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.