I just finished reading "The Life You Can Save" by Peter Singer. It took a while to read because the author’s style wasn’t quite my cup of tea, but I’m glad I finally finished it. Throughout the book, Singer elaborates on his argument that we should all donate more significantly toward ending poverty and saving lives. We make decisions every day to spend money on ourselves (or families) that are unconscious decisions to not save someone’s life.
$50 could save someone’s sight.
$450 could restore a woman’s life through fistula repair.
$1000 saves someone’s life by curing fatal diarrhea.
Instead, we spend $50 on a night out (dinner, drinks, and maybe cover); we spend $450 on vacations (hotel rooms, food, and airfare); we spend $1000 on a new laptop.
Singer’s final point, however, wasn’t that we should give up spending money on our own little luxuries (the book seems to be catered to more affluent audiences), but that we can afford making sacrifices in order to drastically improve someone else’s life.
For those that are able to (if you don’t have crazy loans to pay off and what not), at a minimum, Singer suggests donating 5% of your pre-tax income to fighting global poverty. (There’s a progressive scale that increases as your income increases, above $100k.)
I am far from being rich, but I’m definitely not struggling to make ends meet. With some restructuring of my monthly spending, I plan to commit 5% of my monthly income to 5 different causes/charities. Given all the amazing causes I have stumbled upon over the past year, I couldn’t decide on just one. I’m thinking of alternating the causes each quarter as follows…
Month 1 - Global Health
Month 2 - Local Well-Being
Month 3 - Random Causes
I’m planning to start this next month when my new salary kicks in (w00t, w00t). Until then, hopefully I have some time to identify the specific/most deserving charity for each of these causes. Month 3 has random causes (and more than 5) to allow me to alternate my contributions to causes that I still think are important but I don’t feel as strongly about. I know that diverting my donations to non-global poverty charities won’t contribute to the ultimate goal of ending poverty, but I hope that my contributions will still help improve someone’s life.
I know a lot of my homies are still in college and/or don’t have stable incomes that would allow them to donate the 5%. But a) you can donate what you can… maybe $5/month? b) this is tumblr so I can potentially reach people that aren’t the aforementioned homies.
I’ll leave you with the last quote in the book:
I guess basically one wants to feel that one’s life has amounted to more than just consuming products and generating garbage. I think that one likes to look back and say that one’s done the best one can to make this a better place for others. You can look at it from this point of view: What greater motivation can there be than doing whatever one possibly can to reduce pain and suffering?
So are you down?