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Peter Singer - The Life You Can Save
Posted: 11 August 2009 08:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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I want to thank, CFI and Dr. Singer for this Podcast. I enjoy listening to dialogue that make me think or see things differently. As a Secular Humanist, I believe if this planet is going to progress to a more humane and democratic haven, it is up to us humans to look for ways to make it happen, instead of waiting for a supernatural savior to save us from ourselves. As a former evangelical Christian who lived in fear of Jesus imminent return and my constant guilt of not being good enough, I did not feel the guilt trip propaganda that religion uses so effectively in listening to this podcast. What I heard is those of us who can do more, should do more. I use to give 10% of my income to a church that did nothing except preach and affirm what I had accepted, it build up its bank accounts and savings, perhaps they sent money to missionaries to preach in developing countries (I think missionaries do good in feeding, educating, and assisting developing countries but they force their world view on those receiving help and thus making them worst off in my opinion, because now they are forced to listen to bullsh!t to get help, okay I’m getting off the soapbox.) I think you cannot have a more humane and progressive community, society, or country if you are hungry, sick, and undereducated, your attention is on your immediate situation. I am not going to travel to a developing country but I can support those who will, as a result, I immediately signed up for a monthly contribution (1% of my income) to support those who do. Thank you Dr. Singer for writing this book and creating a venue which shows those who are thinking about leaving their religion/religious indoctrination that you do not have to be religious to be ethical.

[ Edited: 11 August 2009 08:23 AM by lee1906 ]
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"The unexamined life is not worth living. Socrates"

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Posted: 13 August 2009 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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Poverty and ignorance generates ever more undesired population growth basically because they have nothing else to do.  Except for some meaningful distractions it becomes a cycle of “feed and breed” until the food runs out and people start dying from starvation, unless of course the rampant, ever evolving STDs get to them first.  Apparently the presumed leadership for such pockets of humanity don’t really give a damn about their own people as long as they personally are quite comfortable, in fact I suggest that such “leaders” manage such misery farms as a profit center in the absence of other easily exportable natural resources.  Things will not change until such leadership changes regardless of how much money you throw at the problem.

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Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by rulers as useful. - Seneca (ca. 4 BC –AD 65)

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Posted: 21 August 2009 07:33 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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I think that one of the previous posters was very close to the truth in suggesting there are simply too many people in areas where there isn’t enough food, jobs resources etc. I suspect the reason for this is that traditionally people in these areas had to have a lot of children so that (with the shocking mortality rate in these countries) that at least one or two sons will survive. (Why sons? Because the daughters are married off and sent to the next village) Now that we are providing excellent health care to other countries the mortality rate is plummeting and so the population is exploding. I have a modest suggestion:

We should each “sponsor” one family in africa, south america etc and provide them with food, clothes, education for them and for their children. The catch is that to receive the lifelong commitment from us the father has to have a vasectomy after having two children. If not, then all bets are off.

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Posted: 24 August 2009 04:39 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Voorlon - 21 August 2009 07:33 PM

I think that one of the previous posters was very close to the truth in suggesting there are simply too many people in areas where there isn’t enough food, jobs resources etc. I suspect the reason for this is that traditionally people in these areas had to have a lot of children so that SNIP that at least one or two sons will survive. SNIP Now that we are providing excellent health care to other countries the mortality rate is plummeting and so the population is exploding. I have a modest suggestion:

We should each “sponsor” one family in africa, south america etc and provide them with food, clothes, education for them and for their children. The catch is that to receive the lifelong commitment from us the father has to have a vasectomy after having two children. If not, then all bets are off.

Who is the “we” that provides excellent health care to these other countries?  Are you Cuban?  The problem of poverty is not just a simple relationship of population to resources, but of how resources are distributed.

I am greatly disappointed with some of the very ignorant comments on this forum, as an example the one quoted above by Voorlon.  And much of the blame perhaps should lay at the feet of D.J. Grothe and Singer who don’t even raise the questions of the causes of poverty. The problems of poverty have a history, causes, and potential solutions.  To attempt to understand these things would require not making people feel guilty or uncomfortable about flat screen TV and 4 dollar lattes, but instead an analysis of how the economic policies of the developed capitalist world help perpetuate poverty.  But I am sure this kind of discussion would cross the line and anger wealthy CFI sponsors.  So basically the Left-Right spectrum on PI is only limited to Singer to Shermer.

Come on Grothe., why not bring on some authors from the July-August 2009 issue of Monthly Review to discuss the problem of poverty?

http://monthlyreview.org/

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Posted: 31 August 2009 05:31 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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This is risky:  Real pragmatism suggests there will never be an adequate response to human misery, at least that’s what I think history teaches us.  “you’ll always have poor people”.  Not everyone will agree with this assessment, especially the tender hearted.

With that being a given, could we define an altered objective - to minimise human misery?

Now the rub is what timescale to adopt.

A short timescale=> feed and educate and resource the poor.  They will have children hopefully with better prospects.  More probably they will be back with an ever larger begging bowl a generation from now.

A long timescale => reduce their numbers, send them famines, and to war, cull them, put stuff in their water supply, whatever.  That way their children get spared a miserable existence?  It would involve doing evil to avoid greater suffering.  I have heard this said in (regretful?) justification of withholding aid as “aid tends to multiply babies for more misery”.

The reason all this this may be more likely to prove true is we are programmed at our most deep level to survive even over our neighbour.  The exceptions don’t carry enough weight.

If you are appalled by this, well I am fairly less than comfortable also.  But I would put money on it that pragmatism trumps idealism as the latter is working out too costly for even its most dedicated.

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Posted: 31 August 2009 11:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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Yes, I think you’ve grasped the essence of what I am saying. The reason we have poverty is because there are not enough resources for the people who depend upon them. The only lasting solution is to reduce the numbers sufficiently so that the ratio of resources to people allows a healthy, fruitful life for each person. You can reduce the numbers of people by horrible means or by simply ensuring that excessive numbers are never born. In the long run reducing the number of people by population control can do what nothing else can achieve. My deliberately provocative suggestion was to trade surgical birth control for aid. I am hoping that members will take me to task and tell me in rational terms why this would not work or why it would.

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Posted: 25 September 2009 01:35 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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It was an interesting discussion, but I really wasn’t convinced that giving up a part of my salary will end poverty; rather, it will end some suffering and keep some people alive.  But really, sustaining people’s lives and reducing suffering isn’t a solution to cyclical poverty. 

I’ve always found Christopher Hitchen’s take, that the emancipation of women ends the cycle of poverty, to be insightful.  There was a gleam of light when they mentioned women’s right to hold property, but they didn’t dwell very much on this.  They also spoke about improving agricultural techniques: this serves to convince me that I am better off donating to scientific research to help end poverty, than I am donating to help currently poverty-stricken people.  Science research seems like a far more viable long-term strategy. 

I wonder why they didn’t really talk about global overpopulation.  I recall watching a video where Singer said that overpopulation was one of the biggest problems facing our species, and yet, no mention of this. I strongly reject the idea of this “everyone is guilty” mantra.  I am not personally accountable for the cycle of poverty, which is what Singer seems to claim.  You can’t claim that not helping to solve a problem makes you the cause of the problem.  I’ve never found that sort of thinking to be compelling.  To say it is our personal responsibility to aid others or else we are immoral seems to degrade personal responsibility as an idea.  Is it responsible for poverty-stricken individuals to have children? Am I endorsing irresponsible behaviour if I donate to such people?  Birth rates amoung the impoverished weren’t really discussed, and this seems to be a vital issue.  It’s a part of the reason I find Hitchen’s Emancipation of Women idea important.  Giving women the right to choose not to be breeding machines seems to go a long way in ending the cycle of poverty. 

Also not mentioned is the intrusion of Catholic ideology into the mix, which denounces the use of contraceptives.  From what I understand Catholicism is on the rise in Africa.

I think a more in-depth discussion is needed about the organizations that are actually doing the work.  They touched on this a bit, but not enough for my taste.  They spent way too much time trying to guilt trip listeners who buy things for themselves with the money they earn.  Don’t guilt trip me to convince me of your argument!  Convince us about the work that individual groups are doing, show us success rates.  Perhaps he expects to merely guilt trip us first, and then expect we’ll go out an research all of this on our own?

We know poverty is a problem. We do want to help. We aren’t convinced that just “giving money” will fix it.  Wasn’t the whole point about the book to convince us that we can make a difference?  Yet, the only thing Singer talked about was relieving the suffering of people and keeping them alive. Where is the talk about the causes of poverty and how to put a stop to them?

I usually enjoy listening to Singer, but his approach was way off in this show.  He really didn’t sell me on his book.  I’m not convinced (despite a strong endorsement from DJ) that his book offers any solutions for the poverty crisis.

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