The Rich Should Keep Their Word

For the first time in human history, the world is within striking distance of ending global poverty. A preposterous claim? Perhaps. After all, the poor seem to be everywhere and are increasing in numbers due to global recession, population growth, and economic mismanagement from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Yet, I'll stick to my claim. If the world - especially the US and other rich countries - shift a small amount of their military spending to meeting the needs of the world's poorest people, our generation could free humanity from poverty's iron grip.

I am not speaking of relative poverty, the nearly inevitable fact that some members of society are worse off than others, though to some extent that varies society to society. I am speaking of the gut-wrenching, life-threatening poverty of living on less than $1 per day. For the first time ever, the world has it in its power to eliminate those extreme conditions.

Why is this? The world's richest countries have continued their economic ascent for generations, carried forward by the flowering of science and technology. Even though poor countries seem to be falling ever farther behind, the truth is more heartening. Large parts of the so-called developing world, especially in Asia, have made incredible strides away from absolute poverty.

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