The history of being the first in history to end poverty

Britain's Prime Minister Cameron speaks during the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in DavosPoverty persists, as does the tendency over the last century for politicians and others to say that society is finally on the cusp of ending it. British PM David Cameron just said it this week at the World Economic Forum in Davos:

“We can be the generation that eradicates absolute poverty in our world.”

Yes, we can – just like we can also be the generation that ends hunger or AIDS, injustice or maybe even large-scale warfare. Actually doing it, however, is a bit harder than pointing out it is theoretically possible.

Owen Barder, an expert on the fight against poverty at the Center for Global Development, has compiled an historical list of those who have, over the past century, said pretty much the same thing. Starting with Cameron, he works his way backward in time quoting Jeff Sachs, Henry Kissenger, John F. Kennedy all the way to Woodrow Wilson. Funny. Sad. Read it.


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Tom Paulson

Tom Paulson is founder and lead journalist at Humanosphere. Prior to operating this online news site, he reported on science,  medicine, health policy, aid and development for the Seattle Post-Intelligencer. Contact him at tom[at] or follow him on Twitter @tompaulson.