Out of touch, some might say

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Since when did ensuring adequate child nutrition and well-being become ‘unnecessary spending’ or a ‘giveaway’?

These views came after the government announcement that free school meals will now be made available to all children under 7. Nick Clegg apparently had to push the Tory led coalition to accepting what one senior tory describe as “an appalling waste of £600million of taxpayers’ money” (out-of-touch, some might say).

For the family orientated press I’d assume this would have been a triumph for common sense. For the financially led papers, a catapult to future economic growth and prosperity. But no, ideology or utter bollocks prevails over all.

The World Bank’s Nutrition Overview, states, “The economic cost of under-nutrition, in terms of lost national productivity and economic growth, are enormous. Countries can lose between 2 to 3 percent of their potential GDP each year.”

Furthermore a Harvard School of Public Health study says, pursuing economic growth top-down without corresponding direct investments in health and health-related programmes “has little effect on child nutrition”; in other words, economic growth has not helped child nutrition – thus having little effect on long-term sustained economic growth. So how are we going to secure economic prosperity 20 years from now?

Some people have asked, how can we afford it? But how can we afford not to do it?

Might as well…

Shit! I’ve not posted in ages. What must my five followers be doing with themselves?

I must have been doing some important and exciting, eh? In fact it’s the opposite, I’ve done nothing; work has meandered from the mundane to the irrelevant; entertainment has involved weekend trips to the nearest watering hole and my thoughts have been stale and uninspiring.

I did complete another edX course though… check out my post Mathematical Motherlickin Geni-ass regarding the first.

This one was entitled The Challenges of Global Poverty, provided by MIT. I was discussing some of the points with a friend of mine, who considered the whole task of poverty alleviation as hopeless. The best thing that course taught me that it was far from hopeless. To illustrate this… I give my five followers a task.

Look around you; on your desk, in your room, in your kitchen. Count how many items there are, designed to make your life a little more comfortable, convenient, enjoyable.

Now look again at those items, how many of them have been designed to alleviate poverty, or would be of use or accessible to someone in absolute poverty? I assume very few of them would be.

Despite this abhorrence, people are pulling ‘themselves’ out of poverty; designing their own solutions, systems and making their own decisions independent of, or in some cases in spite of Western intervention, to make their own and the children’s life’s far better. Furthermore imagine a nation like Britain in 1900 for the majority of people. Pretty shitty, huh? It wasn’t until the conclusion of two World Wars and another 45 years before a systematic and comprehensive system of poverty alleviation was created. We call this the Welfare State and it is commended the world over. Many of what are poor nations today only achieved independence 50-60 years ago, their journey is only just beginning.

I suggest you read Profs Duflo and Banerjee’s book Poor Economics: A Radical Rethinking of the Way to Fight Global Poverty, which supported the course to find out more. Check out their website too for some useful stats and studies -http://pooreconomics.com/

Also, I scored 89%… BOOOM!

From those wonderful folks who gave you Pearl Harbour

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In my Challenges of Global Poverty course provided by Abhijit Banerjee and Esther Duflo at MIT, the last week briefly covered health; provision, success policy etc. One of the most interesting parts discussed was that people often want a drip or shot, to over-medicate themselves, when in fact a course of antibiotics, anti-inflammatories or even less would do the trick. They have previously been given a shot by some backstreet doctor, as this is all they had access to (think barber surgeons in Victorian Britain). This isn’t only attributable to developing countries but to developed countries and not only in critical healthcare but what could be loosely described as a consumer product.

I draw parallels with a situation discussed in From Those Wonderful Folks Who Gave You Pearl Harbor: Front-Line Dispatches from the Advertising War by Jerry Della Femina, the book that inspired Mad Men. In it he describes the introduction of a new antiseptic fluid, like Dettol (it might have been dettol, I need to revisit it). This new Dettol unlike it’s predecessor didn’t sting, but had all the benefits. That’s a good thing, they’re on to a winner, right? No.

It bombed; no one wanted this product! The sting, that brief moment of pain reassures the patient, the user, the consumer that it is working, that everything is going to be alright.

If over many years you have been taught or have experienced one particular situation and formed a solid perception of this ‘reality’, regardless of the authority of whomever is telling you it is wrong, that perception and the resulting behaviour will be extremely difficult to change. This equally applies to anyone of any economic or educational background and multiple contexts as it is only human nature.

Human nature is a bitch to break, but as a child I was known to my Mother as ‘The Destroyer’.

New Start

“It is possible to make significant progress against the biggest problems in the world through the accumulation of a set of small steps each well thought out, carefully tested, and judiciously implemented.”

Starting my new course today via edx.org with MIT – The Challenges of Global Poverty. Above quote attributed to Prof Esther Duflo; @pooreconomics

Also had ACL reconstruction and got out of the hospital yesterday; I’ll keep you posted with my progress and pics for the not so squeamish.

Ciao