What is our responsibility to alleviate poverty around the world?

I noticed today that Yahoo! News (yes, I know, not a very impressive source for news, but I still have an email account with them and visit their website daily) had a link to Poke’s Global Rich List:

Global Rich List.

This list will tell you just how rich you are compared to the rest of the world.  Most Americans are easily within the top 10%. If you have an income of $50,000 or so, you are easily within the top 1%. They use World Bank data to source their numbers. Now, there are a number of problems with their methodology. It doesn’t, for instance, take into account relative purchasing power ($50,000 would buy me a lot more in Ghana than it does in the US). But it does remind me of a great article I often have my students read, one that was introduced to me by Amy Gurowtiz at UC Berkeley.

Peter Singer’s “Solution to World Poverty”, which appeared in the New York Times Magazine over a decade ago, presents a fantastic version of a cosmopolitan argument for our individual responsibility towards others in the word.

There are alternative views on individual and collective responsibility, and I won’t relate them all here. But I offer these today as interesting food for thought.

And if you do feel inspired to donate something somewhere, I might suggest that the Kibera School for Girls, a project founded by Wesleyan students I have had the privilege to teach, might be a good place to start.

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