Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Criticisms of the Global Poverty Act

This "anonymous" comment just popped up on a very old post of mine about the Global Poverty Act. Since there is likely to be a lot of debate and misconceptions about this legislation this year, I thought the dialogue was worth bringing up to the front....
"Why would you want American citizens to be taxed more in order to give money to the UN, who then will steal as much as possible and give the rest to nations who will steal some more, then give the remainder to people who hate us in the first place? This "act" and people like yourself who support such nonsense are what is wrong with this country today."- anonymous

Here's my reply...
"I'm always amazed at how free "anonymous" is to be rude and accusatory in tone!

Anonymous, I suggest you read the post again and perhaps read the actual Global Poverty Act. Neither one actually mentions a tax. That would be a subject of another post. But to address some of your other concerns...

The UN and the World Bank and other institutions are, no doubt, imperfect organizations. But that does not excuse us from participating in the effort to save millions of innocents from dying.

History has shown we've been unable to eradicate extreme poverty (which kills more people than wars, tsunamis, cyclones and earthquakes) with just charity groups and individuals. The problems are simply too complex and, in many cases, political. To characterize this bill as a "tax" is not only inaccurate, but also ignoring the bigger picture of getting our country to work with others. The GPA would require us to have a plan and to optimize the way our existing federal orgs do development work. We need to have the federal government involved to help facilitate the good work that fed programs, individuals, charities and corporations already do.

Why would we want this? Here are a few out of many reasons:

-We harm so many impoverished nations with our own policies (farm subsidies, for example), it is only logical that we work to undo or mitigate the damage we ourselves cause.

- Failing governments with citizens in extreme poverty cultivate desperation and resentment... which creates a breeding ground for organizations who would resent a wealthy, consumer culture like ours. There are plenty of people who don't "hate" us, but harmful economic policies and lack of cooperation with the rest of the world could certainly push them over to that viewpoint.

-As far as helping people who hate the millions of children under 5 who die from easily preventable and treatable diseases deserve our apathy? If you had a starving child suffering from malaria, I would want to help you even if you were not fond of me.

Anyway, if I were to make an accusation about what is "wrong" with this country, I would not point at you...someone I don't even know. I would say it is policies like the US Farm Bill that keep farmers in developing nations into extreme poverty while oppressing our own farmers and rural families of modest means. That is something wrong with our country that we can fix.

Thank you for adding to the conversation about ending poverty. It's a conversation this nation desperately needs to have."


Mike said...

As someone who spends far too much time online, I can tell you when people are anonymous, it's almost always because they're going to be boorish.
As to the rest, your blog goes on my list of things to read regularly. Far too little time is spent on Poverty and its extinction online, and I appreciate reading your work.

CCYL said...

Thanks, Mike. I appreciate your insight!