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Is it time to end the foreign aid farce?

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    (Original post by chefdave)
    Good summation, did you ever watch An Idiot abroad? In the first series Karl met a South American tribe that had been given a laptop and a portaloo by some do-gooder Western charity, naturally they had no idea what to do with these items so the whole transaction was a total waste of everybody's time. These sort of oversights only occur when the organsiations giving aid have gotten too big for their boots.

    This is also funny too:

    That is so funny and very true.

    That video describes perfectly the problems of socialism on a large scale and how important prices are. Without profit guiding behavior we can end with these ridiculous situations where nobody got what they wanted. Not matter how benevolent all the parties thought they were being.

    Perhaps Karl had a quick read of 'The of Use of Knowledge' in society before he responded to this joke
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    (Original post by Herr)
    I doubt foreign aid helps countries, especially with the way it is currently being disbursed. Personally what Britain and USA does in regards to foreign aid is mostly giving fish, where the Japanese, Swedes and Germans have moved on to not just giving them some fish where really needed but where they give they teach you to fish.

    Personally I think if Britain is really interested in giving out foreign aid, what they should do is instead of giving them money directly, sponsor students from those poor countries who are exceptionally bright and talented to study at a UK university on condition that they will go home and help contribute towards the development of their country..... way better approach than to place money in the pockets of their rich and corrupt.
    Then you would have a brain drain scenario, all the best and brightest will be over in the west and stay there.
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    (Original post by prog2djent)
    Then you would have a brain drain scenario, all the best and brightest will be over in the west and stay there.
    That can easily be fixed.... all the government has to do is to set up a visa system where these people on this program must return to their country upon completion of their studies or have no more than 2 years of industrial placements before being sent back to their country of origin.

    It isn't difficult to do, just a matter of tweaking the visa system to ensure it happens.

    USA had a program like this in the 90s, which they cancelled after 9/11 primarily meant for students from Latin America.
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    Aid has got to be the most pointless thing ever. It just worsens poverty and allows rich countries to further exploit the poorer ones that recieve aid. This leads to migration from the poor to the rich countries and the rest is history.
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    (Original post by chefdave)
    This is what happens when we allow the government to makes these donations on our behalf. Inevitably the money ends up in the hands of foreign elites which not only irritates the taxpayer but actively works against the interest of the poor in the recipient nations. Why should a government respond to it's people and act democratically when it can tap into the UK's foreign aid budget? The more effective charities are the small to medium size ones that have a clear aim: like sending a sick child abroad for expensive treatment, and a transparant accounting system. Going through government is not the way to do it, politics gets in the way.
    Are you saying we should scrap the foreign aid budget and redistribute the left over taxes to the populace allowing people to donate in whatever way they see fit?

    Theoretically that seems OK, but I doubt it could happen and I don't think it would do the the poor countries any good. The government would most likely pump the money into our own economy or people just wouldn't give the saved money to charities. I agree politics gets in the way, but a large, effectively spent foreign aid budget is the only way to effectively help people in poor nations.
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    Yes, I refuse to pay money towards the third world breeding programme
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    (Original post by jacketpotato)
    A lot of people in this topic simply ignore what aid has achieved. Over the past few years the use of aid money has become far more efficient, there are thousands of kids in school that wouldn't be without aid. During the recent famine, British aid fed 2.4 million people.

    A botched gap year scheme is not an argument for abolishing foreign aid anymore than an example of negligent medical treatment is an argument for abolishing the NHS. It is only an argument for using aid money properly. Do you really think that Oxfam always uses its money efficiently; or that any business always buys the right things?

    The argument about whether we should or should not be giving foreign aid is basically just a moral one. We can afford to give 0.7% of our GDP to people living in conditions that are unimaginably bad to us.

    With the amount of money we give directly to supranational bodies such as the E.U and U.N as well as the plethora of genuinely international charities such as Oxfam and Amnesty International that have their root in British civil society you can rest assured that we're doing our bit for global charity. A benevolent disaster relief fund for genuine humanitarian tragedies? Fine. If we must. It may even give British troops etc decent on the job training, but a permanant aid budget that is based on an outdated 1969 report? Nope, the world has moved on a lot since then. There's absolutely no reason for the government to getting involved in charity work, and as Indian ministers have made clear they don't even need the money.
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    (Original post by Classical Liberal)
    That is so funny and very true.

    That video describes perfectly the problems of socialism on a large scale and how important prices are. Without profit guiding behavior we can end with these ridiculous situations where nobody got what they wanted. Not matter how benevolent all the parties thought they were being.

    Perhaps Karl had a quick read of 'The of Use of Knowledge' in society before he responded to this joke
    How do you think resources should be redistributed to the starving people throughout the third world, if not through charitable giving? Surely the very presence of starving people tells you something about the state of our current profit based economy.

    Although, I do agree that a world without profit and prices in general is unlikely to work, I do believe that it's the division of power and individual ownership that cause inequality.
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    (Original post by Drapetomanic)
    Are you saying we should scrap the foreign aid budget and redistribute the left over taxes to the populace allowing people to donate in whatever way they see fit?

    Theoretically that seems OK, but I doubt it could happen and I don't think it would do the the poor countries any good. The government would most likely pump the money into our own economy or people just wouldn't give the saved money to charities. I agree politics gets in the way, but a large, effectively spent foreign aid budget is the only way to effectively help people in poor nations.
    I'm saying the UK gov't is going beyond it's remit by acting like a global charity. Forcing money out of the hands of British taxpayers and then spending it on Indian GPS systems by the way of 2-3 sets of bureaucrats isn't in the spirit of what charity - a voluntary and supposedly useful activity - is about.

    You've forced my hand....here's Karl again:





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    (Original post by chefdave)
    I'm saying the UK gov't is going beyond it's remit by acting like a global charity. Forcing money out of the hands of British taxpayers and then spending it on Indian GPS systems by the way of 2-3 sets of bureaucrats isn't in the spirit of what charity - a voluntary and supposedly useful activity - is about.
    I agree that our government is ineffectively spending the budget. But the fact remains that the money saved from abolishing the foreign aid budget would not be redistributed effectively to starving nations, which is the problem in the first place. You could argue that it should be up to individuals to decide to give or not, but unfortunately we live in a representative democracy in which people elect governments to spend money, ideally we'd live in a completely democratic society. But as it stands, from a utilitarian point of view, an effective government aid program would be in the best interests of the recipients, and quite frankly we are in a rich enough position to be a global charity.
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    (Original post by Drapetomanic)
    would not be redistributed effectively to starving nations.
    And has the government made it any better?

    See my post on'tother page.
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    (Original post by Drapetomanic)
    How do you think resources should be redistributed to the starving people throughout the third world, if not through charitable giving? Surely the very presence of starving people tells you something about the state of our current profit based economy.
    Free trade and getting rid of subsidies for Western farmers would do a lot of good for the poor in Third world nations than any charity. Western farmers are heavily subsidised (EU, Japan and America do this a lot) and overproduce. The surplus is then dumped on the world market and sold for a very low price. This drives down the price of food. This means that the poor African farmer now gets less for his crop when he goes to market. Which means when he comes back he has less money to invest in capital, like machines and chemicals, to improve his yields. It is an absolute travesty.

    The reason we do not live in a perpetual state of starvation is because we cover our crops in chemicals (so much for Organic food - African farmers are organic and look at them ) and we use massive machines to pick the crop.

    Infact when you think about it the use of machines and the use of chemicals has been the most important part of human development.

    I am not saying Charity giving is bad but I think global charities are quite inefficient (for some of the same reasons government is inefficient). You should be able to do what you like. My point is that if you try and correct problems by distributing goods and services around where you think it might be a good idea you will probably fail because you simply do not have enough information to know what people need and what other people have.
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    (Original post by chefdave)
    The British are a very charitable people, we're ranked 5th in the World Giving Index. We'd be even more generous if the UK government weren't taking our money and then either wasting it on piffle or spending it abroad on schemes that are unwanted by the recipient nation (e.g India). This sort of thing gives the act of giving a bad name.
    I find that incredibly hard to believe. The amount of money the government chooses to give away has zero bearing on my own choices - as it does for the majority I'd imagine.

    And you're deluded if you think it will be returned in the form of tax rebates, it will merely go on other things. You may recall we have a slight debt issue...
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    (Original post by prog2djent)
    And has the government made it any better?

    See my post on'tother page.
    No, but I think government could.

    (Original post by Classical Liberal)
    Free trade and getting rid of subsidies for Western farmers would do a lot of good for the poor in Third world nations than any charity. Western farmers are heavily subsidised (EU, Japan and America do this a lot) and overproduce. The surplus is then dumped on the world market and sold for a very low price. This drives down the price of food. This means that the poor African farmer now gets less for his crop when he goes to market. Which means when he comes back he has less money to invest in capital, like machines and chemicals, to improve his yields. It is an absolute travesty.

    The reason we do not live in a perpetual state of starvation is because we cover our crops in chemicals (so much for Organic food - African farmers are organic and look at them ) and we use massive machines to pick the crop.

    Infact when you think about it the use of machines and the use of chemicals has been the most important part of human development.

    I am not saying Charity giving is bad but I think global charities are quite inefficient (for some of the same reasons government is inefficient). You should be able to do what you like. My point is that if you try and correct problems by distributing goods and services around where you think it might be a good idea you will probably fail because you simply do not have enough information to know what people need and what other people have.
    I don't know much about subsidised farmers and the situation you described so I can't really comment.

    But I've yet to see any evidence suggesting free trade and globalization is more effective at reducing poverty than large scale charitable giving. The theory of free trade tends to ignore factors such as the inevitable unemployment when a countries specialisation becomes less profitable, the cost of changing specialisation and most importantly the lack of regard for distribution in economic models. GDP can often grow, but wages can fall.

    And of course, the governments in charge of the poorest countries tend to be the most corrupt, so any potential increase in GDP through free trade could, and usually is misspent. Charities can be effective if done correctly, For example, an international project called the Measles Initiative achieved a 70 percent reduction in worldwide deaths from measles between 2000 and 2006, saving over 500,000 lives per year on a budget of just US$300 million. Those such projects bypass the quagmire of corrupt governments.
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    (Original post by Drapetomanic)
    But I've yet to see any evidence suggesting free trade and globalization is more effective at reducing poverty than large scale charitable giving. The theory of free trade tends to ignore factors such as the inevitable unemployment when a countries specialisation becomes less profitable, the cost of changing specialisation and most importantly the lack of regard for distribution in economic models. GDP can often grow, but wages can fall.
    Stating thing that are bad and that could happen is not a very strong argument. The reality is nations that trade with others are wealthier. Take Hong Kong for example. A nation with little to not natural resources and was when the British turned up, rather poor. Now it is one of the wealthiest places in the world.
    And of course, the governments in charge of the poorest countries tend to be the most corrupt, so any potential increase in GDP through free trade could, and usually is misspent. Charities can be effective if done correctly, For example, an international project called the Measles Initiative achieved a 70 percent reduction in worldwide deaths from measles between 2000 and 2006, saving over 500,000 lives per year on a budget of just US$300 million. Those such projects bypass the quagmire of corrupt governments.
    Free trade bypasses those corrupt governments and gives the money straight to the producer. It is when charities and western governments get involved to those filthy governments get involved.
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    (Original post by callum9999)
    I find that incredibly hard to believe. The amount of money the government chooses to give away has zero bearing on my own choices - as it does for the majority I'd imagine.

    And you're deluded if you think it will be returned in the form of tax rebates, it will merely go on other things. You may recall we have a slight debt issue...
    The government have a hand in every single economic decision you make, to think otherwise is also delusional. We don't have the spare capacity to be worrying about the living standards in third world nations right now anyway, as prog mentioned above if aid worked Africa would be the richest continent on earth right now instead of the poorest by a country mile.

    You give if you want to, just don't force me to join in with your money burning exercise please.
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    (Original post by Drapetomanic)
    I agree that our government is ineffectively spending the budget. But the fact remains that the money saved from abolishing the foreign aid budget would not be redistributed effectively to starving nations, which is the problem in the first place. You could argue that it should be up to individuals to decide to give or not, but unfortunately we live in a representative democracy in which people elect governments to spend money, ideally we'd live in a completely democratic society. But as it stands, from a utilitarian point of view, an effective government aid program would be in the best interests of the recipients, and quite frankly we are in a rich enough position to be a global charity.
    I'm not rich enough to backstop my government's global benevolence fund, and lets be honest they're in no position to be handy out money willy nilly either. I think you misunderstand the term 'charity' anyway, take a look:

    The voluntary giving of help, typically money, to those in need.

    By voluntary they mean "not at gunpoint" which is how the state raises it's revenue. The foreign aid definitely isn't charity then, it's yet another forced redistribution of funds from poor westerns to rich third world dictators.
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    (Original post by Drapetomanic)
    But I've yet to see any evidence suggesting free trade and globalization is more effective at reducing poverty than large scale charitable giving. The theory of free trade tends to ignore factors such as the inevitable unemployment when a countries specialisation becomes less profitable, the cost of changing specialisation and most importantly the lack of regard for distribution in economic models. GDP can often grow, but wages can fall.

    Compare North Korea with South Korea, one is a thriving, trading, truly global free market economy while the other is a backward Communist dump. No amount of aid is enough to revive North Korea's fortunes if they're unable or unwilling to reform their social institutions. The same goes with all countries we direct aid at.
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    (Original post by chefdave)
    The government have a hand in every single economic decision you make, to think otherwise is also delusional. We don't have the spare capacity to be worrying about the living standards in third world nations right now anyway, as prog mentioned above if aid worked Africa would be the richest continent on earth right now instead of the poorest by a country mile.

    You give if you want to, just don't force me to join in with your money burning exercise please.
    No it doesn't "have a hand" in how much I donate as I donate what I want to, regardless of any tax burden etc. on me.

    We do have the spare capacity to do so, you just don't want us to.

    What a brilliant, insightful analysis there of the highly complex aid situation...

    I'll "force" (in the rather weird context you put it in - you do realise I'm not in charge of UK aid?) you to give money to whatever I like. Just like everyone "forces" people to give money towards everything else the government does.
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    (Original post by chefdave)
    Compare North Korea with South Korea, one is a thriving, trading, truly global free market economy while the other is a backward Communist dump. No amount of aid is enough to revive North Korea's fortunes if they're unable or unwilling to reform their social institutions. The same goes with all countries we direct aid at.
    All countries with give direct aid to are like North Korea. Hmmmm, interesting. I'd actually be willing to bet that no country we give direct aid to is as bad as North Korea.

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