The Lost Generation («Project Syndicate», USA)

NEW YORK — The economic success of a country depends on education, skills and health of its population. When her youth healthy and well-educated, you may find a lucrative job, earn respect and succeed in adapting to changes in the global labor market. Business invests more when it knows that its employees will be productive. But many societies around the world can not cope with the task of providing the basic elements of health and a decent education for every generation of children.

Why do so many countries can not cope with the task of providing adequate education? Some are simply too poor and can not afford good schools. Sometimes the parents do not have enough education, which is why they are unable to help their children after the 1-2 grade school, resulting in illiteracy are passed from one generation to the next. The situation is most difficult in large families (say, 6-7 children), because parents invest little in health, nutrition and education of each of their child.

But rich countries are suffering in this failure. United States, for example, relentlessly allow their children to suffer the poorest families. Poor people living in poor areas with poor schools. Parents of such children are often unemployed, ill, divorced, or are in prison. Children caught in a cycle of poverty that exists generations, despite the general welfare of society. Very often the children that grew in poverty and remain poor as adults.

In a nice new documentary "The House I Live» (The House I Live In) shows that the history of America is even more sad and cruel because of its disastrous policies. About 40 years ago, American policy declared "war on drugs", ostensibly to control the use of drugs such as cocaine. As is clearly shown by this film, the war on drugs has become a war on the poor, especially poor minority representatives.

The war on drugs has led to the mass incarceration of young people from among ethnic minorities. In the U.S., now in custody is 2.3 million people at any one time, most of them — poor people who have been arrested for selling drugs from his own addiction. As a result, the United States reached the first places in the world in the number of prisoners — 743 persons per 100 thousand people!

The film depicts a nightmarish world in which poverty is transmitted from one generation to the next, with the cruel, costly and ineffective "war on drugs" has only facilitates this process. Poor people, most of them — black Americans can not find work or return from military service without the skills or contacts on employment. They fall into poverty and begin to use drugs.

Instead of receiving social and medical assistance are arrested and turned into felons. Since that time they have become regular "customers" the prison system and have almost no opportunity to get a legal job that would allow them to escape from poverty. Their children grow up without a parent in the home — and without hope and support. Children of addicts often become addicts themselves: they are also often, in turn, are in prison, or abused, or they will die prematurely.

Strange thing is that (40 years ago), the U.S. lost and continue to lose sight of the obvious important thing. To break the vicious circle of poverty, the country needs to invest in the future of their children, rather than in the detention of 2.3 million people every year, many of whom have been convicted of non-violent crimes, which are the symptoms of poverty.

Many politicians are ardent supporters of this insanity. They play on the fears of the middle class, especially the fear of the middle class to national minorities to maintain this erroneous direction of social effort and public funds.

The main thing here is that governments play a unique role in ensuring that all members of the younger generation (children of the poor, like the rich) had the chance. Poor baby will hardly be able to escape from poverty of their parents without strong and effective government programs to support high-quality education, health care and good nutrition.

This is a brilliant idea of "social democracy" — philosophy, which pioneers are the Nordic countries, but which is also used in many developing countries, such as Costa Rica. The idea is simple and powerful: all people deserve a chance, and society must help everyone realize it. The most important thing — to help families so they can raise healthy, fully nourished and educated children. Social investments are large, financed by high taxes that rich people, by the way, pay, not shying away from them.

This is the main way to deal with the transfer of intergenerational poverty. The poor child in Sweden from the very beginning there are advantages. His parents have guaranteed leave in connection with the birth of the child (both mother and father) in order to enable them to take better care of the baby. The government then provides high-quality child care centers, allowing the mother (who knows her child is in a safe place) to go back to work. Government ensures that all children in preschool, to six years to be ready for the official study. A health system is a single child to grow up healthy.

Thus, the comparison of the U.S., and revealing. We present comparable data and definitions provided Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development: Poverty in the United States is 17.3%, which is about twice the level of poverty in Sweden (8.4%). A proportion of prisoners in the United States exceeds that of Sweden (70 people per 100,000 population) of 10. United States, on average, richer than Sweden, but the income gap between the richest and poorest Americans is much higher than in Sweden. But the United States, instead of helping their poor, punishing them.

One of the shocking events of recent years is that America has almost the lowest level of social mobility among high-income countries. Children born poor are likely to remain poor, and children born in rich families, are likely to be rich when they grow up.

This dependence between generations leads to a huge loss of human talent. America paid for it in the long run if you do not change course. Investing in children and young people brings the highest dividends, which can get any society — both in economic and human terms.

Jeffrey Sachs — director of the UN Millennium Project from 2002 to 2006., A professor at Columbia University and director of its Institute of the Earth, a special adviser to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Author of books, including "The End of Poverty: Economic opportunities of our time" and "Commonwealth: Economics for a crowded planet"

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