Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Gold and Poverty in Third World Nations

Well, I'm taking some time out of site updates and rewriting copy to get a blog posting off before I forget! Twitter has me doing things very fast and short, so maybe I'll just be to the point!

National Geographic published a piece about gold and gold prospecting in their January issue. In case you didn't see it, it's the one with the lady's face on the front that is covered in gold leaf. Needless to say, the author attempted to paint a dismal picture of gold and its' extraction, and to be sure, there isn't any among use who would encourage Africa's continued use of mercury by their small miners, but the story about Newmont was certainly not all told.

However, there was one point that was made concerning the mining of gold by the small miners in all third world countries. Without gold prospecting and recovery, many of these people would have no other way to support themselves, and even if a child bruises their hands while digging, they are willing to do it so that they can go to school and better themsleves. Without the world needing and wanting gold, these people would either starve or have to go to some overpoplulated urban area and abandon their ways of life outside the cities. Certainly a new gold strike will bring in too many people and make conditions worse for everyone, but one man's vice is another man's bread. If India did not cling to their way of life and demand the amount of gold jewelry that they do, many others would have no life at all. How would you support the thousands who support themselves now if gold was not important in the world. Would it be better that we have even more people doing without?

I read another good analogy last week by a journalist who had some time on their hands while reporting on the conditions in a third world country and what the sweat shops mean to them. By standards in the U.S., the conditions were apalling, however in this country and many like it, the chance to have one of these so called sweat shop jobs, even by the very young, is a way out of a type of poverty we in the U.S can only imagine. (And quite frankly, I think we cannot imagine it)Think of having to dig through piles of garbage to find enough food, only to be killed by a trash truck when you got too close to its' wheels. I think I would rather work 18 hours a day than do that, and most of them would, too. The gold miners of the third world certainly would rather eke out their own exsistance in the mines and placers of the world, and keep some semblance of freedom for themselves. Placing our standards on a country that has no fast food restaurants and expecting those countries to pay our minimum wages is ridiculous. Those jobs afford whole generations of a family to live much better than they would without it. I don't think there are many people in the U.S. that support three or more generations with one job. If we did not need and want more than we should, others would have no way to make a living at all.
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