Can the rich afford aid?

In chapter 15 of Jeffrey Sachs’ The End of Poverty, Sachs addresses one of the most pressing questions that presents itself while addressing global poverty and it’s potential solutions. Aid is needed, so who will give the aid? The people who have the money. But if the people who have money give it away, then they will no longer have money to keep spending back into the global economy and making more money. Does that mean that the rich will then become the poor? Does it mean that the wealth will be smoothly spread throughout the global economy to where no one faction has more economical pull? If there is equal disbursements, who will be able to provide aid when there is struggle?

The questions are never ending.

In a poll conducted by http://www.debate.org the clear lack of definitive answers became present, even at the level of just everyday people giving their opinions. When asked, “Should developed countries help poor, third world nations without expecting debt repayment?” there was an exact 50/50 split of “yes” and “no” answers.

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The “Yes-es”

-Offering help to third world countries that are in a poor state in the morally correct thing to do. I also believe it’s appropriate because when they are more financially viable, they are more likely to buy and trade goods which benefits the supporters economy as well.

 The state of the third world or developing countries is a result of their past relationship with the exploiting capitalist countries who capitalized on their weaponry to cheat humiliate and degrade their society by colonization and the struggle to dominate and plant their ways of life on them in the name of modernization

-It is ridiculous that developing countries with starving children have to payback loans to developed countries! It is a global, political monopoly exploiting people. We are one world and we should start behaving like that. In addition, first world countries OWE third world countries not only because of colonialism but in the modern day, many super-chains like Tesco and Walmart obtain their goods from 3rd world countries and if that stopped,the 1st world economy would collapse!

The “No-s”

-The fact of the matter is that the charity money goes into the pockets of the wealthy people, the people in charge of the country, and it is in their interest for the poverty of the country to continue. Another major problem with charity is that if we give resources such as food or wheat to the citizens free of charge, then we prevent their farmers from having any opportunity to sell their wares for a reasonable price, therefore ultimately having a negative effect on the countries overall economic status, as not only the poor would have access to free supplies, but so would the rich and upper-middle class. Unless we know for sure, that our ‘aid’ is actually helping these countries, then our ‘charity’ is really, not charity at all.

-I don’t think we should be throwing our hard earned money away. Take Africa for example: they have tons of gold and diamonds and they’re not a thriving continent because the government is corrupt and doesn’t spread the wealth where it is needed. When we throw money away to places like that the money doesn’t go to aid it goes to the corrupt leaders. Canada is having enough financial problems. We can hardly take care of ourselves, yet they are shipping millions if not billions of dollars by the boat load to third world countries.

-Developed countries should not simply hand money over to third world countries, as this gives no incentive to develop responsible government or fiscal policies. If a third world country knows it must make payments back, then there is more incentive to use the money in responsible revenue-generating development projects, as opposed to military spending or prestige projects (e.g. palaces, statues) for the current government.

In the introduction of chapter 15, Sachs outlines that he is not talking about ALL poverty being ended, but more importantly, EXTREME POVERTY being ended. He assures that there are five simple steps in making this goal a reality, and that all steps are “modest.” Really, they just boil down to taxing the rich in efforts to distribute wealth more evenly. He makes an example of the 1%, saying that the rich being only one percent of the population will ensure that the effects taken on the general population by these taxes will be minimal. In my opinion, that is silly, simply because fewer people will be directly affected by being taxed does not change the amount of money that is being affected by the tax.

Here is how Sachs lays out the numbers and attempts to explain his system:

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Here we can see the actual poverty rates of Nigeria, and they are indeed declining:

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Clearly, aid is the answer. I do not think aid through taxation is the answer though. I think that aid and charity should be voluntary and a conscious choice to help out fellow human beings. I believe in free will, and taking someone’s money away from them is just as bad as watching someone need money and not giving them your extra.

One other bone that I have to pick with Sachs (even though I appreciate his optimism), is that he writes off a truth as a myth. He states that one of the biggest myths regarding Africa and poverty is that ” Aid Programs Would Fail In Africa.” I do not see this as a myth, because for the most part, aid programs have indeed failed in Africa.

To go in a productive direction, I think that being global is important. As one commenter stated on debate.org:

” we have drawn borders between and within countries, and these borders have created special loyalties. But the more important commitment is to the human race whether in the USA or Nigeria or Cambodia or elsewhere. That’s not a call for complete equality, but it does call for our help.”

One human race, one world.

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