Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life: Alms for the poor? Well, kinda sort of... .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Sharpening our wits on the grindstone of Life

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Alms for the poor? Well, kinda sort of...

The reason for the Live 8 concert was to bring attention to the struggle to alleviate poverty in Africa and other places around the world. It was at least partially successful, as it pressured G8 leaders to commit more to the issue than they may have otherwise. This issue has been on the G8 agenda for the last several sessions, and this session committed more funding than previously, and also addressed, but didn't solve, the debt relief and western subsidies issues.

Western leaders committed, in words at least, to address the issue of debt relief for third world countries. Only time will tell how that plays out - whether it will really happen, and what strings will be attached. And suprisingly, Bush stepped forward on ending export subsidies to American farmers in order to level the playing field for third world exports. But only if other G8 countries capitulated, so it's most likely a bluff, as it's unlikely all eight countries will commit. Particularly Germany and Japan, both of whose economies are hurting.

It remains to be seen whether the African and Middle East aid committment is smoke and mirrors. There was politicking right up to the last minute before the $50 million target was reached, albeit without much help from Bush. Although the U.S. contributes most of the aid, it only amounts to 0.16 % of our national income, less than one fourth of the target suggested by Blair of 0.7%. It's also the smallest percentage of all of the G8 countries.

Bush goes to great lengths to tell everyone how much of a religious man he is, and how he lives according to the Bible. But apparently not when it comes to tithing. He'll talk the talk, but when it comes to opening his wallet (metaphorically speaking, that is. It's really our wallet. He's just using it for us), he'd rather give what's inside to the wealthy in the form of tax breaks, than to use it to help the poor. What a hypocrite.

Think about it. 0.16%. That means that for every six dollars made in the United States, we use less than a penny to help stop world poverty, hunger and AIDS. A person making, say, $15,000 annually (poverty level, especially if she has kids), that puts two dollars every week into her church's offering plate is being six times more generous than the richest nation on earth. She does it because she knows that there are others worse off than herself. She does it out of selflessness, because she cares. Because she's a Christian in deeds as well as words.

But apparently that's too much to expect from our leaders.


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