D E B at E

An d rew Ku per begins his cri ti que of my vi ews on poverty by accepti n g the crux of my moral argument: The interests of all persons ought to count equally, and geographic location and citizenship m a ke no intrinsic differen ce to the ri gh t s and obl i ga ti ons of i n d ivi du a l s . Ku per also sets out some key facts about global poverty, for example, that 30,000 children die every day from preventable illness and starvation, while most people in devel oped nati on s have plenty of disposable income that they s pend on lu x u ries and items that sati s f y mere wants, not basic needs. Yet after summarizing an essay I wrote for the New York Times Magazine in which I argued that the avera ge Am erican family should don a te a l a r ge porti on of t h eir income to or ga n i z ati ons like UNICEF and Ox f a m , Ku per wri te s : “ But if Si n ger ’s ex h ort a ti ons make you want to act immediately in the ways he recom m en d s , you s h ould not do so.” Why not? Because the approach I advoc a te “would seriously harm the poor.” These are strong words. It is startling to be told that a substantial transfer of resources from comfortably-off American families to UNICEF or Oxfam would harm the poor. What abo ut those 3 0,0 0 0 ch i l d ren dyi n g from preventable illness and starvation? In its 2001 fund-raising material,the U.S. Committee for UNICEF says that a donation of $17 will provide immunization “to protect a child for life against the six leading ch i l d - killing and maiming diseases:measles,polio.
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