitive, and idealistic Francie Nolan and her bittersweet formative years in the slums of Williamsburg has enchanted and inspired millions of readers for more than sixty years. By turns overwhelming, sublime, heartbreaking, and uplifting, the daily experiences of the unforgettable Nolans are raw with honesty and tenderly threaded with family connectedness — in a work of literary art that brilliantly captures a time and place as well as incredibly rich moments of universal experience.

Yunus is that rare thing: a bona fide visionary. His dream is the total eradication of poverty from the world. In , against the advice of banking and government officials, Yunus established Grameen, a bank devoted to providing the poorest of Bangladesh with minuscule loans. Grameen Bank, based on the belief that credit is a basic human right, not the privilege of a fortunate few, now provides over 2.

This book is his story and it is inspiring. But considering its impact it deserves to be this high on the list. Hugo introduces one of the most famous characters in literature, Jean Valjean — the noble peasant imprisoned for stealing a loaf of bread. Polak, a psychiatrist, has applied a behavioral and anthropological approach to alleviating poverty, developed by studying people in their natural surroundings. He argues that there are three mythic solutions to poverty eradication: donations, national economic growth, and big businesses.

Instead, he advocates helping the poor earn money through their own efforts of developing low-cost tools that are effective and profitable. This highly acclaimed, best-selling book takes a look at one of the most contentious and hotly debated questions of our time: Why do some nations achieve economic success while others remain mired in poverty? The answer, as Landes definitively illustrates, is a complex interplay of cultural mores and historical circumstance. Note: if you search out the paperback edition, Landes has written a new epilogue, in which he takes account of Asian financial crises and the international tension between overconfidence and reality.

The Galbraith incisiveness, clarity, and wit are here brought to bear on the central aspects of the most important economic and social problems of our time. They reflect, instead, the experience of the rich countries. Or they create cause out of cure. Capital and technical expertise being available from the rich countries, shortage of these becomes the cause of poverty in the poor. Fifty years after Michael Harrington published his groundbreaking book The Other America, in which he chronicled the lives of people excluded from the Age of Affluence, poverty in America is back with a vengeance.

It is made up of both the long-term chronically poor and new working poor—the tens of millions of victims of a broken economy and an ever more dysfunctional political system. In many ways, for the majority of Americans, financial insecurity has become the new norm.

The American Way of Poverty shines a light on this travesty. Sasha Abramsky brings the effects of economic inequality out of the shadows and, ultimately, suggests ways for moving toward a fairer and more equitable social contract.

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But this is the story that jolted the conscience of the nation when it first appeared in The New Yorker. His books, from the National Book Award—winning Death at an Early Age to his most recent, the critically acclaimed Shame of the Nation, are touchstones of the national conscience. Sachs, an economist, proposes a solution to end extreme poverty in the world and explores why wealthy countries, and people, should take on this mission.

Marrying vivid eyewitness storytelling to his analysis, Sachs draws a vivid map of the world economy and the different categories into which countries fall. Because income is often not sufficient for family survival, farmers migrate to urban centers for work.

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Life is not easy for the children left behind, either. As of , Vietnam had one of the lowest minimum wages in the garment and textile industry. Research on clothing and shoe manufacturing in Albania and cottonseed growing in India demonstrates a correlation between low prices paid by purchasing companies and use of child labor. The list includes goods from seventy-four countries, including bricks and garments from Vietnam. Within the complex supply chains of the garment and textile industry, it is difficult for companies to control every stage of production. Regardless of sector, child labor is largely prevalent in the informal economy, which is beyond the reach of official regulatory institutions including labor inspection services.

In these countries, increasingly work is done in the informal sector; middlemen are responsible for distributing unfinished garments into individual households and then returning finished products back to the factory. Today, a significant part of piece work—stitching, hand embroidery, finishing processes—is done in homes without any sort of oversight. Thinking about demand brings me back to my core research questions: What standards are acceptable to companies seeking to produce apparel and other goods in a climate where there is such uncertainty around employing young people?

And as consumers, are we comfortable with the idea of fourteen-year-olds dropping out of school to make our clothes and shoes? With the Trans-Pacific Partnership TPP now signed, Vietnam is projected to experience more growth than the eleven other countries under the trade deal. TPP proponents see the trade deal as an opportunity to promote international human rights.

The deal commits the Vietnamese government to passing new laws that ensure better wages and working conditions, and would allow workers to freely unionize and strike. While it is broadly accepted that foreign trade benefits developing countries, short-term benefits and costs are distributed disproportionality between different groups within society. In the roll out of TPP, companies have an opportunity to examine their impact on child labor. Whenever possible, companies should pay adults fair wages to avoid family reliance on supplemental income from children.

Government efforts to crack down on child labor must be coupled with viable economic options. The Vietnamese government recently developed a national plan to eliminate the worst forms of child labor, which should be approved in coming months. For decades, multinational companies have tried to strike the right balance. In , the government of Bolivia turned a new corner in the child labor debate by legalizing work for children as young as ten years old. For children ages ten to twelve, work is allowed if they attend school, are self-employed, and obtain parental permission.

Tree-Poaching Is On the Rise

Other Bolivian children oppose the new policy; they feel working during their developmental years will prevent them from obtaining an education and reaching their potential. If we accept that some level of child labor will occur in the developing world, at least for the foreseeable future, efforts to protect children must shift from ineffectual zero-tolerance-based platitudes to actionable harm-reduction models.

Zero-tolerance is not a feasible strategy. So what can companies like Sports Philosophy do? While elimination of child labor ought to be the ultimate goal, perhaps the interim goal should be reducing harm to those children who are already working. Companies have an opportunity and obligation to develop programs that reduce risks to children who are unable to quit working.

Further research and innovation is needed to find solutions that consider the best interests of working children.

The New Face of Hunger

Here are some starting points. Working children have the opportunity to break out of a family cycle of poverty only if they can develop marketable skills. A cultural relativist would have no problem with that outcome, but I do. A country has the right to establish its own health and safety regulations, but in the case described above, the standards and the terms of the contract could not possibly have protected workers in Sevastopol from known health risks. Even if the contract met Ukranian standards, ethical businesspeople must object. Cultural relativism is morally blind. There are fundamental values that cross cultures, and companies must uphold them.

Before jumping on the cultural relativism bandwagon, stop and consider the potential economic consequences of a when-in-Rome attitude toward business ethics. There are similar laws against software piracy in those countries. What, then, accounts for the differences? The annual report of the Software Publishers Association connects software piracy directly to culture and attitude. But people in some countries regard the practice as less unethical than people in other countries do. Confucian culture, for example, stresses that individuals should share what they create with society.

That may be, in part, what prompts the Chinese and other Asians to view the concept of intellectual property as a means for the West to monopolize its technological superiority. What happens if ethical attitudes around the world permit large-scale software piracy? When ethics fail to support technological creativity, there are consequences that go beyond statistics—jobs are lost and livelihoods jeopardized.

Companies must do more than lobby foreign governments for tougher enforcement of piracy laws. They must cooperate with other companies and with local organizations to help citizens understand the consequences of piracy and to encourage the evolution of a different ethic toward the practice.

A World Without Work

At the other end of the spectrum from cultural relativism is ethical imperialism, which directs people to do everywhere exactly as they do at home. Again, an understandably appealing approach but one that is clearly inadequate. Consider the large U. Under the banner of global consistency, instructors used the same approach to train Saudi Arabian managers that they had used with U.

The instructors failed to consider how the exercise would work in a culture with strict conventions governing relationships between men and women. As a result, the training sessions were ludicrous. They baffled and offended the Saudi participants, and the message to avoid coercion and sexual discrimination was lost. The theory behind ethical imperialism is absolutism, which is based on three problematic principles.

Absolutists believe that there is a single list of truths, that they can be expressed only with one set of concepts, and that they call for exactly the same behavior around the world. In some cultures, loyalty to a community—family, organization, or society—is the foundation of all ethical behavior. The Japanese, for example, define business ethics in terms of loyalty to their companies, their business networks, and their nation.

Americans place a higher value on liberty than on loyalty; the U. It is hard to conclude that truth lies on one side or the other, but an absolutist would have us select just one. The second problem with absolutism is the presumption that people must express moral truth using only one set of concepts. For instance, some absolutists insist that the language of basic rights provide the framework for any discussion of ethics. That means, though, that entire cultural traditions must be ignored. The notion of a right evolved with the rise of democracy in post-Renaissance Europe and the United States, but the term is not found in either Confucian or Buddhist traditions.

We all learn ethics in the context of our particular cultures, and the power in the principles is deeply tied to the way in which they are expressed. The third problem with absolutism is the belief in a global standard of ethical behavior. Context must shape ethical practice. Very low wages, for example, may be considered unethical in rich, advanced countries, but developing nations may be acting ethically if they encourage investment and improve living standards by accepting low wages.

Likewise, when people are malnourished or starving, a government may be wise to use more fertilizer in order to improve crop yields, even though that means settling for relatively high levels of thermal water pollution. When cultures have different standards of ethical behavior—and different ways of handling unethical behavior—a company that takes an absolutist approach may find itself making a disastrous mistake. When a manager at a large U. Even the traditional litmus test—What would people think of your actions if they were written up on the front page of the newspaper?

Companies must help managers distinguish between practices that are merely different and those that are wrong. For relativists, nothing is sacred and nothing is wrong. For absolutists, many things that are different are wrong. Neither extreme illuminates the real world of business decision making. The answer lies somewhere in between. Consider those principles in action. In Japan, people doing business together often exchange gifts—sometimes expensive ones—in keeping with long-standing Japanese tradition.

When U. To them, accepting a gift felt like accepting a bribe. As Western companies have become more familiar with Japanese traditions, however, most have come to tolerate the practice and to set different limits on gift giving in Japan than they do elsewhere. Respecting differences is a crucial ethical practice. Research shows that management ethics differ among cultures; respecting those differences means recognizing that some cultures have obvious weaknesses—as well as hidden strengths. In some parts of the Far East, stealing credit from a subordinate is nearly an unpardonable sin.

People often equate respect for local traditions with cultural relativism. That is incorrect. Some practices are clearly wrong. Since the incident at Bhopal, Union Carbide has become a leader in advising companies on using hazardous technologies safely in developing countries. Some activities are wrong no matter where they take place.

But some practices that are unethical in one setting may be acceptable in another. In hot climates, however, it quickly becomes harmless through exposure to intense solar radiation and high soil temperatures. As long as the chemical is monitored, companies may be able to use EDB ethically in certain parts of the world. Few ethical questions are easy for managers to answer. Another is what Westerners call the Golden Rule, which is recognizable in every major religious and ethical tradition around the world. In Book 15 of his Analects , for instance, Confucius counsels people to maintain reciprocity, or not to do to others what they do not want done to themselves.

Although no single list would satisfy every scholar, I believe it is possible to articulate three core values that incorporate the work of scores of theologians and philosophers around the world. To be broadly relevant, these values must include elements found in both Western and non-Western cultural and religious traditions. At first glance, the values expressed in the two lists seem quite different.

Nonetheless, in the spirit of what philosopher John Rawls calls overlapping consensus , one can see that the seemingly divergent values converge at key points. Despite important differences between Western and non-Western cultural and religious traditions, both express shared attitudes about what it means to be human.

Finally, members of a community must work together to support and improve the institutions on which the community depends.