In a collection of essays on so broad a scope as Pogge's World Poverty and Human Rights it's difficult to narrow topics of possible discussion down to effectively address all aspects of Pogge's presented philosophy. I found Pogge's text extremely helpful in that it brought with it a wholly unique approach to looking at the issues we're faced unique aspect presented is the strong use of illustrative examples in the text, not in the fashion of Farmer's narratives of suffering and injustices in a world thought by many to be beyond that but realized by a few of us to still have a long way to go. This is also somewhat in contrast to Sen (Development as Freedom) who relied largely on definitions, but between the two I found Pogge's examples facts and figures to be much more moving as a call to action than was Sen's, if for shock value alone if nothing else.
Being that my primary interest is world hunger and social justice which ties in directly to Pogge's arguments and pleas, I found this to be an especially appropriate text for building a basis upon which arguments may be launched and supported. In reviewing the facts of Pogge's book, some are now outdated, but the figures are large enough even in their datedness that they should scare the reader into a realization of sorts that if 800 million people in the world still go hungry, we have a long way yet to go in our efforts to enact plans such as that put forth by Schweickart (After Capitalism), and to a lesser extent, Rawls (A Theory of Justice), and that differences can in fact be made that will influence the world to the degree need to enact change. In keeping with this notion I was especially impressed with the straightforward nature with which Pogge identifies what is perhaps the single most pervasive problem in combating both poverty and the associated hunger: the fact that the affluent (or relatively so) simply don't see it for simple ignorance and lack of exposure outside a purely academic and/or missionary setting, and secondly, that when we are exposed to poverty and hunger we have a difficulty identifying with the problem and it therefore becomes less problematic to us.
Pogge's second major point is that despite all of the facts and figures he presents demonstrating the dire straights the world is experiencing in terms of hunger and poverty, we are able to put a stop to it, not with advances that would take years to develop, but with resources available to us now. We have the means. The financial costs to end hunger are relatively slight in comparison to the spending committed to aspects of world culture and policy such as the arms race and preparing for wars that further indebt countries and produce more and more individuals who become destitute and malnourished. The United Nations Development Program estimates that the basic health and nutrition needs of the world's poorest people could be met for an additional $13 billion a year; what is not so frequently discussed is that fact that animal lovers in the United States and Europe spend more than that on pet food each year and will in all likelihood continue to do so for the reasons above; either they aren't exposed to the problem or the problem is far enough removed to them so as not to constitute a problem in their eyes.
Pogge does a fantastic job of illustrating these and other related points, but a complaint would be that much in the manner of humanitarian aid that is provided to poor countries by the United States, our own suffering citizens seem to be ignored for the benefit of those suffering elsewhere in the world, who may be equally in need, but should not be said to be more so simply as a matter of fact. It's true that in developing countries, 6 million children die each year, mostly from hunger-related causes, but it must be remembered that at the same time in the United States, 13 million children live in households where people have to skip meals or eat less to make ends meet. That means one in ten households in the U.S. are living with hunger or are at risk of hunger and yet little aid is given stateside in comparison to the amounts that are donated abroad, seemingly largely due to the intensive amount of attention paid to those suffering in underdeveloped or undeveloped countries as opposed to our own.
Despite the Malthusian type arguments presented and to some level dealt with through Pogge's own examples and persuasive arguments, I feel that there are too many possibilities left open in Pogge's theory and that it will take a much more profound overall statement of purpose to convince those in power to simply give up their current standards and practices in favor of Pogge's more pleading approach to addressing the problems at hand. People will not be convinced (though clearly the perhaps should be) to adopt new modes of operation and policy based merely on the suggestions of someone they will ultimately view as an ivory tower academic with little or no contact in the areas he discusses so vividly, and perhaps this is the correct view. With Pogge's call to action appealing mainly to those with the same limited ability to directly influence and thereby limited to speculative involvement alone, little is likely to come out of what would otherwise be an incredibly persuasive and pervasive work of scholarship on what I personally feel is the single most important issue at stake in economic and societal politics in general today.