FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Empire of the Misers

by CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI

In an April interview with the New York Times, World Bank President James Wolfensohn suggested that in addition to blowing up people and things: “I would argue that there is also a need for a parallel and equally urgent attention to the question of development as a way to prevent terror, and to prevent conflict. . . .” In the interview he observed that the military receive $900 billion each year from world governments and wealthy farmers receive $300 billion. By contrast those same governments spend only $56 billion on development assistance for the poor. Subsequent reports made the point even more forcefully.

On December 9, UNICEF released a report entitled “Childhood Under Threat.” It said that over one-half of all the children in the world or more than one billion children suffer extreme deprivation because of war, HIV. and AIDS. It observed that each year the equivalent of the entire population of children under five living in France, Germany, Greece and Italy died from deaths that could have been prevented. Each day 29,158 children under the age of five die. Three thousand nine hundred of those children die because they lack access to safe drinking water and adequate sanitation.

The report also observed that child poverty had worsened in many developed countries, including Finland, Sweden, Belgium, Germany, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Austria and Italy. That was offset by the good news that the child poverty rate in the United States had declined from 24.3 percent to 21.9 percent which, however, was accompanied by the bad news that that rate was higher than the poverty rate in any of the countries named.

A report issued two days earlier by the U.N. food and agriculture agency disclosed that 852 million people (or almost three times the number of people living in the United States) suffered chronic malnutrition and five million children a year die because of malnutrition. (The remaining 5 million that Unicef described presumably died from other causes.) Commenting on the report, Florence Chenoweth, the food and agriculture agency representative pointed out that “hunger kills one child every five seconds.” If you add the 5 million children from the Unicef report to the equation every 2 seconds a child dies from mostly preventable causes. In the time it takes to read this column anywhere from sixty to more than one hundred children will have died. Most of them never learned to read.

Joining the gloomy statistics reported by the various agencies was one from Oxfam International. It said that the aid budgets of rich nations had dropped by 50 percent since 1960. The report says 45 million children will die by 2015 because the wealthy are not living up to the promises of support they made many years ago. The United States spent .14 percent of national income on foreign aid in 2003. That is one-tenth of what it spent on Iraq. Jeremy Hobbs, Oxfam’s Executive Director said: “The world has never been wealthier, yet rich nations are giving less and less. . . . The scandal must end. . . . . Unless world leaders act now to deliver a historic breakthrough on poverty, next year will end in shameful failure.”

I’ve bad news for Mr. Hobbs. Shameful failure looms. On December 23 it was reported that as a result of budget deficits and the need to cut back on spending the Bush administration is cutting back on support for global food aid programs. Cutting back on food aid is a good way of reducing spending without impacting the wealthy whose pleas for help are heard and heeded. The cries of the poor are barely audible and cannot be heard in Washington. That’s why George Bush could let it be known, two days before Christmas, that contributions to global food aid programs will be cut. Some charities estimate the cuts will be in the neighborhood of $100 million. On New Year’s day Mr. Bush will use his Saturday radio address to wish everyone a happy new year. It will be happier for the well fed than for the hungry.

(After this was written the Tsunami tragedy struck Asia. As of this writing more than 70,000 have been killed. Mr. Bush has not yet commented. The U.S. initially pledged $15 million to help victims, one half the amount pledged by Japan. In response to criticism the amount pledged was raised to $35 million. That is almost as much as will be spent on the inaugural festivities celebrating the Second Coming of George W. Bush. The inaugural festivities will be more fun than rebuilding the lives of those affected by the tsunami).

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a Boulder, Colorado lawyer. His column appears weekly in the Daily Camera. He can be reached at: brauchli.56@post.harvard.edu

 

More articles by:
May 24, 2016
Sharmini Peries - Michael Hudson
The Financial Invasion of Greece
Jonathan Cook
Religious Zealots Ready for Takeover of Israeli Army
Ted Rall
Why I Am #NeverHillary
Mari Jo Buhle – Paul Buhle
Television Meets History
Robert Hunziker
Troika Heat-Seeking Missile Destroys Greece
Judy Gumbo
May Day Road Trip: 1968 – 2016
Colin Todhunter
Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink
Jeremy Brecher
This is What Insurgency Looks Like
Jonathan Latham
Unsafe at Any Dose: Chemical Safety Failures from DDT to Glyphosate to BPA
Binoy Kampmark
Suing Russia: Litigating over MH17
Dave Lindorff
Europe, the US and the Politics of Pissing and Being Pissed
Matt Peppe
Cashing In at the Race Track While Facing Charges of “Abusive” Lending Practices
Gilbert Mercier
If Bernie Sanders Is Real, He Will Run as an Independent
Peter Bohmer
A Year Later! The Struggle for Justice Continues!
Dave Welsh
Police Chief Fired in Victory for the Frisco 500
May 23, 2016
Conn Hallinan
European Union: a House Divided
Paul Buhle
Labor’s Sell-Out and the Sanders Campaign
Uri Avnery
Israeli Weimar: It Can Happen Here
John Stauber
Why Bernie was Busted From the Beginning
James Bovard
Obama’s Biggest Corruption Charade
Joseph Mangano – Janette D. Sherman
Indian Point Nuclear Plant: It Doesn’t Take a Meltdown to Harm Local Residents
Desiree Hellegers
“Energy Without Injury”: From Redwood Summer to Break Free via Occupy Wall Street
Lawrence Davidson
The Unraveling of Zionism?
Patrick Cockburn
Why Visa Waivers are Dangerous for Turks
Robert Koehler
Rethinking Criminal Justice
Lawrence Wittner
The Return of Democratic Socialism
Ha-Joon Chang
What Britain Forgot: Making Things Matters
John V. Walsh
Only Donald Trump Raises Five “Fundamental and Urgent” Foreign Policy Questions: Stephen F. Cohen Bemoans MSM’s Dismissal of Trump’s Queries
Andrew Stewart
The Occupation of the American Mind: a Film That Palestinians Deserve
Nyla Ali Khan
The Vulnerable Repositories of Honor in Kashmir
Weekend Edition
May 20, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Rob Urie
Hillary Clinton and Political Violence
Andrew Levine
Why Not Hillary?
Paul Street
Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé
Chris Floyd
Twilight of the Grifter: Bill Clinton’s Fading Powers
Eric Mann
How We Got the Tanks and M-16s Out of LA Schools
Jason Hirthler
The West’s Needless Aggression
Dan Arel
Why Hillary Clinton’s Camp Should Be Scared
Robert Hunziker
Fukushima Flunks Decontamination
David Rosen
The Privatization of the Public Sphere
Margaret Kimberley
Obama’s Civil Rights Hypocrisy
Pete Dolack
We Can Dream, or We Can Organize
Chris Gilbert
Corruption in Latin American Governments
Dan Kovalik
Colombia: the Displaced & Invisible Nation
Jeffrey St. Clair
Fat Man Earrings: a Nuclear Parable
Medea Benjamin
Israel and Saudi Arabia: Strange Bedfellows in the New Middle East
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail