Monday, March 1, 2010
The Life You Can Save: How to Play Your Part in Ending World Poverty, by Peter Singer
We can always give more money than we do to save the lives of people living in extreme poverty, argues Singer in this breezy, guilt-tripping guide. Living ethically means putting yourself in the place of others before buying luxuries for ourselves and our children. After all, we are all rich compared to the world’s poorest. A helpful scale reveals the precise percentage of your income you need to give to Unicef or Oxfam to be a good person. Helping the poor is a requirement of Judaism, Christianity and Islam, notes Singer, and it’s the only way we can live a morally good life. The richest people in the world could eradicate poverty by signing a few cheques, but we know they won’t. So we all need to do our bit. Written as the credit crunch began, this book has one obvious weakness: because of the recession we’ve already cut back on extravagances and unnecessary spending. Added to this, the company Singer praises as the most philanthropic (through mandatory charitable donations) is . . . Bear Stearns, the failed global banking and investment firm.