Thursday, July 07, 2005

Pushing Poverty

Sorry for the rant, but that's what blogging is all about. As the title of mine says, this is my dumping ground, so grab your shovels and dig in.

Live8, the G8 summit, Make Poverty History, and the list goes on. All of a sudden it's cool to be worried about Africa and it's plight. I don't mean to say that I don't care about what happens to them, but I am interested in the current boom in interest.

The Live 8 Concerts have taken place and people are talking about the problems and that is all good. What isn't good is the solutions being thrown about. While Boner and Sir Bob have noble intentions I think that they are doing more to feel good about being filthy stinking rich, than they are doing to help. The one thing I find the most interesting about the plight of Africa is that people refer to it as exactly that, Africa. Here is a continent that contains over 50 countries that are far more different than the 3 countries that share the continent of North America. We can't even come up with a single policy for the problems and challenges that meet our countries here, so how can we be expected to fix Africa with a single thing?

The stars want us to push our governments to throw money at the problem in a typical manner of modern man. After all, can't money fix everything? Africans are poor? Give them a few bucks. When you see the homeless man sitting downtown, panhandling for money to eat or buy more liquor, do you honestly think that if enough people give him a quarter that he won't be poor and homeless anymore? The problems go a lot deeper than just cash folks. I find it interesting that even the leaders of the G8 countries think along the lines of money and a single solution for "Africa". The push by Make Poverty History isn't to end poverty but to simply ensure that everyone has a shirt and some food (A bit of a glib take, but not too far from the truth). Not to end poverty at all, but to simply end extreme cases of poverty. But what happens when this is achieved and everyone in "Africa" has these basics and still are treated like cattle?

While I don't know what can fix the problem, I also know that the current band-aid style solutions of patching holes with tape won't last for long. Is there a possibility that we can make it worse by providing them with more cash to fuel the problems? I'm not entirely sure that giving "Africa" more money or forgiving their debts will improve anything. With a lot of the countries deeply rooted in corruption, much of that aid will simply be consumed and distributed by those that already have money. Many of the countries that show devastating poverty on television have another face you never get to see. Check out Addis Ababa in Ethiopia;

Still think all that aid money gets to the straw huts and villages you see on TV?

While it may be pessimistic to think, I've always wondered if this is why they like to maintain the cycle of poverty. As the aid flows in so increases the take for the corrupt.

Maybe we need a deeper look into the problems and challenges of each country involved. Parents don't treat each of their kids the same do they? Why should be paintbrush an entire continent with a wad of cash and just ignore the problem. While it seems cruel to not give money to help, maybe we need to take a deeper look and help them solve the their problems instead of just hiding our own shame at our fellow man under a pile of dollar bills. Maybe it's even more cruel to facilitate the further decay of these countries while simply plodding along and ignoring the deeper problems.

A challenge to the G8 leaders would be to help the countries in Africa to reform and help themselves. I'm not saying that they need to do things our way, god knows we have our own problems too. Maybe they need some help to get on the right way though.

Oh well. Let the stars have their time in the limelight and when they all blow out of the picture and the people stop clamoring for more money to be sent overseas, maybe it won't be too late to still try and do the right thing.


Blogger wondy woman said...

You sound uncannily like Rocker in your rant there, Pete. Well said.

Wondy x

Ooops I nearly put Windy! Not that far from the truth...

8:07:00 AM  
Blogger blue2go said...

Wow, this is good writing! And I agree with you. While I applaud people with commitment to the cause of ending poverty, it's often (usually!) just too simplistic. Poverty is very complicated, has to do with many variables, not simply having no money. Although to someone who's starving, or cold or sick, money sure can mean a lot! I think it has much more to do with attitudes toward each other, as you have so articulately written. Whoops, sorry, I've gone off in rant mode!

8:28:00 AM  
Blogger JODSTER said...

It is noble to help. I hope that Geldof and Bono (or bone as you put it) win a noble Peace prize for their efforts.

But in the end, the help has to get to the people. Your concerns are legit.

Evidence of your rant may be found in the recent tsunami relief efforts that collected millions of dollars for "immediate" help. Millions of dollars tied up in bureacratic red tape and not in the hands of people that can make a difference.

One Canadian reporter from the Sri Lankan efforts had this to say:

"Average Canadians donated their money to get tsunami victims immediate help, not years later. The Sri Lankans have been told by their own media that Canadians have donated hundreds of millions of dollars to help them. Four months later the bureaucrats in Hull are playing God, not just with taxpayers' dollars, but with donated money that came with no strings attached--windfall for CIDA and its contractors.

Where is the $425 million? The NGOs and CIDA have an automatic response: "We're here for the long term." In other words, don't ask, because it's none of your business.

Meanwhile, the people of Sri Lanka are in exactly the same condition they were in one week after their lives were shattered by a wave 32 feet high travelling at 500 miles an hour. If you were among the millions of Canadians who donated to tsunami relief, aren't you curious about what happened to your money?"

For the full article on tsumnami, go to

I don't want to see anyone suffer, but I also don't want to make anyone rich under the guise of suffering.

Maybe your readers can do a random act of kindness for a stranger today, to effect an immediate change on someone's life today.

Together, there is still hope for this planet.

Allow me to pass the soapbox on to the next blogger.

8:52:00 AM  
Blogger Sask 1 said...

Well i agree with your comments.Well put Pete as always.

10:15:00 AM  
Blogger dan said...

Pete, I totally understand what you're saying here.

Bono and Geldof are extremely wealthy men, and it would be great if they parted with some of their millions.

They do make finanacial contributions, but not as much as they could really afford.

Having said that, without the awareness they have raised, the Africa situation would have absolutlely no hope whatsoever. Not that there is much hope anyway because of the corruption you mention.

Gosh wasn't that balanced of me. I really must stop taking these tablets.

10:23:00 AM  
Blogger Katya said...

that was incredibly well written and i couldn't agree more, some of the Live8 acts in London got goodie bags worth $14,000 each, why couldn't that money have gone to help a good cause instead of lining pockets which are already loaded...

10:35:00 AM  
Blogger Foilwoman said...

Even the debt forgiveness sought will really just benefit the morally repugnant elite or MRE at the top of most of these societies who take a percentage of most aid, government contracts and anything else involving the nations' economies. The question is not "should we give more aid," which we should do, but only once we have figured out how to give aid so that it actually helps its intended recipients. I don't advocate leaving this to private enterprise, but the current system ain't working. What would?

10:50:00 AM  
Blogger GlitterGlamGirl05 said...

Well said Rainy Pete. I couldn't have said it better myself.

12:01:00 PM  
Blogger Katya said...

pmt = pre menstrual tension

its just as lethal as


12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Martini Love said...

Good post!

2:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

yeah . . . but people aren't even talking about *that* now . . . it's back to terrorism and doom.
i noticed this was an early post . . . do you think the shift in attention/interest was part of the intention??

these attacks feel like sledge hammers to me & i don't quite know why . . .

pete, i so hope and pray your family members are safe. let me know when you can.


2:55:00 PM  
Anonymous Amanda B. said...

Wow. This is a very interesting perspective on things. I agree, Boner is a tool. Hopefully this campaign has helped, or will help, but it really boils down to us as individuals. Are WE willing to help? Nicely written.

Nice SPD pic too. :D

3:14:00 PM  
Blogger Adrienne said...

I couldn't agree more.

4:37:00 PM  
Blogger Elle said...

I always loved that saying, "Think globally, act locally." It's important to keep the issues of the world in site, but it is also important to help in your community, in your lil' corner of the world. There is always something to be done.


8:07:00 PM  
Blogger jon said...

Remember when Bob Geldof was in the movie 'The Wall' and he played Pink, and then he went kind of crazy and broke some things ...............That was pretty cool, huh.

8:55:00 PM  
Blogger deni said...

There is a saying, "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for life."

Or something to that affect, and I think that is what you are saying here. I agree with you, the problem needs to be solved at the root.

10:20:00 PM  
Blogger MilkMaid said...

We should know from our welfare lines here, that giving money does NOT fix the problem.

Excellent post Pete!

11:59:00 AM  
Blogger Memphis Steve said...

Complex problems that took thousands of years to develop require complex and well-thought-out solutions from intelligent men. Unfortunately, the people pushing to 'end poverty' through rock concerts and feel-good events haven't got a clue. And all too often, as you said, the money they send feeds the corruption that keeps the poor hungry, homeless, and oppressed. Band-aides don't heal wounds. They just cover them up. The wound heals from within, if it heals at all.

2:30:00 PM  
Blogger Hick said...

I agree with DL and the fish thing. Throwing money at a problem never really solves anything. too many people are willing to give money and forget about the issue because they "gave at the office." Giving money also involves stewardship. We have to make sure that the money we give is used properly...but that would mean personal involvement which is sometimes kind of icky and time consuming and personal and...

3:59:00 PM  
Blogger glomgold said...

Firstly, I have no clue what that Live8 concert thing is all about. Secondly I agree with you on the inadequacies of band-aid solutions (the most popular type in our society). Money really won't do the trick and hunger isn't the only problem. It would be pretty lame of me to think that I had the solutions so I'll just shut up now.

10:19:00 AM  

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