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Rich Nations and Their Responsibilities Toward Poor Nations The intense magnitude of the world’s poor creates an abundance of issues as well as different ideas as to how to address them. Due to the sheer magnitude, relieving or eradicating global poverty entirely would come with great sacrifices and a massive amount of persistence for all those who make it their mission. There are many ways in which this mission could prove helpful, and in some instances, counterproductive. At the same time, complete eradication of global poverty is not going to come easily, or anytime in the very near future.
From a moral perspective, in 1972, philosopher Peter Singer proposed a simple solution to the problem in his argument about a drowning girl in a pond. He argues, that although ones clothes would get wet while saving the girl, that fact is morally insignificant compared to letting the child drown. The same rules apply toward saving starving people on a global level. While some luxuries will have to be sacrificed by those would can afford it, that fact is morally insignificant compared to letting people starve when ones material sacrifice could be turned to aid in the form of food. One main problem with this case is that while the drowning child scenario could happen, it is only one child, while people who go hungry daily is in the millions. On a further note, at least 80% of the worlds population lives on less than 10USD per day, which is well below what is considered the poverty line in the United States and many other Western nations. Therefore, if the remaining 20% of the world were to make the sacrifices necessary to relieve poor nations and their people, some poor people would be helped at the cost of the rich who then would risk poverty themselves. Concurrently, it would not relieve much of the world living at or below the poverty line as the population differential is much too large for this scenario to work. While morally, it would be the right thing to do, logic, reason and statistics show it could exacerbate the situation entirely.
Another response against Singer’s argument talks about the extent in which those who can afford to help are required to help. Being responsible for saving the world’s poor is much different and a much greater feat than being responsible or morally required to save one drowning child. It is unlikely for one to stumble upon a drowning child, while the world’s poor is an ever growing number that exists at all corners of the planet. The requirement necessary from the rich to relieve the world’s poor exceeds the amount the rich can afford, therefore undermining the scenario. While it may be wishful thinking for some that this would not be the case, there are other avenues to help relieve the world’s poor, but each of these methods do not come free from issues of their own.
Interests in helping the world’s poor and the institutions designed for this mission have a number of different interactions that can either help or hurt the mission entirely. The effectiveness of aid interventions relies on aligning interests, collective action and strong institutions. Yet this is rarely the case. Aid from nongovernment and government organizations alike usually passes through several hands before it reaches the beneficiaries. If the middlemen involved do not have aligning interests or have different priorities, this aid may be used for reasons other than the intended purpose. Greedy governments receiving aid may reallocate the funds for their own purposes and may not use it to help their population’s poor. They may even use the funds to repress the poor for their own benefit. Nongovernment organizations may have their own interests which do not align with the real needs of the poor and use the aid where it was not intended to be used. In both cases, the aid does little to help the poor and may actually make matters worse. This makes it tough to overcome the struggles of poverty.
Rich countries may have moral responsibilities to help the global poor but the burden is not entirely theirs. The governments of all sovereign states, morally, should have a responsibility toward their people. A rich nation is not responsible for the people in a poor nation, but they know morally they are capable of helping ease the suffering. However, just because it may be morally right does not mean it is logistically feasible. Knowing the statistics and the sheer magnitude of the world’s poor proves it would be impossible for every rich nation to come together and provide enough aid to lift the poor out of poverty conditions without impoverishing themselves, therefore, the problem would remain unsolved. In order for the world’s poor to be relieved, aid in all forms must be used appropriately, collection action problems would need to be solved and interests would have to align.
Economic growth looks promising and may be the key to overcoming poverty in developing or less developed countries. Providing the funds and resources for critical infrastructure would be an ideal place to start. This would help promote a successful economy in less developed and developing nations which in turn would have a positive effect in terms of those living at or below the poverty line. Yet, this would still require overcoming political conflicts which are a large part of the problem. No matter which road is taken toward helping the global poor, each is riddled with numerous issues and controversies. Alleviating the world’s poor is not a task that can be completed overnight. Perhaps it will happen one day, but it will take decades of work, a vast amount resources and an immense amount of persistence for those who find it their mission. Prospects may look dismal now, but remaining optimistic about the future is key. Even the toughest problems the world faces have a solution.
U.S. Centers for Medicare Medicaid Services. Federal Poverty Level (FPL). (2016). Retrieved November 08, 2016, from https://www.healthcare.gov/glossary/federal-poverty-level-FPL/
Frieden, J. A., Lake, D. A., Schultz, K. A. (2016). World Politics: Interests, Interactions, Institutions. New York, NY. W.W. Norton Company, Inc.
Shah, A. (2013, January 7). Global Issues: Poverty Facts and Stats. Retrieved November 08, 2016, from http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats
- Quote paper
- Justin Moscioni (Author), 2016, Rich Nations and Their Responsibilities Toward Poor Nations, Munich, GRIN Verlag, https://www.grin.com/document/352787