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Critics on What should a Billionaire Give and What Should You?


Janilson Semedo

I born hearing that phrase “we are equal”. Nowadays I learn were just phrases to deceive us. Peter Singer begins “What Should a Billionaire Give?” by asking, “What is a human life worth?” He correctly assumes that many people might not want to give it a distinct price, but they know it would be a very large amount of money. Most people would also agree that every human life would bear the same value. Though we believe these things, do we act accordingly? Bill Gates began to give money after learning about a disease that kills half a million children each year. He was astonished that more money and attention wasn’t being given to stopping this disease. It also shocked him to know that some people, according to their actions, don’t consider all human lives to be of equal value. Reading what a billionaire give and what should should you, I came across with conclusion that what drives this world is the men’s selfishness commanded by capitalism. In other words, I affirm that the only possible synonym for capitalism is selfishness.

       The article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) affirms the “right of each individual to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family”, which does not truly happen in practice. For instance, according to Peter Singer half a million children die every year from rotavirus, the most common cause of severe diarrhea in children. And millions of children die from diseases in developing countries that have been eliminated, or virtually eliminated, in the United States. Then, this statistics makes me ask one thing. What is the difference between children from developed countries and children from developing countries? Because it seems to me that some lives are seen as worth saving and others are not.  

       Furthermore, capitalism made the world, countries and people self-centered. It created the difference between rich people and poor people, people that can afford buying medicaments and those who cannot. The difference is so big today that is like if is exists a Berlin’s Wall between developed world and developing world.

        I am emphatic to attest that capitalism made people so blind that it became above the human life, in other words, life does not matters where money is in concern. For example, as stated by Peter Singer, in the past, diseases that affect only the poor have been of no commercial interest to pharmaceutical manufactures, because the poor cannot afford to buy their products. Indeed, they do not make products for poor people, since the price they put on it is not really an invitation for underprivileged people to buy it. You see, it is all about money. They do not care if you cannot pay. They just want to make money. And let’s imagine that they start to make a lot of vaccines and poor people cannot afford buy it. They will acknowledge that they lost a lot of money. Subsequently, they will not do it.

       “In the world today, some people are richer than anyone has ever been, while others struggle to find and obtain the necessities of life”.  Bill Gates and Warren give billions to help with health related charities.  Nevertheless, as reported by Peter Singer they do so to improve the image of themselves and their companies. Like I said before capitalism make us act about our own interests. however, some can ask, should it matter if as long as they are helping others, the only reason they do so is to improve the image of themselves or their companies? I kind on the fence right now, I would say that Gates and Buffet is been doing what no one else could do, though does not matters if they are doing it to improve the image of their companies, because the parents of children saved by the money given buy them will  not think about the motives they did it.

        Some philanthropists like Gates and Buffet are atheist, so the reason they do that is no God. They are not expecting a place in heaven like Mother Teresa, who according to Peter Singer believed in reward and punishment in the afterlife. But, I am in confused.  If Mother Teresa did what she did, was not that for her own interest, expecting a place in heaven? But what makes her different form Gates and Warren is the fact that she is driven by her heart to help others, even though doing it thinking on place on heaven. And Gates and Warren are driven by children who necessary need vaccines and they have money to help with that, even though doing it thinking on the image of their companies.

        According to Peter Singer followers of Immanuel Kant think that an act has moral worth only if it is done out of a sense of duty. In agreement with the followers of Emanuel Kant, Warren and Gates are acting in perfect manner.  In fact, I have to agree with that, because they do not have the duty to help charities and give money for scientists to discover cure. In other words, Gates and Warren is doing what is suppose to be government’s work

        The author discusses whether Gates and Warren or other rich people are obliged to give their money and if so, how much? I consider once you are a millionaire or billionaire you have to help those which are less fortunate. I mean what is the purpose to have a lot of money when are people around you that probably need more than you? Some could not agree with me, and say that. That is capitalism! And capitalism is about competition and everybody is expecting and struggle to have more and more. And that capitalism is based on ownership of capital though they are not obliged to give it. Yes in fact they are not obliged to give. But do I agree with the philosophy of capitalism? No. The reason that I do not agree is simply. “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood”. This extracts represents the first article of the declaration of the human rights. But in world where rich people is struggling o to have more and the poor is not having the same benefits of life. I truly do not see equality on this. It is easier to see the imbalance of our world today. If a rich people are controlling a lot of money just for him, I really do not see how the word “brotherhood” can fits on capitalism’s way of thinking.

     The only reason that man started lo live in society, it is because they cannot live alone. However, capitalism made me thing that in society people survive by jungle’s philosophy. In other words, “each one for himself, and god for us all”

Universidade de Cabo Verde
Reading and Grammar

Janilson Semedo


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