World poverty has existed for many centuries and still exists today, gradually expanding and intensifying. This is the topic that Pete Singer, a professor of bioethics, calls attention to in his article “The Singer Solution to World Poverty.” Singer claimed that the solution was simple; “whatever money you’re spending on luxuries, not necessities, should be given away.” Considering Singer’s “solution” a controversial point arises between an idealistic, utopian, and morally just point of view and a realistic, pragmatic, and plausible point of view. Singer’s solution, although righteous and ethical, is not probable and thus would not be effective in curing world poverty.
The few pros of Singer’s proposal are, at first glance, important and convincing. The money, prospering individuals are spending on luxuries, can total to a great amount, which can help pay for food and medical aid for the poor. With an increase of food and medicine, the rate at which children and adults die due to starvation and lack of medical help, can quickly decrease. Nations will less frequently struggle with high mortality rate among newly born and children as well as among adult people suffering from curable diseases. In addition, the donated money can allow for the improvement of educational opportunities for all individuals, which can result in advanced technological, scientific and humanities-focused research and discoveries. Ultimately, Singer’s utopian idea of a cure for world poverty, promises a developed, healthy, and educated world.
Although Singer deals with morality and righteousness, one cannot help but criticize Singer’s idealism and naivety and resort to realism, practicality and plausibility. The first issue that comes to light when attempting to execute or enforce this “solution” is the unknown borderline between luxury and necessity. In reality, it would be impossible for every prosperous person to agree upon what is and what is not a necessity, and if it were decided, for example that microwaves were a luxury, would the microwave manufacturers go out of business? A large percentage of companies and factories are dedicated to manufacturing luxurious items, however, if people no longer continued to buy these items and instead donated to the poor, this would be at the cost of the factory workers’ jobs; therefore, creating a cyclical effect and intensifying the issue of world poverty.
Accordingly, Singer gives a highly idealistic and utopian theory and when we evaluate both pros and cons, it becomes obvious that the obstacles outweigh the advantages. His approach in curing world poverty is not only too extreme, but brings about cyclical and unsolvable issues. It is important to consider and apply this method to real life and then reflect upon all the possible consequences. Singer’s cure fails to provide a realistic solution and promising outcomes. A different approach, or rather first step, to solving world poverty can be keeping to a minimum expensive worldwide projects. For example, millions of dollars are spent on the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympics, World Soccer Cups, etc. If instead the total money dedicated to these celebrations were to be saved and donated to the needy every few years, progress would certainly be a result. Moreover, the ceremonies can be replaced with simple, yet entertaining concerts performed by artists willing to volunteer and help fund-raise money for the poor.
Ultimately, Singer’s “simple formula” for world poverty in reality is a naïve and idealist theory, and most importantly an ill-considered and unfitting solution to one of the 21st century’s greatest issue: world poverty.