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Why freedom of opportunity key to helping poor

Published 22/06/2015

The myth that policies and practices radically focused on capitalist free enterprise would raise the wealth of all, creating a trickle-down effect, seems to survive - in spite of evidence to the contrary.

Most serious economists show there is a flood of wealth upwards. The beneficiaries of the fruits of raw capitalist thinking see poverty as a regrettable by-product of the way the world works.

We seem incapable of thinking more creatively, creating a world that works for everyone. We have difficulty in thinking about poverty not just as an aberration - as something we might solve - rather than acknowledging that our privileges are located on the same map as the suffering of the poor.

We have an obligation not to support people in poverty, but to provide for them genuine freedom of opportunity.

Our obsession with the past, however nobly conceived, tends to kill off our capacity for political innovation, with the result that we fail to see the damage done by poverty, resulting in the entrapment of so many in worlds where their capabilities are killed.

The renewal of our public life requires the exercise of the traditional virtues of self-giving and self-denial. These are human dispositions that money cannot buy.

PHILIP O'NEILL

By email

Belfast Telegraph

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