A few days ago I was tagged by Vijay with the $456 Billion meme. This was started by Sam of Blog, MD who was inspired by the Boston Globe feature ‘What does $456 Billion buy‘. The original article suggested several US orientated possibilities but also quotes figures from the World Bank suggesting that $54 billion a year would eliminate starvation and malnutrition globally by 2015, while $30 billion would provide a year of primary education for every child on earth. Wow, that’s some serious issues that it would have funded.
I’ve been thinking for a few days about how to answer this and am still struggling. Vijay set the bar quite high with his post about Tuberculosis in India. When you start thinking in terms of saving people’s lives it becomes difficult to find other options to spend it on. I don’t think I will start quoting a lot of figures, otherwise the research will suck me in and this post will never get made.
Anyway, once you have eliminated diseases, (I wish it were that easy,) you then need to grow crops to feed the people, as otherwise living in starvation is no quality of life. Then it makes you think about the ‘food mountains’ that we have in the west which allows us to maintain price stability in the markets and just how wrong this is. In 2006 the EU food mountain exceeded 13 million tonnes. We in Europe are paying to store food, I read in one article 1 million a month, and destroy it if it is unused, while people are starving. Maybe instead of storing it, we spend a little of the money to ship the food to where it is needed as soon as it is produced. If the US can grow rice and ship it to Japan, then I’m sure it can be shipped to anywhere. There will always be arguments who will pay for it, but hey who’s paying to store it? OK, so I’ve eliminated disease, fed the world, now on to improving quality of life. People need hope that tomorrow will be better than today and next week will be better than this. In the many drought and war torn countries, I don’t know what the answer is. I’m sure that money will help, but I’m just not sure how, maybe through providing education so that the people can see their own solution to their plight and with funding improve life day by day. Maybe if the situation was stable, and the people not starving, businesses would look to invest in the poorer countries. Unfortunately, I’ll be cynical here, many businesses will probably only invest because the labour might be cheaper than the current locations.
I know it will probably not happen for a long time, but we need to start thinking on a more global, ‘what is the right thing’, rather than the current insular, ‘what can I get from it’
Hmm, I think I’ve deviated from the meme a lot and had better stop here before I loose the plot completely.