If you the time, go read this BBC news story about debt relief for the poorest countries. If you don’t, maybe make time and do it later.
About half way down, Mr Andrew says:
“We want houses made from cement with zinc roofing. Then they won’t collapse in the heavy rains, which can kill people. We want combine harvesters so we don’t have to bend down with cutlasses to do the farming. We want everything you have.”
Seems reasonable for him to want what I have: a job with a nice office, a computer with two screens, a nice appartment with a view over a park with trees in it, enough money to fly back to the UK now and then to be with my loved ones, a rental property in the UK earning me money. That’s what he said isn’t it? Oh, no, he said he wants a cement house with a zinc roof and a combine harvester.
What if it didn’t add up? What if when you put everyone in the world in to a nice appartment with a view, and give them the computers and combine harvesters they need to do their work, there isn’t enough to go round? What if when we do, we start to use up the resources of our planet at a faster rate then they can be replaced?
What if “We want everything you have” translates not to “We want to be equally wealthy” but to “We want us all to be equal”?
If, and I mean if — this is a hypothetical question, if we could help those Ghanaians (and Kenyans, and the peoples of the other disadvantaged countries) by giving up a chunk of our wealth, by accepting a drop in our standard of living, by giving up our iPods and HDTVs (if not our harvesting machines and our information tools), if there were some way — I know there isn’t, but bear with me for a minute — if there were some way to redress the imbalance among our nations but at a cost greater than buying xmas gifts at Oxfam…
Would we do it?