Why can the world find money to save banks, but not lives?
Caritas Internationalis President, Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, discusses this worrying phenomenon in an interview with Italian magazine Famiglia
“Last spring, leaders who met in Rome said the there wasn’t enough money for the Millennium Development Goals, yet no one had any problem finding millions
of dollars for the banks,” said Cardinal Óscar Rodríguez Maradiaga.
In a recent interview with Famiglia Cristiana, Cardinal Rodriguez said that the current global crisis has not only created more poverty but it is the poor
who are paying the highest price.
“The petrol crisis, where prices went through the roof this summer, created 100 million poor people,” said Cardinal Rodríguez.
“To feed one billion malnourished people in the world, you only need US$30 billion per year, less than 5 percent of the White House’s bank bailout plan,”
The Cardinal says financial crimes surely produce more deaths than war, hunger, thirst and disease because of the poverty they cause, and should be punished.
He says the money that disappeared during the current crisis has actually gone into the pockets of the rich – to the detriment of the poor. He says that
change is the only way forward.
“We have to understand that capitalism, the ruler of the world economy for the past 30 years, has failed,” he said. “It doesn’t need to be built up again,
it needs to be changed.”
Cardinal Rodríguez warned that the recession will create more unemployment and there will be knock-on effects from this. He says that remittances from
Latin American immigrants in the USA have already started to go down.
The Church has a key role in establishing rules and guaranteeing everyone’s well-being, said the Cardinal.
“What we’re seeing today is above all an ethical crisis, where people don’t limit their wants,” he said. “This goes as much for military spending as it
does for the housing boom. The world doesn’t just revolve around money, there are other values.”
The Cardinal said that lack of trust as well as fear have contributed to the current climate.
“Fear rules us,” he said. “Fear of losing our money, fear of other nations, fear of not being able to buy things.
“Post-September 11th terrorism has achieved its aim: it has spread fear across the world and laid fertile ground for racism which produces poverty and closes
Cardinal Rodríguez said the current crisis is not about to end. On the contrary, it is only just beginning.
The above was posted on the Caritas Internationalis blog on 17 November 2008.
Although I don’t usually listen to the Church or anyone from the Church, this guy seems to be talking sense. I agree with much of what he’s saying. But there are a couple of points he glossed over.
He blames governments for not putting enough money towards the Millennium Development Goals, saying how little money it would take, but doesn’t mention why the Catholic Church still feels it necissary to hang on to all those priceless statues, paintings and relics when the sale price of them could probably feed the world.
It’s too easy to blame others. There’s always someone else with more money, who’s more responsible, who we can blame for not doing anything about the problem and eas our own consciences. The problem is us. We have to start taking responsibility our selves.
If we demanded that our governments put more money into foreign aid than military spending, if eradicating poverty was truely our priority, I’m sure politicians would listen and alocate the budget accordingly. But politicians know that most of us really care far more about our own pockets, our own jobs and mortgages than starving children in other countries.
I know that whenever I start thinking that I could be giving a lot more of my money to charity I soon start justifying why I need it more. I tell myself that I will, as soon as I’ve payed this bill, or come back from that holiday, or as soon as I start earning more money etc etc. And then I think that really it should be the responsibility of the government, or the rich people of the world, and that my small contributions wouldn’t really make much difference anyway. They’re all just disgusting ways of trying to avoid my own responsibility by putting the responsibility and blame on someone else. As long as we can continue finding someone else, some other country, institution or system to blame, we will never fix the problem of poverty.
That’s why I’m trying to take some advice from Michael Jackson, and start with ‘the man in the mirror’.