President Truman Certainly Had Foresight and Vision on this Issue
The year was 1949. President Harry S. Truman had just shocked a nation by winning the 1948 presidential election. That iconic photo of President Truman holding up the next day’s edition of the Chicago Daily Tribune newspaper with the sprawling headline that read: “Dewey Defeats Truman” will certainly remain forever etched in the minds of the American electorate.
What followed, Mr. Truman’s Inaugural Address of 1949, still echoes today in its importance – especially as it pertains to what he said about the vital work of the United Nations. His Address, known as the Four Point Speech, was given in the wake of a world shattered by World War II. One of the greatest presidents of our time had called on both political parties to aid peoples of the world in their fight for freedom and human rights. Moreover, he urged a strengthening of international organizations. In Point One he said, “we will continue to give unfaltering support to the United Nations and related agencies, and we will continue to search for ways to strengthen their authority and increase their effectiveness.” President Truman knew the important role the U.N. would play in global affairs: Do today’s world leaders understand this? Those in positions of leading their governments would be well advised to heed the words of President Truman spoken some sixty-four years ago.
The international community is confronted with enormous challenges, none larger than eliminating the scourge of global poverty. It is interesting to point out that President Truman highlighted the issue of poverty in his 1949 Inaugural Address when he said, “more than half the people of the world are living in conditions approaching misery… For the first time in history, humanity possesses the knowledge and skill to relieve the suffering of those people.” Mr. Truman would be pleased to know that there has been progress made towards the goal of eradicating global poverty.
Millennium Development Goal 1: Eradicate Poverty & Hunger
The U.N. soon will face a very critical deadline – the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in 2015 that were enacted by 152 governments in September 2000. There are important questions to be answered: What will follow the MDGs? How will the global body continue upon some of the successes already gained? One expects them to be answered in the coming days.
What has been the largest achievement? It has been well documented that approximately 1 billion people have been removed from the poverty rolls. This is quite significant, and it was done five years ahead of schedule. This is not to say the work is complete; to the contrary, with a global population of 7 billion people, there are 1.2 billion who subsist on $1.25 per day. No there is obviously much to be done, but this is clearly a positive beginning. Officials from the U.N. know this and are already hard at work on new targets to replace the MDGs.
Success Stories and Solutions That Work to Eliminate Global Poverty
According to The Economist magazine (June 1st-June7th) in a cover story titled “Towards the end of poverty”, progress in reducing the scourge of poverty has come through economic growth of countries in the developing world. The magazine points out that between the years 2000-10 growth was 6%. A stark example occurred in China where a rapidly developing economy moved 680 million people out of extreme poverty. To place this in some perspective, the poverty rate at one point was 84%; it is now at 10%. This is extraordinary, but let us bear in mind that 1.2 billion people continue mired in abject poverty. The U.N. MDG states it wants to “eradicate poverty”, and until this occurs the mission continues. (http://www.economist.com/news/leaders/21578665-nearly-1-billion-people-h…)
The most impoverished regions of the world, ironically, have seen significant growth rates: East Asia 8%; in South Asia 7%; 5% in Africa. As the well-respected and highly influential British publication pointed out, “…every 1% increase in GDP per head helps reduce poverty by around 1.7%.” ( http://www.economist.com/news/briefing/21578643-world-has-astonishing-ch….)
Development experts reference market-based economies with sound democracies and democratic institutions as examples of countries who can keep poverty at bay. In addition, educational opportunities for its citizens, quality healthcare delivery systems and allowance for free and unfettered trade are each sound reasons why the peoples of certain nations can break free from their cycle of poverty.
The U.S. Leadership Role Remains Vital
As is generally the case, the U.S. will be looked to for leadership; the case of global poverty is no exception. The U.S. does have interests at stake as it relates to the battle against worldwide poverty and I believe this message should be, needs to be, communicated more clearly and succinctly to the American people. Many Americans say why should I pay attention to this issue? Well, by eliminating or eradicating this scourge the U.S. benefits its own economic, political and national security interests. Furthermore, our image and standing with the world will be greatly enhanced, and this is something that cannot be underestimated. So, as Americans, it is important to follow the developments in the U.N. and monitor issues such as global poverty because these matters affect you.
We should each recall the strong words President Truman spoke in support of the U.N. We must remember the words of his Inaugural Address when he said, “…humanity possesses the knowledge and skill to relieve the suffering of those people.” Can you imagine if he was ever able to witness the technological advancements and scientific breakthroughs we have made as a society since he uttered these words? Why should we not be able to solve this issue? President Truman certainly would believe we should.