Yes, everything happens for a reason. But not everything that happens to a person is the result of their own actions.
Well actually it is. Let's take the flooded river example. Now a river flooding is (maybe) not a consequence of a specific action on your behalf, but being in the vicinity, or living in the vicinity, or being born in the vicinity is due to your karma. That is the reason why not everybody was in the vicinity of the flood.
Yes, that is true. Technically, every moment of where you are is a result of your previous actions.
I guess what I meant was that there is a sort of hierarchy of relevance. Ultimately, everything is connected with everything else. But at some point (and I bet there could be a mathematical equation for this) the causes are so numerous and so far removed that their significance is hardly relevant.
For example, both of my parents served in the US Army during WW2, and they met at some sort of military social function in the early 1940's. But this would not have happened if Germany had not invaded the rest of Europe. So, you could
say that if Hitler hadn't come to power, my parents would not have met or gotten married I would not be here. But the connection is so remote it is essentially meaningless. I don't need to thank the nazis for my being able to post on Dharma Wheel.
So, when someone brings up the issue of poverty, and then somebody else brings up the point that where a person is today is the result of some past karma, okay, that karma could have been 100 lifetimes ago. It is an essentially meaningless conclusion.
Furthermore, what constitutes poverty is not necessarily wealth. In the Wonderful Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, the average per capita income is less than US$3000 per year. This doesn't mean the people are living in poverty. But poverty can mean no home, no access to drinking water, no education and no easily accessible medical care, or all of the above combined. For a person to have the "positive karma' to be born is such a place where those things exist, those things first have to exist! It doesn't matter what your karma is if a cure for your fatal disease hasn't been discovered yet. It's like saying that people born two hundred years ago had the unfortunate karma, due to past actions, of not being born when there was the internet.
Furthermore, if a person's tendency is to be generous, and as a result they acquire great wealth in a following lifetime, then with that wealth they have two options. They can continue being generous, lifetime after lifetime, which, if we hold to the principle that actions tend to become habitual, is likely the case, then over time, exponentially, enough people would give away enough wealth so that there would be no more poverty. The other option is that having been born into wealth, they become covetous and greedy, and this in turn would perpetuate exponentially until there is no more wealth anywhere. So, I think it is an illogical and impossible proposition.