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This Week’s Action: The holiday season and the end of the year is a busy time for many of us, but it is also a good opportunity to keep in mind the plight of our brothers and sisters in Haiti and other countries for whom survival is a daily struggle. An article in Sunday’s New York Times Magazine: What Should a Billionaire Give, and What Should You? provides us ample food for thought, in far less than 30 minutes. The article, written by Peter Singer, a professor of bioethics at Princeton, explores the relationships between the abundance in powerful countries and the poverty of countries like Haiti- how our comfort is linked to others’ discomfort, but more importantly, how wealthy countries could eliminate the worst forms of world poverty without making any real sacrifices.
The article’s final paragraph is below, but please take the time to read the whole thing.
“For more than 30 years, I’ve been reading, writing and teaching about the ethical issue posed by the juxtaposition, on our planet, of great abundance and life-threatening poverty. Yet it was not until, in preparing this article, I calculated how much America’s Top 10 percent of income earners actually make that I fully understood how easy it would be for the world’s rich to eliminate, or virtually eliminate, global poverty. (It has actually become much easier over the last 30 years, as the rich have grown significantly richer.) I found the result astonishing. I double-checked the figures and asked a research assistant to check them as well. But they were right. Measured against our capacity, the Millennium Development Goals are indecently, shockingly modest. If we fail to achieve them — as on present indications we well might — we have no excuses. The target we should be setting for ourselves is not halving the proportion of people living in extreme poverty, and without enough to eat, but ensuring that no one, or virtually no one, needs to live in such degrading conditions. That is a worthy goal, and it is well within our reach.”
For more information about the Half-Hour for Haiti Program, the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, or human rights in Haiti, see www.HaitiJustice.org. To receive Half-Hour for Haiti Action Alerts once per week, send an email to HalfHour4Haiti@ijdh.org.