Monday, September 26, 2005

The End of Poverty

I have finally begun reading The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time by Jeffrey D. Sachs. It is compelling, just as I expected it to be given the subject and the author's credentials.

The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities For Our Time

What I had not expected to find was a compelling foreword by Bono--not that I wasn't aware of his passion for Africa and his gift for oratory. This passage--referring to the fact that 15,000 Africans die of preventable or treatable diseases each and every day--was particularly arresting:

This statistic alone makes a fool of the idea many of us hold on to very tightly: the idea of equality. What is happening in Africa mocks our pieties, doubts our concern, and questions our commitment to that whole concept. Because if we’re honest, there’s no way we could conclude that such mass death day after day would ever be allowed to happen anywhere else. Certainly not in North America, or Europe, or Japan. An entire continent bursting into flames? Deep down, if we really accept that their lives--African lives--are equal to ours, we would all be doing more to put the fire out. It’s an uncomfortable truth.

Perhaps we have come to the point where we must be prepared either to embrace the end of poverty or to cast off our belief in equality. Of course, there is not likely to be any help in ending poverty from the many Americans who stopped believing in equality a long time ago.