Blog Action Day

Blog Action Day, 2008: Poverty

Today is Blog Action Day, an annual event with the aim of uniting bloggers, podcasters and videocasters all over the world to get everyone talking about the same issue.

This year’s theme – Poverty – is one we’ve touched upon before, not least in discussing Crisis, the charity for the homeless, which has David as its vice president.

We’ve talked about the environment and the banking crisis recently, as well as Live 8. They’re all connected to this all-encompassing issue of poverty, an issue we could see solved.

However, although the eight wealthiest nations promised, in 2001, to halve world poverty by 2015, targets are not being met. Some three billion people are still, in the year 2008, living on less than $2.50 a day.

I’d like to hear your reaction to this, about any thoughts you may have, experiences you can share, and especially tips on how everyone can play their small part in spreading wealth around; most crucially, directing it to where it’s most desperately needed.

Send in links to campaigns, petitions, photos, poems, even list your favourite poverty-related songs, books or films… Whatever it is, send it in.

Author: FEd

Features Editor of David Gilmour’s official blog, The Blog (‘Features’ previously being its rather naff title), affectionately – or lazily – shortened to ‘FEd’.

114 thoughts on “Blog Action Day”

  1. WAS I DREAMING, OR WAS THERE A POST REGARDING FAVORITE ALBUM COVERS?

    I guess this has more substance though.

    [You weren’t dreaming, but we can talk about album covers next time. – FEd]

  2. Hello Fed!

    Well, my guitar has arrived and I love it! Here is a link to the picture I promised (click my name)!

    I purchased the Gilmour Strat from the Sam Ash chain (the same company who owns “Manny’s” where Gilmour bought his). They did such a great job getting this guitar for me as soon as they could!

    The guitar is beautiful and sounds just fantastic! I am very proud to have purchased this instrument!

    [I’m happy for you, Johnnie. I hope it brings you many years of loyal service. – FEd]

  3. … it’s a shame for our “civilization” that poverty is still an issue. Paraphrasing a well know song I’d say: “Poverty, it’s a crime”…

    I can’t give any advice in general, poverty has too many faces. What my family and I try to do is buying “fair” and donating to educational projects that will empower people to help themselves…

    Here is a link to the educational project “Linux4Afrika”, that deserves some broader public attention (click my name).

    Best regards,
    Taki

  4. Charities like Crisis are very important in the stamping out of poverty. However, what is also important is the involvement of the individual at the personal level. In other words, sometimes we feel like we have done enough in the fight to stop poverty by donating money to our favorite charity. But it also takes a hands on approach also, a lifestyle approach.

    For instance, making sure you give to your local food pantry, volunteer at the local shelter or food distribution area, donating lightly used clothes to charities, furniture, cars etc. These all help to improve our societies at the grass root level.

    It takes more than just money, it takes time and effort from everyone. It takes all of us, as an individual, to commit to making sure the government initiatives are met, not just sitting waiting to see if the governments can pull it off.

    [Well said, Scott. – FEd]

  5. I don’t believe it can be fixed. Of course we need to try, but poverty has been with us since the beginning of time and will be here till the end.

    As long as greed is in the heart of man, poverty will be an issue.

  6. Hmmm…in some ways I am completely not surprised that the goals set forth are not met. In some ways, based on the economic environment we are experiencing, don’t be surprised if the poverty levels increase.

    Mind you, that is not meant as a joke either. Although much of the focus has been on the fat cats within banks and Wall Street, there are many smaller folks involved as well. A bank failing does not just touch the executives but it goes all the way down to your local teller.

    I realize that much of the poverty that was being addressed by the commitment by the 8 had more to do with third world nations. However, when Sally the teller loses her job, she will be focused more on how she will survive first and then turn her attentions to the greater good.

    I also realize that my opinions will probably differ greatly from others here. So be it.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    [That’s fair enough… and all too true. I’d much rather experience Sally’s poverty, though. It would undeniably seem like a life of luxury for so many who are less fortunate.- FEd]

  7. [Some three billion people are still, in the year 2008, living on less than $2.50 a day. – FEd]

    It makes me sick just thinking about it. 🙁

    Click my name above and see how the ‘hunger deaths’ total rises.

  8. five simple ideas:

    1. spend a little extra at the supermarket and buy fair trade products
    2. take unwanted items to oxfam shops so they can sell them
    3. take the copenhagen pledge (google it)
    4. write to your government representative
    5. buy someone an alternative gift for christmas from world vision (click my name)

    [A meal for 70 children, just £12. Good God, how bad does that make you feel? – FEd]

  9. Fed – I hope you remember your promise regarding my picture with the guitar…..thanks!

    [I do, don’t worry. – FEd]

  10. Dear F.Ed,

    This event is very important on the web as in few minutes I ‘ve been linked to many different sites.

    Frankly speaking, as I love the poems so much, I ‘ve found this issue so important and real that showing a couple of links to poems’ sites about poverty, in my opinion, is truly hypocritical.

    In a site here below linked, I ‘ve read an interesting definition about poverty, so good for me in English, but also to think about this problem that involves all mankind, nobody excepted.

    It begins: “Poverty is hunger. Poverty is lack of shelter. Poverty is being sick and not being able to see a doctor. Poverty is not having access to school and not knowing how to read. Poverty is not having a job, is fear for the future, living one day at a time. Poverty is losing a child to illness brought about by unclean water. Poverty is powerlessness, lack of representation and freedom.”

    And one of the best ways to Take Action Against Poverty Right Now in the official site is: Stop being lazy.

    I think it’s enough to start a little revolution…

    Take care, bye/ciao
    Elisabetta

  11. HOMELESS

    SHALL WE SEND THE HOMELESS HOME
    OR SHOULD WE TIE THEM TO THE TABLES
    SHALL WE LEAVE THEM ALL ALONE
    JUST IN CASE THEIR LEFT UNABLE

    SHOULD WE KEEP THEM IN THE DARK
    RIGHT BESIDE OUR DIRTY LAUNDRY
    HIDE THEM FROM THE BIRTHDAY SPARK
    KEEP THEM COLD ENOUGH AND LONELY

    AND I’D LIKE TO TELL YOU ALL
    WHAT I KNOW
    AND I’D LIKE TO SHOW YOU ALL
    WHAT I KNOW

    SHOULD WE LEAVE THEM TO THEMSELVES
    TO JUSTIFY WHAT’S WRONG WITHIN US
    TO HEAR THEM CALLING OUT FOR HELP
    THE LONELY HEARTS, THE SAINTS, THE SINNERS

    I’D LIKE TO TAKE YOU FOR A RIDE
    FAR AWAY TO NEON WATERS
    WHERE ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE HIDE
    YOUR FATHERS SONS, YOUR MOTHERS DAUGHTERS

    AND I’D LIKE TO TELL YOU ALL
    WHAT I KNOW
    AND I’D LIKE TO SHOW YOU ALL
    WHAT I KNOW

    EVERYTHING’S SO NEW TO YOU
    NO ONE HAS A CLUE FOR YOU
    AND EVERYTHING YOU DO HAS BEEN DONE
    BEFORE YOUR TIME

    AM I JUST A SINNER
    AM I JUST A CLOWN
    OR AM I JUST SO TIRED OF FALLING DOWN

    WHERE WILL WE GO, WHAT WILL WE DO
    WHAT COULD I SAY BUT YOU WONT HEAR ME
    MAYBE IT’S JUST BECAUSE THEIR NUMB
    MAYBE IT’S JUST BECAUSE THEY FEAR ME

    I’D LIKE TO TAKE YOU FOR A RIDE
    FAR AWAY TO NEON WATERS
    WHERE ALL THE LONELY PEOPLE HIDE
    YOUR FATHERS SONS, YOUR MOTHERS DAUGHTERS

    AND I’D LIKE TO TELL YOU ALL
    WHAT I KNOW
    AND I’D LIKE TO SHOW YOU ALL
    WHAT I KNOW…

  12. Three billion people living on less than $2.50 a day makes our moaning about the price of petrol seem stupid, doesn’t it?

    [It does. – FEd]

  13. Well, it’s something for us all to think about isn’t it?

    I personally still find it shocking that in this country one of the richest in the world you cannot walk more than a few hundred yards in my hometown without seeing some poor chap or lady asleep in a shop doorway or asking for money. I find it sickening that people insult them and in some cases literally kick them while they are down (saw this happen once, I hope I never see it again, it was awful).

    I mean, if you don’t want to give them money then don’t but remember they are humans with feelings like the rest of us, if I don’t have change I tell them I haven’t got any change a vast majority of them will say thankyou, have a good day, etc in return, they seem to appreciate that somebody treats them like a person rather than just a thing.

    Sorry f.ed, I know I’ve digressed slightly but as I say poverty is something we should all think about, I think the fact we are discussing it can only be a good thing.

    I think it’s good to give something back from time to time too, we are the fortunate ones really aren’t we?

    [Definitely. No matter how tough life seems at times, there’s always someone, somewhere, who has it three billion times worse. – FEd]

  14. I don’t want to rant, but I do think poverty is a huge issue. The last thing we want to see in the world is someone suffering, but it happens all too often.

    I think that one of the major problems is our governments. They have very little incentive to actually do anything other than make shallow promises. It may sound cliche, but as Ghandi said “Be the change you want to see in the world.”

    Our obligation to our fellow man does not end at government promises. If government did not exist, the responsibility would still be there to help these people.

    I think a good way to help those in poverty is to stop wasting the resources we have. Also, do not trash possessions that you may not want but are still in good condition. For example, old toys, clothes, etc. can all be donated through private charities and churches which go to the poor. Canned Goods and Non Perishables are also good items to donate.

    Sorry to get off on a rant, but these are just some thoughts I have on the subject…

    [Thanks, Ax. – FEd]

  15. [A meal for 70 children, just £12. Good God, how bad does that make you feel? – FEd]

    Ugly…

    Before discussing about Christmas gifts, I’ll show that page to my children!

    Sam: Thanks for providing that link!

    Regards,
    Taki

  16. We sponsor a child in Sri Lanka through an organisation called Plan. We pay a regular monthly amount which helps to provide necessities like clean water and education. The link is not just financial, we also write to her family and receive letters and photographs as well as regular updates.

    I think it’s a great way of helping, if you are able to make a regular financial commitment, because you know exactly where the money is going and you have a personal involvement.

    It’s good for our children too. They like to write and send pictures and it helps them to realise that not everyone is as fortunate as they are.

    [Bless you, Lynn. That’s lovely. – FEd]

  17. [Nice one, Johnnie!!! – Paul Sexton]

    Thanks Paul!

    The guitar is simply stunning – everytime I pick it up I feel like I am holding nearly 40 years of Rock history!

    It is worth every penny.

  18. “XDRTB.org is an extraordinary effort to tell the story of extremely drug-resistant tuberculosis (XDR-TB) and TB through powerful photographs taken by James Nachtwey”

    Click the Link. Spread the Story. Stop the Disease.

    [A picture really does say more than a thousand words. Those are incredibly powerful images. – FEd]

  19. Isn’t part of the problem with the government in the nations of these starving regions? I remember reading that the efforts of Bob Geldof with Live Aid resulting in millions of dollars. The money was used to purchase goods and food that was sent off to Africa nations.

    However, much of that never made it to the masses. Instead much of it was actually detained at the airport and just rotted away.

    How do you overcome actions like that?

    I’m not trying to deter people or make excuses. And I certainly agree with someone here that said you should act locally. But even if you make that donation to a “world hunger relief” effort, how do you know that your funds will actually make a difference and not get caught up in some bureaucratic BS? You certainly want to feel like you are making a difference and not making someone else richer at a starving person’s expense.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    [Good point. Personally, I like to think that’s a myth that’s been spread to give privileged people an excuse not to give, but you never know. There is undoubtedly endemic corruption in many African countries. It just makes me wonder why the more military-minded G8 countries haven’t gone bombing in there (pardon the pun) to steamroller the tyrants and liberate the people. – FEd]

  20. [A meal for 70 children, just £12. Good God, how bad does that make you feel? – FEd]

    How many could we feed with the money from all our Live in Gdansk box sets? And we moaned about how long they took to come. Shame on us.

    Stevo

  21. Meanwhile back at the (Bush, Cheney) ranch…

    Oil companies make a profit of $1300.00 each single second last year…

    Click my name, read the shame…

  22. If I stop to think about the billions this country is about to put out to save major corporations and juxtapose this with the knowledge that right this very second some thirty people are living full time in an open air park downtown I’ll burst a blood vessel.

    Too many people in this country don’t get what real poverty is. They think it’s not being able to buy anything they want at the mall. I don’t know if this is true everywhere, but it’s truer than true here.

    I am obviously not having an optimistic day and am considering listening to The Wall over and over.

    [Oh dear, it’s as bad as that? (Just kidding, I feel the same.) – FEd]

  23. Hi,

    Heifer International is an excellent program that promotes self-reliance with use of animals and agriculture. Recipients receive training in livestock management and sustainable farming practices. Recipients agree to pass on offspring or bounty, making them equal partners in the fight against poverty.

    I’ve taken care of most of my Christmas list with gifts of goats, sheep, chickens, etc., on behalf of family and friends.

    [Good for you, Christine. Thanks for the link. – FEd]

  24. World Vision is a great charity that addresses world poverty.

    Instead of giving gifts to my very well off family a donation is made to something that would interest each one, like digging a well for the outdoorsman brother, or bracelets from Ugandan women for a daughter.

    Check out their website.

    [There are plenty of alternative gift ideas, and some cost peanuts, frankly. A mosquito net, for example, costs no more than what you’d spend on a small box of chocolates, but how many people die of malaria each year? (If I remember correctly, it’s to blame for a death every 20 seconds.) – FEd]

  25. My friend works on a farmouse and tormented project, OLPC (One Laptop For Child).

    Probably for all it’s not the right way to help the child in poverty… But probably a positive point of view is possible.

    Click my name for the link.

    Bye.

  26. [… buy someone an alternative gift for christmas from world vision – Sam]

    That’s a good one. I think I will ‘say it with chickens’ this year. I’m really sick of buying people Christmas presents they neither want or need.

    [Ain’t that the truth? – FEd]

  27. I live in America, North Carolina, I’m twenty one. In ten years I have seen a pleasant and comfortable life below the mountains go to a scared and head shaking horror.

    I think there are solutions for a crisis, like world hunger. Initiative in people seems to taper though after a few weeks of donation, maybe because they are going hungry themselves.

    Pain and suffering, escape is the same thing I think. Relief is a nice little echo of a breath in times of trouble, but what about tomorrow and the day after that? Not everyone can stand in an assembly line and put together phones, someone has to make breakfast.

    I was thinking about Live 8, a curious thought came to me then. Why isn’t there another concert? Instead of providing relief, the money could be spent on a convention for scientists and various occupations. People that work in agriculture, defense, and economic issues. The money could fund a project which could provide a long term solution for some of the worst areas.

  28. After reading the comments from everyone, I think I’ll get some alternative gifts for my family this Christmas. Thanks for the idea! We all have more than we need anyway, eat and drink way too much over the hols and end up with more things that we never even wanted.

    I found another good link (to Present Aid, click my name).

    P.S. I got my deluxe set and love it. Thanks David.

    P.P.S. Wales are going to beat Germany. What do you think FEd?

    [I’m watching, feeling optimistic. It’s a good game. The boys are doing us proud, aren’t they? – FEd]

  29. Hello FEd,

    I haven’t posted in quite a while, unfortunately I was too busy to check.

    A belated happy birthday to FEd, hope it went well.

    I went to San Francisco over the summer, and the poverty in the bay area was horrendous. I tried to give to them, but it was a bit overwhelming. Perhaps Fender should give some of their profits on the Black Strat to Crisis and other charities to reduce poverty.

    Also, a portion of Live in Gdansk profits should go to Crisis, too.

    It’s a shame that the rich corporations do not give nearly as much as the small charities give to the poor.

    Anthony

  30. If Governments would stop feeding inane wars across the Globe and help each other, it would free up so much revenue.

    In Canada we aid and support Food Drives everywhere including sports venues. Every bit helps.

    As an aside, my wife’s mother passed away early Monday morning to cancer at the age of 82. She was married the same year in London as the Queen and Prince Philip, 62 yrs. ago. I composed music to a poem by Robert Burns and will play it tomorrow.

    To see her is to love her, and love her forever; For nature made her, for what she is, And never made another. RIP Mum!

    [So sorry, Frank. – FEd]

  31. The guitar is absolutely STUNNING. I’ve played and owned many American Strats and this one by far is the best playing, best sounding Strat. I am amazed on how good the pickups sound – normally, single coils have a little bit of noise – these do not sound noisy at all.

    The neck is possibly the coolest part of the guitar – it has a deep tint – which is beautiful – and it is comfortable as could be – way better (for me) than any standard American neck. It has a beautiful gloss, and the action is just so fast and smooth – it is very easy to play!!!

    Also, using that little toggle switch adds some seriously cool tones to the guitar – I don’t know which songs David uses this little switch for, but it sounds great!

    The case is beautiful, the book is great (unfortunately, I did not get a signed copy – but oh well).

    Interestingly, the cable that comes with this guitar is AWESOME as well – I can tell a difference!

    Thanks Fed for the initial heads up and thanks SAM ASH for helping me get one!!!!

  32. [It just makes me wonder why the more military-minded G8 countries haven’t gone bombing in there (pardon the pun) to steamroller the tyrants and liberate the people. – FEd]

    Erm…because they haven’t got any oil there, perchance?

  33. Poverty eh?

    What I don’t understand is where does all the money that has been “wiped” off the world’s stock markets go? Couldn’t that be used to help other less fortunate than ourselves?

    But then again look at us. Why wasn’t I content with LIG double CD and no DVD then donate the money I would have spent on the deluxe version to charity?

    Strange times indeed.

    Ian

  34. Poverty and social class differences are growing everywhere, even in our ‘privileged’ nations. There are more than 100.000 homeless people here in France, + 900.000 that are thought to live in campsites and shelters.

    ‘La fondation d’Emmaüs’, run by volunteers, tries to help poor people in many ways (leur redonner confiance, donner ou acheter solidaire, permettre d’occuper un logement vacant, sensibiliser les hommes politiques…)

    Instead of wasting, you can give them all that you want: clothes, toys, home equipment, furniture… They take them at your home, sell them and use money to help poor people.

    You can become a volunteer too, your time might be more precious than your money.

    Click my name and surf on the site.

    Michèle

  35. You can help children (individually) in Africa or Nepal.

    We (my husband and I) became the sponsor of a child in Rwanda a few years ago, through the association ‘S.O.S Enfants -aider sans assister’.

    We send 30€ every month to the association, and this allows the child to go to school and to get medical help.

    So, he can stay in his family, it’s a help, not an assistance.

    Our kids are happy to write him too, receive news from him and share photos with him.

    Click my name.

    Michèle

  36. This is one huge topic.

    Poverty is to some degree a relative concept. As soon as we meet one need, we create another.

    I do think that absolute poverty is thankfully rare in the developed world … that’s not to lack sympathy for our own disadvantaged but probably most 3rd World poor would swap places (like with the bank teller).

    I think we also need to be careful about assuming that all societies judge poverty as we do. Indigenous peoples who lack money do not think of themselves as poor … poverty is what happens when we get involved.

    What can we do? We can recognise that we have all grown rich on the back of “unfair” trade. We can vote wisely. We can trade fairly where we can. We can consume less and give more. We can support those businesses who promote change and shun those that don’t.

    Sometimes all you can do is be true to yourself and hope that others will do the same.

    [Well said. That reminds me of a comedy sketch I saw last week. An African, on his knees, weeping, because there’s a possibility that rubbish bins will be collected fortnightly, not weekly, in England. The hard times those poor English people are facing, when all he has to worry about is finding clean drinking water and food for his starving family… – FEd]

  37. Thanks for the link, Nate, some very moving pics…..how lucky we all are!

    Cheers
    Paul

  38. No disrespect to Johnnie, but it seems a little absurd to be posting about the joys of owning a widely coveted £2000 guitar on a thread relating to poverty.

    If £12 buys 70 meals, £2k would buy 11,696 if my math is correct.

    Nice guitar, tho.

  39. We’ve used an “ethical” gifts catalogue for a year or two now … I’m not clever enough to link it but if you were to type http://www.goodgifts.org into your search engine, you could do all sorts of nice things …

    [Or you could click Tim’s name. – FEd]

  40. I haven’t read all the other posts, but it seems to me that while it is a noble cause, the idea of eradicating poverty might be a futile one given the current reality of the world we live in. Think about it.

    1. More and more people (population increase)
    2. Availability of food is not keeping pace with #1
    3. It will be hard to do away with greed
    4. The greedy will continue to seek more and more
    5. More and more people will have to settle for less
    6. Poverty will increase, not decrease
    7. International tensions and global warming won’t help

    The recent worldwide economic problems are like the canary in a coal mine. That canary isn’t looking too good right now.

    I would be very happy to stand corrected in a few years, but if I had to bet on it I don’t think I’ll be wrong.

    I normally go for positive posts, but I can’t pull any punches on this one, sorry.

  41. “Charlie Freak had but one thing to call his own
    Three weight ounce pure golden ring no precious stone
    Five nights without a bite
    No place to lay his head
    And if nobody takes him in
    He’ll soon be dead
    On the street he spied my face I heard him hail
    In our plot of frozen space he told his tale
    Poor man, he showed his hand
    So righteous was his need
    And me so wise I bought his prize
    For chicken feed

    Newfound cash soon begs to smash a state of mind
    Close inspection fast revealed his favorite kind
    Poor kid, he overdid
    Embraced the spreading haze
    And while he sighed his body died
    In fifteen ways

    When I heard I grabbed a cab to where he lay
    ‘Round his arm the plastic tag read D.O.A.
    Yes Jack, I gave it back
    The ring I could not own
    Now come my friend I’ll take your hand
    And lead you home.”

    Great song by Steely Dan from 1973. It was a problem then and it is a problem now and at least David is trying very hard to change this.

    George

  42. Laptop arrived and am checking in Fed as you previously mentioned.

    Johnnie, I’m so jealous. Sounds like you are enjoying Blackie tremendously. Enjoy it while you can.

    You did get David’s strings? How do they intonate?

  43. I have to agree Lorraine, it wouldn’t serve their purpose to go to Africa.

    It is sad that 80% of the world lives on less than $10 a day and I live in a country that could really ease that poverty. But it won’t because it doesn’t serve them. It’s depressing and I think the change will have to come from us, not our government.

    I am watching the Presidential debate right now and it’s also depressing. If we end up with another Republican administration I think I will cross the pond for good.

  44. Some inspiration….

    I got to thinking today, one person can make a difference. I mentioned him earlier, Bob Geldof. He was sickened by seeing children starving in Africa. He got a bunch of his friends together and recorded a huge Christmas hit. Then orchestrated one of the biggest concert undertakings ever. Both resulted in huge amounts of funds being raised to help the starving.

    Then 20 years later orchestrated another huge concert event to raise awareness this time. Although the efforts of Live8 were not as successful as raising the cash, just look at what he was able to do.

    What I say is that it took passion and determination. Of course having a black book filled with people who were willing to go along was a huge help. But effectively he was the one that got the ball rolling.

    We may not have the contacts as Sir Bob but the other two items we all can possess if we choose to.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

  45. I feel it’s time that our government start realizing that we have millions of homeless and out of work people out there that should be taken care of, rather than spending money on fighting a war to help a country grow that has been fighting each other for thousands of years and soon as we leave they will just go back to fighting each other anyway.

    It’s time to stop and start using the money to help our own people and people who are starving in other countries who really need it……….

    Take Care,
    Thomas

  46. There are so many ways you can help people in need. The most important thing is to just do something, no matter how large or small.

    I work for a Home Health Agency and we have an employee fund for patients that we can contribute to through payroll deduction. You can give anything you want from a few cents to big bucks, your choice.

    When our field staff sees a patient in need, they submit a request to help this patient and then the net working starts. We come up with a plan to help using these funds and volunteers to help meet the need. Sometimes it is as simple as to pay a power bill, purchase medication, food, or maybe build a wheel chair ramp. We have at times just gone and stayed with a patient so their Caregiver can have a few hours to do something they haven’t been able to do.

    What I am trying to say is it does not take large amounts of money to help someone in need. There are many simple ways to make life more comfortable for others.

    Barbara P

    [Indeed. – FEd]

  47. When I think of what’s happening in this world to ordinary people (people who just want to get along in life) it nauseates me to think of all those fat cat bastards making millions out of manipulating the world’s economy and our natural resources. We would be using sustainable energy sources now instead of burning fossil fuels if it wasn’t for those cigar smoking fat-arses who control the world’s oil supplies.

    The human trait of greed has led to all the problems the world’s population now faces and until we all work together with the same goals in mind I can’t see us fixing poverty, pollution or the destruction of our planet fullstop.

    Fed, my pet hate in life is the thought of somebody thinking they can hold power over somebody else. One human has no more right to be here than another.

    Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody on this blog made a commitment to help somebody else this Christmas? What do you say people???

    Wilko

    [A rousing speech. I think you’re right: greed is to blame for everything. There should be a Make Greed History campaign, but that sounds even less likely than poverty being eradicated when you consider that it would require the most comfortable people to look at their extravagant lifestyles and make real concessions. From an environmental perspective, that’s the only way forward, because if the majority of the population in developing nations suddenly had two cars per household, air conditioning, power showers and holidayed abroad for a fortnight each summer, things would be a lot worse than they are now. It almost makes you wonder if we secretly want developing nations to stay as they are so that we don’t have to cut back. (Yes, that was sarcasm.) – FEd]

  48. My take on the matter is the current “crunch” is that it’s caused by all of us, by nature Humans are greedy. Our greed fuelled by others’ greed, we all live above our means, we want as opposed to need most of the time just like spoiled children.

    The “crunch” has forced me look at the way I spend my money. Unfortunately for those who suffer real poverty this is a life & death situation, food on the table as opposed having to wait for a David Gilmour Stratocaster.

  49. In my mind, poverty has the potential of becoming the reason for the next “battle of civilizations”. In our fortunate little part of the western hemisphere, we no longer live on an isolated island. I think of poverty refugees entering the coats of Spain, etc, on boats nearly sinking, trying to find a new life in Europe, or South Americans crossing the borders to US.

    Many people, especially in the Arab/Muslim countries despise our decadent way of life…sometimes one can wonder, if you can really blame them.

    Our governments tries to protect our own farmers etc. by making trading agreements that keep African goods out of our markets. They won’t make climate agreements, if if means production limits. What can we do?

    We can show and tell, that this is not what we want, as people and citizens. We can spare, we are willing to sacrifice some of our own wealth in order to help both the planet and the desperate poor, and encourage our “leaders” to work for this.

    [Sam made a good point about the Copenhagen Pledge. Did anyone read up, or sign up? – FEd]

  50. Talking of Christmas presents: In Denmark we have an organisation “DanChuchAid” with the motto: We believe in life before death.

    A couple of years ago they announced a new way of giving presents: You could buy a gift certificate to give for Christmas – a goat for a family in Africa, “give a goat” the campaign was called. There were gift certificates in all price ranges, from a sack of rice, a kitchen garden, an olive tree, a cow, a pig. And what you bought, someone got in real life in the third world.

    We bought these for Christmas presents – and everybody loved it, “Now I would like to go and see my new kitchen garden”, my brother-in-law said. 🙂

    Maybe someone can use this idea.

  51. I’m also going to buy some alternative gifts this year. I wonder what Mum will say when she realises I bought her 100 trees, LOL!

    Maybe we could all buy one, even if it’s just something small like a mosquito net.

    [Absolutely (and I think she’ll be very proud). We’ll have a post for ideas for ethical Christmas presents in a week or two. Being super-efficient, I’ve got half of my presents bought already, and it’s really not difficult to make principled choices. I think we too often forget the power we have as consumers. 100 trees… Nice one, Ben. – FEd]

  52. “Money, get away.
    Get a good job with good pay and you’re okay.
    Money, it’s a gas.
    Grab that cash with both hands and make a stash.
    New car, caviar, four star daydream,
    Think I’ll buy me a football team.

    Money, get back.
    I’m all right Jack keep your hands off of my stack.
    Money, it’s a hit.
    Don’t give me that do goody good bullshit.
    I’m in the high-fidelity first class traveling set
    And I think I need a Lear jet.

    Money, it’s a crime.
    Share it fairly but don’t take a slice of my pie.
    Money, so they say
    Is the root of all evil today.
    But if you ask for a raise it’s no surprise that they’re
    giving none away…….”

    Ben, alternative Christmas presents! I think that’s a great idea too…..

    I will donate my stepson to a third world country.

    [That’s very generous of you, Graham. Thinking outside the box, I see. – FEd]

  53. The cost falls disproportionally on the poor (click my name).

    Extremely bad housekeeping by the human race is what causes most of the problems we see.

    ash X

    [I agree. Governments can make dramatic changes, and taxpayers can dig even deeper into their pockets, to save idiot bankers, but never mind the disappearing forests. – FEd]

  54. Thanks Tim for Good Gift idea. Gonna choose something.

    Love the brain cells, bull semen and trees for bagpipes.

    Ian

  55. I bought my sister a donkey last year, she was very pleased and impressed.

    Oxfam sell these ethical gifts as well.

  56. For Ayana’s birthday in May (the child we sponsor in Rwanda), we sent him (via ‘S.O.S Enfants’) one goat (50€) and each of our kids was very proud to send him four hens (a hen = 5€)

    Les ‘cadeaux solidaires’ (= alternative ethical gifts, I think) are great, not only for people, but also to help build up local economy.

    ‘Aider sans assister’. (Don’t know how to say exactly in English, sorry.)

    “Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime.” (Lao Tzu, father of Taoism.)

    Please, see the link.

    Michèle

  57. [Many people, especially in the Arab/Muslim countries despise our decadent way of life…sometimes one can wonder if you can really blame them. – Lene]

    Hmmm…the irony here. If it was so despised then why do they build those huge palaces that can house a small nation, buy fleets of Mercedes and American SUVs, as well as tons of diamonds for each of their 40 wives??

    If it was so despised wouldn’t the wealthy in those countries denounce that type of lifestyle and spread their wealth among the nation?

    Of course not, it goes back to what has been mentioned oh so many times here, GREED!!!

    Once again, look in your own backyard before pointing fingers in other places.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    [I appreciate the irony (aren’t royals the greediest of all?), but I assume Lene was referring to the millions who just want enough to get by and find such visible excess sickening in any culture. – FEd]

  58. [Wouldn’t it be nice if everybody on this blog made a commitment to help somebody else this Christmas? – Charles Wilkinson]

    What about before and after X-mas?

  59. Do agree with most of these posts and some wonderful, eye-opening suggestions.

    After some of the situations I saw on my vacation this year, I have realized that a person can do MUCH more than we think. (Yes, I know I am lucky to even be able to take a vacation.)

    My husband and I don’t have a lot, but by other standards we have been blessed. This year (again) I am asking my family to give to different charities in our name instead of giving us gifts.

    We, also, give clothing and household items to an organization that sells and makes money for less fortunate. We contribute to food drives at work, volunteer time. The need seems bottomless, but as Barbara P. put it, “so many ways to help those in need”. Give in what ever way you can. Beautiful.

    Talking about what we do to help seems self-serving, but some of the posts offer up new and different ideas which I find energizing. Makes me determined to reassess my own lifestyle.

    Thank you all for the links and ideas.

    Jan

  60. I have seen a little of the poverty people have to put up with. I spent years flying people into Sudan, Somalia, Uganda and Kenya taking all sorts of charities and their aid to their camps.

    It was my job and was an eye opener but also a very frustrating business as so little is given with so much paperwork.

    Why is there so much talk about giving people the food? I think that should be stopped and people should be given the help to save themselves (building their on wells, growing their own food, etc.). I have seen people expecting and sometimes demanding they are given food when I landed.

    I have also seen the food go to the wrong people with charities turning a blind eye. Don’t get me wrong there are some good charities out there but I would only donate to UK charities myself that I have faith in (like Crisis).

    If these things could be sorted I believe poverty would have to take a big step backwards.

    [Thanks for that insight, Chris. – FEd]

  61. I am going to be a devil’s advocate here.

    Poverty has been around since Mankind started down the road of wealth and greed…which is a damn long time..1000s of years.

    Nothing really has been done to eliminate it since then in any meaningful way.

    Poverty is very convenient for wealthier countries…simply put the poor cannot hope to compete for valuable food and oil resources that we take for granted. It is not in the interests of the powers that be to try and raise all the poor out of the gutter. We need poor countries to manufacture our goods. We (consumers) like this because we can buy our TVs and stereos at a cheap price.

    The danger with that is these countries get wealthier and then compete directly against us. Look at the recent rise of China and India as major economic powerhouses. As their standard of living rise, their competitiveness for world resources rises as well. The recent price rise of rice is a great example of this. This pits us vs. them in the race to feed and keep ours and theirs standards of living.

    It is all well and good to say that we must help the poor and eliminate poverty…but how far are you willing to go to achieve that in a meaningful way…lose a car or two…have your taxes double…triple…little or no disposable income for pleasure perhaps forever?

    Ultimately any money sent from our governments comes from the taxpayer…you and me. Most of the suggestions here are useless…well meaning but useless designed to assuage our consciences.

    The commitment to end poverty forever costs too much and will never happen. Any one who thinks it will happen is naïve.

    Cheers, Howard

    [Fair enough, there are obviously many different levels and definitions of poverty. It would be naïve to expect every single ‘poor’ person on the planet to suddenly have a ‘comfortable’ standard of living comparable to, say, the USA’s working class (generally a blue or white collar worker with no college degree, earning a relatively low income). But is it not right, at the very least, to pay a farmer in Ghana a fair price for his crop and labour, even if it means all those who are richer than he is paying more than they’d perhaps like for the product and service he provides, so that he can pull himself and his family out of an impoverished existence that, frankly, nobody in North America – or Europe – could even begin to imagine? That’s not much of a sacrifice, is it? Surely it’s only fair, not even charity. We should pay more. We’ve robbed these regions blind throughout history. Besides, I thought we liked competition, private enterprise and free market economy in the West. – FEd]

  62. [I appreciate the irony (aren’t royals the greediest of all?), but I assume Lene was referring to the millions who just want enough to get by and find such visible excess sickening in any culture. – FEd]

    Ahhh…so true. Isn’t it great to pay a tax so that someone else can keep their polo pony farm and castles maintained?

    I understand the point that Lene was referring to but let me add the following question. If the U.S. is so terrible, then why do we still have millions streaming to get in & live here?? Why do we have such an immigration issue both legal & illegal of everyone wanting a slice of American life? In the NY area it seems that every gas station is owned by an Arab/Muslim.

    Just this week 5 Afghan students “disappeared” in Seattle while here on a study visa. The last time it happened, it was later found out that it was just because they didn’t want to go back to their country.

    Can’t beat them, so join them?

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    [I guess they just want a better life, and who can blame them? Believe it or not, contrary to what some papers would have you believe, there are still a few people who don’t hate America. Many quite like it and want to live there, maybe work hard and become successful, be accepted by the locals, and eke out a life for their families – as so many million immigrants did before them. It’s the same with the UK. Personally, I find it hard to imagine why anyone would want to work hard for, pay taxes to and generally serve a country which has caused their own such crippling devastation, but… (And yes, I just love funding the princes’ assorted jollies. They’re great.) – FEd]

  63. Dear Andrew, I hear you. It happens here too, and for some reason that I don’t know, it seems to be Chinese students “disappearing” in my country.

    You joked about taxpayers keeping the royal stables etc. It’s true, but yet our lives are so much more priviliged, and rich, than the millions fighting to get the next meal. This is – off course – why people leave their countries, in the hope and search of some kind of future.

    What I meant about the decadency, is what Fed said. (Sorry – the language is sometimes a barrier). But the cultural, economic and religious differences sometimes seems huge, (between the west, and the south/east part of the world) – we simply have to fight poverty in order to avoid some kind of clash between the regions.

    And why the US attracts so many refugees/immigrants I think there are two reasons: 1: US has always welcomed immigrants, and it’s harder to get into the richer EU-countries. And two, because the US-culture is known world wide because of TV.

  64. FEd,

    the sermon at church was along the lines of an old Pink Floyd song “Money” (click my name).

    NOT trying to force feed religion to anyone. Just thought it fit with this topic.

    Bev

    [It sure does. Thanks, Bev. – FEd]

  65. This is appalling. People really don’t seem to care about people. And we are willing to allow people to starve to death, or to die very slow deaths, or to live in a world of misery.

    We’re all brothers and sisters. I don’t understand how we have gotten to this.

  66. [I thought we liked competition, private enterprise and free market economy in the West. – FEd]

    Only when it suits us. We have a very nice large niche carved out for ourselves and we want it to stay that way…and yes by all means pay a fair price for goods…but I don’t think that is what many in poverty want. They want what we have and it is only natural for them to do so. Trouble is there are only so many on the planet who can “reserve” the resources needed to create and maintain this plateau of comfortable living.

    We may sympathize with their plight and indeed try to help….but on our terms not theirs. We are ultimately very, very protective of what we have and do not want to see it threatened…that, folks, is human nature.

    Cheers, Howard

    [I don’t agree that “they want what we have”; I don’t think everyone is quite as greedy, vain, shallow and materialistic as we have allowed ourselves to become. I think safe shelter, enough to eat, clean water and access to basic medicine would be an absolute dream for many. Maybe we’re thinking of a different “they”? I’m sure you’re right about some. – FEd]

  67. [No disrespect to Johnnie, but it seems a little absurd to be posting about the joys of owning a widely coveted £2000 guitar on a thread relating to poverty. – Kev]

    If I was lucky enough to own one I also would be posting…I am however not as fortunate as Johnnie.

    I rarely have seen threads staying on subject, so wind yer neck in, Kev!

    With all due respect etc.

    [We’ll talk about the Strat next week. I’m sure many of us would love to hear more from Johnnie. – FEd]

  68. Poverty is an amazing thing to me and extremely close to my heart. I don’t understand it and find it sensleess in this day and time. I was tired of talking about it and decided to move forward by starting a not for profit organization known as jesusgreaterthan. Check it out if you have the chance.

    But more than anything, don’t wait on others to take action. Take action yourself.

    Peace…

    [Good luck with that. – FEd]

  69. I’ll never understand why we can’t all be on equal ground. I’m simple/socialist enough to believe that we should.

    And we should all have to work equally as hard.

    If all people were honest about their needs, it would be helpful. It’s surprising how many clearly abuse the system and use it to support their laziness and irresponsibility. I worked with a woman who had 3 kids and no father for them, so she would go to the food banks and local churches and collect her groceries.
    The next day she would bring sacks of the stuff into work and set it out or everyone to eat.

    Then you have the stories of employees at the food bank making off with food meant for the “less fortunate”.

    Holy cow, what a mess.

    [Good point. Nobody can doubt how idle – and shameless – some people are. For anyone unhappy with immigrants, for example, look no further than the number of locals on the Dole who don’t want to work, and how incredibly hard immigrants slog (usually for considerably less pay). In fact, there was a programme on Channel 4 last night (available online from their site, if anyone’s interested, but probably accessible to UK viewers only) about two builders: one British, one Polish. They each had to build an extension for a British family. It showed the prejudice that exists in Britain very well, as the Pole did a far better job, did it more quickly and for several thousand pounds less. The Brit did a shoddy job (so shoddy, in fact, that he’s now under investigation), yet was adamant that his workmanship was of the highest quality. It made you feel ashamed. – FEd]

  70. [The commitment to end poverty forever and costs to much and will never happen. – Howard Bayliss]

    Well, I am not naive.

    Howard may well be right but if you can help someone in any way it is not to assuage your conscience but it is the RIGHT thing to do. Believe me the person or persons you can help do not think your actions to help are useless.

    Not much I can do on a global scale, but if everyone donated or helped in their own communities it would be a start.

    The world’s democratic governments do not want to see the problem of starving children, the homeless, or the poverty stricken. The only way they will see is to call, email, or write to your senator, congressman, etc., or with your vote to make them see.

    If everyone did this it just might make a difference somehow.

    Wishful thinking I know.

    Rant’s over,
    Hoss

  71. I recommend a book titled, ‘America Beyond Capitalism: Reclaiming Our Wealth, Our Liberty, and Our Democracy’.

    I agree with the author that capitalism, democracy, equality and liberty have disappeared from the United States. Corporations and rich people control the wealth and government; their power is destroying the general public’s access to basic liberties and entrepreneurial freedom.

    Federal power must be reallocated to regional governments and local citizens’ associations whose scale makes participatory democracy possible.

    We need more user-friendly cities, shorter work weeks, stronger labor law enforcement, more worker-owned or directed firms, less debt and more respect for the environment.

    The Poverty vs. Wealth Crisis

    “Those who generally suffer poverty, work the hard front line, to produce the companies smart bottom line”.

    Employers, are you listening…?

    “Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery, none but ourselves can free our minds!” – Bob Marley

  72. A roof over your head, food in the cupboard, heating, and clothing. The basic needs of people no matter where you come from, and should be a right.

    Damian

  73. Multinational coffee companies now rule our shopping malls and supermarkets and dominate the industry worth over $80 billion, making coffee the most valuable trading commodity in the world after oil.

    But while we continue to pay for our lattes and cappuccinos, the price paid to coffee farmers remains so low that many have been forced to abandon their coffee fields.

    Nowhere is this paradox more evident than in Ethiopia, the birthplace of coffee. I recommend the documentary film, BLACK GOLD – WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE.

    BLACK GOLD – WAKE UP AND SMELL THE COFFEE is a film that forces us, as western consumers, to question some of our basic assumptions about our consumer lifestyle and its interaction with the rest of the world.

    “Fair Trade is more important than Aid!”

    [I saw it recently and would recommend it. Thanks for the reminder. – FEd]

  74. Today, I scan a local paper online and notice an “Action Against Hunger Food Drive.” This is local to the NJ area and not in third world nations but still worthy of being posted.

    Interesting comment on the page is that a $1 donation allows them to purchase up to $11 worth of food through their bulk and wholesale discounts.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

  75. Think globally, act locally.

    I give to local charities through a payroll deduction system through United Way. I give globally by giving what I can to local charities that ship containers to 3rd world countries. I vote for the people and party that closest reflects my views and philosophies.

    We individually can’t make much of a difference, but collectively we can. It’s important to always know that what ever you do, large or small, it DOES make a difference.

    I am privileged to live in a part of the world that has a lot. I intend to make a difference where I can.

    I encourage you all to do the same.

    As far as a song or poem, what better a song could you have than “On the Turning Away” (written by you know who)? 🙂

  76. We had Live8. We have benefits. We have/had Thanksgiving.

    Let us prepare for Xmas now and spread the word with a shared message through here first to the world of cyberspace.

    P.S. Mum’s day was an incredible celebration today. Thanks!

    [I’m glad it went well, Frank. – FEd]

  77. I am afraid there are way too many opportunists, hypocrites and manipulators who love to take advantage of problems such as world poverty to satisfy their own gains.

    I stopped sending in funds to support the poor and the orphans, I am skeptical if those monies ever reach those who deserve. I am still haunted by many of the United Way scandals where the leaders or CFOs took in donors’ money for their personal use.

    Instead, we choose to donate our clothes, furniture and can foods to homeless center locally; books to the library; used cell phones to the foundation that collects them and pass on to the Abused Women Center, etc.

    [Sad, but true. – FEd]

  78. Hello All,

    I agree with Anthony. I lived in San Francisco for 16 years. There will always be homeless issues in areas with nicer temperatures and liberal ecosystems; probably better than the bitter cold, methinks.

    I’ve posted this link in the past and it’s important to do so again.

    Bioneers is “a leading source of innovative solutions”, that “promotes practical environmental solutions and innovative social strategies for restoring Earth’s imperiled ecosystems and healing our human communities.”

    There is always a way to be productive as an individual that helps the world community around you. You have to live that lifestyle every day.

    If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bioneers is holding their annual gathering in San Rafael, starting today, Oct. 17, through Sun., Oct. 19. Click my name for more information.

    Because poverty is due to so many issues, as so many here have eloquently stated, it is a crisis of many proportions. Awareness is the key.

  79. I’d like to quote a piece by Peter Gabriel:

    Fourteen Black Paintings.

    From the pain come the dream. From the dream come the vision. From the vision come the people. And from the people come the power. From this power come the change.

    Speaks volumes, doesn’t it?

    [I agree. Governments can make dramatic changes, and taxpayers can dig even deeper into their pockets, to save idiot bankers, but never mind the disappearing forests. – FEd]

    Is it just my imagination or were house price increases driven by estate agents seeking a pay rise (1 percent of £100,000 is more than 1 percent of £90,000)?

    ash X

    [What’s that I read on a postcard the other day? “To make the rich work harder, you pay them more. To make the poor work harder, you pay them less.” So very, very true. – FEd]

  80. Three billion people making $2.50 a day is an overwhelming figure. There really is no excuse. Individuals can make a difference…but it’s governments and corporations who who have the ultimate power to truly eliminate poverty.

    Can citizens rise up in sufficient numbers to challenge the power holders to change their ways? That remains to be seen. We have the capacity, but can we pull away from out parochial lives long enough to do it?

    Frank, you have my condolences.

  81. Fact: The United States spends 0.16% of its budget on aid to poor countries, the second lowest percentage among all developed countries.

    [More short, snappy facts like this one would be good. (How much does the UK spend?) – FEd]

  82. [More short, snappy facts like this one would be good. (How much does the UK spend?) – FEd]

    I believe it is something like 0.5% as they have pledged to raise it to 0.7% by 2015.

    [Hmm. What can you say about that? Click your name above for a letter to Gordon Brown, which includes some interesting statistics. (“The United Nations estimates that when all 22 countries that signed the agreement meet the 0.7% goal, the resulting $195 billion each year will be enough to effectively end hunger and extreme poverty in the world.”) Have a look, JJ. – FEd]

  83. “On the turning away
    From the pale and downtrodden
    And the words they say
    Which we won’t understand

    Don’t accept that what’s happening
    Is just a case of others’ suffering
    Or you’ll find that you’re joining in
    The turning away

    It’s a sin that somehow
    Light is changing to shadow
    And casting it’s shroud
    Over all we have known
    Unaware how the ranks have grown
    Driven on by a heart of stone
    We could find that we’re all alone
    In the dream of the proud

    On the wings of the night
    As the daytime is stirring
    Where the speechless unite in a silent accord
    Using words you will find are strange
    Mesmerised as they light the flame
    Feel the new wind of change
    On the wings of the night

    No more turning away
    From the weak and the weary
    No more turning away
    From the coldness inside
    Just a world that we all must share
    It’s not enough just to stand and stare
    Is it only a dream that there’ll be
    No more turning away”

  84. [The United States spends 0.16% of its budget… – JJ]

    [I believe it is something like 0.5%… – VeronicaUK]

    Percentages are fine but what are the absolute numbers? You can’t compare percentages unless the budgets are the same. Would you rather have 5% of a billion or 50% of a million?

    [Blog Action Day, an annual event… – FEd]

    Why just an annual event? Who decided that and why not more often?

    I don’t know about you but I’m enjoying this. We go off on tangents like this during other blog posts but having one like this is refreshing, informative and best of all, makes people use their brain.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    [I’m glad you think so, I couldn’t agree more. – FEd]

  85. Thanks for the link about international aid and for this important post.

    So the 22 richest countries have agreed to give 0.7% of their national income in aid to poor countries. When all 22 meet the 0.7% goal, the resulting $195 billion each year will be enough to effectively end hunger and extreme poverty, according to the UN.

    Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, and Sweden have already reached that goal.

    Austria, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the UK have promised to reach it by 2015.

    It’s not surprising that the six remaining countries, who have not even given a date to honour their agreement, are Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand, Switzerland and the USA.

    Kyoto wasn’t important for some of them either.

    This is one reason why people do hate the USA. It’s not just Bush and Iraq, it’s greed.

    Some facts:

    1. The USA comprises 5% of the world’s population, yet accounts for 40% of its gasoline consumption.
    2. Since 1950, Americans have used up more resources than everyone who ever lived on earth before 1950.
    3. If everyone in the world consumed at the same rate as Americans do, we would need six planet earths to meet the demand for resources.

    [But also, if your source is correct, 10 million Americans go hungry each day – and 40% are children. (No snide comments about how everyone hates Americans, please. Some stats about Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland would be more useful.) – FEd]

  86. [I don’t agree that “they want what we have”; I don’t think everyone is quite as greedy, vain, shallow and materialistic as we have allowed ourselves to become. I think safe shelter, enough to eat, clean water and access to basic medicine would be an absolute dream for many… – FEd]

    I like how most of us in the Western world “know” what those in poverty need. This is not a criticism of your comment Fed because you hear it everywhere. Even aid agencies say the same thing…everyone should have access to clean water and adequate food…etc. Fine and dandy but I still wager that if you asked most in poverty if you would like to be restricted to just the basics and never have more…they would say why?

    My parents emigrated to Canada from England after WWII. They arrived here with some clothes and 10 pounds cash tired of growing up poor with nothing and tired of over 5 years of rationing due to the war. Granted this is not the poverty that occurs in Africa and elsewhere…but as an example, as kids they had an orange once a year…at Christmas because it was an expensive treat. They are representative of millions who emigrated looking for a better life. The operative words…better life.

    After years of hard work, they had a very comfortable lifestyle with many nice perks. In later life, I never heard them say…Gee, I wish we could go back to just clean water and adequate food and medicine.

    This stuff about “us” being greedy shallow and materialistic doesn’t cut it for me. First off who is us and where is the point where you cross the line and become greedy?? Two cars…three? 2 houses…3? People are natural accumulators and we will do so in accordance with our income. Look at movie actors…rock stars…anyone with heaps of cash… they accumulate lots because they can afford it.

    In the end, the real issue is that there are too many people on this planet for the earth to support. We need to really curb population growth worldwide to more sustainable levels otherwise concern to alleviate poverty is a non starter.

    Cheers, Howard

    [With respect, they emigrated from England, not Ethiopia. A better life would have been more money, more food, more possessions, more opportunities, more space – and that’s fair enough. But doesn’t everyone have a right to clean water and enough food to get through the day? Shouldn’t everyone have that, at the very least? I can’t believe that emaciated farmers or grubby slum children dream of Ferraris and PlayStations. Yes, the more you have, the more you want; but that’s ‘want’, not ‘need’. People in real poverty ‘need’ and the fact that we (that is to say, anyone who has more than they need) begrudge them the basics is, to my mind, nothing short of disgraceful. – FEd]

  87. I’m sorry if I offended anyone about my post about receiving the my new black Strat. It was not intentional – the FED asked me to keep him informed – unfortunately the day I got it was the day this topic was showcased. What was I supposed to do?

    I’m not a rude self-centered person, I hope you all don’t think I am…..

    [For what it’s worth, I understand your excitement and appreciated the updates. – FEd]

  88. [Percentages are fine but what are the absolute numbers? You can’t compare percentages unless the budgets are the same. Would you rather have 5% of a billion or 50% of a million? – Andrew]

    Well, I can’t agree with you (or was it irony?).

    What ‘the poor’ receive from a nation is one thing, what each citizen of a nation gives (their effort) is something else.

    The US population is about 300 million people. The UK population is about 60 million people.

    Maybe it’s a short cut, but, when 1 US citizen has 100, he gives 0.16 and when 1 UK citizen has 100, he gives 0.36. A fact.

    And hats off to the Northern countries of Europe (Norway, Sweden, Luxembourg, Denmark and Netherlands) that have already reached the 0.7% goal!

    Sorry if what I tried to say was not clear.

    Michèle

  89. [100 trees… Nice one, Ben. – FEd]

    Thanks! I think she’ll be chuffed.

    [Since 1950, Americans have used up more resources than everyone who ever lived on earth before 1950. – Catherine]

    That’s bad, LOL! Sorry Americans, but you have a lot to answer for.

    [We need to really curb population growth worldwide to more sustainable levels… – Howard]

    How? I don’t think we’ll see the rich countries curbing their population growth and they’re the one who consume more.

    [How, you ask? By letting brown-skinned children die of preventable diseases, like malaria, polio and TB, of course. – FEd]

  90. Fed,

    Today (Friday) VH1 Classic is showing David Gilmour’s “Live in Gdansk” starting at 5pm (EST) in the US with another showing coming up.

    I hope that you’ll have a wonderful weekend.

    Take Care,
    Thomas

    [Thanks for letting me know, Thomas. I wouldn’t know half these things if not for you lot. – FEd]

  91. I also understand your excitement, Johnnie, and I am not in the least bit jealous of that beautiful Strat you own…..not.

    Have a nice weekend all!

    Cheers
    Paul

  92. [I still wager that if you asked most in poverty if you would like to be restricted to just the basics and never have more…they would say why? – Howard]

    So, as long as they’re kept in/know their place, it’s fine? Otherwise f*** them?

    (I did try to think of a polite way of saying that, honest.)

    [I’m not suggesting that any person on this planet should have no more than the very basics of clean water, food, shelter, medicine, etc., by the way. That’s a minimum requirement and surely a right for all. I’m saying that, depressingly, that in itself would be a huge improvement for many millions and shouldn’t take years to achieve. The poorest should be allowed to work their way out of poverty and towards whatever they aspire to. My point is, they don’t even have that option as things stand, and surely that’s wrong. – FEd]

  93. I did say Fed that poverty in England is not the same as Africa…but all things are relative to the beholder aren’t they…and why can’t emaciated people wish not necessarily for a Ferrari but for a car….a nice house…money to send their kids to a good school and why the hell is that bad to wish it or have it?

    We have gotten too taken up with the notion of consumerism as all bad.

    Again we are pigeonholing people in poverty to a stereotype…well they should be happy with the basics…They just won’t be. People want more.

    People are people everywhere in the world with the same emotions, feelings, desires and foibles. Because of that is it not reasonable to expect some will fall into the same pitfalls (greed) and the same honorable pursuits (charity) as we do?

    Look at the rise of the middle class in India helped in part by the tech boom there. A rampant consumerism if I ever saw one….New car purchases…homes….trips overseas…more consumption of meat because now they can afford it. Go ahead…tell them to stop as they now should have enough to keep them going…will they listen? I don’t think so.

    China is the same way. And not so many years ago they were all in real poverty.

    Finally I am betting almost 100% of the people who contribute to the blog buy more than they need…want more than they need…even you Fed. Does that make us evil? Greedy? Mean and nasty? No, it means we are human. Look at the new Live in Gdansk. Do we really need all those releases? Nope….but it is sure wonderful to have all that choice.

    Cheers, Howard

    P.S. This would be a wonderful topic down at the Pub Fed.

    P.P.S. Really enjoyed this sparring as Andrew pointed out…gets you thinking indeed.

    [I think it does make us greedy to buy more than we need – and of course I include myself in that criticism. I don’t think we need as much consumer choice as we have, either. The only choice that should matter should be ‘ethical or unethical?’, and as people choose ethical alternatives, the unethical will become obsolete, which can only be a good thing. Lastly, if anyone should be told to stop spending/wasting, I think it should be those countries which consume the most resources and are responsible for the most carbon emissions. It’s not going to happen, I know. Who tells the bullies what they can and can’t do? But, if anyone has a conscience, they can do what they can to cut back and encourage others to do likewise. Call me naïve, but I think that would make a difference… if only to buy us more time. I sure as hell don’t begrudge anyone in India or China having the things we take for granted in North America or Europe. Put simply, I would just like to see the richest with less so that the poorest have more. – FEd]

  94. Hi all.

    I’ve just been reading some of your responses, i.e. a bit of the old anti USA.

    I have always found the majority of Americans warm and friendly and very caring people. Remember WW2? I still do.

    Bush is a cowboy and a bit dim, I have to admit that, but please don’t pick on a nation that has done great things, and like the rest of us, silly things through a government.

    Regards
    Damian

    P.S. People of America, give us our colonies back! Just kidding.

  95. Hi everyone!

    Great discussion. Really made me think.

    I agree with everyone who said that the rich keep the poor in poverty for their own needs. I’m ashamed that we give so little in international aid. I know there are poor people in rich countries, but this is a different kind of poverty and everyone should have basic things like clean water and access to cheap drugs. People shouldn’t be dying of TB and polio in 2008.

    P.S. Shame about Wales, FEd. They did well.

    [They did. As did the Under-21 side against England. – FEd]

  96. Everyone can and must do something about poverty.

    It is an issue for the Government but also for the People.

    Ernest

  97. [I still wager that if you asked most in poverty if you would like to be restricted to just the basics and never have more…they would say why? – Howard]

    [So, as long as they’re kept in/know their place, it’s fine? Otherwise f*** them? (I did try to think of a polite way of saying that, honest.) – Lorraine]

    Not sure if this is a criticism of what I said in brackets….but I sure didn’t say keep them in their place…

    I AM saying that people in poverty will not be satisfied with just the basics…that is a statement not a judgement.

    Cheers, Howard

  98. [(No snide comments about how everyone hates Americans, please. Some stats about Australia, Canada, Japan, New Zealand and Switzerland would be more useful.) – FEd]

    Like they will listen.

    Which country is typically one of the largest sending relief efforts when natural disaster strikes? Which country is the one that gets the call for help? Which market is the one that everyone wants to get a piece of?

    Yeah, the U.S.

    You have any idea on how much crap product is produced in China & then imported here to the U.S.? Cheap toys, tools that don’t work or break easily, etc. Sure some is manufactured at the request of some American immigrant looking to make a buck. But isn’t that stuff also sustaining the economy & the people of that country? It is U.S. dollars that are flowing to China for that inferior product & paying the salaries so people can eat.

    So here is a solution, the U.S. will curtail imports & then let’s see what happens with world economy.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    [Interesting thought. – FEd]

  99. [Again we are pigeonholing people in poverty to a stereotype… Well, they should be happy with the basics… They just won’t be. People want more. – Howard]

    I disagree. Some people are happy with what they have.

    Africans don’t expect what we have because they’ve never had much and appreciate what they do have. I don’t think they want charity, just a fair deal.

    China and India took years to develop and so will Africa. By the time they all catch up, maybe we will have learned that we waste too much in the west and have to share.

    If we ate less, there would be lots more food to go round.

    Thanks for the link FEd.

    BTW, I saw Bobski The Builder on Channel 4. The English builder was a fat slob who made me ashamed to be a Brit. The Polish guy was a true gent and I hope he gets lots of job offers off the back of the programme.

    [I thought the same thing: who wouldn’t want to employ someone with such drive and enthusiasm? Someone like that deserves success and happiness but, I fear, will never achieve it because there will always be a lesser man – who thinks he is better, for some insane reason – keeping him in check for fear of his own place in the world. Jarek couldn’t have been more accommodating, yet what did he get for all his politeness and long hours of toil? A bum deal from an idiot couple who expected him to slave for a pittance. Their prejudiced, disrespectful attitude made me deeply ashamed, but I wasn’t at all surprised by it. Too many people have forgotten the real value of money and what hard work is… and too many people in Britain think they’re better than everybody else and, therefore, have a right to exploit others. – FEd]

  100. Everyone is missing the point here.

    I am NOT against everyone on this planet having the same or nearly the same access to the lifestyle we enjoy…Not against China and India having it. My point is it just isn’t possible….and don’t tell me that, well, if we lower our lifestyle and raise theirs..somewhere in the twain we will meet…this is nonsense.

    And don’t insult them by saying we will give you the basics, be happy with that.

    The reality is that there will always always be poverty and it will go up not down despite all efforts because of declining world resources. This is not an issue where throwing money at it will solve anything.

    The bottom line is too many people are living on this earth…

    Cheers, Howard

    [We’d have to lower our lifestyle a hell of a lot before it would meet theirs as things stand. It would involve using the expensive military equipment that we place so much importance in to get that true ‘barren wasteland’ effect, for starters (although that’s money well-spent, so I’m sure no one will mind if we make use of it). I feel we should be happy to lower it and make simple sacrifices if that’s the only way that every man, woman and child on the planet, wherever fate dictated they be born, has access to clean water and basic medicine. That is not asking a lot of anyone who has more than they need. It is achievable. Oh, and resources decline because the rich consume far more than they should. – FEd]

  101. Funny how I get wound up sometimes.

    This would be a lively discussion in a pub somewhere over a pint. But remember, you need people like me and Howard to stir things up a bit. Otherwise you all would be sitting there just nodding your heads and getting soused.

    Thanks.

    Andrew

    [Damn right. (There’s still too much nodding, don’t you think?) – FEd]

  102. Johnnie, keep ’em coming. You chose a wonderful instrument and want to share it. Good for you!

    Now, bring it here, I’m in Canada.

  103. Well, as one of the hated Americans, I will still keep trying to do my bit towards making my corner of the world better.

    I am retired on limited income. I appreciate all I have and try to share where I can. Evenings, coming home from work we used to pass homeless. Even in Minnesota winters. They station themselves at the top of exit ramp stop lights.

    I saw a very dejected woman once. I bagged up clothes, food and some cash to take to her. I heard from police that these are druggies looking to score easy cash. Made me feel like a fool, but does not stop me from trying to do something to help. Either with poor, homeless, starving, or the environment. Not to make myself feel good, but because it is the right thing to do.

    My friends give all they can. None of us is rich, but comparatively speaking we are. So we give in thanks of this.

    We are not ALL wasters and abusers of resources.

    P.S. Damian, America belonged to the Indians.

    Jan

    [Great post, Jan. – FEd]

  104. Oh no, it’s me again. Just thought I would make the most of this topic.

    Half a trillion pounds, that’s a shit load of money the British government has offered British banks to keep the greedy pigs fed. That’s more than the USA has given, and where the hell has all that money suddenly appeared from, like out of thin air? It beggars belief and that’s besides what they have already pumped into the world banking system.

    The older I get the more I realise we are all little pawns. We can sit there and watch our own people kill themselves with drugs and ruin the life of others with the crimes they commit to feed their habit, children here in the UK and the world grow up in abstract poverty, homeless people we walk by on the streets, parts of towns and cities no-go areas, people earning a shit wage in a shit job. I thought we put up with this because there is only so much money.

    I’m just blown away by that amount – half a trillion pounds – and we give it to tw*ts who balls up in the 1st place.

    Damian

    [Hear, hear. The rich look after their own and we wonder why things don’t change. – FEd]

  105. Hi FEd,

    The Live in Gdansk show will be on VH1 Classic tonight (from 8pm to 10pm).

    They will be having repeats next week.

    [They’re all on the calendar, Bev, but thanks for giving me an excuse to mention it again. – FEd]

  106. This topic has legs!

    I’m with F’ed … the most important thing is to separate absolute need from the desire for more.

    We can say with absolute certainty that we can never solve the fact that some people are rich – even obscenely rich – whilst others have little.

    But I think it is possible – the UN seems to think so – that we can eliminate absolute degradation.

    I’m actually very encouraged about that aspiration of achieving 0.7% GDP could make a real difference … and that some of our Nordic friend are already there … and some of our E.U. friends are planning on it … that really looks achievable.

    It doesn’t mean the World will be perfect but then maybe we can find the next 0.7% and the next – and address good governance while we are there.

    Our Governments should be more aggressive. We are at our most resourceful when we HAVE to act … set clear, aggressive, worthwhile targets and we will adapt.

    Jan reminds us that we shouldn’t simply slam America and certainly not Americans … how could we hate a nation that gave us the Muppets and Bob Dylan!

    However we can see that the route America has taken is not a template for sustainability.

    When I look at America I am reminded that it has many corners that look “Third World” by comparison to Western Europe where the benefits of wealth have generally been better shared by all, with more progressive welfare states, more emphasis on wealth redistribution and higher taxes.

    Unsurprisingly, when you start off trying to get a fair deal for all in your own country, you naturally apply some of that thinking to the wider World … or at least I’d like to think so.

    [It’s amazing how they found enough – money and bottle – to bail-out the banks when they needed to act, isn’t it? 0.7% GDP doesn’t seem like such a hard target. – FEd]

  107. I’d echo comments about this topic as well.

    Sometimes we see some bollocks talked here. Occasionally it isn’t even me!

    But the standard of debate and contribution has been high throughout.

    And Johnnie, don’t feel bad mate, this is a music blog and we like Strats also. The main thing is you weren’t complaining about the price!

    [Yes, thank God for that. – FEd]

  108. My brain is on fire over this one Fed…Well done to bring it up!!

    Sorry to sound so down on this one but I am of the school of thought that human beings have brought very little joy to this planet. And we are always so concerned about our own navels…forgetting about every other living thing here. Look at all the extinct species of animals, birds and other wonderful creatures, gone forever with so many others on the cusp of disappearing.

    We have a lot to answer for at the day of reckoning (..no biblical meaning here…don’t want to start a discussion about that..we really would be here all night, LMAO).

    Cheers, Howard

    [We’d be here all bloody weekend, Howard! (By the way, I agree with every word you said in this one and thank you – and Andrew, especially – for adding so much to this topic.) – FEd]

  109. RE: JAN, USA OWNED BY THE NATIVE AMERICANS

    I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU THERE JAN, BUT YOU STILL HAVE A COWBOY IN CHARGE.

    IT WAS A BIT OF BRITISH HUMOUR TO LIGHTEN THE LOAD OFF A BIT OF HOSTILITY BEING THROWN AT THE USA. WAS NOT MEANT TO BE SERIOUS.

    Damian

  110. ..erm, what Tim said.

    Personally I don’t have a problem with people being rich (I ain’t one of them, but what the hell). I’d just like to live in a world where people don’t starve to death and worse still don’t have to watch their children starve to death. It’s not a lot to ask, is it?

    [Should we break into John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ at this point, or Marvin Gaye’s ‘What’s Going On’? – FEd]

  111. John Lennon every time!

    PS. The ‘B’ side ‘Working Class Hero’ is even better!

    [I am rather fond of that one. “As soon as you’re born, they make you feel small by giving you no time instead of it all…” (You do know that I’m going to be listening to John Lennon all weekend now, don’t you?) – FEd]

  112. Thank you all for your comments and for generating some healthy discussion.

    The Blog will be back on Monday. Until then, here are some beautiful words to close this topic.

    “Imagine there’s no heaven
    It’s easy if you try
    No hell below us
    Above us only sky

    Imagine all the people
    Living for the day

    Imagine there’s no country
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion, too

    Imagine all the people
    Living life in peace

    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you will join us
    And the world will live as one

    Imagine no possessions
    I wonder if you can
    No need for greed, no hunger
    A brotherhood of man

    Imagine all the people
    Sharing all the world

    You may say I’m a dreamer
    But I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you will join us
    And the world will live as one”

    – John Lennon, ‘Imagine’

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