Tuesday, 22 June 2010

International aid - immoral, irresponsible, wasteful, and counterproductive

Melanie Phillips has written an excellent article on international aid:
When the Conservatives announced that they intended to ring-fence the international aid budget, many eyebrows were raised.

Currently, this country spends about £3 billion every year on such aid. The Coalition has pledged to increase this total to meet the UN target of 0.7per cent of national output by 2013.

Since only the health service is also to be ring-fenced against the draconian spending cuts threatened for the rest of the public sector and expected to be outlined in next Tuesday’s Budget, many have asked how the Government can justify spending even more on humanitarian assistance abroad while causing increasing hardship at home.

Surely a government’s first duty when the country has a £155 billion deficit is to its own people? And why is a Conservative Prime Minister adopting an attitude that is more commonly identified with the Left?

The reason is not the presence in the coalition of the Lib Dems. It is principally because of David Cameron’s driving imperative to transform the image of the Conservative Party from nasty to nice. And a precondition of niceness is that hearts must bleed for the wretched of the earth.
As I see it, there are four main problems with international aid:
  1. Fake charity is immoral. Real charity occurs when an individual voluntarily parts with a portion of his wealth in order to support a cause he believes in. Fake charity occurs when the government confiscates our wealth to spend on humanitarian causes that they believe in.
  2. Borrowing to give is irresponsible. It is bad enough that taxpayers' wealth is confiscated for the government's chosen humanitarian projects, but it is indefensible that they are stealing from future generations. Think of all the good that could be done at home and abroad with the £30 billion we spend each year on debt interest. If we carry on as we are, that figure will soon be £70 billion. This trajectory is not sustainable; our first priority must be to get our own house in order.
  3. International aid is wasteful. As Gerald Warner asks, Why are we giving India £1 billion in aid if it can afford Moon missions?
  4. International aid is counterproductive. It sustains a culture of dependence, fuels overpopulation, and provides support to warlords, terrorists, and tyrants.
Phillips's article focuses on the fourth point:

In Somalia, warlords extracted from the aid agencies as much as 80 per cent of what the aid supplies were worth.

After the 2004 tsunami in Sri Lanka, which left 40,000 dead and displaced 2.5 million people, Dutch relief workers were forced to pay a levy of up to 25 per cent of the aid to the terrorist Tamil Tigers.

In Sudan in the Eighties and Nineties, where two million were slaughtered, the government army that committed these atrocities fed itself on food aid that it stole. The truth is that this aid kept the genocide going.


in Gaza — to which the Cameron government has just committed a £19 million first instalment of a five- year £100 million aid package — UNRWA admitted last year that the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas had stolen 3,500 blankets and more than 400 food packages, including 200 tons of rice and flour, that were supposed to be distributed to Gaza residents.

Phillips concludes,

Ultimately, international aid is not about rescuing the starving of the world. Instead, it is all about burnishing the self-image of the person, organisation or government doing the giving. That’s why blind eyes are so resolutely turned to the way aid is used as the life-support system for tyrants and mass murderers.

There is surely a case for saying that, rather than being ring-fenced as Cameron’s government vows to do, the entire international aid programme should be axed — along with the department that administers it.

Failing that, it should be renamed the Department for the Perpetuation of War, Tyranny and Terror. Now that would be transparency.

As for the generous-minded members of the public who want to dip into their pockets to relieve distress, they would be well advised to give the international aid racket a miss and donate to charities caring for the poor, old or disabled in this country instead.

I recommend the whole article.

If we really cared about the plight of millions of people in the third world, we would renounce the CAP, exit the EU, and engage in mutually beneficial free trade.

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