The real tragedy of this financial crisis is that people will die - MarketWatch
THOMAS KOSTIGEN'S ETHICS MONITOR
Commentary: The real tragedy of this financial crisis is that people will die
By Thomas Kostigen, MarketWatch
Last update: 8:25 p.m. EDT Oct. 23, 2008Comments: 779SANTA MONICA, Calif. (MarketWatch) -- The harsh reality of the economic fallout isn't that Joe the plumber can't buy his business or that people's retirement funds are being lost or that unemployment is rising; the harsh reality is that people will die.
Already, since food prices began to rise 100 million more people have been pushed into poverty, according to the World Bank, with as many as two billion on the verge of disaster. Almost half the world's population, let's remember, live on less than $2.50 per day. Millions die annually of hunger and starvation, and more than a billion do not have access to fresh water.
These numbers are poised to rise dramatically with population growth, dwindling natural resources and higher consumer prices across all goods and services. So as the stock market tumbles and the world economy falters, it's important to remember that it's more than financial losses we are talking about, it's the loss of life.
And increasingly it isn't just people in far-off places around the world who are succumbing to such extreme hardships. Note this: Job losses in the state of Indiana have caused the child poverty rate there to spike 29% since 2000. The wealth gap in the United States and around the world is at record levels -- and it has serious consequences.
The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development reported this week that the gap between the rich and the poor is getting bigger around the world, and that the U.S. is experiencing the biggest dichotomy.
We are experiencing the largest wealth gap in history. Further erosion of the economic floor will only send more people plunging into destitution.
This is why it's so important to fix the economic crisis -- now.
We're all linked
Wealthy nations are trying mightily to correct the daily economic woes plaguing the world. An emergency economic summit has been called. Brash measures have been taken. Interventions of all sorts have been enacted.
Developed nations realize that they are intricately tied to one another's economies because of sophisticated financial instruments. When one nation loses so do the others, as we are finding out these days from as far away as China and Korea.
But there's another link that hasn't been much talked about
: the emerging markets. The emerging markets rely on the strength of the bigger economic powers to grow, more so even than bigger economic powers rely on each other. The capital-markets erosion has yet to be fully felt in these countries as the trickles they rely on may stop coming down.
And here is the sad end game of the ripple effect: it takes food out of the mouths of children, it shuts the water taps and it sends hordes of people into lives of despair.
We need to solve the world's economic crisis not only for ourselves so we can continue to live at the standard to which we are accustomed, but also so people can continue to live -- period.
The economic crisis we are facing today and likely tomorrow is about more than numbers. There are faces to go along with every digit of value lost. And that is something we will never be able to quantify.
However, we should recognize the losses we are incurring daily before our eyes -- every five seconds a child dies because of a lack of food or water -- are a matter of life and death.