Day 459: The Price of Poverty

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Article 6
1. The States Parties to the present Covenant recognize the right to work, which includes the right of everyone to the opportunity to gain his living by work which he freely chooses or accepts, and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right.
2. The steps to be taken by a State Party to the present Covenant to achieve the full realization of this right shall include technical and vocational guidance and training programmes, policies and techniques to achieve steady economic, social and cultural development and full and productive employment under conditions safeguarding fundamental political and economic freedoms to the individual.

Countries with zero unemployment are rare. They are certainly the exception rather than the rule.

We all know what unemployment looks like these days. In the better-off countries it means living on government hand outs - meager, yes, but enough to sustain life. The inability to earn an income means certain death in other countries. Here in South Africa, being in the low income bracket gives one the average life expectancy of 40 - 45 years. In 4 years I have known of 10 deaths from only 2 local families. Most of those deaths were AIDS related and the victims were under 40.

You cannot know of the absolute hopelessness of being born into poverty if you have never witnessed it and truly placed yourself in the shoes of one who lives it. There are sides to poverty that one does not easily want to consider. There are facts that are easier to ignore than give attention to.

Many people in South Africa who live in poverty are regular drinkers of alcohol. There is no comprehension of the idea of saving money for emergencies or future investments, there is only a drive to blot out the ugly reality of now. Children often get sick and dies due to improper nutrition, housing and sanitation. It doesn't help that public hospitals are horribly inept and corrupt. Due to the malnourishment, the children's bodies and brains to not develop to their optimum capacity, they are stunted both mentally and physically. It also doesn't help that the public education system is a farce. Most students drop out by standard 8 due to consistently failing the grade - even with a minimum pass mark of as low as 35%.

A lot of people ask questions like "why don't those people do something to make their lives better?" Sure, some do. They put themselves through the correspondence university (UNISA), and sometimes they even pass - but the reality is that those people are in the minority. The rest simply do not know how to make their lives better, the need to survive and get through each day is all-consuming. There is a passive acceptance of their lot in life, they simply have not the will to initiate any kind of change.

Casual unprotected sex is common. Most of the impoverished are black, and the African cultures are generally patriarchal and some are even polygamous. Men generally feel and act as if they can do whatever they want to a woman and the woman must simply accept it.

You may ask yourself how people could be so oblivious to their potential to change their own lives. Poverty is a breeding ground for some of the darkest manifestations of human behaviour: raping babies in the belief that it will cure AIDS; raping 90 year old women (just because); using witchcraft that involves body parts taken from a murdered person (often a child). It doesn't help that the truly good parts of the African cultures were quashed by the whites decades ago. Poverty forces a person to think only of themselves and their own survival - there is no sense of community left.

I actually have personally witnessed fighting between 2 people for the absurd reason of them both having jobs at the same place. The jealousy and fighting progressed to such a state that one of the employees had to resign as she was fearing for her life. Yes, you read me correctly: they were fighting because they both had jobs. They were jealous of each other for having work. It defies any kind of common sense one develops in a more privileged life.


  1. Thanks. Poverty is totally unacceptable because it's man made and it doesn't have to exist as a natural order type of thing.

  2. We must thank banks and multinational companies who force people out of their land and starve them to death.I the last 10 years corporations have bought 60 million acres of African land.they do the same in Italy as well: EU laws force farmers to comply with new rules and modernization thus forced into debt which they can not pay back since their prices are not competitive any more compared to Romania or Poland prices for instance. Farmers in Sardegna are being expropriated of land which belonged to their grand grand parents ,people are loosing jobs and houses because of greed of this concentration camp with communist regimen and tortures.and now they are bringing millions of African immigration and soon Ukraina will join with its 200 millions of poor people looking for jobs.People will kill each other for bread as it is happening in North Korean 200 000 slave camps...


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