The World Bank estimates 1,345 million people in the global south live on less than $1.25 a day. Or do they? With this staggeringly high number of people living in poverty, there is an equally astounding number of people who die in poverty.
Poverty is the leading cause of hunger. About 21,000 people die worldwide every day of hunger and hunger-related causes, according to the United Nations. This breaks down to about one person every three and a half seconds. Most of these deaths consist of the most vulnerable, children. Should the U.S. care about these deaths?
Morally speaking, we should. The U.S. was founded on principles of equality and justice. Innocent children dying every day of preventable causes contradicts the foundational principles of our great nation. Acting in accordance with our national values, values that set us apart from all other nations, as a world leader, a beacon, an example, is only one reason the U.S. should address global poverty. The other reasons are of a self-benefiting nature–reasons that will ensure we retain our position in the world.
Reducing global poverty will not only decrease food disparity, but will also increase consumerism, job growth, national security, and address environmental concerns–all issues of great importance to the U.S.
Let’s take Haiti as an example. The poverty level in Haiti is 80%, making it the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. The CIA World Factbook reports two thirds of the labor force are unemployed or underemployed. How would addressing poverty in Haiti benefit the U.S.?
Throughout its history of political unrest, illegal immigration from the geographically close Haiti into the U.S. averaged 15,000 persons annually. A legitimate government was reestablished in 1994, with the assistance and support from the U.S., at which time illegal immigration decreased to 1,500 annually. As Haiti’s largest donor since 1973, the U.S. continues to provide poverty alleviation to Haiti by acting as their largest trading partner.
In this capacity, the U.S. has increased jobs for Americans. Additionally, American importers and exporters benefit from the Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act, an agreement providing duty-free export of many Haitian products assembled from U.S. materials. Haitians also benefit from this agreement, as it provides jobs and continues the benefits of international trade.
The U.S. should care about 21,000 deaths a day. We should care about global poverty, if not for moral reasons, then for the knowledge that the U.S. benefits from involvement in reducing global poverty.
In the time it took you to read this article, approximately 70 people died of hunger.
– Caressa Kruth