I think we're making strides in the war on hunger in the world, but you can be sure that it still exists in some areas. Malawi, for example, a poor country in southeast Africa, after a drought a couple of years ago needed about $150 million to prevent wide spread hunger during the winter. $150 million is a lot of money to a country like Malawi, but in the grand scheme of things it's not much, only a fraction of what we spend on dog food each year in the U.S. (and, for what it's worth, the amount of money it costs to wage the Iraq war for about half a day.)
The above is only one area in which there are great inequities of material goods and other things. I wrote before about how the amount of money spent on one very small premie, say about $500,000 for his hospitalization, could buy insecticide treated mosquito nets for 50,000 Africans at risk for malaria. That same amount of money, if used toward some basic infant care like giving a bath after birth with a disinfectant soap in a third world country, could save perhaps hundreds or thousands of lives.
How do we allow this to happen? Why do we continue to give our dogs and cats meat and treats when we know there are people who could use the money for basic needs? I think the answer is that we are only human, and humans can't seem to do without pets, and we also can't seem to appreciate the needs of other people unless they are right under our noses. I am well aware that people in the Sudan or elsewhere could use my money, but if I don't get a dog it will be because I don't want the hassle and not because I'm going to spend my dog money on aid to Africa (although after I publish this post I might send some money to one of my favorite charities.) I'm guessing that there are even some people in Malawi that have pets; maybe even some hungry people there have pets and feed them.
Actually, I've only begun to talk about all the inequities there are in distribution of resources. Looking at just health care in the U.S., think of how much we spend on dialysis for the very elderly or ventilator care for people with massive head injuries and no hope of recovery, and think of how many prescription drugs that money could buy for people who can't afford their blood pressure medication. The inequities are astounding, the more you think about it. The fact that we are only human, while a true reason for why we treat our dogs better than humans halfway across the world, still should not be an excuse to ignore completely this maldistribution of resources.
P.S. You find out some interesting stuff when researching pets. I've come across information about holistic pet food and a book called Animals and the Afterlife, and discovered that April 24 - 30 was National Scoop the Poop week.