World wealth and the truth

Friday 7 January 2005 1:39 AM

The truth is out. It has taken a single day's cataclysm with appropriate media exposure to draw billions from government coffers across the western world. In announcing a $1b aid package to Indonesia our own PM has openly acknowledged that nations such as ours can afford such munificence. Indeed, Mr Howard. There may never come a better time for concerned voters to demand answers from current and recent governments as to the progressive retreat by most western nations from the UN agreed aid target of 0.7% GNP over the past few decades. This would have to have been one of the most furtively ducked questions on record. But the implied answer behind the obfuscation is that the economy can't afford it. We, the electors of the nations controlling most of the world's wealth, will now wantonly betray the world's most vulnerable if we ever again allow our leaders to evade the overseas aid issue. The number estimated to have died in the Boxing Day tsunami die every week of every year through hunger and malnourishment, while food enough to feed them all is produced across the world. That's not to mention the sway the UN could hold, if so minded. What if the provision of UN resources (peacekeeping troops, for example) at the request of resource-rich member states, were tied to the meeting of UN targets for resource sharing? Surely consistent with the "user pays" doctrine now so much at the fore in western economies. Is it too utopian to imagine that the convergence of world media coverage, state largesse and UN backbone could turn the world around?