Posted by: bklunk | November 20, 2006

$420 Billion Divided by 365 is how much?

cluna provides this one:

Pentagon Funds or Ending Extreme Poverty in Africa?

This article was taken from the DUKENEWS website which follows the recent statements made by Jeffrey Sachs.  Sachs is hte head of the Millennium Village Project and alsoa  very well known economist and author of The End of Poverty:  Economic Possibilities For Our Time.  According to Sachs, to save African children from malaria, a day of the U.S. Pentagon Spending would suffice.  Sach’s makes the statement that the poverty trap is what keeps the poverty at such an extreme level.  As I have convered before, Sachs states that the only solutions to the poverty epidemic are “agricultural, health, and technological revoultion in Africa.”  In addition, Sachs states t that “the gap between being in extreme poverty and an economic boom is a very small gap”.  The importance of this particular piece comes in the porpuse of it which is to promote awarness and encourage aid in one of the most prestigious Universities.  The UNC Duke Bennett MVP is the first student run initiative which is currently raising 1.5 million dollars for a village in northwest Kenya.  This coinsides with the Millenium Village Project and allows the public to know exactly where the money is being utilized.  While the cause of Sach’s speech is noble, I really would have liked to see some statistical evidence of how effective the Millenium Village Project has been.  The author gave us a look at how the Universities program has fared but failed to provide numbers for Sach’s credibility.  This combined with Sach’s idea of ending malaria with one day’s worth of Pentagon spending really gave me doubts despite the fact that Sachs is a well known economist.  At this point in time, numbers and statistics help prove a point a bit better than seeminly absurd comments and proposed solutions we have heard time and time again.

I’m not sure if cluna is criticizing Sachs or the author of the Duke News article.  The Earth Institute does have an annual report for the Millennium Village Project.

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  1. Maybe Sachs whole idea may never be idealized, but what i think is important about the Millennium Village Project is that it outlines the exact steps in creating a better living situation for African nations. Sachs I believe is trying to show that building a better economy in Africa could not be as daunting as a task as we perceive it to be. Kudos to anyone with a vision of making a difference.

  2. How much does the US pentagon even spend in a day? I’ll admit it definitely sounds nice, especially if it would work. Just shut down the pentagon for one day cure of all of Africa from malaria. Not that I believe our government to be heartless, but I have to think if it were that easy that we would have simply done that by now. I think he is purposely over simplifying the issue to raise people’s attention. The Millennium Village Project on the other hand sounds rather interesting to me. And the fact that they have an exact system in place to show you how much money they need, where it goes exactly and how it will improve this one village in Kenya is absolutely amazing. I really hope that they reach their goal for that aspect of it. But 1.5 million dollars is a lot of money for one village. They said everything was in place about the money, but there was no link for it so I couldn’t check that out, but I hope they succeed.

  3. I tend to agree with Paul on the issue that the idea of giving up a day’s worth of Pentagon spending is as simple as that in order to alleviate the malaria problem in Africa. By stating this, it causes people to perk their ears up and believe that the problem can be fixed if America/the Pentagon wasn’t a greedy tyrant that is only out to better itself within the international community. Obviously, there is aid that is needed and we probably have the capacity to give it. However, as callous as this may sound, if the U.S. were to relieve the suffering nations of Africa completely, we may be fighting harder to stay on top of the world’s economy; afterall, to be on top, there has to be somebody at the bottom, and the U.S. doesn’t want to give up this place. Sad to say, but perhaps greed is the driving force behind the Pentagon’s actions, or lack-there-of.

  4. Every nation of the world has to do a better job in fighting all the problems going on in Africa. The problem with many of these reports is that they tend to put much of the blame on the U.S. Granted the U.S. has the most resources to help these people in need and they should do more. But it will take a world-wide effort to make a difference. I think the idea of curing all the malaria in Africa is by just cutting spending by a day is a little far fetched. Yes the U.S. pentagon does spend a great amount of money each day, but this is not where the money to solve these problems in Africa should come from. I’m not sure how accurate these numbers are that say we can solve the malaria problem with just a day’s spending.

  5. There are good points in the article. I would like to supplement them with some information:

    I am a 2 tour Vietnam Veteran who recently retired after 36 years of working in the Defense Industrial Complex on many of the weapons systems being used by our forces as we speak.

    If you are interested in a view of the inside of the Pentagon procurement process from Vietnam to Iraq please check the posting at my blog entitled, “Odyssey of Armements”

    The Pentagon is a giant,incredibly complex establishment,budgeted in excess of $500B per year. The Rumsfelds, the Adminisitrations and the Congressmen come and go but the real machinery of policy and procurement keeps grinding away, presenting the politicos who arrive with detail and alternatives slanted to perpetuate itself.

    How can any newcomer, be he a President, a Congressman or even the Sec. Def. to be – Mr. Gates- understand such complexity, particulary if heretofore he has not had the clearance to get the full details?

    Answer- he can’t. Therefor he accepts the alternatives provided by the career establishment that never goes away and he hopes he makes the right choices. Or he is influenced by a lobbyist or two representing companies in his district or special interest groups.

    From a practical standpoint, policy and war decisions are made far below the levels of the talking heads who take the heat or the credit for the results.

    This situation is unfortunate but it is ablsolute fact. Take it from one who has been to war and worked in the establishment.

    This giant policy making and war machine will eventually come apart and have to be put back together to operate smaller, leaner and on less fuel. But that won’t happen unitil it hits a brick wall at high speed.

    We will then have to run a Volkswagon instead of a Caddy and get along somehow. We better start practicing now and get off our high horse. Our golden aura in the world is beginning to dull from arrogance.

  6. After reading Angela’s post I would like to defend the Pentagon. It only spends as much money Congress allocates it, therefore, the “greedy tyrant” she refers to, in my opinion, would be Congress. I don’t actually think that, but they are the ones responsible for the budget. Furthermore, instead of focusing on taking money away from the military, something extremely valuable to our national security, why don’t we focus on stopping pork spending and allocate those wasted funds for combating malaria in Africa. It is easy to go after the big spenders, but their spending is necessary (in my opinion), but why not eliminate all of the little things our money is wasted on and put it toward a good cause.

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