The Singer Solution to World Poverty

I find Singer’s essay to be very thought provoking. Although I disagree with Singer’s rationality, I think his ideas about people’s priorities are completely correct. Singer does a good job of putting those priorities and real necessities of life into perspective. I like the amount of pressure Singer puts on the reader to donate money, and the reasons he uses to support that pressure.

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The first part of Singer’s article when he goes into talking about a Brazilian film in which a woman hands over a child for money believing that he is going to be put up for adoption only to find out afterward that he will be murdered for his organs. Singer explains that only upon rescuing the boy is the woman considered a good person and member of society. Had she done nothing to help the boy, audiences would be angry and upset about the film. Singer believes, however, that had the woman left the boy, she would be no different than any average American who spends money on material possessions not necessary for life instead of donating it to a charity.

I agree with Singer’s opinion to a point. I do not think that the woman having not saved the boy is the same as a person not donating money. The woman had the chance to directly help the boy. Donating to charity is an indirect form of helping others. Many charities do not even send the money to where they say it will go. I believe that directly affecting someone’s life is far more important and compassionate than indirectly sending money. Most people who send money to charities only do so to justify themselves and make themselves feel better about doing a good thing.

The second part of Singer’s article which interested me is the story of Bob. I assumed this story would be like the film, however, in this story Bob already knew what would happen to the child. A child was playing on the train tracks and a train was coming. Bob could either flip the switch to redirect the train or let the child be hit. If he flipped the switch however, the train would hit his new car he had just spent all his money to receive. Bob chooses to let the child die. This story shocked me because my first instinct would be to help the child regardless of anything. Singer argues that Bob would lose everything by helping the child and would gain nothing. So it is better for Bob to let the child die. I completely disagree. Singer does not account for moral beliefs or human instincts.

He is only considering what people will gain or lose, but not the emotions or morals behind it. The third part of Singer’s article which caught my interest was when he began talking about how much money it would take to support a child and help them live from age 2 to 6. After explaining all of his statistics he says, “Now you, too, have the information you need to save a child’s life” (Singer). Singer actually directs his writing to the audience. He does so in a satirical manner. He says this almost mockingly as if to say you won’t do it, I know you won’t. He is daring the reader to do donate and pointing out that they are reading at the moment, not donating which supports his idea that the woman in the film and Bob are not bad people for their choices but normal people. I disagree with Singer’s main ideas, however I believe he is correct in putting such an emphasis on his ideas to make them satirical and bring their importance to light. I think this is a good article to read when considering ideas about world poverty.

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Types of Nonfiction: Essays, Articles, and Speeches

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