So, I spent the day watching Live 8, not because I particularly cared… mainly because Jenna was there, and it was the closest thing I could do next to actually being there with her.
But the whole thing got me thinking. They were throwing numbers around like it was no big deal.
For instance, they said “Did you know it would only take 7 cents on every dollar from the 8 richest countries in the world to eliminate poverty?”
Let’s think about what that actually means for a second. First of all, let’s point out the obvious, which I’m sure many people didn’t think about. Currently, 100 cents on every dollar are already being spent on something. So right off the bat, we have two choices… cut current things, or raise taxes.
The tax option is terrible. We pay plenty of taxes already. Cutting is not as simple as it sounds, and that’s coming from a card-carrying Republican. What are we going to cut? National defense is probably what most of the Live 8 attendees would say. Somehow, I tend to think the government’s primary responsibility is to protect its citizens. I’d be willing to cut other programs, for instance welfare… but I certainly wouldn’t condone cutting social programs in America to fund social programs in other countries.
The fundamental problem is, whatever you suggest cutting, there will be about 50% of the population that doesn’t want it cut. In a democracy, that means that everything stays.
But there’s another problem… one that wasn’t really addressed at all by the Live 8 propaganda machine. No matter how much money we pour into Africa and other poverty-stricken countries, it will not fix the things that caused the poverty in the first place. If we look at Africa, it’s clear that tribalism and religious conflicts are a deep-rooted problem. What you end up with is one group oppressing another, taking their rights, until another group knocks them off the top of the hill, and then the process starts again.
There is always a group with the power and the money, and everyone else is poor. So we send them tons of money, do you honestly think anyone that needs it is actually going to get it? Or is it more likely that money will not fix the problems.
In America, we started with an idea, and we spent 200 years trying to figure out how to make it work. We still have problems that are humongous, but we’ve taken the entire journey from rebellion, to increasing people’s freedoms and rights. Our very system is what allows us to be so incredibly rich. Without the system, earned by the sweat and blood of Americans, we would be living in poverty ourselves.
The midwest used to be known as the “Great American Desert” and today, it’s known as the “Bread basket of the World.” That didn’t happen on accident, and it didn’t happen because other wealthy countries came in and gave us help. It happened because we agreed that everyone in this country could have freedom and a voice.
Without changing their system, Africa has no chance of eliminating poverty. The example of a system that works already exists in several countries around the world. But we can’t do it for them. They have to do it for themselves or it won’t ever be knitted into the fabric of the country, as it is in America.
This is exactly the reason that our interference in the Middle East will ultimately fail. The example is there for them to learn from, but ultimately, it has to be done by choice, not at gunpoint. Most of the Middle East is Muslim, which is a religion that teaches certain things which I believe prevent the people from rising up and choosing freedom. As pointed out in a previous comment thread, “Islam” means “Submission.”
Submission and Freedom cannot coexist. Every country must find their own way to freedom. It cannot be done for them.