I'd describe this blog as a place for the purposeful ramblings of Ruth and others. You get to read my thoughts. Will you please share yours, too?

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

The Rich Acting Cheap

I read this article from yahoo news and I pasted parts of it in this post. The very last paragraph is the one that struck me the most. There is nothing that prevents us from tackling poverty but a lack of political will. Why are we so unwilling? I just don't get it. I don't pretend to understand the ins and outs of politics, but I do know how to sense indifference and it's just sad to me that people who are capable of causing so much positive change are unwilling to do so.
EDINBURGH, Scotland - Activists kept up pressure on leaders of the world's richest nations Tuesday to lift Africa out of poverty, but Britain's Treasury chief said those who believe human misery can be eliminated "with the stroke of a pen" may be disappointed by the results of this week's G-8 summit.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair has made Africa and climate change the central themes of Britain's G-8 presidency, and he describes global warming as "probably the most serious threat we face."

Blair, who has been battered domestically over his support for the Iraq war, has pressed those two issues with such zeal that the increasingly chaotic situation in Iraq has all but disappeared from the summit's agenda. Yet that by no means guarantees a summit free of acrimony.

At the heart of Blair's difficulties may be that his closest ally, President Bush, does not share the ambitious goals he has set for the summit.

Although the leaders appear ready to wipe out $40 billion worth of debt owed by 18 of the world's poorest countries, Bush has not accepted Blair's call for a massive increase in aid to Africa and seems unlikely to back British ideas about urgent action on climate control.

Geldof said Britain was pushing hard for a deal to help Africa, but sounded pessimistic. "I am not sure the others want to do it, which will be a grotesque failure," Geldof said.

Treasury chief Gordon Brown, who has worked closely with Geldof, U2's Bono and other campaign leaders, said he has warned them to temper their expectations.

"I know that what you will say is that what we can achieve is perhaps not good enough, but we have got to bring the whole of the world together," Brown, in an interview with British Broadcasting Corp. television, said he told Make Poverty History organizers. "What Britain says is one thing, (and) what we can persuade the rest of the world to do together is what we will get as the outcome of Gleneagles."

In addition to the proposal to double aid for Africa by 2010, Blair's Commission for Africa has also recommended a second $25 billion increase in aid to Africa, to $75 `billion annually, by 2015.

Oxfam, the British relief agency, said Tuesday that children would die without swifter action.

"2010 will be five years too late for the 55 million children who will die waiting for the world's richest leaders to deliver on their promises," said Jo Leadbeater of Oxfam.

But Bush has rejected the British targets, saying he could not commit a future U.S. administration to meeting them.

His administration boasts that aid to Africa has tripled since Bush took office in 2001, and that it plans to double the 2004 level to $8.6 billion by 2010.

Bush has sought $15 billion over five years to combat AIDS, mostly in Africa, and last week called for spending $1.2 billion to cut malaria deaths in half by 2010 in Africa.

Since the 1960s, however, the United Nations has called for rich countries to increase aid to 0.7 percent of their national incomes. U.S. spending now is at 0.17 percent, lagging behind the Europeans.

"So far France is in the lead, saying they will reach the 0.7 percent target by 2012, followed by the U.K. with 2013, and Germany and Italy with 2015," Leadbeater said. "Canada, the U.S. and Japan aren't even at the starting line."

Brown spoke of his frustration on the issue.

"It makes you angry because there's nothing in science or technology or medicine that should prevent us from tackling poverty," he said. "It's a lack of political will."


Blogger Ruth said...

OK, the following are lines from another article about the G-8 Summit:

"Bush contends that his administration has already done a lot to boost support for Africa and worries that too much aid in a short period of time would end up being wasted...Earlier Bush, who stopped in Denmark en route to Scotland, warned he would emphasize the need for African nations to commit to good governance to get increased support."

I do believe that better oversight of how money is spent by African countries needs to happen. Absolutely. There are gross levels of corruption in many of the governments. So, I'm glad that this article at least mentioned this as one of the reasons Bush is hesitant to increase aid to the level suggested by Blair. However, if we wait until "good governance" is realized in Africa before we attempt to relieve poverty, that is just a double slam on the impoverished people who are already suffering because of the corruption of their leaders. It's not fair to them.

July 06, 2005 2:23 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be great if we could get rid of corruption in our own country. If governance of our tax dollars were handled by those whose desire was to use it in the most effficient manner, there would be a lot more money available to use for aid to the impoverished in Africa, and even the poor in our own country. It sounds like a good excuse not to give more aid to Africa. Can you tell I am feeling very cynical today. I received a request to donate money to stop the use of coal powering nuclear power plants. They are contaminating the air and waters with mercury by using this old method. If I thought my money would help to actually stop this practice, it would be there. I feel there is too much waste of dollars spent by those who are "in charge." Whooo, now you know how I feel. Ruth, please add to your blog. I miss the thought for the day. Guess you are catching up from your trip, and retreat to Mo Ranch. Take care! Karen

July 12, 2005 2:23 PM


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