Joining hands across the seas...
By Ruben Botello, Director
WORLD HOMELESS UNION
Experts believe nearly three billion people (almost half of the world population) subsist or survive on less than $2 per day. Does that mean almost half the world population of less than seven billion people lives in poverty?
No, this huge number means almost 50% of the world population subsists on less than $2 per day. How about those who subsist on less than three, four, five or ten dollars per day; are they not poor, too?
Imagine yourself living on $10 per day. That's $70 per week or about $280 per month, to cover all your living expenses, including housing, utilities, food, transportation, healthcare, medicine, clothes and hygiene.
Housing alone would cost you more than $280 per month unless you were willing to live in extremely substandard housing or on the streets. Let's double your income to $20 per day, then; about $560 per month.
How far can you get in your community on less than $600 per month, to cover all your living expenses? Let's face it: far more than half of the world population is living in poverty while a few greedy people live like pigs.
The Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of the poorest 48 nations (25% of the earth's countries) is less than the total wealth of the world's three richest people. Imagine that: three people richer than 48 nations; and a few hundred more wealthy elite with as much income as the world's poorest 2.5 billion people.
Why aren't these rich people sharing their wealth with the poor? In 1960, the 20% of the world population living in the richest countries had 30 times the income of the poorest 20%, and that economic injustice jumped to 74 times more in 1997. The rich really are getting very much richer, then, while the poor really are getting very much poorer, hungrier, sicker and dead!
In 1999, the combined wealth of the world's 200 richest people reached $1 trillion, while the combined incomes of the 582 million people living in the 43 least developed countries was only $146 billion. Is it any wonder over a billion people live on less than one dollar per day while almost 3 billion live on under two dollars a day?
About 1.3 billion people have no access to clean water, 3 billion people have no access to sanitation, and 2 billion people have no access to electricity. A mere 12 percent of the world's population uses 85 percent of its water.
How can so many people survive or thrive under these deplorable conditions? It does not take a rocket scientist to know and understand poverty kills.
Millions of people are dead and dying right now, needlessly because of their abject poverty, while the income of the richest 50 million people in Europe and North America equals that of 2.7 billion poor people. The wealth of the richest 1% is equal to the total income of the poorest 57%.
Instead of helping these poor souls, the upper classes and castes exploit and oppress them. They so quickly forget the working poor (cheap labor) generate most of the wealth they hoard and kill for.
How do the rich and well-to-do spend wealth they don't save or invest?
Well, let's take a look!
Global Priorities, 1998 (in U.S. Dollars):
Narcotics drugs (Worldwide) -- $400 billion
Alcoholic drinks (Europe) -- $105 billion
Cigarettes (Europe) -- $50 billion
Business entertainment (Japan) -- $35 billion
Pet foods (Europe and the United States) -- $17 billion
Perfumes (Europe and the United States) -- $12 billion
Ice cream (Europe) -- $11 billion
Cosmetics (United States) -- $8 billion
------ SUBTOTAL = $638 billion
Basic health and nutrition for everyone(worldwide) -- $13 billion
Water and sanitation (Worldwide) -- $9 billion
Basic education for everyone (Worldwide) -- $6 billion
Reproductive health for all women (Worldwide) -- $12 billion
------ SUBTOTAL = $40 billion
Notice above how little is spent on life-sustaining aid to the needy ($40 billion), as compared to spending that has nothing to do with saving human life ($638 billion). Shouldn't humane or "civilized" societies be spending more for the betterment of the whole than for the decadence of a few?
Well, in case "the masses" got upset with their oppression, the governments of the world spent $780 billion on their military forces alone, in 1998.
The following are the top global problems and the annual amounts needed to solve them all in ten years, as estimated by the World Gaming Institute. Imagine that: the most horrendous world problems completely solved in a decade for only $2.3 trillion:
Eliminate Starvation and Malnutrition ($19 billion)
• Provide Shelter ($21 billion)
• Remove Landmines ($4 billion)
• Eliminate Nuclear Weapons ($7 billion) • Refugee Relief ($5 billion)
• Eliminate Illiteracy ($5 billion)
• Provide Clean, Safe Water ($10 billion)
• Provide Health Care and AIDS Control ($21 billion)
• Stop Deforestation ($7 billion)
• Prevent Global Warming ($8 billion)
• Stabilize Population ($10.5 billion) (1)
• Prevent Acid Rain ($8 billion)
• Provide Clean, Safe Energy: Energy
Efficiency ($33 billion)
• Renewable Energy ($17 billion)
• Stop Ozone Depletion ($5 billion)
• Prevent Soil Erosion ($24 billion)
• Retire Developing Nations Debt ($30 billion)
------TOTAL = $224.5 billion
Imagine again the complete elimination of all the above problems in a decade for only $234.5 billion per year, total of $2.3 trillion in 10 years. The health, safety and welfare of the over 7,000,000 innocent children who die needlessly each year alone are worth far more than all the money in the world, but of course the rich and well-to-do would rather let them die than share the wealth they steal and hoard from the working poor.
Rather than share the wealth, the upper classes and castes of the world prefer to have the poor drugged, tortured, maimed, killed, exploited, oppressed and imprisoned. Beyond their police forces, the rich and well-to-do have their military forces, to protect and preserve their wealth and power, as follows.
World's Largest Military Budgets (in U.S. dollars):
United States -- $401.0 billion
Russia* -- $65.0 billion
China* -- $47.0 billion
Japan -- $42.6 billion
U.K. -- $38.4 billion
France -- $29.5 billion
Germany -- $24.9 billion
Saudi Arabia -- $21.3 billion
Italy -- $19.4 billion
India -- $15.6 billion
South Korea -- $14.1 billion
Brazil* -- $10.7 billion
Taiwan* -- $10.7 billion
Israel -- $10.6 billion
Spain -- $8.4 billion
Australia -- $7.6 billion
Canada -- $7.6 billion
Netherlands -- $6.6 billion
Mexico -- $5.9 billion
Turkey -- $5.8 billion
Kuwait* -- $3.9 billion
Ukraine -- $5.0 billion
Iran* -- $4.8 billion
Singapore -- $4.8 billion
Sweden -- $4.5 billion
Egypt* -- $4.4 billion
Norway -- $3.8 billion
Greece -- $3.5 billion
Poland -- $3.5 billion
Argentina* -- $3.3 billion
U.A.E.* -- $3.1 billion
Colombia* -- $2.9 billion
Belgium -- $2.7 billion
Pakistan* -- $2.6 billion
Denmark -- $2.4 billion
Vietnam -- $2.4 billion
North Korea* -- $2.1 billion
Czech Republic -- $1.6 billion
Iraq* -- $1.4 billion
Philippines -- $1.4 billion
Portugal -- $1.3 billion
Libya* -- $1.2 billion
Hungary -- $1.1 billion
Syria -- $1.0 billion
Cuba* -- $0.8 billion
Sudan* -- $0.6 billion
Yugoslavia -- $0.7 billion
Luxembourg -- $0.2 billion
------ TOTAL = $863.7 billion
The above costs do not include the billions more tax dollars spent on police forces, courts and prisons around the globe, to protect the rich and well-to-do from the lower classes and castes in their stratified societies. These costs do reflect, however, that the wealthy in the listed nations are spending more than 3.6 times on their armies than is needed, to completely eliminate most of the needless death, pain and suffering billions of people are forced to endure, day-in and day-out due to their abject poverty throughout the world.
The rich elite love to blame the poor for poverty but it is in fact armed forces that keep the majority of the world population in poverty, exploited and oppressed. Notice how Russia -- with the second most expensive military force on earth -- is only spending about 16% ($65 billion) of the total amount the United States is spending ($401 billion) on its armies.
Does the U.S. really need this great of a military advantage over all the nations of the world? Is this brute force causing more problems than it is solving, not only for the rest of the world but for the United States, too?
The U.S. is spending over $7 billion per month; that is around $150 billion through the next fiscal year or over $300 billion this decade on the invasion and occupation of Iraq, alone. All total, the White House plans to spend about $2.7 trillion on its military forces, in the next six years.
Massive military spending creates more death and destruction, not less. Imagine how much good instead of death and destruction these hard-earned tax dollars could be spent for throughout the world. $2.7 trillion is more than all the money needed ($2.3 trillion), to solve all the most critical problems facing the world, today, in a few short years.
If the United States spent even half its military budget on these critical issues, it would take only 20 years to establish lasting peace and goodwill on earth; and if "the richest and most powerful nation on earth" took the lead in solving these horrendous problems, most nations would join in, and help cover the overall costs of eliminating these problems instead of overspending on their military and police forces, too.
But no, the United States and most other nations would rather spend hundreds of billions of tax dollars on brute force every year, so their rich and well-to-do citizens can continue to lie, cheat and steal from the poor. Cheap labor is the backbone of the global economy but the working poor benefit the least from all the wealth they produce, not because they choose to but because the rich and well-to-do will have it no other way.
Helping the rich get richer from the blood, sweat and tears of the poor, then, is indeed the greatest evil of all. Poverty is not the product of a "culture of poverty," it is an intentional, malicious and criminal act perpetrated by the rich and well-to-do against the large majority of the world population, to keep us exploited and oppressed.
Join hands across the seas against this poverty and oppression, then. These are the greatest crimes against humanity, today.