One of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); eight goals adopted by United Nations member states is to eradicate poverty in the world especially in the developing and the underdeveloped countries. The United States of America as one of the G8 countries has established agencies like UNICEF and Oxfam to fight against poverty.
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However, there is lack of individual contribution from most families in America. Ironically, the middle class groups spend most of their income on luxuries while the selfish people use the poor people in order to improve their lifestyle. Singer’s article, the Singer Solution to World Poverty focuses on the plight of the poor people and encourages the rich people to sacrifice some of their lifestyle as a major solution to poverty.
A poor person can do anything no matter the risk involved to change his/her lifestyle. However, it is advisable for one to weigh the situation at hand before taking an action. Interestingly, people are quick to criticize others yet they are in the same shoe.
Singer borrows from a Brazilian film where a poor retired teacher grabs an opportunity to acquire a new television set at the expense of a poor street child’s life. Although Dora knows about the use of children for organ donation, she confesses to her neighbors about her progress but they discourage her. The world would strongly criticize Dora’s action incase the child died.
inger rues that the American middle class community spends most of their income on acquiring luxuries instead of donating the money to the poor and he wonders, “what is the ethical distinction between a Brazilian who sells a homeless child to organ peddlers and an American who already has a T.V and upgrades to a better one?” (560). In other words, the money spend on unnecessary needs can go along way to save street children.
Unger as one of the philosophers in New York does not see the reason why people spend most of their income on their assets rather than saving human life. Due to negligence from people who are well off, most poor children succumb to treatable diseases like malaria, marasmus, and diarrhea among others.
However, a small contribution from the middle class people can help to save the lives of poor children around the world. Singer touches on a story from Unger’s book Living High and Letting Die, where a man decides to save his car from crushing at the expense of a child’s life.
Bob is about to retire and the car seems to be the only asset he owns and therefore, when he sees a train about to run over a child, he declines to divert its way because his car is on the other railway line. According to Unger, Bob’s action is wrong but every person has a role in saving the lives of children. In addition, a contribution of only $200 to agencies and charitable organizations like Oxfam gives one an opportunity to alleviate a child’s suffering.
Singer asserts that “Bob situation resembles that of people able but unwilling to donate overseas aid and differs from Dora’s situation” (561). Therefore, those in a position to donate, they should do so philanthropically for the sake of humanity.
Citizens in developed countries like the United State of America, Russia, Denmark, and Belgium among others should sacrifice a substantial amount of their yearly income to help poor children in developing and underdeveloped countries.
Although governments of developed countries contribute annually to the charitable agencies in the developing world, the amount is much less to save the lives of all needy children. America, as one of the developed nations that focus on charitable organizations, its contribution is far much behind when compared to other nations like Japan (Singer 562).
Moreover, one should not assume that other people have contributed; no, everyone should give his/her own contribution whether others have contributed or not. According to Singer, “each of us with wealth surplus to his or her essential needs should be giving most of it to help people suffering from poverty” (562) and this benevolent act would go long way to helping a poor child across the world. On the other hand, luxurious cars, houses and clothes should not be at the expense of a life.
Singer calculates the normal expenditure of an American family with annual income of about $50,000. According to Singer’s calculations, he says, “the donation to help the world’s poor should be as close as possible to $20000…household making $100,000 could cut a yearly check for $70,000” (563). Therefore, Singer’s main solution to poverty is to push for the rich people in America to stop spending their money on unnecessary needs and give the saved the so saved to the poor people in the society especially children.
In summary, poverty is one of the major causes of death and suffering to children in the current society. However, people in America are doing much less to help fight against poverty. Most households spend their money on luxuries like swimming, outings, cars, and big houses yet they can channel the money to charitable agencies like UNICEF and Oxfam. Singer calls on the people not to rely on the government for donations but also give out a small amount of their income to charitable organizations for the sake of humanity (563).
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Singer, Peter. “The Singer Solution to World Poverty.” In The Arlington Reader: Contexts and Connections. Eds. Lynn Z. Bloom and Louise Z. Smith. New York: Bedford/St. Martins, 2011. Print.