Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

We can't afford it

It may be that the past few days will represent a turning point in how the war in Iraq is understood, and talked about, in the United States. As history has shown many times, the courage and dignity of a single person, such as Cindy Sheehan, can make palpable and present what is already known, but is not spoken.

While our grief and outrage is focused, as it should be, on the pointless carnage in Iraq, it is not crass to talk about money. Money can defeat hunger, and disease, and save children's lives. Tony the Poodle thought that by going in with his friend George on his splendid little war, he could get something from George in return. One thing he hoped for was that George would join him in pledging, as most of the other European countries have done, to devote .7% of total national income (Gross National Product) to helping the poorest countries of the world escape their fate. But George said the United States just can't afford it.

If you want to see what the developed countries actually spend on international aid, go here, to the Columbia University Earth Institute. You'll see which country is the biggest deadbeat, by a whole lot. It would take an additional $60 billion, out of our $12 trillion annual income, to reach that .7% commitment.

Then you can go here, and watch the cost of the war going by at about $2,000 a second. Last I checked, it was $186,594,600 and something, but I can't type fast enough to keep up with the last 5 digits. We could give that $60 billion to stop thousands of children from dying every day from hunger and disease -- that is, if we believed in a culture of life -- and have plenty left over to provide good, comprehensive health insurance to every uninsured American, house every homeless person, and feed every hungry person, in this country, right now, today. Yes we could. If we believed in a culture of life.

It's really that easy.

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