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Poverty and exploitation

from David Ruccio

What would happen if the concept of exploitation became the entry point into our analyses of poverty?

According to Thomas B. Edsall, Matthew Desmond, an assistant professor of sociology at Harvard, asked exactly that question at a recent symposium on inequality at Yale:

If exploitation long has helped to create the slum and its inhabitants, if it long has been a clear, direct, and systematic, cause of poverty and social suffering, why, then, has this ugly word — exploitation — been erased from current theories of urban poverty? 

who could argue that the urban poor today are not just as exploited as they were in generations past, what with the acceleration of rents throughout the housing crisis; the proliferation of pawn shops, the number of which doubled in the 1990s; the emergence of the payday lending industry, boasting of more stores across the U.S. than McDonald’s restaurants and netting upwards of $7 billion annually in fees; and the colossal expansion of the subprime lending industry, which was generating upwards of $100 billion in annual revenues at the peak of the housing bubble? And yet conventional accounts of inequality, structural and cultural approaches alike, continue to view urban poverty strictly as the result of some inanity. How different our theories would be — and with them our policy prescriptions — if we began viewing poverty as the result of a kind of robbery.

And Edsall himself poses a related, and perhaps even more significant, question:

How different would the nation’s politics be if either party, or at least the Democrats, added the concept of economic exploitation to its repertoire?

  1. September 19, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    Economic exploitation,how much of a difference does it make?
    Perhaps as much as the difference as what prosperity is to poverty.
    How different would it be if the Us economy, its currency were to be exploited; no longer by the now private for-profit banks, but now by the “people” themselves.
    How different would it be if the US currency were to be based on “the value of all the present goods and services” perhaps at $1,000 trillion ($1 quadrillion).? Money as stated by Frederick Soddy, The NOTHING that you get for SOMETHING in order to get ANYTHING”
    How different would it be if the American people, the true owners of these “goods and services” were to have only ONE source of issuance of their currency, that being one central bank operating not as a private for-profit bank, rather as a institution serving “by, for, of the people”,
    governed by the governed with absolute, full, and immediate transparency.
    Since the present system has issuance that is NOT presently backed by this base of “goods and services ” ($1 quadrillion) it must be made whole so as there would be no economic collapse.
    All “potential money” i.e., credit expansion must be made liquid by 100% reserve, margin.
    Banks must now operate at 100% margin, reserve. There is to be only ONE source for the currency. Banks are to borrow whatever amount is needed to become 100% liquid.
    How much of a different would it make if that loan amount (new issuance needed to make them whole) were to be $200 trillion…given at a rate of 2% for a term of 36 years allowing the bubble to slowly fizzle rather then burst?
    How much of a difference would it make if that exploitation were taken away from “the for- profit private banks” and given back to the people?
    Who would prosper ?. It would produce an income (revenue) of $11 trillion per year.
    Who would benefit ? Taking away the exploitation of private for-profit banks and using $11 trillion a year to replace all other means of UNFAIR taxation (federal Income taxes, FICA, even FDIC and other bailouts).
    Allowing for the redistribution of the wealth of this nation : ” to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity…”
    Quote, Frederick Soddy,”It is money that alone can effect the exchange of wealth…and for each individual a variable licence to live at all.”
    Quote Justaluckyfool. “Perhaps the answer lies in how you redistribute the wealth of a nation; as well as how you acquire it.”

  2. September 19, 2012 at 8:34 pm

    Democrats are a faith based organization that believes in the essential goodness of their foreign and domestic policies. There is no possible way to speak about a rationalized civilization at peace with Earth with either democrats or republicans.

  3. Deniz Kellecioglu
    September 21, 2012 at 9:52 am

    Interesting question. Thinking about it a bit, I would not go as far as as to use exploitation as THE entry point, but we should certainly utilise it more.

    Most likely, the origin of exploitation is based on someone exploiting a situation in which she has an upper hand. This usually develops into structural and mechanical exploitation. More importantly, the exploitation may become so pervasive that it embeds into social norms – so that it becomes ‘normal’ and accepted by the vast majority.

    I guess I am trying to say that it may be really difficult to unpack poverty, and showcase its causes solely by exploitation, due to prevailing cognitive frameworks. Thus, complementary entry points are needed.

  4. henry1941
    September 25, 2012 at 9:48 pm

    Exploitation can not happen until two preconditions are satisfied.

    (1) A land is enclosed and privatised
    (2) The rental value of land is privately appropriated.

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