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One World, One Mission: End Absolute Poverty

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Martin Ravallion of World Bank argues that countries with an average income above $4,000 dollars could resolve their own domestic poverty crisis by taxing residents who earn more than $13 a day. Laurence Chandy and Geoffrey Gertz of the Brookings Institution suggest a way to complement Ravallion’s plan, which would end extreme poverty completely. They estimate that by 2015, there may be only 586 million people living below the absolute poverty line, and suggest that the world’s wealthier countries could aid those unable to fix their own economic situations, for only $40 billion dollars. We could live in a world where none of our nearly 7 billion neighbors is forced to face the dehumanizing reality of absolute poverty, for less than the annual budget of New York City.

So what’s the catch?

Unfortunately, what Ravallion, Chandy and Gertz suggest is only a theory. Tracking the exact number of people in need of help would be impossible, therefore estimating the exact cost of helping is impossible. There are less exact ways to monitor a household’s income, such as tracking ownership of assests such as bicycles or land, but no precise method.

So, since we can’t assign concrete numbers, let’s assume that it would actually cost much more than the theoretical $40 billion proposed by Chandy and Gertz. Let’s be conservative and double it. No, for argument’s sake, let’s go even higher; let’s estimate $100 billion dollars. $100 billion sounds like much more than the world’s wealthier countries would be willing to contribute to end another country’s struggle, right?

Now consider that in President Obama’s 2013 fiscal budget, foreign aid accounts for around 1% of our country’s federal spending. That 1% equals about $70 billion dollars.

The bottom line is this; eradicating extreme poverty is possible, and it can be accomplished for a fraction of a percent of our Gross Domestic Product, if we can just unite with other countries and attack this problem as a team. One world, one mission: end absolute poverty.

– Dana Johnson

Sources: Foreign Policy, National Priorities
Sources: Echwalu