So, I just started “The End of Poverty” by Jeffrey D. Sachs. I saw Sachs interviewed (well, sort of interviewed) on The Colbert Report, which is another one of my “news” sources along with The Daily Show. Sachs was so compelling and passionate in his belief that ending poverty is possible, that I decided I would buy the book.
Now I am only 30 pages in, and horrified. I’m already thinking of what I need to give up (appropriate for the Lenten season) and how I can influence the course of world poverty. I am pretty sure, even at this early stage, that my life is going to look different a month from now.
A stunning claim that Dr. Sachs made in the interview was that the US spends DAILY on military spending, the same amount that it has dedicated FOR THE NEXT FIVE YEARS on poverty relief around the world.
Some of the solutions are simple:
• bed nets to prevent malaria, (between 1 and 3 million African children die of this completely preventable/treatable disease every year);
• wells to provide clean water – a well to supply a whole village costs about $6000
• AIDS drugs – in Malawi, AIDS drugs cost a dollar a day, but the government can’t afford it, so most of the 900,000 (except maybe 25,000) infected simply go to hospitals, lay down 2 or 3 to a bed and die.
This is not going to be a comfortable read. We wouldn’t let it happen here. And if we believe that an African life is of the same value as an American, or European life…
Please read this book with me. Let’s think about what we can do. Let’s scheme together and maybe make life better, one village at a time.