Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Ninety and Nine

This poem from 1931 shows a bit of the history of the issue in America.  Now with globalization, the question remains but on a much larger scale.  Rich and poor, white collar and blue collar, haves and have nots ...

Rose Elizabeth Smith

There are ninety and nine that work and die,
In hunger and want and cold,
That one may revel in luxury,
And be lapped in the silken fold;
And ninety and nine in the hovels bare,
And one in a palace of riches rare.
From the sweat of their brow the desert blooms
And the forest before them falls;
Their labor has builded humble homes,
And the cities with lofty halls;
And the one owns the cities and houses and lands,
And the ninety and nine have empty hands.
But the night so dreary and dark and long
At last shall the morning bring;
And over the land the victor’s song
Of the ninety and nine shall ring,
And echo afar, from zone to zone:
“Rejoice, for labor shall have its own.”

From the
Machinist Monthly Journal
November 1931

In the developing world, it's common for folks to work harder, longer, and with less reward than we do. It's common to launch several 'small business' efforts in a year, hoping for something that works. Urban unemployment above 50% is typical as is rural unemployment around 80%. The common lament isn't "I'm poor," it's "I have no voice, I can't change anything, I can't even help my own children."

The rich in the developing world have everything they need, of course.

If all the world were like us ... would that solve the problem? What are the pieces that matter?