Coexistence of poverty and wealth within and between nations

understand why some people or nations are poor while others are rich, one has to
analyze first why and how the rich got rich. Everywhere you look in time and
space within and between nations, there are clusters of rich and poor people
and nations. The common thread is the exploitation of one group by another.

the fall of the western part of the
Roman Empire, Western Europe was engulfed in instability and insecurity. The chiefs or strong men offered to protect
the weak in exchange for their land. Those who surrendered became serfs under a
feudal system of governance and were legally bound to their lords. Besides
working for free on the lords’ land, the serfs paid tribute to the landlords from
their harvests. They also paid for using the lords’ grinding mill, bakery and
brewery. They contributed one-tenth (tithe) of their harvest to the church
because priests prayed for the serfs souls. In the end the serfs retained less
than half of the harvest which was not enough to meet the nutritional
requirements of the family and a surplus for next planting and sale for cash to
purchase essential items such as salt. Therein lay the beginning of
impoverishment which became intergenerational.

enclosure system in
Europe deprived many people of their land which they had
regained following the collapse of feudalism. Some died fighting back while others
were herded in towns where they labored and lived under very difficult
conditions resulting in a mortality rate higher than in the countryside.

European countries accumulated wealth that helped them to industrialize and
modernize their economies and societies by exploiting human and natural
resources in
America, Asia and Africa. The story of triangular trade that involved slavery
and indentured labor, the exchange of manufactured products and raw commodities
is too well known to be repeated. Suffice it to say that
Western Europe benefited tremendously at the expense of the peoples
they traded with.

benefits of trade enabled Western countries to improve their technology in transport,
communication, medicine and arms including the Maxim gun that accelerated the
exploitation of weaker countries and societies and paved the way for plunder which
resulted in massive poverty.

In South Africa, a country that was intensively and extensively
exploited, the white settlers made sure the indigenous people lost their land,
the principal source of livelihood, and were denied functional education. For
example, drivers were given simple education and training enabling them to read
road signs. Education beyond that, it was argued, would raise the expectation
that could not be met with frustration as the result. The loss of land and
denial of functional education impoverished the natives who became politically voiceless
and had no capacity to organize and press for their natural and inalienable
rights until 1994.

is well known, poor people produce more children than wealthy couples. As the
number of poor people increased so was the number of mouths to feed, bodies to clothe
and house. These demands threatened the lifestyle of the rich who were not
ready to share. Using food as an
example, Thomas Robert Malthus wrote in 1798 that population was growing much
faster than the capacity to produce food. He recommended that poor people
should limit their family sizes through abstinence and late marriage. Sensing
that the poor were not capable of doing that, he recommended that British legislation
be enacted to prevent the poor from marrying and having children altogether but
his advice fell on deaf ears.

eugenics school argued that the poor in society, irrespective of their race, were
diluting the quality of the human race. It recommended that measures be taken
including legislation to reduce the number of the poor. This too did not go
very far.

the 1950s, the population in the developing world has been growing faster that
that of developed nations. The neo-Malthusians have been pressing for birth
control among poor families sometimes under duress. The latter method is in
violation of the right of couples to decide voluntarily the number of children
they wish to have. And targeting a particular group in this case the poor could
amount to genocide by imposing measures intended to prevent births within the

illegal migration currently underway from
Third World countries to the developed ones in America and Europe has triggered a resurgence of an interest in birth
control. We are now witnessing conferences being held and population policies
being formulated calling for birth control sometimes disguised as family
planning or reproductive health.

the long run, it is the provision of education to the girl child and the
empowerment of women that will delay their marriage, end their poverty and
reduce their dependence on children for domestic chores and old age security.
In the meantime, reproductive health services should be provided for those who
volunteer to access them.

developing countries, some governments are introducing methods that have the
potential of impoverishing some sections of the population. Disguised as a
development tool, many families are being encouraged to drift into urban areas
where there are better opportunities for economic and social advancement. The
abandoned land would be taken over by large –scale national or foreign farmers
who would use the land more productively to produce for the market. Children
are also receiving education that is largely non-functional and are unemployable.
This is reminiscent of apartheid in
South Africa.

are being extended to bring more land under municipal authority even where short
or medium term prospects of developing those areas from agriculture to
non-agricultural activities do not exist. These measures would, however, render
some peasants landless without finding jobs outside of agriculture and drive
them into poverty and render them politically voiceless. The rich would take
over the land to increase their wealth and become richer. Police, prisons and judiciary services would
be expanded to deal with criminal elements as the poor struggle to make ends

the same time, the poor are being urged to reduce their family sizes so that
the demand for resources is reduced thereby enabling the wealthy to maintain or
increase the enjoyment of upper class lifestyles.

measures will defeat the Millennium Development Goal of halving poverty and
hunger by 2015especially in Sub-Saharan Africa. Therefore, people in these countries
with support from the international community particularly human right
advocates should resist these attempts to enrich the rich at the expense of the