Yesterday, more than 20,000 people perished of extreme poverty

Jeff Sachs, the economist who heads the United Nations’ Millennium Development Project says in "The End of Poverty":

Every morning, our newspapers could report, ‘More than 20,000 people perished yesterday of extreme poverty.’

The New York Times rose to that challenge with its editorial yesterday (27 February – registration required).

This country is going to spend more than $400 billion on the military this year, and another $100 billion or so for military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But that amount is never going to buy Americans peace if the government continues to spend an anemic $16 billion – the Pentagon budget is 25 times that size – in foreign aid that addresses the plight of the poorest of the world’s poor. Throughout the continent of Africa, thousands of people die needlessly every day from diseases like AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria. One hundred years ago, before we had the medical know-how to eradicate these illnesses, this might have been acceptable. But we are the first generation able to afford to end poverty and the diseases it spawns. It’s past time we step up to the plate. We are all responsible for choosing to view the tsunami victims in Southeast Asia as more deserving of our help than the malaria victims in Africa. … Yesterday, more than 20,000 people perished of extreme poverty.

I am ready to criticise the press when they report inaccurately or (more usually) fail to report at all what is happening. So I am happy to give the New York Times the credit it deserves for this excellent editorial.

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