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Global Poverty

Recession or Not—Let’s Fight Global Poverty

In the midst of the worst economic crisis in a generation, Jeffrey Sachs insists that we need to focus on wiping out the most extreme poverty on the planet.

Q. We live in a world clearly worried about shrinking balance sheets and shrinking economies. Do you worry that your ambitious goals will be delayed as we go through massive global restructuring?

A. We’re seeing that happen right now. Some countries are slashing their development aid budgets. Italy, which hosts the G-8 this year, cut its aid sharply. I was just in Africa and saw people suffering extreme hunger partly because the mines that created the jobs in their communities have closed down because of the global economic crisis and there’s no income to buy food. So the crisis is very big, and at the same time the development assistance is threatening to decline significantly. This would be a horrendous clash. It would raise the instability in the world considerably.

Q. Sounds like a deep, deep problem.

A. This is very worrisome. I’ve been stressing how we need to ensure that we don’t attempt to balance our budgets or respond to this crisis on the backs of the world’s poorest, hungriest and disease-burdened people. This would be cruel and lead to a horrendous outcome. And because helping those people costs less than a penny on the dollar, we don’t have to do it that way. We can afford to help them, and by doing so help ourselves.

Michael Zielenziger writes about banking and the economy.

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