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Wealth distribution

Military spending has always saddened me. "Realists" will argue that in a dangerous world even the innocent and righteous must defend themslves. Personally I'm inclined to believe that military spending is a vicious cirlce - if I see my neighbour stocking up on weapons I'm likely to get nervous. In December 2001, the US Congress debated a Bush defense budget of $343.2 billion, an increase of $32.6 billion over the previous year. The US is by far the biggest exporter of military hardware in the world. Why do we allow our governments to waste this money on hate and anger? Is everyone agreed that it would be a better world if all military spending were by law required for education and health issues?

There have been a number of campaigns aimed at addressing the fact that the many people in the world still lack access to clean drinking water and other basic requirements while a small number of people are positively wallowing in luxury. Much of the text below has been previously published at: http://www.enough.org.uk/enough02.htm

We the richest fifth of the world's population already consume more than our fair share of the world's resources. Consumerism is a social and economic creed that encourages us to aspire to even more than that share, regardless of the consequences.

The USA alone, with only 6% of the world's population, consumes 30% of its resources.

20% of the world's population consumes over 70% of its material resources, and owns over 80% of its wealth although this global elite includes people in almost every country, it is mainly concentrated in the Westernised, consumerist nations: the US. Canada, Western Europe, Saudi Arabia, Australia and Japan.

This same 20% does not exclusively grow, supply or create all of these resources - they are the product of the whole world's labour: and although we may receive the benefits of using these resources, and have control over their distribution, they are not necessarily ours to consume in the first place. In fact, in order for the elite to live at the standard it does, the majority have to go without... and this is one of the major (if not the major) causes of world poverty, albeit one that is largely ignored, unknown or denied.

The earth can only support a finite number of people before trouble.

Victor Gollancz has made it clear that, "The plain fact is that we are starving people, not deliberately in the sense that we want them to die, butwilfully in the sense that we prefer their death to our own inconvenience."

This blunt fact is in sharp contrast to our traditional western explanation of why the 'Third' World is so poor. For instance, we are accustomed to the belief that there is a global shortage of food. This is simply not true. The world already produces enough grain alone to supply every single individual with over 2,500 calories per day: this figure does not even include fruit, groundnuts or root vegetables. In this sense the world cannot in any meaningful sense be said to be overpopulated. Asia, Africa, Latin America, Central America and Pacific Rim islands are often referred to as having too high a population. But few of the countries in these regions has a significantly higher population density than Britain, Japan, Germany or the Netherlands, where only a tiny percentage of the population is undernourished. The majority of impoverished countries have population densities far below these examples. Even Ethiopia, Mozambique and Bangladesh, countries seen as almost synonymous with overpopulation and scarcity, have the agricultural resources to feed their people.

What causes global hunger is not a shortage of resources, but the unequal distribution of those resources in favour of the rich. No solution to world poverty can ignore this basic fact: putting an end to it will inevitably involve a fairer distribution of the world's food, resources and wealth. This is not compatible with the consumerist creed of ever-increasing consumption.

Forty-nine percent of the US income tax dollar goes for present and past military-related activities. On April 16, 1953, former President Dwight Eisenhower noted that "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed."

US military spending
Good money after bad?

Wally Nelson has asked an interesting question - "What would you do if someone came to your door with a cup in hand asking for a contribution to help buy guns and kill a group of people they didn't like?" It's simple when painted in these terms but...