Can we imagine a world without child poverty? 193 nations, including the United States, have said they can. In fact, of the 17 goals detailed in The United Nations Sustainable Development Agenda adopted last September, Ending poverty is #1.
In the U.N.'s AGENDA 30 all signatory countries have agreed:
To ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY for all people EVERYWHERE by 2030.
This would rescue 400 million children around the world who currently survive on less than a dollar a day, the definition of extreme poverty. That total includes over 6 million children in the United States.
They also agreed:
To ensure the significant mobilization of resources from a variety of sources in order to provide ADEQUATE and PREDICTABLE means for developing countries, to implement programs and policies to end poverty in all its dimensions.
And this takes us to the heart of the matter.
They're talking about money here folks. Unfortunately, just talking about money is much of what goes on. Funding for virtually every UN goal is chronically inadequate, just as it was for the previous program, The Millennium Development Goals, which also had a fifteen-year run.
Today's aid system is a complicated patchwork that amounts to passing the hat.
If Haiti needs 200 million dollars in aid following a horrific earthquake, any subsequent emergencies will receive less funding. It's a first-come, first-served system. Meanwhile, chronic unmet needs like food and nutritional programs or medicine are consistently underfunded, receiving on average less than half the funds requested with many appeals being funded at under 20%. Globally, a third of all child deaths are attributable to hunger and malnutrition. We've hit the wall... aid is finite, as need is expanding.
It's not good enough to declare our intentions and make speeches. With 2.2 billion children in the world and every second child living in poverty, we need a predictable flow of funds to end poverty and rescue a generation of children. We need to put the interests of children ahead of corporate profits, we need to put financing for kids' basic human rights to food, medical care, education, housing, sanitation, water and security at the top of the global agenda.
And we need to do it yesterday. Every time we move the goal line, another generation of children dies on the streets or works in the supply chains of companies who look the other way, who finance small programs to deflect our attention from their actual business model, which relies on children for cheap labor.
So how do we close the gap? How do we create the kind of world we want for our children, for all children. The global community is virtually unanimous in agreeing what needs to be done; the issue is how do we pay for it?
The solution is a remarkably simple idea, a tiny tax on global financial transactions. At one tenth of one per cent, a tax on global finance could raise between three and four hundred BILLIONS of dollars a year, every year, an amount roughly double the aggregate of global development assistance today.
According to staff reports at the International Monetary Fund, the tax would be easy to levy and collect and difficult to evade. The tiny size and broad base would spread the cost fairly. Think of it like an ATM fee, which we regularly pay to access our own money. The tax would put children's needs at the center of the global finance system and move it beyond politicians' pandering to their wealthy donors.
The world of finance, which has done so much in the last decade to exacerbate poverty, would be called upon for the first time ever to pay a fair share in correcting the mess their reckless behavior has inflicted on billions of people...lost jobs, savings, homes, increases in child labor, hunger and disease.
Just imagine what this new world would begin to look like?
Immediately we would witness dramatic change in our lifetimes.
168 million children forced into child labor would be able to attend school.
85 million children would no longer do hazardous work in order to eat.
17 million American children wouldn't experience hunger during their lifetimes.
2 million American children wouldn't be homeless.
Over six million children that would otherwise die, will live because they'll receive the medicine they need for diseases we have known cures for.
Now, we're talking. But let's do more than talk. Let's press our politicians to put our children first. A tiny tax can be a game-changer. A simple idea is a powerful thing. Tell your elected officials and the candidates you support for office to take a fresh look at a financial transaction tax.