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To what extent should richer nations help the poorer ones?

If people are poor, it is largely their own fault, Margaret Thatcher, a former
Prime Minister of United Kingdom, once said. It was a brutal criticism towards and a
wake-up call for the British who were blaming the structure of the society and
government policies for their own poverty and social imbalance. By expanding this
claim to the global context, if the countries are poor, is it largely their own fault? The
world we now live in is highly interconnected and globalised. Therefore, countries,
themselves, are not solely responsible for whichever wealth they have accumulated,
whether the country is rich to be a member of G8 summit or identified as assistance-
required nations by United Nations (UN). Therefore, as the members of the global
community, rich countries should help the poorer ones to the large extent not only
due to the fact, which is often neglected, that the countries are responsible to make
retributions to the global neighbours but also because of the moral obligation as one
humanity. Nevertheless, many countries refuse to due to pragmatic reasons.

Richer nations are obligated to provide aids to the poorer ones because many
of the richest country of today have moral debts on the poorest countries. Recently,
in June 2005, finance minister of G8, the group of worlds wealthiest industrialised
nations, agreed that at least $40 billion in debt by 18 countries among the poorest
nations of the world. Not surprisingly, almost all of the identified 18 countries are in
Africa, a continent where colonialism was the rifest. In 19
th
centuries, most of the
colonised countries were forced to attend to labour intensive work. Therefore, when
such colonies achieved independence from the colonial rule, majority of the people
were unskilled labourers and illiterates that further prevented the economic growth
of such nations. Also, the amount of resources the colonialist countries exploited
from their colonies which allowed them to boost their industrialisation and economic
growth which resulted in the massive economic gap between the then colonialist
countries and their colonies. By reciprocity, then colonised countries do deserve
compensations in terms of financial aids and beneficial trade terms which will allow
global economic imbalance to be mitigated so that the citizens in poorer countries
are given opportunities at least to taste the minimal segment of the quality of life that
people in first world countries usually take for granted.

Therefore, how can a society be considered civilised if one has no hearts for
the marginalized and impoverished? Thus, the rich countries should help the poorer
ones in the name of the humanitarianism. In the history, number of notable
humanitarian historic figures such as Mother Theresa, Oskar Schindler and Abraham
Lincoln who showed care and concern towards the minorities in their respective
societies. In Japan, the society concerns the ageing population caused by
improvement in medical facilities and decrease in birth rate while the infants in
Sierra Leone starve to die. While one is ordering a burger at McDonalds, statistically,
at least ten children pass away on the other side of the globe. Then, should not the
millions of dollars spent to deforest for a new building and billions of dollars to build
new stadium be used to save the millions of lives of children instead? The feminists
stood up against the skewed social norms and biasness against women for the
betterment of gender equality. Similarly, the global society now needs rich countries
to take the lead against the skewed wealth distribution and biasness against poor
nations for the betterment of wealth equality.

Richer nations should also help the poorer ones because being economically
superior; richer nations are responsible for the national security as well as the global
peace. The role of a peacekeeper was played by United States (US) by strengthening
anti-terrorism measures after the terrorist attack on 11 September 2001 by providing
military and financial aids to Iraq and Afghanistan and assisted them in gaining
political stability and economic growth. Also, in late 20
th
century, US provided
financial aids to Turkey, and other Eastern-European countries in order to prevent
them from turning into communist state which may threaten the democratic society
in US. Therefore, the rich countries should interfere when necessary and required
when the global peace is at stake.

On the other hand, pragmatically, without tangible or even without intangible
benefits, the rich countries should not help the poorer ones. Zooming into many of
the well-developed countries in the world, there is no perfect society where both
economic and social stability are achieved. For instance, in US, the inability of the
states to handle the guns and drug related issues have led to series of severe social
problems. Also, strengthening the border against the illegal immigrants, especially
from Mexico, and ensuring social security has drained 20 percents of US Budget
2012. Therefore, as a nation, she must be responsible for her own citizens before the
global neighbours. To be precise, although globalisation has created an idea of a tight
global community, the world is still segregated into different countries. Therefore,
one cannot be blamed for insisting on reciprocity and benefiting the country where
one belongs. For instance, China built the 200000-seat New Laos Stadium in 2009.
In return, Chinese government requested development rights to a 4,000-acre parcel
in the That Luang marshes along with thousands of Chinese traders who settled
down in that area after the development. Since the primary role of the country is to
provide the good life to her citizens, if by providing aids to poorer nations have no
benefits to the citizens, the richer countries should not help the poorer ones to the
large extent.

However, fundamentally, as a human-being, each and every one of us holds
the moral obligation to help the poorer nations regardless of profit or loss. Ironically,
the factors that affect our ability to gain wealth such as nationality, wealth of our
parents, stability of our family and the society, and number of other things are pre-
destined before us. Therefore, the accident of birth to be born in the wealthy country
does not prize one with the right to monopolies the wealth to oneself but gives a
legitimate reason to redistribute the wealth to those who lack. The moral obligations
are universal and are more prominent than pragmatism and humanitarianism
because morality is the one that sets boundaries to the extent of the calculating
benefit or caring for impoverished.

However, even if people obey to their moral obligations and try their best to
assist the poorer nations, such aids may lead to unwanted implications despite the
generous intentions. More than often, financial aids to North Korea or Somalia for
the purpose of feeding the hungry and clothing the needy have been used for military
empowerment purposes instead which may, in turn, challenge the world peace.
Therefore, although the richer nations should help the poorer nations by moral
obligations, it is not always advisable to do so because the rationale of helping the
poorer nations is not self-satisfaction derived from believing that one is morally
upright. But it is for the betterment of the world holistically.

The world today is definitely globalised and if rich countries are willing to
provide financial aid to the poorer ones to neutralise the severely polarised economic
scale on the globe, there are no barriers to prevent them to do so. And therefore, I
still believe that richer nations should help the poorer ones to the large extent. The
veil of ignorance is the concept proposed by philosophers such as Immanuel Kant
and John Rawls which blocks off the knowledge of ones burdens and benefits of
social cooperation. With this knowledge blocked, one must determine the principle of
distribution of rights, positions and natural resources in ones society. Therefore,
considering this hypothetical situation where one might be born anywhere as anyone
such as in US or Sierra Leone, one would choose that the richer nations should help
the poorer ones.