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A Solution to World Poverty?

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A Solution to World Poverty?

Poverty is a social issue that affects many people around the world. Numerous organizations, such as UNICEF and Oxfam, try to end this global problem by using people's donations to supply those in need, especially children, with the basic human needs. However, according to Peter Singer, Americans do not help as much as they should to end this terrible situation. In his essay "The Singer Solution to World Poverty", Singer states that "the average family in the United States spends one third of its income on things that are [not] necessary" instead of donating that money to help save children's lives (Singer 564). Singer also creates a formula to end world poverty by claiming that "whatever money you're spending on luxuries, not necessities [one third of an individual's salary], should be given away" (Singer 568). At first, this philosophy appears wonderful, yet it is very easy to challenge.

Singer's formula is good intentioned and therefore it has its pros; for example, the hungry would not be hungry anymore, this means no more deaths from starvation. Many people would be saved from curable diseases; they would not have to suffer anymore. People would have a happier and healthier chance at life. And by showing the world that it is helping other nations and saving lives, the United States would make a very admirable global showing.

But, the plan has its cons as well. One of the major reasons why Americans do not donate is because they are uncertain about whether aid really reaches the people who need it (Singer 565). Singer acknowledges this problem and writes "nobody who knows the world of overseas aid can doubt that such uncertainties exist" (Singer 566). Money sent to organizations can be misused, mismanaged, or pocketed by the people who are supposed to send it to the ones who need it. Also, people in the United States have a hard time giving up their money because they feel that they work hard for it and, therefore, should be able to enjoy it. And why shouldn't they? It is, in fact, their money. Another problem with Singer's formula is defining exactly what a necessity is and what a luxury is. Is eating at a restaurant a luxury? Is prom a luxury? Is going to college a luxury? Who decides what someone really needs and what he/she does not need? Also, in the long term, Singer's formula could collapse the United States economy. Since Americans would not spend their money on "luxuries", many companies would lose numerous sales. Without sales, companies would go bankrupt. This would then lead to a high level of unemployment, and eventually, the United States would go broke.

Again, Peter Singer's formula is well intentioned, however, the benefit of helping the entire world out of poverty by making each individual donate one third of his/her salary



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