22 November 2010

More on Poverty in America

Why do I feel more guilty about poverty in the US than in Sudan? Not that I think it is a bigger problem - people generally don't starve to death in the US. I'm generally quite cynical about "relative poverty". But the visceral emotional reaction seems stronger here.

Matt suggested this was about empathy and the veil of ignorance, which I hadn't thought of, but seems plausible. My instinct rather was that the problem seems so much more easily solvable here [the broad here - the developed world - whatever]. Inequality, poverty amidst plenty, is ugly. I  had my instincts somewhat reaffirmed by a friend who is Indian, lived in Sudan, and was similarly surprised by homelessness upon returning to Oxford. It's just unnecessary. Just give them cash?

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