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Who Should Be Helped First?

The list of urgent challenges facing humanity is depressingly long. AIDS, hunger, armed conflict, and global warming compete for attention alongside government failure, malaria, and the latest natural disaster. While our compassion is great, our resources are limited. So who should be helped first?

To some, making such priorities seems obscene. But the United Nations and national governments spend billions of dollars each year trying to help those in need without explicitly considering whether they are achieving the most that they can.

The western media focuses on a tsunami in Asia; donations flow freely. An earthquake that devastates Pakistan garners fewer headlines, so the developed world gives a lot less.

There is a better way. We could prioritize our spending to achieve the greatest benefit for our money.