Thomas Pogge, the Leitner Professor of Philosophy and International Affairs at Yale University, has written a remarkable study. He exposes as myths the ideas that capitalist globalisation is gradually improving the lives of the world's poor through trade and aid, and that any remaining problems are local in origin, from backward cultures to bad rulers.
Chapter 1 introduces the global justice debate. Chapter 2 presents "my central claim: the dominant Western countries are designing and upholding global institutional arrangements, geared to their domestic economic elites, that foreseeably and avoidably produce massive deprivations in most of the much poorer regions of Asia, Africa, and Latin America." Chapter 3 looks at how the United Nations and the World Bank present the situation of the world's poor. Chapter 4 examines how the Bank fixes the international poverty line at an absurdly low level. Chapter 5 looks at the huge growth of global inequality between and within nations.
Chapter 6 argues that global poverty is a higher moral priority than the abortion debate and that pro- and anti-abortion activists should work together for the better moral cause of ending poverty. Chapter 7 studies 9/11 and concludes that the US and British `war on terror' `copied the two great moral failings of the terrorists' - harming the innocent and caring little about their actions' morality. Chapter 8 criticises Kofi Annan's misuse of the Rwandan genocide to press for more `humanitarian interventions'. Pogge's Chapter 9 claims to relate our foreign policy failings to the flaws of our domestic institutions, but in fact it only presents an arid scheme for reforming what he rightly calls the EU's `undemocratic rule'.
He notes, "Many more people - some 360 million - have died from hunger and remediable diseases in peacetime in the 20 years since the end of the Cold War than perished from wars, civil wars, and government repression over the entire twentieth century. ... 1,020 million human beings are chronically undernourished, 884 million lack access to safe water, and 2,500 million lack access to basic sanitation; 2,000 million lack access to essential drugs, 924 million lack adequate shelter and 1,600 lack electricity; 774 million adults are illiterate; and 218 million children are child laborers. Roughly one third of all human deaths, 18 million annually, are due to poverty-related causes, easily preventable through better nutrition, safe drinking water, cheap rehydration packs, vaccines, antibiotics and other medicines."
The rich states, and the international financial institutions they run, promote the avoidable evils of massive poverty and oppression, selfishly pushing rules and policies that they know harm the poor, while hypocritically claiming to promote development goals. The capitalist states rob the poor while claiming to aid them. Poor countries illicitly transfer an estimated $1 trillion a year to rich people in the rich countries.
Pogge concludes, "By foreseeably producing these effects, the present global order is unjust insofar as there are feasible (i.e., practicable and reachable) institutional alternatives that would not produce such catastrophic human suffering."
This poverty could be ended! $296 billion a year, just 0.66 per cent of global GDP, would lift above the poverty line of all those who live below this line.