Could Just 4% of the Wall Street Bailout End World Hunger?


World hunger seems like one of those grand unsolvable problems – the perennial favorite wish of beauty pageant queens. The truth is, it’s not unsolvable at all.

The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stated that it would only take $30 billion a year to launch the necessary agricultural programs to completely solve global food insecurity. (Severe hunger afflicts 862 million people annually.)

$30 billion sounds like a lot of money, but considering we’ve just bailed out Wall Street to the tune of nearly a trillion, it’s trifling. After I did a little digging, all I could think was…really? $30 billion is all we need to end world hunger? That’s it? I thought such a major goal would require some unreachable, vast sum. Here are six things I learned we’re doing with that money instead.

- Global military and arms trade expenditures hit high at about $1 trillion annually. Approximately $540 billion is spent by the United States alone. (I don’t mean to single out defense here, but…wow!)

- The United States Department of Energy spends $23.4 billion yearly just to develop and maintain nuclear warheads.

- How could we forget the recent $700 (and growing) billion housing bailout bill? In other words, 4% of the Wall Street bailout would end world hunger.

- The U.S. Congress has approved $44 billion of U.S. funds for Iraqi construction projects (meanwhile, 39% of bridges in the United States have been deemed structurally deficient – but that’s another story. Am I being partisan?)

- $30 billion was spent on Homeland Security in 2008, and they’re requesting $35 billion for 2009.

- Lest we pick on ourselves only, residents of the United Kingdom waste about ┚¤20 billion worth of food every year. That translates to about $31.7 billion U.S. dollars.

You’ll notice that the big spenders are on corporations, defense and military organizations, but in my research I didn’t intend to focus on this. It’s just what we spend on! I can’t help but think that if we could channel even a few of those war dollars into peace spending (like helping alleviate world hunger), there might not be much left to fight about in the future. This idealist believes it’s worth a try. What do you think?

Images: skyscraper, food, child