OPINION: Breeding Ground for Terrorism; Are Western Governments Doing Enough to Eradicate Third World Debt or Are Their Priorities in the Wrong Place? Mario Basini Reports
Byline: Mario Basini
IN Norway the average annual income is $US30,000 or pounds 18,000 a year. Literacy is 100% and life expectancy is almost 79 years.
The biggest crisis most Norwegians face, in common with the rest of us in the developed world, is when to trade up their cars for a more expensive model.
A child born in Sierra Leone today will have an annual income of $US470, is unlikely to live beyond its 35th birthday and will have a twointhree chance of remaining illiterate.
Acres of newsprint, many hours of television coverage, books and speeches are devoted each year to the plight of those who live in the povertystricken Third World.
Billions of pounds are currently being spent by the United States and Britain in allegedly extricating the people of Iraq from the poverty and oppression of life under the tyrant Saddam Hussein.
Yet in the 1990s the notion of material progress fondly nurtured by Western liberals proved to be a chimera for twothirds of the globe's population.
Far from being the decade of the fair redistribution of the world's wealth, it was a time when the rich got richer and the poor poorer at a faster rate than ever before.
According to figures just released by the United Nations, the richest 1% of the world's population now receive as much income as the poorest 57%.
In 1820 western Europe's per capita income was three times that of Africa's. In the 1990s it was more than 13 times higher.
Much of the wealth generated by the West in the intervening years came from the exploitation of the mineral and human resources offered by continents such as Africa, but our efforts to repay some of what we have taken in the form of aid have been meagre and grudging.
Aid to Africa fell by a third between 1900 and 2000, according to Christian Aid.
Britain, once the world's biggest colonial country, has been spending a paltry 0.36% of its gross domestic product on overseas aid, despite a pledge 30 years ago to double that. Last year the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, repeated the commitment to increase aid to 0. …