Poverty, Inc.

Posted in Library of Congress, Politics, Undogegorized by chamblee54 on January 30, 2021

Poverty, Inc. is a 2014 documentary about the do-good industrial complex. Governments, agencies, celebrities, and just plain folks are the players. They see a need in the third world, and rush in to help. Often, they do more harm than good. As the person in tsunami-hit Thailand, said to the man in earthquaked Haiti… you survived the disaster. Now lets see if you can survive the aid.

P,I was part of a documentary discussion series. The group used to meet in a church, watch the show together, and break into groups to talk. Now, the group sees the movie on their own, and meet on zoom. When asked how he likes to “give back,” PG says that he mutes his microphone when he is not speaking. This is also true of real life … mute yourself when it is not your time to speak.

One story is about rice in Haiti. The island nation used to have an indigenous food industry. Then big brother flooded the island with subsidized rice. The native industries could not compete, and faded away. The cycle of dependency moves on.

Someone (most of the Africans on camera spoke English) gave the analogy of a bonsai. One tree is outside, and grows very tall. The inside tree has a similar seed, but only grows to a meter tall. It cannot get taller, because the small pot cannot support a large tree.

What this analogy does not mention is the 99.9% of seeds that never get to germinate. Even if they do become a plant, the forest is a competitive place. Most trees never get to grow tall. The bonsai is in a controlled environment, with limited growth opportunities. Even at a meter tall, it does get to live. That seed did better than almost all the rest.

A viewing service was used to view P,I. The movie was supported by advertising. These commercials seem to be inserted at random, sometimes in the middle of a sentence. It is jarring to be watching a first world/third world story, and then be interrupted by a flashy sales pitch for auto insurance. There is an irony of using third world suffering, to draw eyeballs to 21st century capitalism.

The old story of the emperor’s new clothes comes to mind. Many of the people in the poverty industrial complex work for the emperor’s tailor. The travel the world, and make a good living. It is in their best interest to keep the racket going.

Bill Clinton makes an appearance. He says, in effect, that he tried to help, and wound up creating more problems. We cannot expect to hear anything like that from Donald J. Trump. P,I was filmed in 2014, when Mr. Trump was a reality tv star. Perhaps by doing little to help the do-good industrial complex, Mr. Trump wound up doing less harm.

Pictures today are from The Library of Congress.

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