The poorest 46 percent of humankind have 1.2 percent of global income.
Their purchasing power per person per day is less than that of $2.15 in
the US in 1993; 826 million of them do not have enough to eat. One-third
of all human deaths are from poverty-related causes: 18 million
annually, including 12 million children under five.
At the other end, the 15 percent of humankind in the ‘high-income
economies’ have 80 percent of global income. Shifting 1 or 2 percent of
our share toward poverty eradication seems morally compelling. Yet the
prosperous 1990s have in fact brought a large shift toward greater
global inequality, as most of the affluent believe that they have no
Thomas Pogge’s book seeks to explain how this belief is sustained. He
analyses how our moral and economic theorizing and our global economic
order have adapted to make us appear disconnected from massive poverty
abroad. Dispelling the illusion, he also offers a modest, widely
sharable standard of global economic justice and makes detailed,
realistic proposals toward fulfilling it.
Worldwide, human lives are rapidly improving. Education, health-care, technology, and political participation are becoming ever more universal, empowering human beings everywhere to enjoy security, economic sufficiency, equal citizenship, and a life in dignity. To be sure, there are some specially difficult areas disfavoured by climate, geography, local diseases, unenlightened cultures or political tyranny. Here progress is slow, and there may be set-backs. But the affluent states and many international organizations are working steadily to extend the blessings of modernity through trade and generous development assistance, and it won’t be long until the last pockets of severe oppression and poverty are gone.
Heavily promoted by Western governments and media, this comforting view of the world is widely shared, at least among the affluent. Pogge’s new book presents an alternative view: Poverty and oppression persist on a massive scale; political and economic inequalities are rising dramatically both intra-nationally and globally. The affluent states and the international organizations they control knowingly contribute greatly to these evils – selfishly promoting rules and policies harmful to the poor while hypocritically pretending to set and promote ambitious development goals. Pogge’s case studies include the $1/day poverty measurement exercise, the cosmetic statistics behind the first Millennium Development Goal, the War on Terror, and the proposed relaxation of the constraints on humanitarian intervention. A powerful moral analysis that shows what Western states would do if they really cared about the values they profess.
Realizing Rawls is a defense and critique of the work of John Rawls. Thomas Pogge concentrates on two central Rawlsian ideas: first the focus on the basic structure, for moral philosophy must include, even begin from, a reflection upon the justice of our basic social institution; second, the maximin idea that a scheme of social institutions is to be assessed by the worst position it generates, that its justice depends on how well it does by its least advantaged participants. His main interest is one part of Rawls theory, his conception of justice. He is centrally concerned with the meaning of the criterion of justice that Rawls has proposed, with the rationale for this criterion, and with its application to existing and feasible institutional schemes.