Saturday, January 22, 2005



How come the Republicans can be utopian but we can't?
A Proposal to End Poverty

It is so easy to sit back in the affluence of our comfortable lives, protected from scourges like malaria and extreme poverty and hunger, and nitpick to death the United Nations' landmark action plan to eradicate poverty and hunger and the plagues they spawn. Indeed, no sooner had the long-awaited report, bearing the stamp of the Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, hit the street this week than some economists took shots. "Utopian central planning by global bureaucrats," carped one.
What is more utopian than George W. Bush's grandiose promise in his second inaugural address to bring freedom to the planet? What is more "central planning by global bureaucrats"? If anyone is more central or global than George W. Bush, it's James Bond, and he, at least, is fictional.

But if anyone sneers at Bush, they are derided by Fox News and the rest of the media, which takes its orders from Fox News. Because "freedom" is good, provided it's freedom as Bush and his right-wing pals define it. Poverty is bad, but the right has long insisted that freedom can be imposed by force but poverty must not under any circumstances be alleviated by anything other than private methods. No no no no no. Even though it's at least arguable that alleviating poverty on the scale envisioned by Jeffrey Sachs's plan would lead to more freedom faster than George W. Bush's lazy fantasies that he will never do the first thing to really implement (other than invading Iran sometime this year or next). And alleviating poverty will help a great deal more people much faster than any nebulous "freedom" plan.

So why is Bush's fantasy less utopian than Sachs's? Why not at least discuss both rationally? Or are only Republicans permitted to dream?
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