La trampa de la pobreza

Hay pocos debates tan repetitivos –y tan rígidos en lo ideológico—como los que se refieren al crecimiento y la justicia económica. Por supuesto, el crecimiento no puede garantizar que la riqueza se distribuya de manera justa –ya no digamos equitativa. Sin embargo, es imposible concebir que la caida en el ingreso genere mayor justicia en el mundo.

Ni la intensidad de los argumentos, ni los cerros de datos sofisticados me pueden quitar la sensación de que este debate está atascado y atrofiado: atascado porque más allá de la noción de que el crecimiento es una condición necesaria pero insuficiente para reducir la pobreza, nuestras ideas al respecto han cambiado poco a lo largo de los años; atrofiado porque con frecuencia los argumentos no toman en cuenta dos factores vitales. El primero es una idea clara de cómo medir la justicia, en especial los efectos netos de disyuntivas como, digamos, el trabajo infantil, por un lado, y la muerte de inanición por el otro. El segundo elemento faltante se refiere al peso que debe darse a factores no materiales al medir la distribución de recompensas materiales tanto en los países ricos como en los pobres.

Todos estos argumentos gastados se repitieron la semana pasada durante la cumbre del G-8 en Okinawa. Para los economistas y diseñadores de política tradicionales, no fue difícil demostrar que el establecimiento y la expansión de un sistema mundial de comercio abierto y regulado crea riquezas extraordinarias. Pero tales “pruebas” hicieron poca mella en sus opositores, quienes sostienen que la globalización agrava la pobreza y la desigualdad, al tiempo que se convierte en una plaga para las comunidades y el medio ambiente.

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