Friday, July 4, 2008

Get Over It

As we come to grips in Ireland with our risotto recession - and the prospect that our standard of living next year will fall to, well, where it was last year - then maybe we just need to keep things in perspective. A global perspective, come to think of it.

The World Bank has been reviewing the numbers and has established that they got it wrong about China. They had thought that some 250 million people had been lifted out of poverty during the past 14 years. They've issued a correction: turns out the real number was 407 million. By the way, they're talking dollar-a-day poverty: not the "we'd better ski in Gstaad rather than Aspen this year" kind of lifestyle adjustments.

I do hope we don't lapse into a bout of poor mouth begrudgery in Ireland. Now's the time to be looking outwards, not inwards. We all of us are faced with challenges in relation to energy and food, but some of us are better placed than others to deal with the consequences. That in turn puts the onus on those of us who are wealthy beyond comparison with the bottom billion of our fellow human beings to act responsibly - not selfishly.

And that means supporting initiatives such as AIMS - the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences - designed to find the Next Einstein. Ignore the self-serving parochialism of the Irish Farmers Association and remember that free trade and globalisation are the best means yet invented to end poverty. Just ask the Chinese.

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