Income inequality - Here's why world poverty and hunger remain a problem, frustrating Pope Francis' efforts to solve the crisis
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When Pope Francis accepted the chair of St. Peter, he pledged to end world hunger by 2020. By all appearances, it was an easy win. The math was on his side. What nobody realized is that there are forces at work against him that are more powerful than anything we imagine.
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Pope Francis has spearheaded a campaign to end world hunger by 2020.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - When Pope Francis was elected in 2013, he pledged to end world hunger. He launched an incredibly successful campaign to feed millions of people around the world. Early figures were promising, and the goal appeared to be in reach. After all, the numbers were on his side.
There are more than a billion Catholics in the world, scattered across every nation on the planet. The Church's infrastructure is massive, even greater than the United Nations. In some places, the Church provides the only social services available to people. And the cost to end hunger is small, about $30 billion, according to the UN. That's about four or five dollars per person, per year.
There is a widespread narrative around the world. Money and food are scarce, and there's not enough for everyone. We should be grateful for what little we have and not complain.
The problem with this narrative is that it is a lie.
Last year, the workers of planet Earth produced about $75 trillion in new wealth. The actual number could be even higher, approaching $80 trillion. If distributed evenly among all the people of the world, it would work out to about $10,000 per person. For most westerners, that isn't a lot of money, but when the numbers are averaged out across all countries and populations, the average income per person, including those who do not work, is about $4,800. That means, if distributed evenly, the people of Earth would get a raise, nearly doubling their wage.
Unfortunately, most people are forced to survive on much less than the average. More than a third of the planet survives on less than $2 or $3 per day, or a thousand dollars per year.
That means someone or something is gulping the lion's share of that $10,000 per person average.
According to Oxfam, 82 percent of the world's wealth -- a shocking $61.5 trillion or more, went into the accounts of the richest one percent.
Another way to comprehend the data is to imagine the world is made of just 100 people. Each person generates a dollar by working. At the end of the day, 82 of those dollars go to just one person, leaving $18 for everyone else ($18/99 = $0.18 per person). About a quarter of the people in the room must share a single dollar or about two to four cents per person.
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Finally, to ensure those with only pennies have enough to make ends meet, those of us in the middle (now $17/74 = $0.22 for those in the middle) who have perhaps twenty-two cents per person, must contribute another penny or two to subsidize the survival of those who have only a few.
Certainly, we should give. For those of us with twenty cents, we can surely spare a penny for those with just two. But this ignores the tremendous scandal whereby one person has $82, and for the paltry contribution of about six dollars or so, they could keep and enjoy $76, still be the wealthiest person in the room by far, and extreme poverty could be eradicated.
It is the distribution of food and wealth, and the propaganda that both are scarce, that is undermining the plan to eradicate poverty.
The world's problems will not be solved by the people who created them. This week, as the world's one percent meet in Davos, Switzerland to plan how to divide the world in the year to come, it is time for us to plan how to leverage our power as the world's workers and producers of wealth. It is our duty to compel those with much to share with those who have the least. To refuse this duty is to become complicit in the spread of famine and suffering.
There is nothing wrong with wealth and success. But when wealth is accumulated for the sake of more wealth, evil takes root. The wealthy, who control the media and messages we consume, as well as the laws we make, employ a twisted form of logic to make everyone believe they too are poor, that any tax or burden is unbearable. They threaten to pass losses back to the public in the form of lost wages, work, and greater taxes. This too is a great scandal.
Worst of all, they are successful in compelling millions of poor people to clash with other poor people. As if other poor people are somehow the reason you are poor. Repeatedly, people vote against their self-interest and play into the hands of the wealthy one percent who simply can't stop taking.
Now more than ever, we have a duty to inform ourselves about income inequality and the ills of rampant greed. We have a duty to pray and to petition for the conversion of hearts. We must consecrate ourselves. The voice of the Holy Father must be heard. The Gospel must be spread, not so much in the warrens of the poor, but in the halls of the wealthy.
We live in a rich world, poverty and hunger should be things of the past. Only by our prayer and action will this happen.
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