Poor Us: An Animated History

Poor Us: An Animated History

2012, History  -   91 Comments
Ratings: 8.17/10 from 195 users.

If we want to make poverty history, we need to understand the history of poverty. A funny and sinister animated odyssey through time.

The poor may always have been with us, but attitudes towards them have changed. Beginning in the Neolithic Age, Ben Lewis's film takes us through the changing world of poverty.

You go to sleep, you dream, you become poor through the ages. And when you awake, what can you say about poverty now? There are still very poor people, to be sure, but the new poverty has more to do with inequality...

Did hunter-gatherers have poor relations? Who became poor faster than anyone else in history? And can Karl Marx make tea? But you also look at big questions: what's lifted people out of poverty and how?

Is there a formula that would work again? Is poverty an "engine of the system" and a great driver of progress - or a terrible by-product of inequality?

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6 months ago

I know of only two ways to grow the economy. 1-with cheap energy. 2-with slavery.
Since energy is getting expensive and you still here some folks strive for economic growth, then those folks must be, by elimination, PRO SLAVERY!!!!

Helena Tomé
2 years ago

When the Portuguese went to the Orient, to Muslim land, they found famine and poverty. Extreme poverty and famine. Portuguese officers helped the native populations until the king of Portugal remembered them they were there to get good commercial alliances and not to spend the small Portuguese budget in such rich reigns. Spices were paid, not robbed. In Africa the Portuguese didn't enslave people. In the West Coast of Africa slaves were carried by Muslims. Yes, many were sent to Brazil and they are still there. The Portuguese didn't rob the native populations, they were gatherers, they had nothing until gold was found. Their culture was not destroyed, so even now, many ways of life are the heritage of their and African culture. Why should they be badly treated. Your "animation" is ridicule.

Malachi Molina
3 years ago

f***ing dumb. Some great insights. Really interesting about how nations in Africa were using cowrie shells as currency but then made illegal by foreign governments. The "expert" commentators had vague nebulous bullshit to say "oh maybe it could be like this or like that". Did the producers of the film even care? Did they just want to hear their drab boring shallow ideas for themselves in an echo-chamber?

6 years ago

In other words, less govt = less poor. The socialists cultivate and fertilize them with horse manure so to have more voting for them.

6 years ago

Question the premise of everything. Rewind the scenario a bit. Suppose no one wanted those minerals in that supposedly poor country? Would that then make the poor country rich?

For sure the cause of most any problem is evil people. But who are the evil? People just trying to live a decent life and fooled into being a debt slave? Does that make for a "rich" nation, most being in debt?

Does a smart phone, computer, big screen TV, fancy car, nice house, jewelry, traffic jams, noise, stress, and all the GMO food you can eat, does that make you wealthier?

If I could move to an island where people weren't so full of themselves after being indoctrinated by govt and media. Where they leave bankers, lawyers, politicians, and union organizers hanging from a rope with a sign at the port of entry, to keep those attempting to set up their evil to a minimum. Where the people gather to decide if any misreporting of any news was intentional and the appropriate punishment. Where all reporters were only allowed to be ugly men so the public would have no problem serving swift justice to any propagandists. Where the people themselves would repair the water systems and other utilities, hire teachers for the kids, and elect a representative which amounts to a secretary to present issues, pros and cons, welcome discussion, and tally the vote along with two random people drawn from a hat. That is small govt. If it meant living by a rake and shovel in your garden, that would be good exercise. In a communist or fully socialist regime they would come take a large portion of my garden for themselves while claiming it was for the poor. Now what motive would I have to do that again next year? Now you know how the store shelves were bare in the former Soviet Union.

What brought Russia and China out of poverty? Allowing a fair bit of capitalism. What is the difference between North Korea and South Korea but capitalism.

Even with capitalism, GOVT is the problem. Without govt providing the means, most evil men could not accomplish much. For instance, the miners in the supposedly exploited poor country, if that govt wanted them to be paid more, they would, up to the point where the corporation wanting those minerals would just get them somewhere else. If not for govt, a city could not claim eminent domain and take a person's place of business and provide it to a different business they claimed would pay them more taxes (supposedly making it the greater good). Yes, that has happened in the good old usa. A Chemical or other company polluting the drinking water or rivers is allowed via govt. Govt IS the problem, not the solution.

Can you make the weather the same everywhere? No, that is out of your hands. Can you make people the same of talent, drive, cleverness, ingenuity, persistence, moral fiber, honesty, etc.? No, that is out of your hands. Then how is it that Socialists-Communists-Progressives = Collectivists, are able to fool so many into believing that nature will not react to the attempt to paying everyone the same? Mankind is part of nature and it is in their nature to not produce if the reward isn't sufficient. You could see many prime examples of this in the former Soviet globe of control. Bare store shelves. Pitifully dirty train stations. A man to dole out toilet paper at public restrooms so it wouldn't be stolen/horded. If you didn't like your lot in life, your choice was to escape via vodka or by foot if you could figure out a way to do so. You are not free to leave. Just who are you Mr. Collectivist to tell me where I must live?

How are today's people so easily fooled into Collectivism? Emotional propaganda. Emotion tends to override logic and reason, especially in those that have been schooled all their lives that way.

Gary Figgins
6 years ago

When looking at poverty in the United States, one should realize that every pocket of poverty is represented and controlled by the Democrat Party year after year. Look at Watts in California, Southside Chicago, Harlem in New York I believe this is planned.

7 years ago

How do europeans sleep at night knowing the evil that ancestors did?

8 years ago

Almost everyone in the world believes in the God of Abraham (Jews, Christians and Muslims. If people abided by the laws that God wrote in the Bible then living unselfishly would solve spiritual poverty, emotional poverty, mental poverty and physical poverty. The one force that prevents this is Satan who offers up lust so that love dies, greed so that generosity dies, pride so that humility dies, wrath so that peace dies, sloth so that diligence dies, gluttony so that equity dies, envy so that charity dies and all of these so that healthy balanced relationships die. The reason that poverty and every bad thing exists is because of your and my sin and every human's sin that have gone before us. If God's people will humble ourselves and pray and seek His face ( by listening to Him through reading his life instruction manual-- the Bible) and turn from our wicked ways then He will hear us and forgive our sins and heal our land. This applies to every believer in the God of Abraham. It's up to us to listen to God and turn from our sins..... That will help more than anything because then God will do what mankind cannot.

8 years ago

This is a awsome video it clearly shows that poverty is not the norm, poverty that we have today is poverty by design.

9 years ago

I realize that nobody pays attention to the human condition. The issue of poverty is traceable to the knowledge of right and wrong. Ever since mankind got infected, wrong knowledge accumulated and this has become the source of mankind's burden.

Ever realize why Truth is not the same as knowledge? Truth is what science is really after. People discover Truth, and it is irrefutable science.

Knowledge is power, only if what you know holds as the truth. If what you know is false, how can it empower you? Wrong knowledge will be a source of problems and that can cost you dearly.

No wonder, it shall be Truth which will set men free. Truth is liberating and can provide independence. Lies meanwhile would enslave us and eventually false knowledge leads to destruction.

9 years ago

Excellent! Very concise historical road map of poverty through the ages! Well Done super documentary for all ages!

Stephen Moss
9 years ago

So many holes in this !!!

Jennifer Thompson
9 years ago

I watched, I learned, I really really liked it! This would be an awesome video for first year social work students; it explains a whole lot in a very short video. I would use certainly use it as a teaching aid.

10 years ago

In my own opinion of course...(cheshire smiles)...the film is worth a watch; well done with the animation. I'd argue it moved through the 1st 200,000 years of 'human' history a little too quickly, and thereby missed an important story-'more' research is proposing that many hunter/gatherers were quite successful and stayed in abundant food forests for long periods of time. In addition, it seems that women of the clans/tribes were highly regarded and societies were egalitarian (more equal). Turns out the women who hunted smaller game, and gathered vegetables, roots, nuts, berries, and medicines actually provided between 50% and 80% of the communities needs, including food. Regarding poverty today I would add: 1. we have already reached 'peak' child - we are having fewer children everywhere (but our pop is very young, so the #'s will rise until 2050 and level off, then gradually decline) and further 2. the 'idea' of over population I think is relative. Consider, living close, like in Tokyo, we could fit the world's entire population into the state of Texas, in the US. 3. We are now (as in today) growing 2 times MORE food then we need in the world-in fact in developed nations (so called) we 'throw away a great deal of food. Soo - population and too many children? not an issue, there is lots of room on the planet; Food? we already grow more then enough for double our current population. Those arguments are 'smoke screens'; the real answers are a) forgive debt - everywhere - the super rich are rich enough,(and all they would lose is more $ numbers on paper) b) provide equal education and opportunities for both girls and boys, c) financially support - minimally - communities with their own solutions and ideas. d) eliminate monopolies and break up banks and companies 'too big to fail' into smaller companies who are not provided unfair tax incentives or influence over people's representatives, e) no more wars. I think sincerely that greed and lust for power, and judgementalism are the reasons for today's inequity; we will change all that when we decide what 'humanity' really means. If our planetary values include value for 'life' and quality of life, and some reasonable semblance of fairness and justice, then we can fix this, all of it, quite quickly.

Rodney Bresch
10 years ago

Scarcity is relative, and knowledge is the greatest resource. It is a resource that is exponentially being generated as well. There will be more than enough to spread around before long. The question is will we actually utilize tech for the betterment of all mankind , as we def haven't been.

Josh Christian
10 years ago

Poverty is a byproduct of false scarcity. The manipulation of humanity through the control mechanism of "money" and profit is pure evil.

All of these words, ambition, drive, skill, success, failure, shows the singular hive-minded imprinting my friends. The trained response of a human that has accepted itself as a unit of production in a system of consumption.

This is a manufactured Hyper-reality... none of it is real, it's all pointless.

I hope the moderator will post this.. as it says it all..

“We should do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. The youth of today are absolutely right in recognizing this nonsense of earning a living. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian Darwinian theory he must justify his right to exist. So we have inspectors of inspectors and people making instruments for inspectors to inspect inspectors. The true business of people should be to go back to school and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”
― Richard Buckminster Fuller

10 years ago

Poverty can and will NOT be solved. We will always have the rich and the poor; because of variations in circumstances, drive, talent, and luck. Some ppl have it all and end up "failures," while some have nothing and are "kings" in their own way. You don't need money to get things done. Some ppl with money have to pay ppl without money to do things ppl with money "normally" wouldn't and / or couldn't do. What I'm trying to say is Power is where it's at, and the rising poverty of our nation is directly related to the moral and mental status of those in power.

I believe the power to change begins by you wanting to change. One individual can influence his circle, which in turn influences another circle, and so on. But as humanity conforms its value system more and more to the values of those presently in power, then our income gaps will also get ever wider because the economic game that we play everyday turns from providing a service to all to a competition where only the best wins and everyone else can eat it.

10 years ago

What a shame. Poverty is easy to fix. Why with the application of genuine humanity and logical planning and just a touch of compassion for our fellow man we could devise economic systems and level out the standards of living common to all , organise, educate and liberate all humans form disease and ignorance.

Naturally implimenting such a system of integrity would take time. I mean humans are raised up on the maxim..."it is it too good to be true, then it isnt" . It might take a long time to condition people to favoring intelligence over manipulation.
Maybe someday, if greed, and power could be left out of the equasion for a change. But you know.... that's totally unrealilistic....

Dean Wilson
10 years ago

There are 2 issues here, poverty and income gap. In the developed nations income gap is a huge issue. Read "Spirit Level" to get a better understanding of the real impact income inequality has on societies, its huge.
I believe in capitalism and its impact on man kind over the years. However I believe it needs to be combined with a compulsory profit share for the employees. By all means reward the entrepreneur who's willing to risk it all to make a dream come true, but the grafters at the "coal face " ultimately make it happen with the systems/culture of the company. The workers need the recognition and reward they deserve.

10 years ago

If the rich get richer and the poor get poorer, than why is the population so ****** high?

10 years ago

How different might the world be if young minds watched this, instead of being fed Bronze Age Abrahamic Myths? Discussion and 'thinking' is unarguably a good thing for people to do. So why, here in the UK, and in most schools around the world, our young are indoctrinated into Christian, Jewish ir Islamic nonsense. Nonsense that keeps a very, very, few at the top...and everyone else contended just treading water, with no real hope of equality, and feathering the nests of the elite.

Whether you like this doc or not... If you berate it, I think you are kinda missing the Eleph...err, no...the Brontosaurus in the room!!!!!

Rick Barley
10 years ago

You guys sure complain a lot, I thought it was good as a basic overview although I was slightly offended by the fact that they seemed to think keynesian capitalism is the only thing that has been successful in reducing modern poverty.

Cuba has one of the lowest poverty rates in Latin America in spite of the fact that the most powerful nation in the world has been constantly trying to destroy its economy for more than half a century just to prove a point. That is a god damned miracle and absolute proof that communism works at least on some level even if you dont agree with it on the whole

Tom Chuong
10 years ago

Longest commercial on poverty- ever!

10 years ago

I grew up poor. Never knew why until I read The Creature from Jekyll Island.

10 years ago

I found this documentary to be an incredibly useful overview of the evolution of social movement through human history. The simplification along with the great animation allowed me to be drawn in to a deeper understanding of of some key factors. Done in a more poetic way that allows for fundamental truths...A way that a more detailed and "accurate" representation likely be lost on someone like me. I am going to highly recommend to my high school kids and their teacher. Seems like it would be a great starting point for discussion.

10 years ago

They missed the Golden age of the Muslims of spain and went straight to the Dark ages and so-called age of enlightenment

10 years ago

Full of cliches and imprecise. Just compare the human population in the 70's and in 2010 and compare the rates of extreme poverty and hunger there in now. The same 1 billion remains today despite humans are now 7 billion people instead of 3 billion. This reduction of hunger and poverty has benefited mostly the periphery not the rich countries.

10 years ago

the depiction of hunter gatherers is not accurate and skews the rest of this history. I suggest reading Ishmael by Daniel Quinn and the other books in series. the website is full of information too.

10 years ago

Very well presented, I feel that all a 'normal' person can do is educate themselves to the best of their abilities not just academically but socially and historically, to aim to keep away from the modern age traps of loans, gambling and living in the red. Be the very best that you can be in your career, and to your fellow man and educate your children to do the same

10 years ago

Poverty is always relative. As GDP grows, so grows GDP per capita. Unless the government is too corrupt to distribute the nation's wealth evenly across the society, no place on earth would enjoy absolute poverty.

10 years ago

@Kateye70 I think Rand had a noble idea, if not a very original one (we've seen plenty of individualistic romantic heroes before her), but she got strangely confused with details. Profit-seeking doesn't necessarily lead to high achievement as she proclaimed (nor does it automatically lead to exploitation, an opinion she attributed to opponents). I don't see yet how she could have missed the point given that some of her most negative "looter" characters were in fact underachieving egotistical profit-seekers.

Also, I read her novels - which are works of fiction for a reason - as intended exaggerations, a semi-religious satire (not of the positive rich heroes, but more of the collectivism and politics). They can and should be interpreted as metaphers, warnings, stipulations, rather than an accurate description (or prescription) of reality. Could be that she got carried off herself into believing too much of her own stories, what with the drug abuse and psychological problems. But there are grains of truth in her writing, too, for the discerning observer. Same goes for other religious texts - study them and you might find something useful, believe them and you're the utter fool.

10 years ago

I like the Doc, true it leaves a lot of stuff out. Direct and indirect causes, i dont mind because im curious and i like to listen to docs to pass the time while i work on drawings. :3

My guess is that as far as poverty goes there's many solutions. Most are just variations of borrowing time, depending on WHAT,HOW and WHY you want to do them, some ideas may be better than others.

The solution that makes the most sense to me is a mixture of many processes, which may also come with a composite set of problems. Another good option is just to simply do what you can in your lifetime and ultimately let time decide our fate.

Time, which we may or may not have. Time, the enemy of all things.

10 years ago

The reality of impoverished nations is we want them that way, its what allows our high standard of living. We like despots, they allow us to extract large amounts of resources for pennies on the dollar.

10 years ago

This "documentary" really sucks.

It hardly touches the real reasons for the poverty, and it completely leaves out the biggest reason for it - privately held money creation power.

Also this "doc" is so fragmented that it makes it very confusing. And we all know what people usually do when they are confronted with confusing things. They stop while they are trying to make sense of things at hand.

Which of course is nice for status quo.

10 years ago

Technology allows for more work done with less people... but as soon as the technology is unleashed the population goes up and up.

We need to unleash clean tech, but make a policy for population stabilization. We can have all the best tech in the world to reduce poverty, but if people are wealthy they also want to f--k like rabbits.

So, unleash the tech, implement population stabilization policies.

Pretty simple.

Paul Gloor
10 years ago

But you can save a child's future for less than the cost of a cup of coffee a day !!!
Guilt trip anyone ? The industrialized nations are consuming vastly more than the impoverished nations, and the kicker is, the big industry gets most of those resources from the impoverished nations. And thanks to privatization its beginning to happen in our own back yards.

I'm just thankful Ill be going into 2014 with nothing but recurring bills. Debts will be done with in the matter of a few months.

10 years ago

Don't want to spoil the ending, but the rich get richer, and the poor get poorer, but the presentation was cleverly done.

10 years ago

the wealthy should get a taste of poverty themselfs!!!!

10 years ago

you need the poor to create a canvas for the rich to explain their (in-)human(e) nature....
........of sociopathy.