Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Bush: Trade best solution to poverty.

On June 15 in Washington D.C. before the Seattle based Initiative for Global Development's 2006 National Summit, President Bush stressed the importance of the U.S. role in fighting poverty and the importance of trade.

He said, “Fighting global poverty reflects this country's values. It serves our nation's interests, as well. It's the country's economic interest that we fight global poverty, because as developing nations grow in prosperity, they create better lives for their citizens and markets for U.S. products. It's in our security interests that we fight global poverty, because weakened, impoverished states are attractive safe havens for terrorists and tyrants and international criminals.”

Didn’t anyone tell the President that Democrats have always led the fight against global poverty? Perhaps Dems did it so poorly because they never realized that doing so would actually help our economy and improve our national security.

Bush also said: ...the strategy to defeat extreme poverty begins with trade. That's sometimes hard for some people to connect with. It's kind of a -- people don't quite understand why that's the case. One way to describe it, the value of trade, is this: The value of trade is more than ten times the value of foreign investment and foreign aid combined. In other words, prosperity as a result of trade is more likely -- ten times more likely to have a positive effect on somebody living in a poor society than just investment and grants.

Trade may boost third world nation’s wealth but trickle down to their poor is never a guarantee. Defeating extreme poverty actually begins with health, education and good governance that protects such basic human rights and laws that protect basic capitalist norms such as land ownership, labor laws and a healthy and educated work force.

Waiting for trade to end poverty could take decades. With nearly 30,000 children dying every day from easily preventable malnutrition and infections waiting even one day isn’t such a good idea. If Americans value human life as much as business perhaps we should spend as much on direct aid as we do on trading with people who spend far too much time being sick, illiterate and burying their own children.

If defeating poverty is helpful in eliminating ‘safe havens for terrorists’ perhaps we could spend just one month of our war in Iraq each year to defeat global poverty. According to UN statistics that would be the US fair share. Do the freakin’ math.


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