Thursday, October 20, 2005


I read the Toronto Star today while I was in a waiting room. The cover story was about Malawi. About a 10-year-old child whose mother had died two weeks earlier of AIDS and had been sick so long that she hadn't planted any food. The orphaned girl hadn't eaten anything since her mother's death. Neither had her 2-year-old brother. The baby was shrinking in size. The girl didn't know what to do. She was the head of the family now.

Malawi is in a famine. We hardly know about it because of the hurricanes and earthquakes. Drought, mismanagement, disease, fighting, and corruption have caused this situation.

I donated to UNICEF, and I know that's what's needed right now. But there's more to it than just donations.

Somehow, in some way, I know we in the West are at least partly responsible for this situation.

I have a friend who teaches economics at Queen's University. I talked to her once about eliminating the Third World Debt. She frowned and shook her head. "You can't do that. Those governments are corrupt. They'll just use the money for themselves. We have to demand that they become honest first."

I pointed out to her that poverty causes corruption, not corruption causes poverty. A country can only stabilize itself with a middle class, with enough people who have enough to eat and enough security about the future to have time to be concerned about public affairs.

That idea had never occurred to her before.

I read another article on the same page of the newspaper -- a report from UBC that since the end of the Cold War, global deaths due to warfare have decreased dramatically. The Soviet Union and US have stopped funding proxy wars and dumping outdated weapons on Third World countries.

Again, the invisible hand of the West causing chaos and slaughter in weaker countries.

Jeffrey Sachs has written a book called The End of Poverty. The end of poverty could mean the end of corruption, the end of AIDS, the end of famine.

He is an economist too.


At 7:12 PM, Blogger Alexander said...

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