In response to "Greed Keeps Third World Hungry," by Arthur Simon (Op-Ed Page, March 2):
Is it greed or is it apathy and resignation that keeps good people oblivious to the powerful force they could be on behalf of poverty-stricken people throughout the world? Americans are a caring people but we are basically unaware how we can help either as citizens or as politicians.
Given specific challenges, we would rise to the occasion of helping our brothers and sisters--about a billion of them go to sleep hungry each night, year in, year out. We need to make our development aid--over $5 billion last year--live up to the words enacted in the U.S. 1961 Foreign Assistance Act, Section 101, General Policy "Congress . . . renews its commitment to assist people in developing countries to eliminate hunger, poverty, illness and ignorance."
Given a ground swell of public opinion, the United States could yet live up to the mandate we gave ourselves 27 years ago. A new President, committed to the elimination of hunger, poverty, illness and ignorance could carry us into the last decade of the 20th Century realizing the greatest vision mankind could set for itself.
This is not an idle dream. The World Health Organization with its 166-member countries has declared "Health for all by the year 2000." The president of the World Bank, Barber Conable, last year committed the considerable resources of the bank to ending the worst aspects of absolute poverty in Asia by the year 2000. President Reagan has initiated a call to help end hunger in sub-Saharan Africa by the year 2000.
All this could become empty rhetoric or it could be put in legislation with measurable goals and specific timetables for its accomplishment. An enlightened citizenry demanding these goals from Congress and our next President is needed.
Reducing the death rate of children has been shown to be the most reliable measure of a country's progress in improving health care and nutrition to its children. Female literacy has been demonstrated to have the greatest impact on the survival and health of mothers and their children. So let's have our foreign aid provide nutrition, health care and schools for the impoverished. Let's put that $5 billion of our tax dollars into people--people who can then provide the energy, knowledge and skills to carry their countries forward to become responsible members of the global community.
DORSEY W. LAWSON