New Internationalist

The Facts

Issue 131

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GLOBAL REPORTING [image, unknown] Facts

[image, unknown]

The FACTS

Filing the facts
A record of some of the arguments and statistics with which
journalists have worked in producing this month’s magazine.

[image, unknown] AGEING

[image, unknown] People all over the world now have longer lifespans - thanks largely to improvements in living conditions. But such success brings its own problems. The first is economic: those at work must generate more wealth for the higher proportion of retired people. The second is social: how to fit older people into a youth-oriented society.

KEY STATISTICS
• Average life expectancy at birth was 47 years in 1960. By the year 2025 it is expected to be 70.

• Over-sixties were 15% of developed country populations in 1975. By the year 2025 they will be 23%.

• In developing countries the rise will be from 6% to 12%.

Alternative arguments
When jobs are scarce:

EITHER: The old should retire earlier and take more leisure.

OR: Jobs should be shared amongst those who want them regardless of age.

NI opinion: Agrees with the second.

Journalist’s approach: A report from Japan where the change in age structure has been the most dramatic.

See: Good Morning Tokyo!


[image, unknown] MULTINATIONALS

[image, unknown] Decisions made in the boardrooms of multinational corporations reverberate around the world. And neither the workers who produce the goods nor the consumers who buy them can have any direct say in how corporate decisions are made. Multinational growth is one of the most significant shifts of international power this century.

KEY STATISTICS
• Of the largest economic powers in the world, 53 are countries and 47 are corporations.

• The revenues of the world’s top 200 companies have increased tenfold in the last 20 years.

• Multinationals dominate world trade: 85% of exports of both tea and coffee, for example, are controlled by the corporations.

Alternative arguments
The multinational corporation is

EITHER: A generator of wealth which respects the laws and standards of the countries in which it operates.

OR: A centre of political power beyond electoral control.

NI opinion: Agrees with the second alternative.

Journalist’s approach: To report on the impact in Liberia of a decision taken in the USA by Firestone.

See: Rubber rules.


[image, unknown] FOOD AID

[image, unknown] Shipping Western food surpluses to the Third World seems a sensible and humane idea. But, though such aid is often vital for emergency feeding, its use for long-term development projects is much more questionable and has come under increasing fire.

KEY STATISTICS
• About $3 billions worth of food is sent annually to developing countries - 10% for emergencies.

• In 1982/83 the USA sent 64% of the food grains, the EEC 17%,Canada 9% and Australia 4%.

• The largest grain recipient last year was Egypt which swallowed up 18%. Next came Bangladesh with 12%.

Alternative arguments

EITHER: Food aid is a readily available resource that will be beneficial if carefully handled.

OR: In practice it has usually been destructive. depressing local food production, and should be avoided if possible.

NI opinion: Agrees with the second argument.

Journalist’s approach: A short story to dramatise the local impact of food aid.

See: The price of oil


[image, unknown] HUMAN RIGHTS

[image, unknown] The UN’s human rights principles assert that everyone has certain rights simply by virtue of being human: the rights may be economic, social and cultural as well as political. They add moral constraints to what might otherwise be purely political decisions.

KEY STATISTICS
• In 63 of the 190 countries, citizens cannot freely disagree with their govemments.

• A quarter of the world has an inadequate diet

• 500 million workers have no jobs or are underemployed.

• 250 million live in urban slums or shantytowns

Alternative arguments

EITHER: Democratic freedoms - the ability to vote out your government - are the most important freedoms to promote.

OR: The rights to the means of survival - food. housing - are paramount.

NI opinion: The first kind of right is usually overemphasised by those who already have the second.

Journalist’s approach: A visual daily reminder of what human rights should be.

See: The twelve rights calendar


[image, unknown] NUCLEAR WEAPONS

The super-powers insist on a course of mutually-inspired expansion - though todays missiles already provide the explosive power of four tons of TNT for every human being. The MX missile is one of the latest advances and gives the USA the possibility of winning a nuclear war by striking first.

KEY STATISTICS
• Global military expenditure is now running at well over $1 million per minute,

• One in every five scientists worldwide is now engaged in military work.

• The average military product is 20 times as research intensive as a civilian product.

Alternative arguments
Nuclear weapons development

EITHER: Has a momentum of its own with military and commercial pressure forcing political decisions.

OR: It is merely the response of scientists to the requests of politicians.

NI opinion: Follows the first argument.

Journalist’s approach: To follow the path of MX missile development from Washington to the Pacific.

See: Journey to the Nuclear Lagoon


[image, unknown] COMMODITIES

The poor countries are the major producers of raw materials like tin or cocoa. The rich countries then use these to make all manner of more sophisticated items from computers to after-dinner mints. But raw material prices have been falling while those of manufactured goods have remained steady - so poor countries become poorer.

KEY STATISTICS
• 70% of poor county commodity exports go to industrialised countries.

• Falling prices cost developing countries $21 billion from 1980 to 1982.

• About half the Third World debt increase in 1982 was due to reduced income from commodities.

Alternative arguments

EITHER: To avoid subsidising inefficiency prices should be determined by market forces alone.

OR: International agreements need to be reached to offer steadier and fairer prices to the Third World

NI opinion: Market forces are creating poverty and agreements are essential.

Journalist’s approach: To accompany a Bolivian tin miner visiting commodity markets.

See: Keynote


[image, unknown] WOMEN AT WORK

For most women the work never stops. If they have an outside job they still do most of the domestic work as well - a double burden that few men would put up with. Rich countries have done little to redistribute the work load between the sexes and development in the Third World has often made women’s lives even more difficult.

KEY STATISTICS
• Women do 2/3 of the world’s work, receive 10% of the income, and own 1% of the property.

• 70% of food production in Africa is in the hands of women,

• In Western countries women are about 40% of the labour force with the average housewife also doing about 3,000 unsalaried hours of housework a year.

Alternative arguments

EITHER: Promoting economic development in general will automatically make llfe easier for women.

OR: Only by planning programmes directly with women can we ensure that theirposition is improved.

NI opinion: Experience supports the second argument.

Journalist’s approach: To report the effect of one African development scheme.

See: Bulldozed!


[image, unknown] CHILD HEALTH

[image, unknown] The advantages of primary health care - training barefoot doctors rather than building large hospitals - have been accepted by most Third World countries. But few have taken effective steps to put it into practice. The medical profession tends to lack commitment and other government priorities soak up the funds.

KEY STATISTICS
• Primary health care for all would cost $50 billion a year - 1/15 of annual military spending.

• Five million children die each year from diseases for which vaccinations exist.

• Around 25% of the world’s children are malnourished,

Alternative arguments
Primary health care is best implemented

EITHER: By using local health workers to gradually introduce preventative medicine.

OR: By running massive campaigns to promote specific techniques like vaccination or oral rehydration therapy which can generate enthusiasm and therefore the funds to pay for them.

NI opinion: More weight should be put behind the first alternative.

Journalist’s approach: A cartoon case-study in Colombia.

See: The Petition


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