Will Leveling Global Playing Field Speed Up Transition To A Sustainable Future?

By: | December 8th, 2014

Appropriate Tech Transfer

Appropriate Tech Transfer (Image Courtesy www.mit.edu)

A Good Idea Is A Good Idea: A Sustainable Future

Bill & Melinda Gates are the most visible couple on the planet with a vision to of a sustainable world with a “level the playing field”, giving each and every human being on earth a minimum standard of living, the opportunity for education, the improvement of life expectancy to first world standards and the eradication of poverty and disease that inhibit advancement.

This vision was previously seen as a radical or revolutionary ambition to take power from rich countries that have worked hard to grow and prosper. However, as the Gates’s explain, it is in the interest of all humans, rich and poor, on the planet to have access to basic food, water, literacy, education and technology that will save lives, encourage the leveling off if population growth and promote the exchange of ideas from a more diverse set of cultures and individuals.

Moral versus Economic Costs Of Poverty

According to the US Urban Institute, the economic cost of childhood poverty in the United States is $500 billion per year or about 4% of GDP. Traditionally, arguments have been made on a moral basis for why those in poverty should be helped but now organizations are looking at the economic costs of poverty as well.

According to the Urban Institute childhood poverty:

  • reduces productivity and economic output by 1.3% of GDP
  • raises the cost of crime by 1.3% of GDP
  • raises health care expenditures and reduces the value of health by 1.2% of GDP

When children grow up in poverty and lack proper nutrition and education they are likely to earn less, have more children out of wedlock, have more total children, be less productive when in the workforce, be more likely to engage in criminal activity and have poor health throughout their lifetimes.

Employment related issues lead to a loss of goods and services in the United States, higher social costs and large monetary and personal costs associated with the operation of the criminal justice system, large healthcare expenditures and more.

These numbers relate to the United States, but applying general concepts to the global war on poverty and it’s negative impact on global society, including the richest nations, several trillion dollars a year are lost in productivity and sunk expenses with no chance of repayment.

Information Technology Revolution Spurring Change, Innovation & Growth

Plugging Third World workers into the Internet through readily available mobile cellphone technology is transforming the Third World.

Not all technology transfer to the Third World has succeeded, in fact, there have been great failures, but with communication technology and information collected by people and sensors, communities of workers are springing up leading to a a more efficient use of capital when projects are funded.

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David Russell Schilling

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