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BAC G1-G2 2010

Oral Test


Why so Many Poor People in a World of Riches?


Some believe that people become poor because they make bad decisions. That may be true in some cases. Those who choose to indulge in their cravings for alcohol, drug, and gambling may easily lose their material assets. But not all poor people are poor as a result of their own bad judgment.


Many have lost jobs because of changes in industry. Many working people have seen their life savings consumed by skyrocketing medical costs. And of the hundreds of millions of impoverished people in the developing world, most are poor

through no fault of their own. The causes of poverty are often beyond the control of its victims, as the following shows.


In the early 1930's, the world was in the grip of the financial catastrophe that came to be known as the Great Depression. In one country, millions lost their jobs and hundreds of thousands of families lost their homes. But while many went hungry, farmers poured immense quantities of milk into ditches and government officials forced farmers to kill millions of farm animals.


Why the waste? The economic system stipulated that farm products and other commodities be sold for a profit. Milk, meat, and grain had great value to the poor. But when that food stuff could not be sold profitably, they were deemed worthless and were destroyed.


Food riots broke out in many cities. Some citizens, unable to buy food for their families snatched what they needed at gunpoint. Others starved. Those events happened in the United States. Early in the Great Depression, that country's mighty financial system failed those with the lowest incomes. Instead of according the first importance to the needs of all citizens for food, shelter, and work, the economic system viewed those needs as mere secondary issues to the money making process.


Adapted from Awake, May 2007
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