The End of Poverty by Jeffrey Sachs
This question makes me remember a book called “The End of Poverty” by Jeffrey Sachs. He made some accurate estimates to determine what it would cost to bring to bring misery to an end in 20 years. He was a technical approach full of mathematical calculations and financial jargon that were kind of interesting especially because it was practical (Sachs, 2005).
Another book I also came about is by Brian Barry called “Political Argument” which is one of his early masterpiece in the late 1960s.This debate being about philosophy, then I opt for basing it on Barry’s ideas and both Barry and Sachs are of the opinion that world poverty is indeed our problem. (Barry, 1967) They offer solutions.
Shortly after Barry published his book, he was asked why, in a book composed of discussions of a wide range of questions that is facing contemporary society such as the justification of the coercive power of the state to the fairness in income distribution. He steered away from discussing the major moral issue of the day that is if using nuclear weapons in all-out war is justifiable. The following was his response “when the moral facts are indisputable, and there is no need for philosophy.” The moral facts with regards to world poverty seem equally beyond dispute.
A large number of people in wealthy nations get an encounter with the ethical issues stemming from global poverty in the following two ways.
First of all, if we are to regard as even roughly accurate estimations by the aid agencies. Regarding what it will cost to alleviate. Otherwise prevent an individual’s poverty-related suffering permanently. Then we come to a recognition that each and every one of us is in a position that can enable them to meet the dire needs of distant strangers at a moderately personal cost.
Second, we come to the recognition that through participation in our society’s ordinary life, then we are also participating in the political and economic system of the world having a decidedly mixed record when it comes to alleviation poverty.
It shows that we have the capacity to alleviate global poverty hence making World poverty our problem. In recent decades, the economic system has been generating the human resources through the generation of knowledge, creating of wealth as well as economic opportunities which have been playing a pivotal role when it comes to the lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty. Simultaneously, it has been highly biased as it is responsible for leaving unfulfilled the core needs of those who do not have sufficient purchasing power, and has been maintaining the conditions to continue being conducive in the exploitation as well as oppression of many, leading to severe degradation of the environment. (Harack, 2011)
In both cases, world poverty being our problem or not is a moral issue, and morality’s demands on us appear to be straightforward, global poverty is indeed our problem. There is a maxim that says “everything depends upon everything else.” Since at least most of us believe that we are our brother’s keeper because no man is an island we need to take up responsibility. As long as each one of us in a position by the acts of beneficence to in a significant way alleviate suffering without having to incur any sacrifice that is of comparable moral value, then every one of us needs to do so. Furthermore, while busy in our day to day lives taking part in our roles as consumer and producers, each of us needs to make sure that he or she is not party—however indirectly and unintentionally— in any way whatsoever to oppression or exploitation. Nor should we take part in transactions can be responsible for generating unreasonable risks of harm to others. And, finally, as citizens, in our bid to own up our responsibility in alleviating world poverty which is our problem we should take part in supporting improvements in the global political and economic system.
All this may seem obvious. There may be a platform for drawing the attention of people to the relevant facts, as well as for sermonizing in the event where people do not act in the way they know they should, however, in accordance to Barry’s dictum, need for moral philosophy seems to be farfetched. Upon closer inspection, however, I find that a host of big questions to be surrounding this major moral duty, I refer to it as “the duty to aid” (Barry, 1967).
Comparable moral value
The question I pose here is “what way can I live such that I'm able to make sure that only retain those resources capable of generating benefits for me and are of comparable moral value to the suffering of others which I could prevent through their alternative use? We need to come to the acceptance that what it will cost us in saving others from deprivation is small in comparison to what it will cost my daily leisure’s and needs; then it would seem that the duty to aid would require a complete change of my life. It takes devotion to time, money, knowledge as well as contacts in the bid to lessening other people’s suffering even to the point where I would be very badly off myself. (Barry, 1967) Warren Buffett, who was at this time the world’s second-richest man, was asked to give his reason as to why he decided to give away his billions to the cause of fighting global poverty late in life, given that he had previously given petite. He answered:
“I have always wanted to give my money away. But I was too good at making money. If I had given away my first $50,000 many decades ago, it would have done far less good. Better, I thought, to keep reinvesting it until I could make a difference” (Bishop, 2017).
Shaw and Barry about moral judgment
Shaw and Barry (2004,22) having stated that “If a moral judgment is defensible, then it must be supported by a defensible moral standard, together with relevant facts ” this is most likely the path that the opposing side would take in this discussion and to reiterate what the text further says ‘These sound moral principles provide a necessary, insufficient framework for making moral judgments and decisions’. They may say that the world operates on Kantian theory where we treat each other as a means to an end. This is basically upholding Darwinian principle ‘Survival of the fittest’ and in a civilized society we should not operate on the basis of the rule of the jungle. We are in the 21st century and looking around I see this is no jungle we are in, at least not anymore. (Shaw,2005)
World poverty is our problem and even if this duty to aid appears, in sum, to be extremely demanding it is a necessary moral responsibility for each and every one of us in this world. Though its demandingness perception as a sign that our conception of it is flawed, this is nothing more than a desire to free ourselves from the burden of guilt which we would feel because of acknowledging moral requirements that otherwise we will not meet. We need to resist this line of thought. World poverty is our problem and burying your head in the sand does not make it less of our problem.
Barry, B. M. (1967). Political Argument. Oxford: Oxford.
Bishop, T. (2017, February 14). What Bill and Melinda Gates are doing with Warren Buffett's $30 billion, a decade after memorable gift? Retrieved March 30, 2017, from geek wire: http://www.geekwire.com
Haack, B. (2011, August 26). HOW MUCH WOULD IT COST TO END EXTREME POVERTY IN THE WORLD? Retrieved Marth 30, 2017, from VisionofEarth: http://www.visionofearth.com
Sachs, J. (2005). The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time. ISBN.
Shaw, H. (2005).Moral Issues in Business: Moral Judgment. CA
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