by Peter Singer
This is an oldish book (2009) I picked up; it’s a bit dated, and I’ve heard all of Singer’s arguments before, but I guess I just like hearing them.
Singer’s out to get everyone to give more of their resources to the poorest of the poor. If you wouldn’t pass by a child drowning in a pond, how can you not give a small sum of money to save a child’s life across the world?
He attempts to refute all the common reasons we have for not giving more. He emphasizes the goal is not to guilt people, but to create a culture where more giving becomes the norm.
One thing that surprised me, until I remembered how old the book was – he says that of course we don’t want to just give people money. That fosters dependence and doesn’t change the institutions that keep them poor. I think he has since changed his tune, since his website, https://www.thelifeyoucansave.org/, now lists Give Directly as a recommended charity. Give Directly flat out gives money to people. That’s all they do. That’s why I love them. I am fully convinced that giving poor people money is the best way to go. They don’t become dependent. They improve their circumstances. They often start or improve their businesses. And that is how they can begin to change their own institutions.