I can’t stop thinking about something a professor of mine said a few weeks ago: when the United Nations asked for $100 million in 2008 to make sure that no one starved that year, the developed world (i.e. the West) said they didn’t have the money.

One year later, the developed world spent $4.3 trillion bailing out banks – banks who had gotten themselves into the mess they were in.

Now I hear that $4 billion is being spent on the upcoming US elections.

If you don’t want to help the developing world (even though you created the mess they’re in), fine. But people in the US are suffering too! Why not spend the money on healthcare, education, creating jobs? No – instead, that money is being spent on advertisements insulting and dehumanizing the other side.

How much money is being spent in Iraq and Afghanistan? Trillions. And all that is doing is destroying more lives, killing more innocent civilians, and turning more people against the US. Why not spend that money elsewhere?

$4.3 trillion saving banks; $4 billion on ONE election!

What is wrong with the world?



35 thoughts on “What?

  1. If we made the effort, we (and by “we” I am referring to developed countries) could eradicate poverty. It would take a few generations but we could definitely do it. It is carelessness and this “us and them” mentality. Also I think that there is a genuine lack of quality implementation at policy levels both from the givers of aid and the recipients of aid. We need progress.

    • Poverty eradication is not as hard as we are told it is – it just isn’t what the west wants.

      Correct implementation assumes the policies are credible, when in fact they are the problem.

  2. It’s all about having a return on your investment. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have nothing to do with freeing people, or making the world a better place. It has more to do with profiting from war, oil, and having posts in the regions. Why spend money just saving lives? If the intentions were along those lines, there’s countless countries in Africa that need to be saved – unfortunately, they’re not as profitable as Iraq (oil) and Afghanistan (gas, oil, and minerals).

    As for domestic American issues such as free healthcare, what is the point if you’re not going to profit? That’s precisely how insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies, and the healthcare industry see it, and they have substantial influence on politics to sway things.

    I am sad to say that a person’s life doesn’t hold much value anymore – at least in the eyes of the global trendsetters.

    • What a sad world we live in, where capitalism has literally subjugated everyone. When colonialism couldn’t continue, they found new ways of colonizing people.

  3. According to a documentary i saw, the wahabis have spent 100 billion US dollar on spreading their message of love 😛
    Now in sweden, the same banks that were almost bancrupt and that were saved by the swedish government are earning big money..one of them had a profit of 1 bilion Euro in one year..Its a messed up world..no wonder people are tired of it and are growing sentiments of hate and disslike towards the ruling classes and states.

    • “According to a documentary i saw, the wahabis have spent 100 billion US dollar on spreading their message of love”

      Yes, most Qurans spread to the rest of the world are salafi/wahabi interpretations.

  4. This breaks down to very simple terms. There are two groups in America, and they have extremely different ideologies. One group believes in universal values, the rights of all, the betterment of the whole, etc..
    Another group believes in residualism, or individualism, meaning to each his own, the individual comes before all else, and nobody deserves a handout.

    I think we can all guess which group is against sending money to help developing countries prosper. America’s foreign aid spending is certainly ridiculous, I can’t deny that. But it all depends on which group is calling the shots. When asked if they would support spending taxes to have clean water in every nation of the world, the answer was a resounding “no” from republicans. That would be a handout, something they are strictly against.
    Now with the whole tea party movement the focus is on domestic issues.

    Liberals fought hard for universal health care, but scare tactics abound in this country and if one is not educated they are likely to believe propaganda used against them. Many middle class republicans vote against their own interests because they are brainwashed to think they will one day be rich, so they vote in the interests of corporations and the richest 1%, which is why universal health, something that would benefit them, was shot down.

    America is largely an ignorant country with a small minority making the decisions. When ignorant people are voting we get shit for policy. Also, most people who are ignorant aren’t thinking about the world, only themselves.

    With the current elections going on, I am voting on Nov. 2nd, it is predicted that republicans will once again gain a majority in the senate. Their plan is to impeach Obama. They have clearly stated they want Obama out and they will go against every single policy he tries to pass, they even want to repeal the health care Obama was able to pass, which would be a sad day in America.

    With all this ignorance, prejudice, and sheer polarization in America right now, no one is thinking about anything but domestic issues, certainly we have turned inward.

    Let me just add this also. America sends foreign aid to many disasters, we were the FIRST in Pakistan helping flood victims, the FIRST. Of course the rate of giving for Pakistan was ridiculously low, but what does that say about the rest of the world when we were the only ones who came for weeks? When the Taliban cast millions out of the SWAT valley, the U.S. was the only one with organizations on the ground helping people along on their exile from home. When Haiti fell to the ground we were there. We are everywhere in times of crisis.

    Yes, there is much about America that is despicable, but there is also so much that we do that goes unnoticed. We may cast a large shadow, but we also shine a lot of light.

    Ok, I am off my high horse now. Haha!

    With that said, America is like that with it’s own people, so why the surprise when we are like that with the world also?
    We are good at disasters, not prevention. It is why universal healthcare didn’t get passed.
    We have an ER for emergencies, and this is where people are helped, we don’t have money to spend on prevention and long-term care.

    Or so they say.

    Same goes for the world.

    We are all fed up.

    • I have a question: is it really a minority that is messed up?

      Also I really don’t think the US has anything to be proud of in terms of its aid record. Like Nida says, compared to GDP, what the US gives is actually very little. Also, a lot of people questioned the aid the US gave Pakistan – was that really to “help the Pakistani people?” I don’t know, I feel like when it comes to the US (or any country really) we should question the money they “give out.” There are always strings attached. Plus the US always PLEDGES millions and never really delivers, or if they do, it’s a tiny amount of what they said they would said. Final thing: the US is one of the major countries who doesn’t pay their UN fees, which means they aren’t even contributing to the money the UN is spending!

  5. I can only say that I agree completely with you and all the other commenters.

    I was taught in class once, that the amount spend on weapons and war all over the globe in ONE day, could secure clean water for EVERYONE in the world.

  6. Well the simplistic answer to your question is that eradicating world poverty is not in the ‘developed world’s’ ‘best’ interest. They know eradicating poverty means decreasing their standard of living, which most Westerns are not ready to give up. It comes down to world class capitalism, and exploitation is the key ingredient to the West’s success and growth.

    ‘Nations’ do not operate on the same moral and practical standards as ‘people.’ As Hobbs once said, a smaller person can easily knock down a bigger person with a baseball bat or what ever, but a small country ‘nation’ cannot do so to a world power. If we want true equality then we need a unified international/World government – which I don’t see happening anytime soon – but it is a dream I dare to dream!

    @ Unsettled Soul – given our GDP the US is actually giving the least foreign Aid compared to other countries in the World. We give less then one tenth of one percent in foreign aid (whether it be natural disasters or otherwise). Now Israel and Egypt get 50 % of that one tenth of one percent, so the rest is actually what America gives to ‘other’ countries. Among the regular receivers of Aid, as you point out is Pakistan and also India, due to their alliance against the “war on terror.” The only reason the US responded to the Pakistan flood was because they had great interest in doing so, given the very fragile situation in terms of foreign policy there right now.

    Sure America gives aid, but they don’t give nearly enough as they should be giving, based on their GDP, and compared to other countries such as the Scandinavians who give over 1% of their GDP to Foreign Aid.

    • I completely agree with everything you said. At the end of the day, poverty is functional. The west and capitalism need poverty for the system to work and benefit them. We will probably never see the end of it.

      I like the Hobbs example!

    • “Well the simplistic answer to your question is that eradicating world poverty is not in the ‘developed world’s’ ‘best’ interest. They know eradicating poverty means decreasing their standard of living, which most Westerns are not ready to give up.”

      I don’t know the truth of this, but I must admit it makes sense to me. Interesting view.

      “The only reason the US responded to the Pakistan flood was because they had great interest in doing so, given the very fragile situation in terms of foreign policy there right now.”

      Again, I don’t know the truth of this statement, but I’m inclined to believe it to be the truth. It is simply human nature to be calculated in their actions.

      However, I see another possibility from where I stand. And that is the question of affordability. I don’t know the statistics on the American GDP etc, but I was amazed when I read that the USA is in deficit by a whopping 13 trillion bucks. I can’t even begin to imagine that figure. Imaging the number of zeros after the “13”. And people are saying that figure is still growing! It makes me wonder how long America would take to balance its books; perhaps a very long time.

      I therefore see the American economy as just hanging by a thread. When resources become dangerously low, I suppose one can argue that the country would want to use those resources for itself first, and for others later. So sharing with others would not be high on the priority list. But I don’t know if this very small portions of the GDP to help others has been the trend all this while, even before the 13 trillion thing came about.

      • “I therefore see the American economy as just hanging by a thread. When resources become dangerously low, I suppose one can argue that the country would want to use those resources for itself first, and for others later. So sharing with others would not be high on the priority list.”

        Well let’s ask ourselves then how did the US get into this enormous debt in the first place? Due to the “self-regulating” nature of the capitalist market place. Due to the fact that up until this point, America has always been spending on ‘itself’ rather then contributing to the general welfare of the whole global community. And by ‘spending on itself’ I also mean waging illicit wars and CIA operations in other “third world” countries.

        You can learn more on how it would be beneficial if all countries met the UN goal of 0.7% on the Millenium Project website.

        And HERE is a summery of US progress in the field. But let’s keep in mind that about 50% always goes to particular nations: Israel, Egypt, Pakistan, El Salvador, India and some other ones I can’t remember.

  7. In response to Sara, Nida & Cornelius,

    Hey! Three of my favorite people on one blog, how cool is that?! lol 😉

    In my comment I stated that our spending on foreign aid is ridiculous, I completely agree with that and think our track record for foreign aid is crap.

    But like I said, our track record is crap because of the ideologies at war with each other. Republicans and conservative ideology has a very strong hold on this country, even when democrats are the majority republicans do all they can to keep policies from passing, hence, even as a majority we could not get healthcare passed. It is politics at play. Yes it is capitalism at it’s best, and conservative values of free trade, free market capitalism, are running this world. Free market capitalism is definitely a major player in the reason poverty is needed to get cheap goods that people don’t want to pay more for. I completely agree with Sara’s and Nida’s points, and can’t say there is much to disagree on.

    I have to be proud of something in my country, and what I am proud of is our willingness to help. This doesn’t have much to do with foreign aid, and our one sided relationship with Israel makes me sick, but the people on the ground, the everyday people, are out there volunteering, students and grass roots organizations, the Red Cross, the doctors without borders, the real people are out there making a difference, and I am proud of them for that. When there is disaster, we are there, and that speaks volumes in comparison to other developed countries. As far as our government, yes they are disappointing to say the least!

    Sara I do agree, there are always strings attached when our government is involved in aid. Currently there are businesses selling medical supplies to developing countries, but the strings attached to receiving these supplies is that the developing countries have to set up privatized healthcare. Hmm, gee, I wonder why. Of course, so these American companies have long term clients needing their supplies. They are now spreading our disease to other countries. Our disease of shit for health. Developing nations accepting these agreements are going to see devastation among their poor.

    Ok yes, Pakistan aid had a motive by the gov’t, but I like to think of the organizations & people that are out there making a difference, not so much USAID. I need something to be proud of, dammit!! Hahaha!!!! 🙂


    YES! We are having major problems. The first problem is our selfishness and our greed. As a nation, our debt is high, as you pointed out, but everyone wants to keep spending, people are still asking for tax cuts. No! Everyone wants wants wants, our country is like a spoiled child that has no concept of a budget. No one wants to give more from their taxes in order to bring down the debt. Once again this is a conservative ideology issue. Conservatives and their party are still campaigning on tax cuts, which is simply unreasonable and insane right now! They are selling lies and their party is eating it up. They are out protesting in the streets for tax cuts, the Tea Party movement in America is this insane group of people with complete ignorance for brains, who run on fear, racism, & hate, and scream about tax cuts. They think universal care equates Obama with Nazism, even though in the long term it would actually save us money.

    Our country is troubled. We have a political party that is leaning towards extremism and we are rolling backwards because of it.

    What do I have to be proud of? grass roots organizations, students, and university organizations; liberal progressive pundits speaking out against it, and all of us who are sticking together and shouting for this to stop. All of us who are going to vote tomorrow. That is our shining light.

    The sad thing is, there are Tea Party politicians who are most likely going to win tomorrow, and join the senate. My state has been a liberal one for years, tomorrow it may elect two conservatives to senate. These are troubling times.

    • “This doesn’t have much to do with foreign aid, and our one sided relationship with Israel makes me sick, but the people on the ground, the everyday people, are out there volunteering, students and grass roots organizations, the Red Cross, the doctors without borders, the real people are out there making a difference, and I am proud of them for that”

      I have to agree Sarah, individual people ARE generous, but America as a nation is not. I mean Bill Gates alone gives more in Aid then the whole country lol. It’s telling, I think.

      • Nida,

        it is sad. Bill Gates and Warren Buffet do more in terms of “foreign aid” then our entire government or nation in general.

        My sister-in-law and I argue all the time over conservative values and this idea of “everyone for themselves.” She states simply “I need to worry about my own family, why the hell do I care about people having water in Africa?”

        So now you know how family holidays are at my house. haha!

        But in all seriousness, people who only care about themselves and people who are like them will never see the bigger picture, or the consequences of our selfishness and xenophobia.

  8. What’s wrong with the world is that it only invests in where there is a perceived return on that investment. Money is “investment” not money.

    No one wants to give a pound that will just vanish from their hand. They would rather give a pound that will multiply into two, three and four.

    Money is no longer a route to food, welfare and charity – money is a business proposition and it’s spending is dictated by potential ROI from it.

    So, sorry doctors, nurses and teachers, apologies poor and starving and hungry: you are a cost to the world as you produce very little ROI. But a bank, well…unlimited potentials for ROI there – lets just go ahead and invest…

  9. Hah, an epidemic…in Malaysia, they are about to spend RM5 Billion on another tower, a 100 storey mega tower, while there are some parts of our country that is so behind the image of “developed country” that we still don’t even road system, many children had to struggle with education because they can’t afford, and many rural family that still lives extreme poverty. We could even use the money for better health care system, but again 200,000 malaysian who actually voiced out against it, are being pushed aside in the name of development…so, this is not only America, we can safely say, there are many nation who strive for ‘development’ race they forgot to prioritize the human kind…what happen to raising living standard of human kind?

  10. If we help the Third World to develop, then our currency will not be so strong against them, and we will not be able to buy large volumes of their land and produce at such a low cost, which we sell on in our own countries at massive profit.

    As long as the poor countries currency remains low – the developed world can continue to buy out their resources and sell them on within their own economies at massive profit.

    If the 3rd world gets strong, the companies in the developed world would suffer tremendously due to the increase in cost of their product: look at petrol and oil and how they are affected by rising prices. If the 3rd world gets strong, we will see the same rises across the board – apples, banana, rice, pear, avocado…pretty much everything will dramatically increase, less people will buy, less profit will be made.

    The 3rd world benefits the developed world due to their currency issues. With the banking crisis, the developed world suffered a reduction in the value of the currency and you can see the impact across the whole market – prices go up, people can’t buy, companies fold – everything changes.

    • jasmine,

      Yes, this is exactly how the people at the very top think, but how is it we are able to get the people at the bottom to go along with it?

      In America, people at the top sell a dream to the people at the bottom, they sell to all of us the “American Dream,” that we can all be rich someday too. It is a fallacy that too many people still fall for. In turn, they vote against their own interests and side with the corporations that are exploiting them and the rest of the world.

      People at the bottom are taught that helping others is a handout, is anti-American, and supports lazy people who don’t want to work.

      This is why education is needed, so people can learn about what they are supporting, and see the bigger picture.

      There is no “American Dream.”

  11. How messed up would you have to have your priorities ordered that way? I can’t fathom that. Even China’s dictators are beloved because they actually fucking care. God.

  12. Unsettled soul, I agree with you – Capitalism is it’s own religion, Money is the God, the nuclear family are it’s angels, the entrepreneur’s are the Prophet showing “the way” for everyone else. A good deed is an investment that makes healthy returns and evil deed is to make an investment that doesn’t.

    The sad thing is that capitalism is the natural outcome of man’s basic nature – we seek to be better, get better, do better (naturally). It takes ultimate moral fibre to come to power or riches and not be corrupted by it, to not take advantage of it. One must be insanely morally strong or innocent to be able to have that total non-attachment to the material and to not be greedy for anything.

    Historically, when a man has been able to come to power and resist the temptation to get richer and more powerful from it, we have called them “men of God” and we have called them “prophet” or “saint” – because remaining moral in the face of power and temptation is so hard, that we think only God can make it happen.

    • I don’t think capitalism is the natural outcome of human nature at all – I think we are taught to believe that so we don’t question capitalism. Societies have existed for thousands of years without capitalism, which came about, what, 400 years ago?
      Capitalism doesn’t mean being attached to material things/being greedy. It means your life being ruled by demand and supply, it means humans are commodities, it means its all about profit – and history shows us that it hasn’t always been like this, and that in fact it’s a new (mostly western) phenomenon.

  13. Unsettled soul, also the people at the bottom are in debt: they OWE the people at the top (this is why debt is so important – mortgages, credit cards etc etc) – so you HAVE to work, you HAVE to pay, you cant go anywhere – because the economy you earn and the economy you spend are so unbalanced, that the people are the bottom are fighting just to survive. Whether itbe a big home or a small home – they are all on loan, and they are all prisons for the people in them.

  14. Jasmine, Good point.

    It reeks of slavery, no? Our debt is our shackles. Like slaves on a slave-ship talking about who has the nicest chain.

    This is why regulation is an important factor in capitalism. Regulation controls greed and corruption. Of course, if conservatives get what they want free market capitalism will remain. And they are very good at securing their reign. ignorance and xenophobia are easy campaigns to run on. This is why the tea party is so powerful right now.

    • Unfortunately the dominant economists today are calling for NO regulation of the economy. Can you imagine the kind of disaster that would lead to?

      • They want to rehash the same mistakes. Isn’t that the definition of insanity? To try the same thing over and over again hoping to get a different result…

  15. I totally agree with you, it is like slavery. This is why debt and interest are evil things – they really are so so evil and destructive.

    there is a loop hole in the whole picture. Free market is about supply and demand, and if we (who create the demand) start to demand different things then change will start to happen.

    But it takes a very high level of awareness and focus and determination to be such a person. Its not as easy as it sounds.

    • But even if we demand different things, we are still recycling the same system. We need to move away from supply and demand. I personally think it’s impossible, capitalism is too entrenched.

  16. I can’t help but notice that much has been said about how the developed countries are not doing enough to help the poor countries; that the former seem to have lots of money spent on “less important” stuff, i.e. wastage, when they could use those resources to help others in need.

    But although I can generally agree with the comments here, I think we should also pause for a bit and look at the recipient countries. The question that we must ask ourselves is whether they have done enough on their part to help themselves?

    Let’s not forget that if the governments of the developed countries are corrupt and mismanage their money, so can the governments of the poor countries. In fact, I dare say that that may be one of the major factors preventing them from solving their problems!

    I am appalled to read that out of over USD40 billions of aid within a decade channeled to Afghanistan, for example, an estimated USD18 billions was unaccounted for in the end.

    While I support the call for richer governments to help the poorer governments, I think the latter should also show that they really want to help themselves.

    • Of course the developing countries have a role to play – corruption, etc are HUGE problems. However, it is impossible to ignore the fact that the developing world is in the mess its in today BECAUSE of the advanced countries. Colonialism shifted the balance of power and changed the world forever. Millions and millions of people died, were enslaved, were dehumanized. Capitalism was enforced everywhere. Natural resources were stolen from every possible place on the planet. And even after decolonization, the developing world became part of a system that favours the west.
      Still, you make a good point – we should acknowledge that the corrupt governments in the developing world need to get their act together. Then again, who keeps Egypt’s dictator in power? Yes – America. So it’s not so easy to say that the developing world is a mess because they don’t want to help themselves. We do. But it’s hard, because all the odds are stacked against us.

      • I personally believe Iran is where it is at today because America stepped in when they were on their verge of revolution, and America changed the entire history of that country.

        Yes, developing nations must do their part, there is no denying that, but America controls much of what is “allowable” in many developing nations. It is a prerequisite of our relationship with other countries. We call the shots or we refuse a relationship. The only case where this is not true is in regards to Israel. Israel is a special case because we are guilted into a dysfunctional relationship. But that is another topic.

        Also, I would like to add that capitalism can work for people, but regulation is what we are missing. Free market capitalism is like allowing people to rob and steal their way to riches. Of course the people who benefit will support it.

        The hangup with capitalism is that there is a need for poverty, there is a need for countries to remain “third world.” The only reason developed nations are developed is because they took advantage of slavery and exploitation of both resources and other nations.

        For products to be cheap, there has to be people willing to get paid slave wages. And that is the hangup with capitalism. How can we possibly be serious in wanting the world to get better when we are reliant on slave wages? Any time you complain about prices going up on the goods you buy think about what low prices equals.

        Look at the tags on your clothes. They are made in those countries for a reason. It is cheap to pay people and you don’t have to enforce safety codes.

        Unfortunately I too am pessimistic. For one, no system has been proven to work better, and for two, life without slave wages and slum factories would equal a hike in prices of all of our goods and a total reorganization of the world economic system. We are all making money off of people’s backs. Let’s face it.

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