There is an article here that is very long but very worth reading. It’s from the 05/04 issue of Esquire magazine and I only ever read it because I was stuck in the waiting room for a couple of hours once while DS1 was doing some testing.
With the state of the world being what it is, I am thinking of this article more again. I think it’s at least as relevant now. There’s a lot of hope for solutions in this writing. Of course, it would take people who think in terms of real solutions like this man in our positions of power.
Did I mention the article is really long? It is. But totally worth the read.
Here is an intro:
A Simple Plan to Save the World
by Jeffrey Sachs
Esquire, May 1, ’04
Ending extreme poverty, disease, environmental degradation, war? We asked one of the world’s most influential economists — adviser to Kofi Annan and Bono alike — what would have to be done to put the world on a course to do exactly that. What follows is his modest little plan.
It is increasingly hard to believe the old adage that “people get the government they deserve.” Despite having everything going for it — wealth, technology, unchallenged military might — the United States is facing a spiraling crisis made in Washington: a budget deficit of gargantuan proportions, a voracious military budget that buys us neither security nor peace of mind, a reckless neglect of man-made climate change, and a foreign policy that in three short years has made us one of the most feared countries on the planet. This is a crisis, I believe, that reflects profoundly misplaced priorities regarding America’s relations with the world. In this article, I want to advance some concrete ideas on how to set those priorities right.In spite of our problems, I am an optimist — not an incorrigible optimist, but one based on facts. It is for this simple reason: The key problems that we have are all indeed solvable. Every great challenge that we face — climate, biodiversity, global health, extreme poverty, growing violence, and the “clash of civilizations” — can be solved, and at modest cost and with huge long-term benefit. We’re facing the bargain of a generation, a chance to fix the world and forge a prosperous and peaceful place for the rest of the century.The world is racked by instability resulting from “failed states,” places where hunger, death, and disease flourish and where young men rampage in the face of poverty, mass unemployment, lack of education, and hopelessness. Yet the problems of extreme poverty are not the visitations of God’s plagues on corrupt and hapless nonbelievers, but rather the result of societies suffering from the lack of health clinics, a shortage of schools and teachers, lack of rural roads, and the like. These countries need major investments in social services and infrastructure but simply lack the resources. The result is a poverty trap in which solvable poverty gets only deeper because the basic investments needed to overcome it are beyond the means of the country, while the scale of financial help from the United States, European countries, and other rich nations is much too limited to make a breakthrough. Remarkably, the United States is spending about $450 billion for the military to defend itself against global threats but only about $13 billion to fight the underlying conditions of poverty, disease, and despair that provide the breeding grounds for these global threats.
It’s possible to add up, with some precision, what financial resources would actually be needed from the rich countries to help end this extreme poverty and thereby set today’s unstable and desperate societies — Ethiopia, Haiti, Bolivia, Afghanistan, and dozens of countries like them — on their way to self-sustaining economic growth. By helping these countries rise above extreme poverty, we would also enable them to become stable neighbors and trading partners instead of havens of terror, disease, unwanted mass migration, and drug trafficking.