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Blog Action Day: Putting Poverty Back on the Agenda

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: Politics, Election 2008, International, Social Justice, Blog Action Day, global poverty, foreign aid, progressive movement, In These Times,

Blog Action DayToday is Blog Action Day, an annual event that taps thousands of bloggers across the globe to tackle a single pressing issue. This year, the focus is on poverty. We’ll be spotlighting excellent alternative press coverage of poverty throughout the day here. Let’s get started with this rallying call to progressives from In These Times

One of the finest traditions of the American left has been its historic commitment to solidarity with the oppressed and poverty-stricken peoples of the world. 

In the last few years, however, the progressive movement has become far too insular. As a result, we have too often neglected our internationalist responsibilities–especially when it comes to confronting the ravages of world poverty.

Ken Brociner argues that while other concerns have understandably drawn progressives’ focus—namely, the war in Iraq and electoral politics—the movement is in danger of succumbing to a deadly domestic myopia.

According to the World Health Organization, approximately 18 million people die each year due to poverty-related causes. This staggering figure represents about one third of all deaths that occur throughout the world on an annual basis. And these are deaths that could be easily prevented through better nutrition, safe drinking water, and adequate vaccines, antibiotics and other medicines.

It’s a point that’s proved particularly salient in the last few weeks, as headlines warming of Great Depression II have Americans gnashing their teeth over their disappearing retirement funds. As folks see their budgets increasingly squeezed, it’s easy to ignore the dire needs of those abroad. This dismissal has infected the campaign trail as well, with both presidential candidates confessing that the economic crisis likely will force them to roll back their foreign aid plans.

Which is all the more reason why, as Brociner notes, progressives must not lose sight of their internationalist obligations. Because if they don’t keep global poverty on the U.S. agenda, then who will?

For more alt-press dispatches from Blog Action Day, click here.