Hearts and Minds’ New Platform
How we can help millions of people – and ourselves
This new Platform is designed to be the world’s most ambitious and achievable plan to help end extreme global poverty much more effectively.
Hearts and Minds® advocates getting to the roots of a massively unfair global economic system. We also support more effective aid and social entrepreneurship innovations.
We realize this is a tough challenge in the current political climate. So were slavery, child labor, civil rights and other issues.
Obstacles include powerful special interests that profit from business as usual. Our funding is independent of that.
We’re empowering people like you to support badly needed reforms.
We strongly agree that:
The politicians do not lead, they follow. It’s the people who lead.
- Jeffrey Sachs
We the people can support the best policies and programs. We can do this by educating ourselves, contacting the media and our elected representatives.
As we educate, motivate and organize activists, we can successfully advocate big changes.
Based on innovative ideas from numerous experts in the field, Hearts and Minds® advocates methods to help millions more people.
When we achieve even one percent of what we advocate, this will redirect $30 billion every year to help the world’s poorest lift themselves from poverty. That will be equal to and more effective than the United States’ entire economic assistance foreign aid.
The world has the resources and proven techniques to help millions more people lift themselves from extreme poverty.
We’ve done it before
After World War II, enlightened aid and trade policies helped impoverished Europe, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan join us in growing prosperity.
Here’s specific injustices and how we can fix them:
Tax Avoidance and Corruption
Trade Mispricing and Misinvoicing
Companies intentionally declare different prices in their invoices and other documents to evade taxes, dodge capital controls, illicitly transfer and launder money.
According to Global Financial Integrity, the annual value gap in reported trade between underdeveloped and developed nations was $817.6 billion. The ten year total was $8.7 trillion.1
These are cities, states and nations with very low or non-existent taxes. Criminals and kleptocrats can evade taxes and hide their corrupt wealth in secrecy.
Tax havens hurt economic health and justice even in the wealthiest nations. And it harms the world’s poorest the most. With an already small tax base, underdeveloped countries can’t collect the funds needed for social investment in infrastructure, health and education.
The Tax Justice Network2 estimates that $21 to $32 trillion is hidden in tax havens. They estimate $427 billion of taxes is lost to tax havens every year. Due to secrecy it is hard to provide a precise number, so estimates vary.
To fight massive corruption, we advocate:
- Stronger measures to prevent, find and claw back trade mispricing and misinvoicing, corrupt money transfers, money laundering and other abusive practices.
- Expanding international sharing of information on trade, financial transactions and law enforcement.
- Strengthening law enforcement capacities of customs authorities.
- Increasing oversight of free trade zones.
- Strengthening national and international judicial institutions to more effectively prosecute financial crimes.
- International standardization of laws, large penalties for violations, and cooperation on enforcement.
- Expanding government oversight of banks and international corporations. Requiring rigorous audits with automatic, international exchange of financial information.
- Closing down tax havens and secrecy jurisdictions, denying them participation in SWIFT3, trade privileges, foreign aid, visas and more. Adopting sanctions and other restrictive measures on evasive governments, companies and Individuals.
- Prohibiting anonymous and shell companies.
- Strong penalties for bankers and accountants who facilitate illicit outflows.
- A higher global minimum tax on corporate income that will end incentives for corporations to evade their fair share of taxes.
- Public awareness and pressure campaigns to increase fiscal responsibility of corporations.
Fair Share of Resources
Intellectual Property Rights (IPR)
Research and development (R&D) can be costly. IPR gives a profit motive to create valuable products.
The problem is that current rules keep economic-development technologies, more productive food crops, and even lifesaving drugs in private hands for many years, even in emergencies.
To participate in trade and aid programs, underdeveloped countries have to enforce rich nations’ IPR.
An example of IPR abuse, Big Pharma corporations can charge extortionate prices, even when much of the R&D was paid for by the government and windfall profits already taken.
Developing nations can manufacture life-saving medications at a fraction of the price pharmaceutical corporations charge.
For example, AIDS drugs and COVID vaccines could have saved millions more lives. Under IPR rules, a company raised the price of an AIDS drug to $750 per pill. It cost $1 to manufacture.4
As Hearts and Minds works to inform them, the American people can oppose their taxes subsidizing excessive profiteering at the cost of so many lives.
In addition, many underdeveloped countries suffer biopiracy. Corporations can legally patent traditional medicines and techniques for their own profit. None of the benefit goes to the peoples who first discovered and developed them.
- More flexible intellectual property agreements. Comprehensive upgrade of an IPR Fair Use Doctrine.
- Sliding scale application of IPR considering social and humanitarian needs.
- Progressive taxation based on profit margins of IPR goods.
- Publicizing where wealthy companies place massive profits over people. Pressuring them to sell life saving products at affordable prices.
- Providing incentives for companies and nonprofits to create and market a wide range of new, innovative, cost-effective products and services that help the poor.
Resource and land grabs
Since colonial times, billions of people have been forced into persistent poverty. Their land was taken with little or no payment. Resources are stolen for environmentally destructive mining, industries and factory farming.
Massive grabs are sometimes easy to see. Resources are also stolen quietly and gradually.
Land grabs include farms and urban land. Millions of the world’s poorest have no official title to their land, even though their families lived there for centuries. Corrupt officials sell this land for their own profit.
Land larger than Western Europe was grabbed from developing countries by rich-country corporations in a single decade.5
Resource grabs include minerals, timber, water. Corrupt officials sell their nations’ valuable resources at bargain prices in exchange for bribes that support their kleptocratic rule.
To stop land and resource grabs, we advocate consistent measures to control land speculation:
- Better laws and legal representation for individuals and communities to protect and restore land rights.
- Rigorous oversight of businesses that buy or lease land in underdeveloped areas.
- Future value estimation of resource and land transfers with contractual obligations: Ownership and permanent royalty payments to displaced individuals and communities.
Climate Change and the Environment
We are stealing the future, selling it in the present, and calling it GDP.
–Paul Hawken, American environmentalist
Rich nations cause far more pollution and climate change. But the world’s poor suffer far more from the environmental degradation, loss of habitat, food shortages, drought and displacement.
We advocate the United States works with other nations and world organizations for:
- Massive, coordinated international efforts to curb pollution and stop climate change.
- Targeted, accountable programs to foster food security, access to clean energy, prevention of and compensation for displacement.
For the world’s poorest, health may be their only asset.
In underdeveloped areas, lack of basic health protection and even simple ailments cause a vicious cycle of poverty. This can be prevented at surprisingly low cost, but impoverished nations can’t afford this.
This injustice feeds pandemics that threaten our health, too.
- Providing universal health care as a basic human right.
- Adjusting intellectual property rights so effective prevention and treatments are affordable for millions more people.
Wealthy nations use economic and political power to bully poor nations into unfair trade rules. Rich countries dump subsidized goods while denying poor nations fair access to our markets.
This costs poor nations an estimated $500 billion a year.6
Corporations can quickly move their manufacturing to nations with the lowest labor costs and the fewest protections for workers and the environment. This creates a race to the bottom.
- Reforming unequal trade laws and international trade agreements. Supporting decent working conditions, higher minimum wages, better labor and environmental protections worldwide.
- Reducing rich nations’ anti-competitive domestic subsidies and trade barriers. Workers and farmers worldwide can then compete fairly. American consumers will pay less.
Unfair Loans and Structural Adjustment
There are two ways to conquer and enslave a nation. One is by the sword. The other is by debt.
– John Adams
Massive loans were made decades ago, often to corrupt dictators, with unfair conditions, or for inefficient programs we required them to fund. Many loans are paid back many times over.
Poor countries pay rich ones about $600 billion in debt service7 every year. Much of this goes to the Western creditors – a direct cash transfer from the world’s poorest to big banks in New York and London.
Structural-adjustment programs, imposed as a condition for foreign aid and loans, force very poor nations to sharply cut spending on education, health, infrastructure and economic development.
The wealthy nations used these same social investments to become rich. Now they’re kicking away the ladder.
Similar “shock therapy” was imposed on Russia and other post-Communist states. The result was lower life expectancy, rising economic inequality and poverty. This helped Putin take power in Russia.
- Debt relief so poor nations can spend their money on development instead of billions of dollars of interest payments on old loans.
- An end to structural adjustment shock therapy.
In 1970, the world’s wealthy nations promised to give 0.7 percent of their national income as foreign aid. They’ve renewed this commitment many times since. The USA and most nations fell far short every year since.8
Decades later, the United States still only gives 0.18 to 0.23 percent of its GNI (gross national income). That’s less than a third of what we promised. The US spends 20 times more on its military.
The aid we give often never helps those who need it most. For example, over half our foreign aid goes for political and military strategic interests, not poverty relief.
Even economic assistance funds often do more for domestic corporate special interests than for impoverished people. Billions of dollars are also lost in bureaucratic waste and corruption.
Wise giving and effective legislation can create and fund targeted, well monitored, comprehensive programs with strong incentives for honest and efficient management.
- Give more. The world’s richest nations should each give 1.5 percent – just a penny and a half for each dollar – of their GNI to the most effective programs.
- Work directly. More aid directly to the people who need it most. bypassing special interests and corruption. Poor people have strong motivations to ensure accountability and fairness.
- Direct cash transfers to the world’s poorest communities and families. They can choose what best meets their needs, including inexpensive water filters to prevent disease, anti-malaria bed nets, drip irrigation, solar stoves and other products that make excellent use of scarce resources. Cell phones can be used for secure banking and transactions.
- A larger Peace Corps. An inspiring marketing campaign and financial incentives can recruit 300,000 volunteers from the USA. This is less than 0.1 percent of our population. They will help prevent military crises and cost a fraction of deploying troops.
- In less secure areas: Technology and mass media can still work. Cell phones, already widespread, can increase transparency for corruption-free distribution of aid. This includes publishing how much money reaches each village and neighborhood.
- Incentives for effectiveness help motivate donors, aid workers, and those who receive the aid. Aid should be conditional on host nations’ cooperation and transparency.
This would bring over $500 billion more a year to help hundreds of millions of people lift themselves from extreme poverty.
The USA previously, successfully spent 1.5 percent of its GNI for the Marshall Plan. This helped a devastated Western Europe escape poverty after World War II. We would never have succeeded with a much smaller percentage or private donations.
The world’s poorest often lack opportunities for education, but studies show they make wise decisions – as if their lives depended on it – as it sometimes does. They often know better than bureaucracies half a world away. Local feedback helps improve aid.
Peace Corps volunteers can be trained to help create and monitor a wide range of effective programs. Empowering local people, they can help make sure aid programs reach those in need.
Volunteers also foster international understanding by communicating with others about their experience.
They will work only where their safety is assured.
Additional resources can go to the most effective individuals and organizations, as evaluated by the aid recipients themselves and confirmed by impartial third parties.
More reforms in rich-nation policies
- End wasteful ethanol from corn programs. They raise food prices for us and the world’s poorest people. It also uses more fossil fuel energy than it produces.
- Low-fee remittances. Make it easier for immigrants in rich nations to send funds to their families in developing nations. This goes directly to those in need. Despite expenses and obstacles, remittances worldwide to low- and middle-income nations is already $540 billion a year.9 In comparison, total global ODA foreign aid is $165 billion a year.10 For larger transfers, precautions can be taken to prevent money laundering.
Developing nations can simplify property laws and make their court systems more accountable, monitored by unbiased third parties. Good legal infrastructure and secure personal property were major factors in rich nations’ economic success.
- Homesteading programs. Give the poor full, verified, legal ownership of land and homes on government or unused land, except for environmentally sensitive areas. They can then get loans to build businesses, often in neighborhoods where it’s needed most.
- Stop weapons reaching ruthless warlords and terrorists. This must include internationally enforced criminal penalties for those who sell illicit arms, even when indirectly through other nations.
- Protect the environment, including incentives for more sustainable practices.
- Protect children from exploitation and slavery. Support their health, nutrition, and education. This prevents greater expenditures later for rehabilitation, unemployment or imprisonment.
- Family incentives. Pay parents when they bring their children for routine health care and again when they keep their children in school. This is proven to work.
- Empower women. In many cultures, they are overworked and neglected. Choose programs that deliver aid directly to women, empowering them for greater control over their lives.
Big changes in poor nations, offering them advice and incentives for empowering policy changes
Provide access to clean water, electricity, sanitation, jobs and public transportation.
High-impact direct service
- Build essential infrastructure including roads, ports, electrification, and communications. Use technology to make cash flows fully transparent.
- Social entrepreneurship. Innovative programs that make a huge difference at remarkably low cost.
- Sustainable food. Provide emergency food when needed, but also help people raise their own crops and earn a decent living. Increase aid for farmers to learn and implement much more productive and sustainable farming that minimizes poisonous chemicals.
- Basic health can target illnesses that hurt the most people and are least expensive to prevent and cure. This includes routine immunizations, deworming pills, anti-malaria bed nets, vitamin supplements and oral rehydration packets. These already prevent millions of deaths per year.
- Sexual and reproductive health education and services.
- Safe drinking water and sanitation.
- Cultural programs provide more than just jobs. They encourage arts and traditional crafts in developing nations. Cultural exchanges build a market for these crafts.
High-tech, centralized hospitals focused on expensive cures are valuable. But when budgets are limited, local clinics are far more cost-effective . They save many more lives.
Art helps people find hope, inspiration and pride in their communities and cultures. For example, murals on buildings are linked to reduced crime.
People all over the world can better understand each other through art that communicates the importance of social justice, tolerance, peace and sustainability.
These low-cost methods already help millions of people lift themselves from poverty. We strongly urge all the world’s wealthiest nations to support these programs.
Call to Action
“The arc of history bends toward justice,” Martin Luther King Jr once said. But it won’t bend on its own.
–Jason Hickel, The Divide
By one documented estimate, the global system costs the world’s poorest nations and people a net $3 trillion.11 Every year.
When we can redirect even 1% of that total, there will be $30 billion more every year for the world’s poorest to lift themselves out of poverty. That’s more than the entire United States overseas economic assistance budget was in 2020.
And Hearts and Minds will keep working for even larger changes.
Reforming huge injustices is a very cost-effective way to help create a more sustainable, just, democratic, peaceful and beautiful world for us and our children.
The main thing missing is the political will. Here’s where you come in!
Even a few minutes of your time can make a difference. Join the Campaign!
- According to Global Financial Integrity, the value gap in reported trade between 135 underdeveloped and 36 developed countries in 2017 was $817.6 billion. The total from 2008-2017 was $8.7 trillion.
- Tax Justice Network.
- SWIFT is The Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication, a Belgian cooperative society providing services for financial transactions and payments between banks worldwide. It is the main network for initiating international payments.
- Fred Pearce, The Land Grabbers, 2012.
- University of Massachusetts,Robert Pollin
- World Bank International Debt Statistics: In 2018, the debt stock of developing countries rose to $7.8 trillion
- OECD, UN and ForeignAssistance.gov.
- World Bank: “Officially recorded remittance flows to low- and middle-income countries reached $540 billion in 2020.”
- Global Affairs Review: In 2018 total ODA from all the wealthy nations surpassed $165 billion.
- Jason Hickel, The Divide. Hearts and Minds is doing further research to evaluate, confirm and update his statistics.