Not a utopian day­dream

The West Australian - - LETTERS -

Martin Drinkwa­ter (Let­ters, 15/5) be­lieves gov­ern­ment debts to the banks pre­vent us from fund­ing global poverty and Karl Bern­hard (Let­ters, 17/5) backs him up and adds that per­sonal debts to banks also pre­vent pub­lic gen­eros­ity.

While the banks do have a lot to an­swer for, I do not think our debts are a suf­fi­cient ex­cuse to pre­vent us ad­dress­ing our global re­spon­si­bil­i­ties.

The op­po­site is true. Spend­ing money to re­duce global poverty will im­prove trade and the econ­omy and help us pay back our debts. This think­ing is not utopian ide­al­ism, but comes from such au­thor­i­ties such as the World Bank and the In­ter­na­tional Mone­tary Fund. They have warned that the widen­ing gap be­tween the rich and the poor is sti­fling the global econ­omy.

Aus­tralians, to our credit, de­spite in­creas­ing per­sonal loans, are im­mensely gen­er­ous. More than 1.5 mil­lion do­nate to over­seas aid projects each year. We sit proudly as the sixth most gen­er­ous na­tion ac­cord­ing to the World Giv­ing Index.

There are also calls for the banks to help more in this process. A minis­cule tax on each in­ter­na­tional share trans­ac­tion could raise more than enough to deal with poverty at home and abroad. Many be­lieve it would have the added bonus of tak­ing some volatil­ity out of the mar­ket.

In this 100th an­niver­sary year of Nelson Man­dela’s birth, we need to think more cre­atively about life-af­firm­ing solutions to global poverty and the econ­omy, and be that gen­er­a­tion he be­lieved we could be, to end global poverty, just like slav­ery and apartheid be­fore. His come­back to those who said this was a utopian dream was: “It al­ways seems im­pos­si­ble until it is done.”

Paddy Cullen, Gos­nells

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