Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Millennium Development Goals

It’s a beautiful day here in New York City, though I wouldn’t recommend driving anywhere in Manhattan this afternoon, as the United Nations is in full session, focusing on the progress being made to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

There are eight goals, defined at the Millennium Summit in 2001:

1. Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. Achieve universal primary education
3. Promote gender equality and empower women
4. Reduce child mortality
5. Improve maternal health
6. Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
7. Ensure environmental stability
8. Develop a global partnership for development

1.4 Billion People in developing countries live in extreme poverty (defined as living on less than a buck and a quarter a day.) Solving this problem and the others is going to take an enormous effort of will.

But not resources.

It’s astonishing to have the United States host this event in the middle of a political firestorm about how to properly deal with a $700 Billion dollar line item. Should there be oversight? Should it all go to Wall Street and banks, or should only most of it go there?

To put it in perspective, every day around 30,000 children die from hunger and disease in this world. If you invested $700 billion at 4%, you would get an annual return of $28 Billion in perpetuity. Forever. Split that equally among the 11,000,000 children who die every year, and you would have $2,500 per child per year to prevent that from happening. Food, primary education, vaccines.

Alternately, consider that the combined foreign debt of every country in Africa is $200 Billion. Eliminate that, freeing up billions a year for African countries to address these needs, and you still have half a trillion to deal with the Wall Street Shitpile. Half a trillion is still enough money to entirely purchase outright the following companies:

Citibank: $100 Billion Market Capitalization
Bank of America: $150 Billion
JP Morgan Chase: $140 Billion
Wachovia: $31 Billion
Wells Fargo: $114 Billion.

That’s $535 Billion to outright buy and own the five largest banks in the United States. Toss in a few more bucks and buy both Morgan Stanley ($30 Billion) and the part of Goldman Sachs that Buffet still doesn’t own ($45 Billion) and you’ve got a pretty dandy bailout package in the works.

And Africa is debt free.