One billion of the poorest people on the planet embody an enormous obstacle for nations today. Countries suffering from extreme poverty, overlooked and undervalued, are examined thoroughly in Paul Collier’s book, The Bottom Billion. As a professor of economics at Oxford University, Mr. Collier is well versed in the financial implications of poverty on the world as whole. Everyone who has read a history book or seen the television show Game of Thrones knows that when societies lack a leader and structured laws, chaos ensues as the fight for ultimate power begins. This situation is mirrored in the corruption consuming countries all over the world, and they are highlighted in Collier’s book.

According to Paul Collier, the 8 industrialized nations, known as the G8, will have to make a priority out of developing laws to help these ‘bottom billion’ populations. This group consists of the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Canada, France, and Russia. Protecting endangered states against corruption, greed, power struggles, trade resources, and more will have to become a main focus for stabilized nations in order to help eradicate global poverty.

Claiming that there are four traps countries fall into that lead to a spot in the ‘bottom billion,’ Collier lists the culprits as natural resources, corrupt neighboring nations, negative governing, and violent conflicts. No country has the ability to generate more natural resources than it already has, so creating laws that govern trade policies is one of the only ways to help states in that situation.

One suggestion offered by the author to reverse the destitute situations of poor countries is military interference. He claims that foreign financial aid is not enough to help on its own. Military force and strict legislation on corrupt leaders and factions are required to pull countries out of expensive civil wars and violent day to day lives.

Main goals of the book include debunking popular myths about global poverty and explaining why the U.S. and other stable countries need to make aggressive changes to prevent unstable nations from ‘backsliding’, or getting deeper into a state of distress than they presently are. China and other societies are doing so well on reducing global poverty that more aid is offered because they seem like a more appealing investment that is likely to succeed. Less stable countries do not look like a good fit for aid and are shortchanged by potential donors.

Simultaneously educational and inspiring, Paul Collier’s book was first published in 2007. Collier has spoken at local and national forums about the importance of forming a solution to these ‘bottom billion’ people that is as complex as the problem. Spreading awareness and correcting misconceptions the general public may have about poverty is the first step in attempting to fix it. Outlining how these countries become part of the ‘bottom’ in the first place helps clarify the intricate situation that has been created and how the way to save these people must be equally intricate. The Bottom Billion can be purchased from, Barnes and Noble, or wherever books are sold.

– Kaitlin Sutherby

Sources: TED, Amazon, The Guardian, Oxford University Press, AusAID
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