Poverty is a complex phenomenon. It is defined as income often measured in terms of per capita gross domestic product (GDP). A broader definition treats poverty as multidimensional, including low income, low levels of education and health, vulnerability (to health or income loss, natural disaster, crime and violence, and education curtailment) and voicelessness and powerlessness (feeling discrimination, lacking income earning possibilities, mistreatment by state institutions, and lacking status under the law).[1]

What causes poverty? Poverty is linked to corruption, but corruption does not produce poverty. However, corruption has direct consequences on economic and governance factors, intermediaries that, in turn, create poverty. Corruption is inherently secretive and, thus, difficult to observe and measure. Corruption is defined as dishonest conduct by those in power, often relating to the misuse of public funds for private gain, including but not limited to embezzlement, nepotism, bribery, extortion, influence peddling and fraud.[2]

Popular belief suggests that corruption and poverty are closely related. When corruption increases, it impact on economic growth by reducing it and eventually increasing income equality, leading to poverty. It is also caused by systemic inequities such as gender, racial and ethnic discrimination. Economic inequality is the unequal distribution of income and opportunity between different groups in society. People are often trapped in poverty with little chance to climb the social ladder. For example, gender disparities are also present in those who experience poverty; the poverty rate for women was 10.1%, compare to the poverty rate for men of 7.6%[3]. The high cost of housing can also push households below poverty line.

Searching for a fair distribution of wealth, social justice, and good health for all has been the goal for many politicians, economists, social reformers and academic for centuries. The Shepheard-Walwyn Classics, which consist of The Corruption of Economics by Fred Harrison, Land and Taxation by Nicolaus Tideman and A Philosophy for a Fair Society by Michael Hudson, provide the answers and the means to how this goal can be reached. Each book breaks down how economic failure by the government affects economic growth and prosperity, leading to economic inequality and poverty. The Corruptions of Economics explains how the integrity of economics as a discipline was deliberately compromised. Land and Taxation brings together the classical literature on land and taxation to explain how the reform of the structure of public finance would make it possible to restore full employment without causing inflation and reduce the overall tax burden. Moreover, A Philosophy for a Fair Society investigates the roots of injustice and argues that governments will fail again unless they shake off the economic orthodoxy which is now one of the problems rather than the means to a solution.

The extent to which the Shepheard-Walwyn Classics can impact on our way of thinking about economics cannot be underestimated. In short, you will understand how economics really works. No other books will give you the same insight. Now available to purchase as an eBook trilogy, available here.

[1] Corruption and Poverty: a Review of Recent Literature. https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/Pnacw645.pdf

[2] Corruption and Poverty: a Review of Recent Literature. https://pdf.usaid.gov/pdf_docs/Pnacw645.pdf

[3] The relationship Between Poverty and Homelessness Among Older Adults. https://endhomelessness.org/blog/the-relationship-between-poverty-and-homelessness-among-older-adults/