Tuesday, August 28, 2007

What does the U.S. owe to developing nations?

The San Francisco Chronicle published comments from a number of people who were responding to an article from a couple of Peace Corps Volunteers in Kenya. The PCVs said, as most of us concluded in the Peace Corps, that poor people have to change if they want to escape poverty. They said:
we were there to share our skills. Kenya - Africa - needs modern skills far more than it needs Western cash.
The Volunteers also wrote:
Education is the key, and the Kenyans know it. In 2002, the government agreed to provide free primary schooling for all. Secondary schools, however, charge a fee, often beyond the reach of many students, even when the family pulls together to send them. This is indeed one area where Western donations can do the most good, because it gives young people hope.
The folk who responded to the Chronicle gave a full spectrum of replies:
Tina Martin, San Francisco
Considering that the United States makes up less than 5 percent of the world population but uses more than 25 percent of the world's resources, I think it owes developing nations the chance to benefit from what they have before we liberate them from it.

Marcy Orosco, Guerneville
Nothing. Let's start with the United States first.

Bill Krumbein, Santa Rosa
We owe them fairness. We owe them a level playing field. Expecting them to play in the same league as our economic standards is impossible. We need to stop taking advantage of them.

Mike Haworth, Vallejo
It's not a matter of owing, it's more a matter of redemption. We need to redeem ourselves in the eyes of the world. Thanks to the current administration, the term "Ugly American" has been revived and multiplied a hundred times over. Repairing the damage will take decades, and every opportunity to do so should be acted upon immediately -- and we will, just as soon as all our resources stop funding this unwinnable war.
The website also generated a number of online comments.

UNESCO is deeply involved in the efforts to help Kenya and all of Africa to help itself. It is the lead agency in the global effort to provide Education for All. It is also the key agency in the United Nations system seeking to promote culturally sensitive approaches to the changes that poor people and poor nations must make to climb out of the poverty trap.

Leave us a comment (see below). What do you think America owes to developing nations? Do you think UNESCO is a good way to pay some of that debt?


Anonymous said...

UNESCO is part of the UN. The UN never has a countries interest at heart. UNESCO, like the UN hires and pays allot of people and that is the UN's goal. The UN takes advantage of countries to get funding and hire and employ. The Tsunami is an excellent example.

Maybe UNESCO should pay out some cash like the US and help countries to grow into their own.

John Daly said...

I think we do owe all of the nations of the world a certain level of respect, developing as well as developed. We owe fair play.

I suspect that we do have a moral debt to some developing nations: some for the benefits the people they sent to us have brought to our nation, and some due to the damage our nation has done to theirs in the past. (Think about some of the foreign policy efforts, albeit undertaken with good intentions, that have failed.)

Perhaps more importantly, we owe it to ourselves to be good neighbors on this planet, and to offer aid and comfort to those less fortunate than ourselves.