in Being

Can The Rich Help The Poor?

Apparently there isn’t enough money in the world to address the serious problems facing the planet and its inhabitants. The serious problems identified include hunger, poverty, lack of education, disease and pollution.

This is the conclusion of Professor Bjorn Lomborg, author of ‘The Skeptical Environmentalist’ and host of the Copenhagen Consensus 2004 – a conference of leading minds (Nobel laureates included) to come up with proposals for prioritising the addressing of the world’s most serious issues. They hope the outcomes of this conference will be adopted by political policy makers who have to juggle the limited resources against need (often they make these decisions based on applause levels or media friendliness).

In any case, the general consensus seems to be that money and the political will to spend it correctly (rather than popularly) are the main push in addressing the ills of the world. In my view (uneducated but well informed and idealistic as it is) is that the world’s problems can only be solved when everyone cares just a little bit more than they do.

According to the UN statistics, a sixth of the world’s population lives in the most developed regions of the world , the rest in the less developed regions. One could get more detailed about this and find the statistics to back it up, but these are the basic implications of this statistic – a sixth of the world

– is richer;

– is healthier

– lives longer

– consumes more of the world’s resources

– is generally more secure than the rest of the world.

Would it be so impossible for the better off to take responsibility for five others from the less well off (ok – adopt a less off – if you will) and helped to educate the children, provide a basic balanced diet, help to transfer skills of production and generally take more interest in the existence of others and the larger human family. These are emergency times calling for emergency measures.

Could all those involved in the delivery of goods and services that are engaged in the struggle against global poverty (which frankly is at the root of the attendant hordes of hunger and disease) not simply work for the survival of the species by volunteering their services and products. Sure they cost something – but if no one took payment what would it matter?

Increasingly , people from all over the world are realising that we are going through unprecedented times. With the rise of multinational corporations’ scope and power, elected governments are often forced into a subordinate role to the interests of the corporation and thus its profits. People are realising that real power is theirs and are increasingly trying to wrestle back the power they relinquished to the state. The realisation that grassroots movements and people caring for other people is the only way forward.

The days of paying some money into a charity box and supporting the work of charities and NGOs with a clear conscience are numbered. NGOs and charities are fighting a losing battle. Most do a great job, are manned by dedicated and passionate people but they are overwhelmed by the scale of the humanitarian catastrophes across the world. The global development aid budget exceeds $50 billion and this is merely a dent. Throwing more money is not an option, nor would it be a viable one if it were.

There will never be enough money to fix the problems that face us as a world if we have to factor corporate profit into the budget or have to work against those whose primary business is promoting the very issues that we are working against (defence companies, arms suppliers etc – you know yourselves!). No amount of money can stop world hunger and disease (at least not for long) when huge profits and power are gained from maintaining these very same conditions.

All this may indeed be idealistic hogwash – but it is an alternative nonetheless. Once we conclude that individual care and concern and the will to help other human beings out then we would have taken a massive step to facing our global responsibilities that we each have to our collective human family.

There is not enough money in the world to absolve us of this responsibility.

What do you think?