Walled World: Wealth, poverty, and the borders between them

Theo Deutinger’s “Walled World” is a map illustrating wealth distribution around the world. From his site:

Accelerated through the fear from the attacks of 9/11 and all what followed, the so called ‘Western Society’ is constructing the greatest wall ever build on this planet. On different building sites on all five inhabitable continents, walls, fences and high-tech border surveillance are under construction in order to secure the citizens and their high quality of life within this system. The fall of the Berlin Wall was described as the historical moment that marks the demolition of world’s last barrier between nation states. Yet it took the European Union only six years to create with the Schengen Agreement in 1995 a new division only 80km offset to the east of Berlin.

As the map shows, there are a handful of very well-defended borders that divide the wealthiest parts of the world (with 14% of the world’s population and 73% of its wealth) from the rest of the world (with 86% of the population and only 27% of its wealth). It’s not the only way to look at how wealth is distributed, but it’s an interesting view.

Look at the map.

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Reduce Poverty by Supporting New Mothers

A RAND Corporation study found that each dollar invested in nurse visits to low-income unmarried mothers produced $5.70 in benefits.

So here we have an anti-poverty program that is cheap, is backed by rigorous evidence and pays for itself several times over in reduced costs later on. Yet it has funds to serve only 2 percent to 3 percent of needy families. That’s infuriating.

Read the article: The Way to Beat Poverty

Don’t have time to read it? Take a look at these organizations (mentioned at the end of the article) that are already working on early childhood issues:

NURSE-FAMILY PARTNERSHIP is a proven home-visitation program that gives at-risk kids a shot at reaching the starting line. nursefamilypartnership.org

REACH OUT AND READ supports pediatricians who hand out books to low-income children during doctor visits, with instructions about bedtime reading. Careful studies show that the parents read to the children more often and the children end up with larger vocabularies — all for just $20 per child per year. reachoutandread.org

SPRINGBOARD COLLABORATIVE provides intensive summer school for disadvantaged children, so that a three-month loss in reading level turns into a 3.3-month gain. A donor can sponsor a child for a summer for $350. springboardcollaborative.org

SAVE THE CHILDREN provides home visitation, screening and literacy programs for young children. A sponsorship is $28 a month. savethechildren.org

(Photo credit: U.S. Army)

SPENT: Can you make it through the month?

Over 14 million Americans are unemployed. Now imagine you’re one of them. Your savings are gone. You’ve lost your house. You’re a single parent. And you’re down to your last $1,000. Can you make it through the month?

That’s the challenge made by SPENT, a game launched in February 2011 by McKinney and Urban Ministries of Durham.

You’re given a budget of $1,000 and 30 days of life events and decisions to navigate. Where do you want to look for work? Where should you rent a home? Can you afford insurance? Food? Emergencies? Each decision comes at a cost, financial or otherwise.

If you haven’t tried to live on a tiny budget, this is a great wake-up call for the random things that can throw your life off track. While in graduate school, I lived on about $12,000/year. That’s $1,000 a month. But I didn’t have children; I lived in low-rent university housing; I had health insurance, a car, savings … I was lucky compared to a lot of people living in poverty who face difficult, life-changing decisions on a regular basis.

Give the game a try. I’d love to hear how it goes!