Holiday thoughts pt2

Posted by on June 29, 2005 in general thoughts | 0 comments

My holiday was awesome, a much needed break to recover, recharge and relax. So why is it I’ve found it soo hard to get anything done today?

Well, I read 2 books on holiday, both cotroversial in their own way… but 1 of them I can’t stop thinking about…

“I.O.U. – The debt threat and why we must defuse it” by Noreena Hertz
Reading this book taught me a lot about the world we live in today. Considering how complex the subject is, I was impressed by both how well written (not too technical and soundly referenced with around 50 pages of notes) and moving this book is.

It’s filled with sad statistics like Tanzania spends $3.2 pp (per person) on health and $9 pp on debt servicing, compared with $5000 pp in the US on healthcare.

I wanted to understand more about the “Make Poverty History” campaign, the history of what caused the debt situation as it stands today and how it affects everyone.

The scary part of the book is how this affects the whole world. I really wanted to understand this part as I think its (sadly) the most likely way to make everyone take notice and maybe help something happen.

Please take 5 mins to read this.

Luke’s rough guide to why YOU should do something to help the “Make Poverty History” campaign

1) Not taking action will cost you and I more money than taking action.

Debts can be written down for less than their apparent value, remember also that the “debts” are hugely inflated by interest accumulated through time.

Still not convinced, ok, if a country defaults on its debt (remember that argentina crash?) it’ll cost you money… your bank lends these countries money… as these countries get more desperate (through ever increasing interests and re-servicing loans) the choice to make themselves bankrupt becomes a real option with real consequences for you.

2) Taking action could save your life.

As these countries get poorer, their basic healthcare gets worse, diseases spread, mutate and re-appear. There are proven correlations between the increase in poverty overseas and the increase in rare diseases in the whole world. (The US had over 4000 cases of West Nile Fever in 93) thanks to easy international travel, migration and trade… these nasty bugs are headed your way!

3) Taking action will make the world a safer place.

Poverty breeds desperation. Desperation can force people to make legally and ethically unthinkable choices.

In Colombia for example, Pablo Escobar provides hospitals, affordable housing and electricity… still suprised he’s seen by some poor people as a good guy?

Within some countries, a desperate soul can guarantee their families future by joining terrorist and extremeist groups. If you had absolutely nothing and someone offered your family a lifeline if you joined them, what would you do?

Poverty affects education. Religious extremists exploit this to offer their own schools (and other services of course), further building tensions across ethnic and religious divides.

Still not convinced we should help? Maybe you find yourself asking…

1) Why should we clear debts from countries where dictators or the elite in their society squandered to enrich their own lives?

“I.O.U.” by Noreena Hertz offers what I believe is a fair system, whereby debt payments should be diverted into funds, accountable and open to all so that instead of the benefits going directly to governments they can be be fed as aid. Its not easy but imagine the good will generated within a poor country that can see a lifeline, or how powerful a motivator to remove a bad regime this fund could be.

Is it really fair to punish the poor of a country for previous governments spending, when we knowingly lent them the money??

2) We already donate billions in aid, why should we shoulder more when it never seems enough?

Without exception, these counties pay more in debt servicing than they recieve in aid.

If you’re donating 1 and they have to pay the equivalant of 2 per person in debt to the world bank/IMF and private banks, who’s really getting your money? If those debt repayments are used like above, the difference could be truly world changing.

– please visit the Make Poverty History Website it takes 2 minutes to sign up and send an email on your behalf, the politicians need convincing that this is the right thing to do.

Thanks for reading.

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