January 03, 2005

Is this what we've become?

Drudge links to this article that asks several commentators in the U.K. if the earthquake-tsunami tragedy might bring about a global effort to address poverty throughout the world.

I don't want to appear to be at all flippant during the ongoing rescue and relief efforts, but I am compelled to comment on how this question was answered by a few of the respondents. I wont address all of them, of course, just the ones that I feel like.

First up:

THE RIGHT REV TIM STEVENS, Bishop of Leicester

I am hopeful, but we must see a real commitment to changing the economic relationships between the West and the poorer countries. As well as charitable giving, we need to tackle these fundamental issues.

I'm not sure that it's the "economic relationtionships" that need changing more than changing the economic basketcase-ness of the "poorer countries". In the long term, tackling that fundamental issue is more important than charitable giving -- unless that charity is in the form of the proverbial teaching a man to fish.

RORY BREMNER, Comedian On an individual level, it is not just about what we are prepared to give, but what we are prepared to give up. Having left Afghanistan and Iraq in their wake, can our leaders be trusted to fight a war on poverty?
Let's give this guy some slack for being a "comedian". Let's forget that to "give" something is the same as to "give up" something. Let's even ignore the ianppropriate and inaccurate characterization of the progresses in Afghanistan and Iraq. The only response that needs to be made to this one is that misunderstanding the term "war on poverty" is what keeps prosperity away from the impoverished. Poverty is a natural state of being in that it is the absence of pro-activity. Poverty, then, is not something to be "defeated" so much as something to be transcended through opportunities being available and seized.
STEPHEN TINDALE, Executive director, Greenpeace It seems churlish to say it, but while it's relatively easy for most of us to give £50, it would be much harder for us to make the changes in our modern lifestyles that are needed if we are to move to a fairer world.
Not sure if it's churlish so much as it vague. What lifestyle changes do you have in mind, Stephen? Is it about oil, again? If we less of the poorer regions oil they'd be better off? And what does this have to do with Sri Lanka or Bangladesh? I don't see how our prosperity hurts anyone else. We created our wealth, we'll enjoy it, and we'll try mightily to spread it around just as we've been doing all along thank you very much.
DR GHAYASUDDIN SIDDIQUI, Leader of Muslim Parliament

Compassion, care and concern for mankind joins each of us - whatever our faith or ethnicity. The tragedy has shown there is a formula on which all mankind can be united to help each other. Mankind has moved forward.


It was the same after 11 September. Everyone said it was a great opportunity to try to understand the world but it was used by the US as a reason to go on a rampaging adventure in Afghanistan and Iraq.

So, I guess we'll go on a rampaging adventure through the Indian Ocean basin when we should just stay home and mind our own business. God I hope I'm never that cynical.
MO MOWLAM, Former cabinet minister

I think most people will simply forget. Some charities say people will even forget how much they pledged to give. I wish it would change our attitudes to other people in other countries, but I'm afraid that it won't.

One problem, I think, is that we're discussing poverty generally in the context of a specific natural disaster. I think this is clouding the issues a bit.
The impetus for the question is the current relief effort. The question itself is about poverty. The above statement makes sense when taken as an assessment of broader a concern. (Witness all those who think that America should just "get over" 9-11.)
But to address poverty, world-wide, demands the attentions of governments and the impoverished, not the relatively wealthy except in terms of charity. I'm just thinkin' out loud here, folks...

Western capitalism demands that people must be impoverished. I cannot think that anything will change this year, because we are the ones who have made the world the way it is. I don't believe in altruism.

Wow. "I don't believe in altruism." I can't bring myself to raise the Cluebat to someone that I pity. Next...!
LORD HURD OF WESTWELL, Former foreign secretary
The danger is that resources which might have gone to Africa will go to this instead. While huge publicity continues to be given to the tsunami, human beings are killing each other in Iraq, and places like Darfur.

Read that again. I'll wait.

It's a weird response, eh?
I think he means that, being so focused on the tsunami victims, we might forget about those suffering in other places. In that he has a point. But, otherwise, he sounds impatient and not thinking through his thoughts before answering. Or maybe he's just an idiot I dunno.

SIR MAX HASTINGS, Journalist and historian

We have to bear in mind that we have been here before. There have been tragedies before, and many fine things have been said, a lot of them by the US. We just have to hope that in this case they will follow through.

We always have, fucktard. But what's that got to do with the question at hand? Nothing? Oh, right, it doesn't matter.
J G BALLARD, Novelist

It would be one of the biggest breakthroughs mankind has ever experienced if we pooled our wealth in order to look after the poorer people of the world. Sadly, I don't think it will happen.

Well, if more countries (who'll go un-named) would like to jump in the pool with us, other countries might develope a working infrastructure. Then, maybe, we could accomplish something. Other than that, we'll always be back where we were: complaining about how the non-impoverished just don't do enough..
TONY BENN, Former cabinet minister

It may make people realise that the UN needs to be well-equipped and funded. If people diverted money from weapons and war, we have the technology and money to be able to help - if we decide to do that.

...and then be slaughtered in the process. These are the words of a willing slave former cabinet minister of a sovereign country. Sedition, anyone?

But I don't want to leave on a sour note. So, we have this final entry:


I think that politicians must realise that people do care about these issues and want them to do more. If 2005 could become the year when people make a real effort, then it could make a real difference.

General enough to be acceptable. Vague enough to be harmless. That's tact, pure and simple. Spoken like a true entrepeneur.

To sumerize: Nothing was revealed and noone was saved. What a waste of potential ad-space.

I hope I'm never this cynical again...

Posted by Tuning Spork at January 3, 2005 10:44 PM

in accordance with the Whoopass Jamboree, even though I'm late (due to natural disaster/family emergency or laziness, whichever applies best) I have posted the sound tigers logo on my site for all to see. This is because, back on December 15, the Stinking Hershey Bears lost 4 to 1 to these...Things called the Sound Tigers.

What sound DOES a tiger make? If a tiger makes a sound, and nobody's near it, doesn it actually...Wait, no...

Still, there you go.

Posted by: Derek at January 4, 2005 04:00 PM

Good post, Spork. You're on fire. (Sorry I'm always late to the party.) Sumerize? Aren't we in Mesopotamia trying to avoid getting Sumerized? (Your the best proof that there's no connection between intelligence and spelling ability.) Love on ya.

Posted by: Freedom's Slave at January 7, 2005 10:46 PM

And of course I would make an error in my sentence teasing you for your atrocious spelling.

Posted by: Freedom's Slave at January 8, 2005 09:51 AM

FS - isn't that a corrolary to Murphy's Law?

Spork - There's a fine line between cynical & perceptive. I don't think you slipped into the former at all.

Posted by: Harvey at January 13, 2005 04:57 PM
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