“The poverty of our century is unlike that of any other. It is not, as poverty was before, the result of natural scarcity, but of a set of priorities imposed upon the rest of the world by the rich. Consequently, the modern poor are not pitied…but written off as trash.” – John Berger
There is a Conservative concensus that says a Liberal is merely out to steal from those who work the hardest, to subsidise the laziness of those who don’t.
When a person is starving to death, and we have the food to feed that person, nothing else matters. Business does not matter. Men in suits at the Wharf in London do not matter. Money does not matter. Debate does not matter. Profit does not matter. Religion does not matter. Keeping that person fed and alive is what matters.
The moral vacuum that is poverty is not a question of free markets or economics. It should never be that question. The fact remains for me, and for many like me, that if we can take a portion of a rich mans wealth, to feed a starving child, there is no moral out come superior to doing just that. It is not stealing. There is merely no term in the English language, that can describe it, other than completely necessary.
If it upsets you that you might be a few pounds or dollars short this month, or this year, then perhaps you should take a moment to look at the the Unicef stats published in 2005, that say the USA has a Child poverty rate of over 20%. How wrong the Free Marketeers really are, when they say that wealth creation is the single most important aspect of ending poverty becomes evident when you look at these figures. And it isn’t because people are lazy. It’s because those in poverty are stuck in a cycle that cannot be broken.
The UK, under the Labour government, pledged to cut child poverty. Since 1997, the Child Poverty rate in the UK has dropped significantly, due to ‘Socialist’ acts like The Minimum Wage and Education Maintenance Allowance, but is still one of the higest in developed nations. 15.4% of the child population in 2005 in the UK was in Poverty. This was much much higher during the Conservative Government who continually preached the moral virtues of the free market.
The U.S has an above 20% rate of Child Povert. According to United Nations University, 2% of the the population of the adult World, owns more than 50% of the wealth. The riches 10% of the population, owns more than 80% of the wealth of the World. Is this truly the fairest way to distribute Wealth across the World, as Free marketeers would have me believe? Does it not make sense to give some of that to those who cannot afford to live, first before massive profit is allowed to take place?
Again, if it upsets you that you might be taxed a bit harder, to pay for a better life for those who need it the most, perhaps you should be questioning exactly what date in history, compassion was lost.
“Solving the world AIDS crisis will require something that governments, international lending institutions and multinational companies often lack: compassion and the ability to see beyond profit. ” – Tamara Straus
We cannot possibly emphasise the mistreatment of the word ‘Freedom’ in the debate about Poverty. ‘Freedom’ is the most misleading word in recent history. ‘Freedom’ has come to mean the right to profit at the expense of others, as in the case of the Pharmaceutical company ‘Pfizer’, who when hearing about the news that Cholera had broken out across Kano in 1996, decided to use the children suffering, as drug testers for their new Cholera drugs, even though the parents of those children were never informed that the drugs had not been tested. The results were devastating. The same drug, was never tested in America. They waited until a developing Nation was in trouble.
‘Freedom’ has also come to mean ‘America’. Iraq was accused of hating the freedom of America, by George Bush in 2002, and ever since. Perhaps he was referring to the Freedom of Defence contractors, who netted a hefty $647bn in 2007 and 2008, because he surely cannot be referring to the plight of the 655,000 innocent dead Iraqis that the Washington Post reported, back in 2006. Not to mention the families of those 655,000 whose lives are now destroyed. ‘Freedom’ is a very ugly word.
A Nation should not be judged ‘developed’ on the richest in society. A Nation should be judged by how many people it has forgotten and left to rot.
Pro-Capitalism defenders seem to be unable to understand that when a system they claim to be a World Wide success, has left 90% of the population of the adult World with less than 20% of the Wealth of the World to distribute between them, the system has not worked, it hasn’t even slightly worked. It’s a disgustingly huge failure of catastrophic proportion.
Conservatism, tells us that it’s just the way the World works. That you cannot feed the World by giving money. That there is little we can do about it. We’ve almost come to accept it. Even I, who has a deep passion for ending poverty, cannot fully comprehend the evil of Poverty, whilst i’m sitting comfortably in my chair sipping a glass of orange juice. It seems a World away, and so not as important as perhaps it should be. It doesn’t figure highly in most peoples assumption, often flawed assumption, of what is important. Why should we accept that it’s the way the World works? Why shouldn’t there be those who wish to change it for the better?
If I were in control of the economy, I would add a company charity tax to expensive products. So for example, a brand new Yacht, which costs for example £400,000, would have an extra £100,000 added to it, which would subsequently be put into a Poverty Fund. New £1000 HDTVs would suddenly cost an extra £500. If you have this great wealth, and you feel robbed whenever the government takes a few extra pounds off of you, you will be charged extra for such great luxury, a brand new luxury goods tax, for the most expensive of luxury goods.
In 1994, the picture you see on the right, won the Pulitzer prize. It was taken by a Photographer named Kevin Carter. After taking the photo of a child crawling, unable to stand, to a UN Food Camp over 1km away whilst a vulture waits for the child to die, Carter walked away. He did not help the child. A few months later, Carter committed suicide. His suicide note read…. “I am haunted by the vivid memories of killings & corpses & anger & pain … of starving or wounded children, of trigger-happy madmen, often police, of killer executioners…“. This is the reality of a policy geared toward making the rich richer, whilst the poor are reduced to rats in the street. It can never be right to let it happen, under the moral assumption that it is much more unfair to see a businessman lose a little bit of his million dollar fortune to help those who need it most.
Morally, I cannot accept the position that it is much fairer to allow a CEO who already owns two yahts and a holiday home in Spain to gain more, than it is to take a portion of his wealth and give it to those who will die without it. There is something fundamentally wrong with Humanity and our sense of compassion, when it is widely accepted that the rich have the right to profit more, whilst the poor only have the right to an undignified, horrible death.