“To Help or Not to Help?” |
A Comparison of Views on Foreign Aid |
Michael Kincannon |
In his essay “Of Life and Lifeboats”, Norman Cousins gives an account of his travels to India, and his impression of what transpired. This was in response to Prof. Garrett Hardin’s essay titled “Lifeboat Ethics: The Case Against Helping the Poor”. Hardin used the metaphor of a “lifeboat” (169) to represent rich nations, and those of the poor nations swimming around trying to “get in” (169). Cousins believes it is our responsibility to send aid to poor nations, while Hardin’s belief is the only way to really help these nations is to send no aid at all.
Cousins believes that we should send aid to poor nations. Cousins argues the answer is not to cut them off, but to increase the amount of aid in form of technology. By increasing technology, Cousins proposes that these nations would then have the means to produce enough food for their growing populations. Cousins believes “Hardinism” (773) would ultimately harm us more. “Desensitization” (773), according to Cousins, will be the worst by-product of widespread starvation. Once we have seen it around the world, Cousins feels we won’t flinch at “the disease-ridden tenements of Harlem or Detroit” (773). Cousins feels that cutting off aid would differ only slightly from the actions of Lt. William
Calley during the Vietnam War.
On the other hand, Hardin feels we should stop sending aid to poor nations. Hardin points out that poor nations populations increase more than 2.5 times faster than those of rich nations. This, Hardin feels is the problem at hand. Hardin’s theory is that by cutting off aid to poor nations, we would in turn “stabilize” (175) this lopsided proportion. Increasing agricultural technology in poor nations is “irrelevant” (176) according to Hardin, because more food production would only mean more people reproducing. Hardin states that for every life saved by foreign aid, we downgrade the...