I know very little about economics, Wall Street, the housing market, investment banking...so I am not qualified enough to know what the answers to the current economic crisis is. And I don't even know if we are in a crisis right now.
What I do know is that it is absolutely ridiculous the crises that we are are happily ignoring. I was shocked to read today that on Sept 18th, the Food and Agriculture Organization reported that the number of undernourished people in 2007 was 923 million! This is 73 million people (mothers, fathers, chidren) higher than the estimate of 850 million in 2005. Why? Because there is a food crisis: the price of food rose 52% in the last year!
So I did some calculating. If we thought that 923 million hungry people was a crisis and decided that these people were just as worthy of bailing out as the banks we are bailing out now, we could: invest that $700 billion in sustainable global development. This would equal an investment of exactly $758.40 per person. What that money could do!!
The United Nations Development Program estimates that the basic health and nutrition needs of the world's poorest people could be met for an additional $13 billion a year, which is less than 2% of the proposed bank bailout.
Some may argue that the current bank bailout is buying loans that will some day regain value, and might even produce a profit for our government. Do we believe something different about people? Don't we believe that investing in people produces results? We say we do at least. But the US hasn't lived this out: Bread for the World estimates that the total poverty-focused development assitance in 2008 was a miniscule $15.43 Billion and that the broader category of the State/ Foreign Operations budget totaled only $32.8 Billion. This equals 2.2% and 4.7% respectively of the current $700 Billion bailout.
So what can be done? I want to echo Karyn's call to action and encourage you to contact your congressperson about the Global Poverty Act. Take Action Here.
Wanna do even more? I highly recommend standing in solidarity with the 923 million hungry people by going hungry with them for a 24-hour period. Find out how to do a Hunger Challenge at Outreach International's website.
One a side note, a fellow blogger, Jeff Jarvis who writes BuzzMachine, has some interesting things to say about what else we could spend that $700 Billion on.