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Pondering the universe


Ending world hunger

It is estimated that only US$37 billion is needed per year until 2030 to end world hunger. So why aren't we doing it?

While there would be huge strategic and logistical hurdles to actually alleviating world hunger, including getting access to the war zones where many of the starving world live, this article is about the drivers that impede even considering mobilising everything to do that. These are more about the will to do it.

Each of the top 10 billionaires on the Forbes' list could pay for one year of hunger alleviation and still have the great majority of their current fortunes intact. Just Musk and Bezos could pay for it all between them now and still be multi-billionaires. Instead, these two are talking about the long term survival of the human race in anywhere but here as being the most important focus for them. Given how little money it takes to persuade politicians to provide generous taxpayer-funded subsidies to fossil fuels companies, any one of the top 10 could persuade enough politicians to immediately fund lifting millions out of hunger.

The top of the list, Bernard Arnault and family, gained their fortune from their 75 cosmetic brands. If all those who bought those cosmetics donated half of what they spent on cosmetics, we would most likely have no world hunger. Such is the screwed-up priorities of people that they would rather fund billionaires than the world's hungry masses. It is so little sacrifice that those who are moderately well off could make. Even if they spent no money and just hounded their elected representatives, they could make the same difference. So where's the will to be better?

Of course, there is a link between those billionaires and why most people in richer countries are not helping the starving, and that is because the latter have been persuaded that they need to spend their money on the lifestyles that rely on the businesses owned by the billionaires. This scenario relies upon not thinking about the starving at all, or it being something beyond their capacity to change. This is the impotence of being selfish without compassion.

Perhaps we need to stop thinking that being a billionaire is somehow worthwhile if it doesn't really help those who need it the most. Perhaps the whole aspirational lifestyle living is not really worth it if it means mass suffering. Perhaps it is time for many to back away from believing that billionaires are in any way good for humanity. It is us who gives them the validity to be so rich, so it can be us that brings about more equity by making our politicians tax their wealth a lot more. Nothing trickles down from them, despite the continued promises that taxing them less would do so.

Societies are built upon consensus, and by consensus we can change them. We can choose to be better societies that help the world not be starving, or maybe even not be living in poverty at all!

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