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The Case of Helping the Poor

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Gareth Hardin (1915-2003) alludes to the fact that environmentalists use “spaceship” as a metaphor which refers to the earth in an effort of persuading industries, people and countries to stop polluting and wasting natural resources. Life is shared on this planet and no single institution or person has a right of destroying, wasting or using more than what is entitled to him. Suicidal policies can be justified under the notion of spaceship whereby uncontrolled foreign aid and immigration are encouraged. Unrealistic generosity brings confusion between ethics of life boat and that of a spaceship. A spaceship that is true has to have a captain since there is no ship that can be controlled by a committee of people. The United Nations is powerless and cannot justify itself as being the captain of Spaceship Earth. Gareth compares the case of the poor nations and rich nations to fifty people who are in a life boat with a carrying capacity of sixty. All around the life boat there are people in the sea or oceans who want to get into the lifeboat (Hardin). The urge of helping the people outside the boat presents a moral dilemma. If there are a hundred people swimming outside, the people on the boat can invite ten of them to join, leave the boat for others, or admit the rest who are swimming outside and make the boat sink. If ten people were to be let in, the criterion of choosing whom to let in posses a great challenge. The people in the boat can also choose not to let anyone inside and be alert not to allow anyone to enter the boat illegally.  

Gareth Hardin is of the view that if poor countries continue to be helped, they will remain poor and will never learn from their mistakes. Population of rich countries doubles after every eighty seven years; on the other hand, population of the poor countries doubles after every twenty one years. If rich countries are to share their resources with poor countries, the citizens of rich countries will suffer due to the high growth rates in poor countries that place more strain on resources (Hardin). Every country has to deal with any situation of emergency and should be prepared for it instead of looking forward for foreign aid. People who have or own a property have to take good care of it because if they fail, they face a likelihood of suffering a tragedy. A farmer who overstocks cattle will eventually lose the pasture through soil erosion. The application of voluntary restraint system will bring the eminence of mutual ruin in the absence of controls.

Having a World Food Bank is not a solution in itself. Countries will be allowed to deposit food in accordance with their ability and withdrew it in regard to their needs. There will be countries which will continuously withdraw from the bank without contributing anything. Countries, which will contribute little, will want to withdraw more than their share. The needs of poor countries will surpass their needs (Hardin). If the poor countries are left on their own during times of famine, their population will be checked and they will learn to live within their means. On the other hand, if foreign aid and immigration will be encouraged, poor countries will always remain poor and their population will surge as they anticipate the food donations from rich countries.

The claims made by Gareth Hardin are true to some extent. Teaching someone to fish is better than giving the person a fish. Rich countries encourage poor countries to continue to be poor by feeling sorry for them and giving them food donations. If governments of poor countries do not implement policies that will see them be prepared in case of natural disasters like floods and famine, they will always be in need and requiring foreign aid from rich countries. Poor countries have to look for means of being productive and living within their means. Their population is unchecked owing to poor policy implementation. If they always expect help from rich countries, they will not struggle to resolves challenges when facing them.

However, Gareth is not right when he says that nations should not be helped at all during calamities in order to check their population. There are many cases where rich countries have required help from others. Forestry fires in Australia, Hurricane Katrina in America, and Tsunami calamity in Japan this year demonstrate cases of rich countries which saw foreign aid being extended to them. Sometimes floods and earth quakes cannot be anticipated and, therefore, placing poor countries in no conditions to respond to them. Some climatic conditions which cause famine are a result of global warming that has been cased by increased industrial activities of rich nations. Hence, it is the obligations of rich nations to be accountable for their actions. Immigrants have played a pivotal role in the growth of United States’ economy. Rich nations have directly or indirectly contributed to the sorry state of poor countries. 

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