Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Reader Response #3: the Singer Solution to World Poverty

    Peter Singer’s essay, The Singer Solution to World Poverty is an essay that addresses the problem with American consumers and their contribution to the ongoing problem of thousands of  people living in poverty all over the world dying every year. Singer makes a detailed argument discussing the current problems with the way America spends their money needlessly on activities and luxuries such as dining out at a favorite restaurant. Singer then explains his radical solution, that Americans should redirect all unnecessary income to organizations aiding victims of poverty.
    There were many aspects of his essay I found to be to extreme and unrealistic as I was reading through it. For starters, his title is very boastful and self-centered, “The Singer Soultion….” I was confused as to why he felt the solution needed to be named after him, yes of course he did come up with it, but it goes against one of his main points in his essay, the problem with the greediness of Americans. If Singer truly wishes that Americans would ask “what is one month’s dining out, compared to a child’s life?”, would he be willing to ask “What is my name’s worth, compared to a child’s life?” (329)? Singer’s attempt of effectiveness lost some credibility here when writing of the action of humility. On the other hand, aside from Singer’s choice in title, his essay was effectively organized. One example of this is his clear refutation statement in his essay. He spends a chunk of paragraphs at the end of his essay addressing the question, “So why should I give my fair share?”, and continuing to answer that question according to his theories (330). His answer to the counter argument showed that Singer is prepared for the complaining and excuses that his audience will react to his essay with.
    After the first read through of the essay, I thought Singer’s argument was way too extreme and he spent too much time on trying to guilt trip his reader rather than present a possible solution to poverty. But after analyzing the text, my feelings changed about the essay. I do believe some of his claims such as “you shouldn’t buy that new car, take that cruise,...or get that pricey new suit” are asking too much of Americans, especially full-time workers who put in their fair share of hours for their luxuries (330). But, I also believe that with poverty remaining such a serious problem in our world, Americans need these radical ideas and extreme allegations to even spark an interest. If there is no people in America making an attempt to be the voice of the unheard and impoverished all over the world, we would have no reason to worry about others if we feel secure in our homes and jobs. When Americans have something amazing, like a house and plenty of food, we tend to hold onto in order to keep ourselves safe. I know that if I never heard of any organizations helping overseas, I would assume that everyone will be well off like me and I should should treasure the luxuries I have because other people may not get the opportunity to have the same things I do. This is why we need people like Peter Singer.


  1. I really like your response to this piece. I chose to analyze a different piece, so reading this gave me more insight on "The Singer Solution to World Poverty."I felt the same way about most ideas when reading his essay. I think you make a good point about his essay being very extreme and unrealistic. I also think that you used quotes very effectively to make your point more clear. Overall you wrote a very good response. I could see your point of view, and also analysis of the article as well. Good Job!

  2. Your response to the piece was well written and the argument and simple summary was well defined in the first paragraph. I agree completely that Singer's style of writing is too extreme and that he focused more on guilt tripping the reader, instead of convincing them to help the families that lie in poverty. Your use of quotes from Singer's article really backed up your argument and I thought that was significant to making your response clear and showed your stand. Overall, your response flowed well in organization and exemplified Singer's point of view.
    -Tanner Orland