Singer's Solution to Fighting Poverty
In "The Singer Solution to World Poverty," Peter Singer argues that the wealthy should donate all money spent on luxuries to organizations like UNICEF or Oxfam America to support the fight against poverty. While Singer's generosity and selflessness are commendable, this strategy could result in the impoverished people becoming reliant on the wealthy-never learning how to become self-sufficient. Not only can these donations prove to be detrimental to the impoverished, but they can also deprive the wealthy of what they have earned. The wealthy should donate some of their earnings, but the money should be given to programs that allow the poor to better themselves and does not give handouts.
Receiving unearned money often proves to be a short-term gift, but a long-term affliction. We as a country have tried to end poverty though the welfare program. Many people believe that instead of ending poverty, the welfare program has created an attitude of complacency in the poor and resulted in continual poverty. Recipients of welfare are not using the payments as a temporary method to "get on their feet," but are permanently relying on the payment and not searching for work. *The majority of families on welfare remain on the program for over 5 years, whereas the least amount of families remain on the program for less than 7 months (the minimum time period.) * This data shows that very few people use the program for short-term financial help. The poor in other countries could develop this same complacency if they receive too many donations from the wealthy in America. Organizations like UNICEF serve a great purpose, but the goal of these organizations should be to give the poor the necessary tools to become self-sufficient, not to give complete financial support.
Another issue related to Singer's method of fighting poverty is whether or not the wealthy have an obligation to donate their earned money to the less fortunate. Contrary to the belief of some, wealthy people usually earn their fortune through hard work and ethics. Why should they give away the money they worked for? The answer lies in the fact that many of the less fortunate were born in circumstances that did not allow for financial success. Not all countries use the free enterprise system, or have as many job opportunities as America. As a result, it is much harder to earn a fortune or become self-sufficient and donations from organizations like UNICEF become necessary. Because of this, it is imperative that the wealthy in countries like America make donations to make up for these poor circumstances.
Singer is correct regarding his idea that people should donate excess funds to the less fortunate, but his method provides only a short-term solution to the problem. Essentially, Singer is arguing that the only problem the impoverished face is their lack of financial resources. Not only do these people lack access to financial resources, but they have limited knowledge of life skills and are uneducated. I feel that the best way to help these people is to present them with opportunities to better themselves. This is not to say that the starving in Africa should receive books and school supplies, but that after their basic needs are met that they should be given opportunities to better themselves and "rise above" their current circumstances. Funding libraries, schools, or workshops would serve the less fortunate better in the long-term, and could allow them to become self-sufficient. Andrew Carnegie, a noted philanthropist, helped fund over 2000 public libraries in low-income cities. Instead of giving to organizations that provide handouts to the poor, Carnegie helped fund organizations that allowed for the betterment of people.
Although Singer's strategy is generous, it is impractical and could result in an attitude of complacency in the impoverished. Similar methods have been introduced, and they have proven to be ineffective and even counter-productive to the fight against poverty. The wealthy have an obligation to donate, but the donations should support organizations that promote self-improvement and self-sufficiency.