The Singer Solution to World Poverty
In Peter Singer’s article “The Singer Solution to World Poverty,” Singer suggests that Americans should donate all of the money they are spending on luxuries, not necessities, to the world’s poor. His argument seems simple and straight forward, but there are several unanswered questions. What is the cause of world poverty? What would this do to the American economy? America’s economy must be a priority to Americans when it comes to solving the issues of world poverty.
Utilitarian philosophers, like Peter Singer, judge whether acts are right or wrong by their consequences. Singer’s solution did not seem to take into account the long term consequences this would have on the American economy. According to Bussinessweek. com, consumer spending accounts for 70% of all U. S. economic activity. If Americans spend less, there will be less demand for goods and services. When there is less demand for goods and services, businesses and factories begin to close causing the unemployment rate to go up.
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Consumers must keep spending for our economy to grow. In order for American’s to help, they need jobs. According to an article in Wikipedia, poverty reduction has historically been a result of economic growth as increased levels of production, such as modern industrial technology, made more wealth available for those who were otherwise too poor to afford the things they needed or wanted. A textiles factory outside the Kenyan capital Nairobi is a perfect example of how economic growth can reduce poverty.
Sudath Perera started up this textile factory about ten years ago. In 2009 the factory employed 1500 workers and turned over between 18 and 20 million U. S. dollars a year. The factory contributed to the local economy by creating employment. These jobs have made it possible for many people to pull themselves out of poverty. With all of these facts, Peter Singer may still argue that the negative effects on the US economy would not compare with the benefits that everyone overseas would receive that are suffering with poverty.
The current economic recession Americans are experiencing makes it even more difficult for us to feed our own children. A New York Times article stated that “With the country in its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, four million additional Americans found themselves in poverty in 2009, with the total reaching 44 million or one in seven residents. Millions more were surviving only because of expanded unemployment insurance and other assistance. We, as Americans, need to deal with our own hunger and poverty issues before we can even begin to think about everyone overseas. Singer’s solution brought up a strong argument on morals, but not a realistic solution to world poverty.
The long-term consequences of his solution would have been devastating to the global economy because to make money, you have to spend money. Every time I think of his solution, one famous quote comes to mind-“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. The cause of poverty varies around the world, so how could one solution fix several different problems. The cause could be self-inflicted or be due to a countries corrupt government. Regardless of the cause, American’s giving their excess income is not the solution. In the past 40 years, Western governments have given Africa more than half a trillion dollars. Yet Africa is even poorer than it was before the foreign aid began. Many Africans say their corrupt government is to blame for their poverty. That in itself proves that money alone is not the solution.