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The Singer Solution to World Poverty – My Thoughts

12 March 2009 No Comment

About two weeks ago I read an essay by the (im)famous Peter Singer titled The Singer Solution to World Poverty, now I will say this, once you read what he has to say about his view on world poverty. I would guess that 95% of those who read his article will be angry and would want his head on a pike. Now on that note, he does have some interesting points and ideas about what he has to say about those involved and not involved in helping in the world poverty. Granted that society frowns upon the poor and all that good stuff, however, after reading that essay, most likely the crowd will be split on his views and of course my views on his views. Well you get the point and so after reading it leave your comments so the world can what you think about this his article and mine.

Singer Talks Poverty

Peter Singer’s article “The Singer Solution to World Poverty” is an article in which Mr. Singer criticizes the world by arguing that people don’t do enough for the less fortunate. A person who reads this for the first time will think, as I did, that he just making one long guilt trip by going after everyone and not just one group of people. Although, he is correct that we should do more, I think he is taking an extremist view on how we should help those less fortunate.

Mr. Singer’s whole argument is those who are well off are either not giving enough or not giving at all and that those who spend more money on themselves should use it instead for those in poverty. He uses two examples to make his point, the first of which is a film called “Central Station” in which a woman by the name of Dora found a possible family for this young boy, however she later finds out that he is too old and that he will be killed and chopped up for human parts. Ethically, she could not let this happen and so she got the boy out and prevented this from happening (249). Now Singer’s argument is that although she knew this was wrong it took another person’s perspective to make her realize it was wrong. His other example was about a man named Bob who sacrificed a boy’s life for his car and although it was morally and ethically wrong, he points out that since the man had no connection with the boy it wasn’t morally or ethically wrong for him to save the car (250). From these two examples he is showing how some people are doing something, but not enough of it, and the other group are not doing anything at all. However, those two examples are a bit extreme and thus cloud the overall picture that the world should do more even if it is only can of food or a few dollars a month.

As to how I view this article written by Mr. Singer, I feel as though it is one long guilt trip, and not just for those who do not donate to charities or aid organizations, but also to those who do but do not give enough. Now to me, and most likely Mr. Singer, there are about a million excuses as to why people can’t give or do not want to give, although a few of those excuses are legit, such as a person not making enough income to even to give a few dollars, or losing a job or even a house. Those I think he can surely agree with. However another perspective he doesn’t talk about is that some of those in poverty are not doing more to get out of it. Granted there are various forces at work for those that are in poverty, but still he only chooses one aspect of the problem and not both sides.

Though this article is about a person’s ethics, I think he takes extreme views and punishes everyone, regardless if they give or not. Putting financial problems aside, and not worrying about where the money or food goes when you donate it, but doing a single act of charity, even if only once a month, is still ethically right just because it is a good deed and it helps someone who can’t help themselves, including those who are disabled or old. Then morally you have done a good thing and if you believe in karma then your life will receive good karma and maybe when someone sees you doing it, he or she will do the same act of kindness as well.

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