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to wonder why we give money in overseas aid instead of sorting out the UK first?

(96 Posts)

I'm not trying to be goady, this is a genuine question. I'm sure there are good arguments and good reasons why we give overseas aid (the two most obvious being philanthropy and social responsibility). But it seems short-sighted when we have such a huge deficit and there are so many people in the UK being driven into poverty.

I'm sure I'm being unreasonable, but can someone explain (gently please!) why?

chris481 Mon 18-Mar-13 10:34:08

You (OP) implicity assume there is a "doing good" budget that is split between the UK and abroad, and are querying the split.

If redistribution within the UK is primarily about "doing good" then surely we should abolish the welfare system and spend the money in Africa, where the law of diminishing returns (in reverse) would mean each pound spent would do ten times as much good as in the UK.

Of course if the hypothetical "doing good" budget were entirely spent in other countries, voter support for it would vanish instantly.

Redistribution within the UK is not primarily about doing good. It is about the relatively less well-off using the power of the ballot box to put their hands in the pockets of the relatively better of.

On the other hand, foreign aid, even where there are political motives or strings attached, does seem to me to be primarily about "doing good."

So YABU to conflate helping the relatively poor in the UK with helping the absolutely poor elsewhere. The primary reasons for the two budgets are different. It doesn't really make much more sense to trade one of against the other than it would to trade them off against any other area of government spending.

saffronwblue Mon 18-Mar-13 09:29:48

Sorry, chica

saffronwblue Mon 18-Mar-13 09:29:00

Chia choose the tab that says lend. You can choose a country or a region and a sector (like education ) and gender. Then (if you want to) click on a $25 donation and fill in the details for purchase - I think they take paypal. At some point in the future the loan will be repaid and you can have the money back or lend it on to someone else. I know I am just a random person on the internet but I have done this and had the money repaid several times.

chicaguapa Sun 17-Mar-13 16:21:06

Saffron - I've just looked at the Kiva site. It looks quite complicated. Do you have an idiot's guide to it please?

saffronwblue Sun 17-Mar-13 10:22:36

If you don't trust government to government aid money, look at www.kiva.org where you can lend tiny amounts to women in developing coutnries for their small business. This would be a fabulous initiative for MN to support.
I am on the idealistic, we all live in one world team. Being born in a developed country with access to clean water, medicine and shelter is like winning the lottery already.

FeistyLass Sun 17-Mar-13 10:14:54

Do you think the Africans would care about you? I have to agree with MrsTerryPratchett. Whenever I've been in Africa, the Africans have cared about me. They've shared their drink and their food with me (including the most amazing home-made donuts I've ever tasted in a youthclub in the DRC!) They've invited me into their homes.
Equally when I was in India, in tiny little villages that had been devastated by the tsunami, where many people had not only lost their homes but their loved ones, they pooled the food and drink they had so we could have some too.
Everytime I go overseas, I'm ashamed at how much I have but apart from mothers asking for water for their children in Darfur and one little boy who asked if we could possibly help to pay his school fees in the DRC, no-one has ever asked for anything.
And after the tsunami, the communities in India were amazed and grateful for the help they received. They definitely didn't expect it. However, we should expect it of ourselves.

Thanks for the figures Rosieres that's interesting. Of course things like defence budgets are being cut back but it's still an interesting comparison.

LadyPessaryPam Sun 17-Mar-13 09:01:03
SkaterGrrrrl Sun 17-Mar-13 02:14:15

Reporting lady pans disgustingly racist post.

Kungfutea Sun 17-Mar-13 01:04:34

hollyberry

Interesting you should mention Ethiopia. It's had an economic growth rate of around 7% pa for the last few years. Maybe an example of aid working?

I recommend reading Paul collier's 'the bottom billion' to better understand why many of the least developed countries are in the state they're in.

JaquelineHyde Sun 17-Mar-13 00:16:16

Pam if you are not careful you may begin to sound like a total cunt!

African boys that make it to adulthood will become rapists and/or oppressors!!!!!! shock angry

This is one of the most shocking things I have ever read on MN and you should be ashamed of yourself. You are a pathetic excuse for a human being.

Do you think the Africans would care about you? I have traveled a lot in Africa. The lovely Ugandan man who made sure my friend got to go to the loo and got back to the bus in time, yep, he cared. The mums who sat with us in Rwanda and hung out so we could play with their beautiful kids, yep. The people who looked after us, helped us, protected us. One guy who ran into someone who was hassling us on his bike blush. The bloke in Dar who was horrified that we thought he wanted something when he was trying to show us the way. "they might be like that in Kenya", he said "but not here".

I think nice people are nice people everywhere. Mean buggers are the same all over too.

Rosieres Sat 16-Mar-13 22:53:27

To have some perspective on the UK Aid budget, here are some facts:

UK Aid budget (2011/12): £8.6 bn
Total spend on cigarettes in the UK (2011): £15-£18 bn
UK Defence spending (2011): £45.6 bn
Tax avoidance in the UK (2011): c. £70 bn
Combined wealth of the richest 1000 people in the UK (2012): £414 bn

You can look at any spending in isolation and feel it is totally out of proportion. But before we cut back on helping those in absolute poverty, remember that we spend twice as much on smoking, 5 times as much on the military, allow 9 times as much in tax avoidance, and our current level of aid could be paid for the next 48 years by just 1000 people.

Pam isn't the idea of charity giving without expecting to receive, just to help someone else? Why does it matter whether 'Africans' would help you if the situation was reversed?

LadyPessaryPam Sat 16-Mar-13 22:20:26

Do you think the Africans would care about you? I really don't think so. I would imagine that Europeans would be at the bottom of the keep list for many cultures, but carry on with your illusions please do.

maddening Sat 16-Mar-13 22:18:58

The main thing that gets my goat is hearing reports about the governments inccountries receiving aid channelling it for things such as war, oppression etc rather than the people in their countries that need it. It makes it all feel so hopeless.

But idealistically speaking yes we should send foreign aid but I feel it doesn't get where it is needed.

midastouch Sat 16-Mar-13 22:17:59

I was of the opinion charity should start at home, but after watching comic relief last night nobody should die of starvation and as a wealthier country we can help other people who are less fortunate so we should. We are very lucky in this country and i think it takes watching something like that for you to be greatful for what you have

LadyPessaryPam Sat 16-Mar-13 22:17:05

Message deleted by Mumsnet for breaking our Talk Guidelines. Replies may also be deleted.

Basically these are not our children. Neither are yours mine. Only mine is mine. I'm alright, Jack. I manage to care about the children next door and those in Africa. it's not a major leap.

I think misspotty's point about our clothes and food often coming from abroad is actually a very good one, and that's something else I hadn't thought of.

harverina Sat 16-Mar-13 22:11:16

I don't think that. I would, and I'm sure most people would, like to reduce anyone's suffering no matter where they come from or how far from my door step they are. I just think that if we could actually see both people in front of us (i.e the person in the uk living in poverty and the person from, say, Africa) we be blown away by the difference in the definition of poverty.

I am in no way saying we should ignore the people closest to us, I am just supporting the need for aid.?

Can I just add that I think meeting aid commitments overseas and helping the less fortunate in the UK are actually both sides of the same coin? Governments that ignore the deprivation in the UK also tend to ignore the devastation overseas

Another excellent point Feisty, please don't go!

I started this thread because I genuinely wanted to learn - I wasn't saying that we shouldn't give aid, but I couldn't think of a better way to ask the question. Several posters have been far more eloquent!

Because there's a massive difference between your child not having new trainers and your child dying from a preventable disease.

LadyPessaryPam Sat 16-Mar-13 22:06:31

harverina, humans are utilitarian by nature, why do you think helping some one in Africa is a good thing when you could help someone down the road who needs it?

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