Making Poverty History is not all about moral gratification.
|Why Would We Want to Make Poverty History?
Over the last several years, in rich countries like Britain and the United States, there has been a radical rethink of what poverty means for the Western world. Rallies and campaigns such as Live 8 have inspired thousands across the world to call on their leaders to act now. Indeed, the Make Poverty History banner, which encompasses a substantial coalition of anti-poverty organisations, has thrust the issue onto governments' agendas.
The moral outrage at past government inaction has become increasingly tangible as these campaigns have gained support from a broadly mainstream collective. Yet, despite a genuine vehemence and passion for change, it seems inevitable that nothing will come of this campaigning; the simple unpalatable truth is that we don't want to make poverty history.
In the weeks following Live 8, however, the public demonstrated their desire for change; that is, until the London bombs diverted their attention. Everyone simply forgot—and this was only a few days after the scenes of mass protest where we demanded our voice to be heard. Of course, we can never expect a long-term problem to resonate in the public domain with the intensity of an immediate crisis, but this perhaps wasn't the best omen for the future success of the campaign.
Making poverty history may carry the gratification of doing what is morally right, but let us at least not forget that there are profoundly unfavourable consequences too. In this sense, the politicians know what we want even better than ourselves. We say we want justice in trade and fairness in foreign policy. We say we want to give more aid and to help the less fortunate. But what if doing so compromised our future economy, the strength of our nation and even the wellbeing of our own children?
This is the reality. A strong nation can compete on a level playing field and cannot be exploited. Simply, this means a poorer quality of life for the richer nations. If, like me, you can accept these terms and still demand change, then you are in a minority. That is the unfortunate truth.