Senator Barack Obama's sponsorship of Senate Bill 2433 aligns with the emerging core theme of his general election campaign. The change he promises will bring much-needed relief, not just to America's victims of economic injustice, but to victims worldwide.
On December 7, 2007, Obama introduced the Senate version of the Global Poverty Act of 2007 (S.2433). On February 13, the bill cleared the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, on which Obama and 6 (Biden, Dodd, Feingold, Hagel, Lugar, Menendez) of the bill's 9 co-sponsors serve. The House version of the bill (H.R.1302) passed by a unanimous voice vote last September 25. Here's an abstract of the proposed legislation:
"To require the President to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the [U.N.] Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day."
If enacted, how much of a financial commitment would that represent to taxpayers?
One estimate is 0.7% of gross national product, or an additional $845 billion over 13 years in addition to existing foreign aid expenditures. So far, this proposal is barely on the MSM radar, but we're likely hear more about it as a full Senate vote approaches.
"With billions of people living on just dollars a day around the world, global poverty remains one of the greatest challenges and tragedies the international community faces," said Senator Obama. "It must be a priority of American foreign policy to commit to eliminating extreme poverty and ensuring every child has food, shelter, and clean drinking water. As we strive to rebuild America's standing in the world, this important bill will demonstrate our promise and commitment to those in the developing world. Our commitment to the global economy must extend beyond trade agreements that are more about increasing corporate profits than about helping workers and small farmers everywhere." (emphasis added)
In other words, other nations will like us better if we give them our money. And, our trade agreements should not be about business profit, but benevolent social action.
The Global Candidate's sponsorship of the Global Poverty Act thematically aligns with the oft-told story of his life as a child of international parents, as well as with his elliptical juxtaposition of hope and change. He not only offers hope to his U.S. audiences, but to poor children, workers, and small farmers across the globe. George W. Bush's grand theme of spreading democracy globally evolved after 9/11. Obama's grand theme is to spread America's wealth to the world's poor, as the onetime community organizer from the streets of South Chicago goes global.
The species of hope that Barack Obama preaches is a first cousin of disappointment. He speaks to his followers as though they are victims, and it resonates with them because victimhood is a latent element of their collective self-image. Most of the younger ones in his audiences face historically unprecedented educational and vocational opportunities. Within the reasonable grasp of their individual initiatives is a future that is the envy of most of the world's youth. Yet they look longingly for someone from the government to offer them hope.
He says, "It's not too late to claim the American dream," and they cheer wildly, and some even cry.
Don't they know that the American dream isn't a wish granted by a politician, or an entitlement from the government? Do they need a political seer to tell them what to hope for, and dream of, because they are unable to find it for themselves?
In his most recent victory speech, delivered in Madison, Wisconsin on February 13, Obama named some of those guilty of creating America's victims. They included:
- Exxon, turning record profits from high pump prices;
- Wall Street, whose agenda smothers Main Street;
- NAFTA, where the American worker has no voice at the negotiating table; and
- Lobbyists, who drown out the peoples' voice.
At the end of the list, he did what he will do for the next eight months if he is the Democrat nominee: he linked John McCain to Bush-Iraq and the past, while he, Obama, is the future. How do you debate a self-proclaimed personification of the future?
Those who feel like victims want the guilty exposed and loathed. In Texas, the Obama campaign is airing radio ads where their candidate claims that "some CEOs make more in 10 minutes than some American workers make in a year." The claim may be literally accurate, in that "some" need only be more than one. It does make an emotional appeal to fairness, but the math doesn't work. In 2005, the combined income of the CEOs of the 500 largest U.S. companies was $5.1 billion. Their average pay for 10 minutes work, based on a 40 hour work week, was $961.50. The minimum wage yields an annual salary of about $12,000. Sure, the gross disparity between CEO and average worker pay is a valid issue. And, for a relatively few CEOs and other mega-earners like Oprah Winfrey, top professional athletes, and major Hollywood movie stars, Obama's claim may be mathematically accurate. But as a blanket assertion, it's a level of derogatory rhetoric that only works when adulation kills critical thinking.
In the days ahead, the Global Candidate will cite multinational corporations as the leading exploiters of the world's poor, with Wall Street's favorites leading the pack. He'll call for America to spread its wealth abroad, rather than its weaponry. He'll summon us to dispatch across the globe the young workers of the Peace Corps, instead of the young warriors of the Marine Corps, as lions lay with lambs, and we beat our swords into plowshares.
All the while, the adoring crowds will grow larger, and more will cry.
"Hope is a good breakfast, but a bad dinner." Sir Francis Bacon