Category: <span>Do-Goodernomics</span>


You have $100. You want to move people out of poverty. What are your options?

Consume it. Invest it. Give it away. Which one?

You could put the $100 towards the purchase of a pair of Tom’s Shoes, a “Red” product, or some handicraft from Ten Thousand Villages. You could also buy brand-name products from manufacturers who have a reputation for using “sweat shops”. While not the most palatable way to move people out of poverty, they do provide employment opportunities for the poor. You could invest the $100 with MicroPlace or a hedge fund committed to Socially Responsible Investments. Or, you could give the $100 directly to someone in poverty.

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Like every other market, the market for good has two sides. On one side you have do-gooders. And, on the other side you have those in need of some good. In an earlier post, we briefly outlined the three steps in creating a market for good. In this installment of Do-Goodernomics, we focus on step one: finding a poor person. Remember, you are a do-gooder. Your goal is to move as many people out of poverty as possible. You have $100. And, you must give it directly to one person.


Making the Poor Pay

As the van inches along a washboard road, you peer through its tinted windows and stare at the many faces looking back without showing yours. Kids are playing soccer, most of the men are away at work, and everyone else is busy with the business of life. They are washing clothes in the creek that bisects the community, collecting and carrying bundles of wood, bathing in buckets of water, and preparing for the next and maybe the first and only meal of the day.

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Poor Paternalism

If you ever want to derail a conversation about poverty and the poor, you only need to accuse someone of being paternalistic. Merrian-Webster defines paternalism as “the attitude or actions of a person, organization, ect., that protects people and gives them what they need but does not give them any responsibility or freedom of choice.” Not a very flattering definition. It seems that paternalism has an image problem. Is it deserved?

Let’s turn to Do-Goodernomics to find out.

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