Can The 1% End World Hunger?


So, let’s talk about the 1% – for just a minute. I’m not a proponent of holding a gun to their head and forcing them to give up their wealth, but what if the 100 richest folks in the U.S. agreed to “End World Hunger”? What would it cost? What would it cost them?

The Borgen Project says it would only take $30B / year to end world hunger. I think that number is a bit low, and perhaps naive in the sense, that you cannot solve all the logistical problems of getting the food to those who are starving very easily (think about the true scenario in Black Hawk Down, the famous movie from some years back where we tried to go in and take out a War Lord in Mogadishu, Somalia who was stealing all the grain that was being delivered to the port for the poor, and then selling it himself and making a fortune). But you certainly could make a very large dent against world hunger.

The other issue is though, the age old problem of “If you give a man a fish, you have fed that man for a day; if you teach that man to fish, you have fed him for a lifetime.” How do we solve that problem, the systemic problem of folks not being able to produce enough food in their local area for themselves (and at the same time, since they are poor, they cannot afford to buy food) ?

I wonder about these things a lot. As a Christian, I believe we are supposed to think about them a lot. So what would it cost us? If everyone in America gave, it would be $30B / 300M or $100 / year for each and every person in America. I know we all don’t earn wages, so let’s just say it winds up being about $240 / year per wage earner, or $20 / month. Actually not so bad. If the wealthiest 100 men did it, it would be: $30B / 100 or $300M / each and every year, which would be quite a bit more than us, but is it comparable?

The guy on the bottom of the list for the U.S. has $5.2B according to the Fortune Mag. list of the wealthiest in the world. I see George Roberts (#291 in the world rankings) at the #100 spot for those wealthiest individuals in the U.S. So, if they each gave $300M / year, it would hurt this guy at the bottom certainly more than Bill Gates at the top (who currently has $79.4B and is #1 in the world’s wealthiest). But is there a good argument for asking them to voluntarily do this? And can we take the program and “Teach people to fish?”


4 thoughts on “Can The 1% End World Hunger?

  1. Supposedly we live in a free country, and, unfortunately, there are a lot of Americans who don’t like that; they’d much rather have a dictator control the government, take from the rich, and give to the poor. But they don’t understand the consequences of such action. It might sound like a romantic idea (having a country where everyone is happy and equal), but that’s not reality and would never happen in a sin-cursed world. Those who want such a society think we just need to elect fair, honest politicians (meaning no Republicans) who will redistribute the wealth with equity, but such thinking is naive because human beings, by their very nature, are evil, and with that comes a government that will take advantage and accumulate that wealth for themselves. Not only that, but they’ll resort to criminal action and corruption that those electing them never anticipated.

    So I believe the answer lies in a smaller government relying on the personal responsibility of its citizens, and especially the church. We each need to do our part and not worry about what the person next door or across the street is doing. We can provide incentives and encourage people to give, but it’s not up for me to decide how much Mr. Moneybags donates to charitable organizations.

    • Agree completely. I put this out as an “Idea starter” to see what we all believe about those who have so much money they don’t know what to do with it. I’ve thought about this for a very long time, truth be told. I’ve read quotes from the likes of Patch Adams who has on his Gesuntheit Institute web site the following:

      “The world’s richest 360 people have the same amount of money as the poorest 2.4 billion people.”

      The frustrating part about that is most of those 360 people are not Americans, and they probably didn’t make their money through the same means as most Americans. In other words, most of the filthy rich in the world cheated. In Saudi Arabia, you can trace the wealth of the “Royal Family” to a decision made by the British following the First World War. If you remember Lawrence of Arabia, you’ll know the conference of which I speak. Interesting historical note, Winston Churchill was there at that conference as well, and met and approved the parties in the agreement, being he was Foreign Secretary at the time.

      If we analyze just the American system, and you ask for my input, then I must say that I am a Capitalist to the core, with some exceptions. I believe in some, limited government participation in the economy, mainly to stabilize markets in the event of panic. Folks who forget history have forgotten that the “Crash of 1929” was not the only thing that doomed America to years of a Great Depression, there was also a “Run” on banks that devastated much of middle America for years. In fact, in FDR’s Inaugural Address he made the famous “Nothing to fear but fear itself” speech and calmed folks so the following day the run stopped, and folks started putting their money back in the banks.

      I do not, categorically, subscribe to the “Big government” ideas because history as well as common sense shows that big government never works. What we have currently is a testament to what you said, in that we have corrupt politicians as a rule, and we have sluggish, dead-weight bureaucracies that are inefficient and lack the ability to actually meet the needs of people at the “Bottom” of the food chain (so to speak).

      But, what if we actually incentivized the wealthy to take care of the poor? I still toy with this idea because it’s intriguing! If we let these people, who know how to get things done, were given the incentive and the means to take care of hunger, starting in the U.S., but spreading to the world as the program gained traction, what could happen? What could go wrong? Simplest answer is NOTHING – because they can’t do worse than we’re doing now, and what if they started to figure things out? I think, as you may have guessed, that they would figure out in a hurry, that you must deal on a local level to actually solve hunger. Hunger is not a “Global issue”, and it is not a “National issue”. Hunger is a personal issue! It’s best addressed by those who are closest to the people who are hungry, and then, as you, I would recommend the church be the vehicle to deal with those people.

      Not that I have the money or resources to do anything, it’s just how I would take care of the problem.

      • I did see Lawrence of Arabia, but I had forgotten about that conference. Good catch.

        And I do believe Capitalism is the best system available, and the government should be limited. The role government should take is to defend the country militarily, and to provide a strong justice system. States should have more freedom. Government can probably best take care of the roads and infrastructure, and provide limited regulations so that businesses and the economy will prosper and provide jobs to those who need it. Such an approach would inevitably reduce poverty, leaving the church and individuals to care for the most needy. And if the proper incentives were introduced, then even the richest would want to be involved. There’s so much more that could be said, but what we’ve come up with is a good place to start!

      • How little the people of the world actually know. I’ve been reading a biography of Winston Churchill actually, and it’s very helpful to understand the events of the 20th and even the 21st Century. As Christians, we have to realize that God is the ultimate orchestrator, making things happen according to His purposes. I am always amazed at how well events line up with what the Bible prophesied. I like to read Joel Rosenberg’s blog as well ( to get some interpretation as to what might be happening according to the Bible’s timeline. Mr. Rosenberg has studied these things – extensively – and can give us a well informed view.

        As to the whole Socialism vs. Capitalism debate, it pretty much boils down to the fact that Socialism really never gave us a single innovation that makes lives better. Every single invention, idea, and so on, has come from people in a free and capitalistic society. And that includes Communism/Socialism! Karl Marx never had a job, was a University trained wealthy man who wrote articles for radical newspapers. He never did anything of note other than propose his “Utopian” ideals and push them on the world as some sort of “Cure all” for everything wrong with society.

        Granted, at the time, workers didn’t have much going for them, but gradually, things shifted, and the lot of working men and women everywhere has improved greatly in the past 150 years. Is it due to Marx’s influence or the natural progression of Christianity in the world? That’s the most basic question there is, and my answer is that it’s definitely Christ’s influence in this world that has made it humbler, and more gentle, and kinder. Think of organizations like the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Goodwill, etc…

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