“We are the first generation in the history of the world that can say we are able to see the end of extreme poverty in the world”.
That’s the lofty goal that World Bank President Jim Yong Kim presented when speaking to Jim Hockenberry on his podcast The Takeaway.
The former Dartmouth president genuinely believes that we as a society can accomplish this mission, and he believes that we can do it in just three steps.
When Hockenberry pressed for what these steps actually are Kim was ready and waiting to answer.
According to Kim in order for extreme poverty to end, “Economies have to grow, you have to invest in people, and you need to keep people from falling back into poverty”.
I believe that the word you are looking for after reading that is “Duh.”
Sensing that these generalities may have been a bit underwhelming Kim went on to expand his ideas.
Economies need to grow in a way that actually draws the bottom forty percent out of poverty...Investing in people means investing in health and education...we even give cash directly to poor people and explain that it is to help their children and we have found that it actually keeps them in the workforce.
The clarification still falls flat. And when pressed for concrete ways that The World Bank would meet these goals Kim redirected to his excitement over the upcoming Young Citizens Festival featuring Beyonce and Big Bird.
One of Kim’s comments concerning his recent conversation with Pope Francis serve as the perfect analogy for the squeamish dichotomy that often exists in these high-rise charitable organizations.
Upon speaking with the Pope’s support staff Kim learned - and was thrilled to report - that the vatican has begun removing gold crosses and replacing them with metal ones around the city.
A statement like this could easily be in a "Saturday Night Live" skit lampooning the Catholic Church and its connection with the actual needs of the world. And yet here it is being presented as a landmark change by the president of another enormous philanthropic organization.
Nobody is questioning the reality that the Catholic Church and the World Bank do indeed help struggling people in vital ways each and every day.
But if they honestly want to put a cast on the broken bone of poverty rather than a Band-Aid, than perhaps it's time for them to think bigger than Big Bird and cheaper jewelry.
Listen to the full interview below