Magazine article The Christian Century

Development Woes

Magazine article The Christian Century

Development Woes

Article excerpt

Global inequities are not only a matter of rich people ripping off poor people.

THE PROTESTERS who came to Washington, D.C., in April to rally against the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund prophetically denounced global inequities and defended the cause of the poor. The fact that so much of the world is excluded from the benefits of the global economy is indeed "shameful and unacceptable," to cite the words of United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan in a speech to the world's financial leaders.

The protesters in the streets of Washington did not hesitate to point out where they think the burden of that shame lies--with the Bank and the IMF, along with the World Trade Organization. According to the protesters, these institutions control the world's economy and resources for the benefit of corporations and the wealthy.

In focusing on the sins of the Bank and IMF, however, the protesters avoided talking about what remains a fundamental, unavoidable challenge: creating the conditions for sustained economic growth in poor countries. Global inequities are not only a matter of rich people ripping off poor people. Daniel Finn of St. John's University in Minnesota, who has done some of the most careful theological reflection on the global economy, notes that whatever injustices exist, people are poor largely because they lack the means and resources to be productive workers in the (increasingly global) market. …

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