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World is rich enough to help poor, but doesn't

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Phnom Penh

A prominent US economist on Monday blasted the world's wealthiest countries, particularly the United States, for not providing enough assistance to poor nations such as Cambodia.

Jeffrey Sachs, a professor at Harvard University and the director of Columbia University's Earth Institute, said during a two-day visit to Cambodia that rich nations should increase foreign aid by $50-billion.

"The world is rich enough to do it, but doesn't," Sachs told some 400 government officials, foreign diplomats and students during a lecture sponsored by a local think tank. "It would take only two cents of every $10 earned by people in wealthy countries."

Sachs, who advises governments on five continents as well as UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, singled out the United States for criticism, saying it could give "a great deal more."

The economist said the United States spends just one cent out of $100 earned on helping the world's poor fight disease.

The world's economic leaders are partly responsible for "the tragedy which has damaged Southeast Asia during the past 40 years," including the Vietnam War and Cambodia's genocide in the 1970s, Sachs said.

Among the most pressing issues that require help from wealthy nations is the fight against HIV, the virus that causes Aids, he said.

Sachs said Cambodia collects an average of $30 annually in tax revenues from each of its 12-million citizens, which is not enough to fund proper health care or provide for infrastructure and educational needs.

"The only realistic way to bridge the gap is through aid," he said.

At present, Cambodia depends on foreign aid to fund more than half of government expenditure. Last month, international aid donors pledged $635-million in assistance to the country for next year, exceeding last year's annual pledges by about 13%. The biggest donor is Japan. - Sapa-AP

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there are 2 parallels here

one, the world is doing enough, particularly the US. we give billions of dollars of aid to many poor nations. in essence we are giving them the fish, instead of teacheing them how to fish. In many cases, its the poor nations themselves that are responsible for their own standing, whether due to civil wars, corruption or inefficiency. more aid money will not solve fundamental problems. blaiming US for this will not alleviate the situation either

two, many of our policies regarding the 3rd world are hypocritical, and this is where the US policy makers need to be castigated. one example are african cotton farmers. they will now get even poorer due to Bush's signing of the Farm Subsidy agreement, meaning american cotton growers, who on average make 700,00 $ a year, will make even more. we are in essence, chocking off any 3rd world growth prospects, which is a danger to us in the long run.

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tribal's got a good point... i would be more open to vastly increasing aid to poor countries when i start thinking that the money my taxes pay for wont be used to feed a guy who spent all his money on an AK-47 to fight some bullshit civil war.

what happens when you give a homeless crack addict money? he buys crack. now how did that help things?

the countries have to help themselves by commiting to peace and overcoming their problems, once that happens i would love to help them get off the ground. but until that happens, their the only ones keeping themselves down, and its truely sad because so many innocent people die because of it.

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the problem is we have groups like imf and world bank, where in THEORY their policies are set to help the third world. however, in reality their policies come with strings attached to them, that works in favor of the west, while exploiting the poor. the imf forces countries to open up their market for western industries, which ends up making local industries go bankrupt. devaluates their currency, so that the west can buy their goods, but they can't buy outside goods. these policies also force many third world countries dependant on world market prices, while the core nations have protectionist policies that protect their industries.

when we individually give aid to these nations, we never give out money for nothing, we expect the money back. it is not necessarily the tax payers that are giving the money, but rather the banks that only want to make a profit. as a result, countries are forced between paying off debt or supplying education and health care to their people.

when a country is too busy paying off its debt, while the people are starving, that's when you start having civil wars.

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