Thursday 11 February 2010

Receiving and Giving - how much is enough?

When I hear or see that a child has died somewhere in the world from hunger or a preventable/curable disease (as 27000 will today) I feel an emptiness I cannot describe. I have always felt this way. Sometimes when confronted with this appauling news I stare for a few minutes without a single thought crossing my mind. When I return to normal I am renewed once more to do my bit to make poverty history.

My wife and I support children in need through World Vision and we know that our support combined with many other people’s mean less children live in poverty. We also give a percentage of the fee from Torchbearer membership of our differencemakers community through our membership of Buy1-Give 1 to help the work of Room to Read and World Youth International, two more great organisations who are helping to make poverty history. We often ask ourselves however, can we do more? are we doing all that we can?

Recently I read Peter Singer’s lastest book The life you can save - acting now to end world poverty. Singer, named by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the world’s 100 most influential people, leaves me with no doubt in my mind that each of us can and should do more.

Singer displays a chart in his book that shows that even if just the top 10% of income earners in the United States gave modestly we would raise more than twice the amount respected economist Jeffrey Sachs suggests we need to meet the United Nations Millennium Development Goals that would end poverty by 2015.

Singer clearly demonstrates that these goals should be easy to achieve. The reality is none are looking as though they will be!

So we have the means to end poverty, why aren’t we? I commend Singer’s book to you as he gives many reasons why we aren’t including the fact that a lot of aid that we do give is tied up in politics and doesn’t actually help make poverty history. The good news is he also gives many ideas of what we can do and how to do it.

For me there is one main reason why we haven’t yet made poverty history. Very few people know how much is enough when it comes to receiving and giving.

The top 10% of income earners in the world earn just over $100,000 per annum. Even if they all gave 5% of their income, and could be certain their money actually went to the right places, poverty could be history. And consider this. The world’s top 0.01% of income earners earn more than 10 million dollars per annum. Singer points out that these folk could give a lot more than 5% and still be very comfortable!

How much we receive for our labour and the value we provide and how much we give away to those less fortunate is a personal decision. I know how much is enough for me to receive and to give. How about you?

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Unknown said...

Very well said. It is truely a mystery as to why those who have so much give so little. What I find even more amazing from my own experience & statistics back this up - that those who have the least seem to give the most (as a % of their wealth).

Ian Berry said...

Indeed DB those with the least We are changing this