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?

nevertoolate26 Sat 16-Mar-13 13:51:59

I wonder the same thing too. I thought it was more of an intellectual / economisty thing though.
I can't believe you get cuts in important services here, people homeless on streets, living in crap accomodation, etc and then you hear the government's sending.... millions in foreign aid. I'm not being goady either but just confused why the government doesn't sort the problems over here first.
Oh, and please explain it gently to me too!

Marking place as this flits through my mind on occasion. I do think it's great that we help out overseas, but also realise that we are having huge problems over here and people in our country are going without whilst we send money overseas. Not really sure what the answer is in any case.

HollyBerryBush Sat 16-Mar-13 13:58:46

It's generally cheaper than having a war.

This was explained to me in some detail - however I didn't grasp the economics of it either.

I'm sure someone will come along and hopefully spell it out so I can understand it

ceramicunicorn Sat 16-Mar-13 14:00:03

This country has problems. Many other countries are in absolute crisis due to civil wars, famine, lack of health care etc.

I'm so glad it's not just me who wonders this sometimes! I thought I was going to get a proper flaming.

gordyslovesheep Sat 16-Mar-13 14:03:16

Because aid has strings attached - it's not just aid

but also for me it's because humans a global - and a childs life is of equal worth where ever they have the (mis)fortune to be born

JaquelineHyde Sat 16-Mar-13 14:03:30

In my eyes we do it for idealistic reasons; because we are all part of a global community, because we should take pride in being able to help our brothers and sisters in the most dire of situation regardless of geographical location and because we can and we lead by example with the hope that the money we send will make a difference and will help save lives.

However, from the Government's point of view it is done because it is financially viable in the long run. It opens doors and keeps the UK at the top of the list for return favours from corrupt governments and regimes. Nothing is ever free.

Because as a country we are much wealthier and we have responsibilities.

Children rarely die of poverty here (though of course they do sometimes) but they routinely die in other countries.

HollyBerryBush Sat 16-Mar-13 14:03:44
catgirl1976 Sat 16-Mar-13 14:07:51

Could you point me to it Holly?

I had a read through but couldn't find any.

LadyWidmerpool Sat 16-Mar-13 14:08:21

You are aware that children are starving, right?

Children are starving.

Children are experiencing long agonising deaths. In their millions.

Some people think that's as serious as homelessness in the UK.

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

HeySoulSister Sat 16-Mar-13 14:08:35

What is 'sort out' the UK tho?

How do you decide what sorted out is?

WestieMamma Sat 16-Mar-13 14:08:41

Because poverty in the UK is nothing like poverty where aid gets sent. People who are that desperate will migrate and then the problem is on your doorstep and much bigger and costlier to deal with.

nevertoolate26 Sat 16-Mar-13 14:18:58

JacquelineHyde - I think you're right there. It's like another poster said, you get two sections in countries like India, the rich and then those living in slums in the gutter. I'm sure I read that the owner of the mos expensive house in London was the president of Pakistan. If the government's genuinely cared perhaps they should stop a""e lick**n the presidents of whatever country and tell them to do the right thing. Behind the closed doors I'm sure many deals are made - we'll give you this much aid if you do this for us.
But comic relief, etc - that's people (not the government) in our country genuinely being moved and giving their money to people much less fortunate than ourselves. You'd have to be heartless not to shed a tear when you see children utterly starving

BigSpork Sat 16-Mar-13 14:22:12

Because aid paves the way for legislation that suits our businesses. A lot of the money the UK makes comes from labour and resources from these countries we are sending aid to and giving aid in one hand and helping our businesses get into countries and pay as little in the local area is what helps the UK be so wealthy. It means those countries don't push as hard for the far larger sum they would get from any of those companies for their tax obligations - we give aid, make the rules of the IMF that ties their hands, and made backroom deals through the UN. America is even worse of course (pretty much anti-gay legislation that's come through lately can be traced to money from American "charities" working in the areas) but that's the real world why - a continuation of colonization for our benefit.

By 'sorting out' the UK l meant that there are people who have to choose between eating properly and heating their homes. I wondered whether the government should help these people first rather than sending money overseas.

It's depressing if it really is down to big business, although I suppose I shouldn't be surprised.

LadyWidmerpool if it was your child that was hungry and homeless in the UK then yes, I suspect you would find it as serious a problem.

Flisspaps Sat 16-Mar-13 14:26:03

LadyWidmerpool but people die on the streets in the UK. They die in a first world country, of cold, of hunger, of the drugs or drink that makes the days a tiny bit more bearable.

I don't see why the lives if those people are any less worthy than those of children dying overseas - none of them are dying a peaceful, painless death in a warm bed after a long life.

Softlysoftly Sat 16-Mar-13 14:30:40

Firstly because it's morally right but Secondly sound economics.

For example China is busy in Africa building infrastructure. Because they seeconsumers/ businesses of the future. We are a global economy and need the works to keep developing to keep us developing.

A simple example is meat. Here we eat allthe lovely (non dobbin) cuts, recently we have been able to package and sell the bits British consumers turn their nose up at eg brains and sell them in Africa where they are a delicacy.

If they stay impoverished and embroiled in civil war with no education then they don't become consumers.

Its also a fact that prosperity = smaller family units as people don't need "spare" children when unlike when x% die before the age of 5 sad so aid to improve matters helps reduce the world over population and strain on resources.

That makes sense Softly, thank you.

Softlysoftly Sat 16-Mar-13 14:35:06

Oh and though big business isn't "nice" more business = more prosperity here = hopefully more jobs/taxes to = less homelessness and poverty.

Plus our children will be looking for v work bit just in the uk bit globally I think, even if they live here iyswim.

Softlysoftly Sat 16-Mar-13 14:36:29

Thank 5live debates and a long drive to Birmingham joyful wink

Viviennemary Sat 16-Mar-13 14:38:23

Probably because people are in desperate need of food and fresh water. And are in danger of starving to death or dying of disease due to lack of sanitation. I

chicaguapa Sat 16-Mar-13 14:51:23

Because we live in one world, not a series of one countries. Because there is enough money in this one world that no child should ever have to die from poverty. This applies whether that child is British or from an African country.

Lueji Sat 16-Mar-13 15:03:26

Essentially because the people we help in those countries are lacking in things that even poor people in the UK, and other western countries, take for granted, such as food, water, shelter, schools, medicine.

Eve Sat 16-Mar-13 15:07:19

I understand why we give aid,

But why is Africa still so poor? Is there that much corruption?

The amount of money the west has channelled in for years must have made some improvements but difficult to see where?

Choosing between eating and heating your home would be a luxury in some parts of the world.

BTW we had an incredibly low street homeless rate when it fell between the 80s (when it was shocking) and the 2000s. We pretty much had it sorted. Not in ten years, you wait.

Children in Africa are dying of easily preventable diseases. We owe them as well. What Europe did in the colonies was horrific in some cases. Read about the Belgian Congo if you want to know why we are morally obliged. Or, you know, the slave trade.

zwischenzug Sat 16-Mar-13 15:16:17

Africa's problems are political, throwing money at them doesn't help at all. Mostly it keeps that self absorbed twat geldof and his celeb chums in the spotlight and publicity.

mumandboys123 Sat 16-Mar-13 15:18:44

oh I don't know, years of raping and pillaging these countries of natural resources, enslaving people, supporting corrupt governments, Empire.....kind of owe 'em something, least we can do, don't you think?

But why is Africa still so poor? Is there that much corruption?

There have been massive changes. In vaccination rates, birth rates, all sorts of things. However war (partially our fault as we played divide and conquer with politics there), disease (HIV/Aids is a plague in Sub-Saharan Africa and corruption (don't kid yourself, it's not just the Africans, read Ben Goldacre's book and marvel at what the VITAMIN INDUSTRY has done in SA) have all taken their toll.

xkittyx Sat 16-Mar-13 15:26:15

I hate it when people say there has been no improvement due to aid. Young people in Lesotho have stopped dying in their droves of AIDS thanks to ARVs courtesy of aid money. It was a total, harrowing, quiet catastrophe until treatment become available.

LadyBeagleEyes Sat 16-Mar-13 15:28:21

It's the third world charities I choose to give to.
I know there's poverty here. I live on benefits half the year but I won't die because of it.
And as a poster upthread has said, we're one world.
In the 21st century babies shouldn't be dying of preventable diseases, lack of sanitation or HIV.
Thinks we have eradicated in the West mostly. I want to see the Third World catch up and us all on an equal playing field.

I did say in my OP that philanthropy and social responsibility were two good reasons to give aid - I didn't say that we shouldn't. I just wondered why it is being given in such huge quantities (or what seems to me to be huge quantities anyway, I appreciate that it may not be in percentage terms) when the UK seems to be being driven into the ground.

Bunbaker Sat 16-Mar-13 15:31:13

"Africa's problems are political, throwing money at them doesn't help at all."

I have heard that argument many times. I have heard that we make the impoverished Africans too reliant on our aid. I don't know whether that is true or not.

Do other first world countries do as much as we do?

BigSpork Sat 16-Mar-13 17:57:25

It's .7%, less than 1, which was an agreed amount from each of the top countries. Some is given regularly in agreements made between our government and other governments in exchange for their governments making their countries work for our benefit in business and wants for resources and labour. The rest is stored up for emergency situations or given to the UN/IMF for their usage in collaborative emergency efforts (for which we make the rules work for us).

If our governments actually wanted to help, we would ensure fairer trade for those countries and ensure our companies actually paid their tax obligations and wages to local workers and kept the same health and safety and environmental rules that they do here rather than paying governments to allow our companies in.

WestieMamma Sat 16-Mar-13 18:52:07

Do other first world countries do as much as we do?

In terms of actual amount the USA donate double the UK amount. The UK is the second biggest donator with France, Germany and Japan not far behind.

In terms of percentage of national income the UK is seventh behind Norway, Luxemborg, Sweden, Denmark, The Netherlands and Belgium.

SwedishEdith Sat 16-Mar-13 18:58:59

Aid is given with huge conditions to direct regime change, insist on trade liberalisation etc. It benefits the developed countries if poorer countries can buy our goods. Philanthropy is part of it but political influence is a significant factor

INeedThatForkOff Sat 16-Mar-13 19:36:31

The silence that greeted Lenny Henry's news about DFID's match funding was deafening. I think YABU OP, but plenty shared your confusion I think.

somewherewest Sat 16-Mar-13 19:46:54

Poverty in the UK is nothing like poverty in many parts of the world. We aren't being torn apart by war, or watching our children die of completely preventable diseases on a regular basis or contending with terrifying levels of HIV/AIDs. We have clean drinking water, universal free schooling until age eighteen, a free comprehensive health service and a high level of law and order. All those things make us incredibly privileged compared with many others.

littlemisssarcastic Sat 16-Mar-13 20:22:01

If the govt chose to stop foreign aid from tomorrow, and plough that money directly into the UK's debt, how much of a difference would that actually make?

If we stopped all of the govt foreign aid tomorrow, what would be the effects that everyone in the UK would see, and how long would it take for us to notice those effects?

I agree with foreign aid, because I agree that we are all a part of one world, and every person on the planet should have their basic needs met as a minimum, which in the UK, we do and more besides imo, but I have friends who seem to believe that it would make a massive difference to our debt if we just refused to give any foreign aid until we were not in debt anymore.

littlemiss yes, I guess that's what I was asking, thanks for putting it more clearly.

somewhere yes, poverty is relative. But the fact is that there are increasing numbers of people in the UK who can't afford to eat properly or heat their homes. Shouldn't tackling that be a higher priority for our government?

ShellyBoobs Sat 16-Mar-13 20:54:02

YABU.

I really don't like that so many people like to trot out the 'charity begins at home' adage.

It's purely, simply, irrefutably, just LUCK to be born in a rich country, rather than one where your children might quite easily die from drinking the only water you have access to. sad

I don't think anyone has said otherwise Shelly.

suebfg Sat 16-Mar-13 21:15:37

I don't think you can equate the problems in the UK with those in the third world. At least in the UK, there is a benefits system and free healthcare plus other schemes to help people in need.

HollyBerryBush Sat 16-Mar-13 21:19:52

I did put a link up - first one I found - yeah I'm throwing a bone into the philanthropic argument - I'm obviously only going to pick certain bits out of the article, which you can all read - I've highlighted the really contentious bit.

www.express.co.uk/comment/columnists/leo-mckinstry/239138Why-do-we-give-all-this-foreign-aid-/Why-do-we-give-all-this-foreign-aid


What makes this largesse all the more offensive is that it is riddled with moral absurdities.

Under this insane policy we are handing over £280million a year to India, a country so rich that it has its own space programme and nuclear weapons as well as three times more billionaires than Britain has. We are also giving £250million a year to Nigeria, which has huge oil revenues, and £128million to Kenya, a place abundant in natural resources.

Another £86million annually goes to the Palestinian territories from the British taxpayer.

That money could easily come from the oil-rich Arab nations that constantly moan about “the plight of Palestinians” but do nothing to help them, precisely because the image of a permanently downtrodden, poverty-stricken Palestine can be cynically used as a tool in anti-Israeli propaganda.

But the even bigger flaw is that international aid simply does not work since it encourages a mentality of learned helplessness, which in turn deepens the cycle of poverty.

In Ethiopia, for instance, around 90 per cent of the government’s budget depends on foreign aid, which is no way to develop free enterprise and trade. In fact, despite all the billions poured into Africa over the past 50 years the standard of living on the continent is now lower than it was at the beginning of the Seventies.

As evenPeter Mandelson has admitted, aid has “demeaned many African governments by turning them into professional beggars”.

ilovecolinfirth Sat 16-Mar-13 21:21:33

Most of the aid given by this government is not really aid but actually loans. Loans with massive rates of interest attached. The poorer countries don't have a hope of paying back all of the money. So actually we're screwing them over, just like we've being doing for centuries.

We actually have a moral obligation to try to improve their lives if you think of our own history, including the part we've played in slavery.

Yes, there is a lot of poverty in this country and for that reason the benefit system is important. However there's a lot of lazy so and so's who choose not to help themselves.

WafflyVersatile Sat 16-Mar-13 21:26:44

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

Why do you think overseas aid is 'instead' of sorting out the UK first? Do you think when the government cuts overseas aid it uses it to benefit people in need here? This government have cut benefits, cut services. Are you under the impression they have done this because they want to help frightful foreign people instead of us?

How about:

Why do we let Amazon avoid taxes instead of paying sufficient benefits to poor people in the uk?

Why do we let CEOs give themselves 50% payrises while cutting the pay of their staff?

Why is it you think it's overseas aid spending which prevents the government investing sufficient resources in supporting those in need in the uk?

ilovecolinfirth Sat 16-Mar-13 21:27:39

Wary versatile...excellent point!

ilovecolinfirth Sat 16-Mar-13 21:28:09

Oooops, autocorrect! Sorry waffyversatile!

lastnightidreamt Sat 16-Mar-13 21:28:16

I suppose, on a small scale, it's similar to us as individuals.

Most of us pop £1 in a charity box, some have a direct debit, some donate to sponsored events - all of that money could be used to pay off our mortgage, buy clothes/food for our children, but we make that choice.

(As well as other posters' far more intelligent reasons!)

ShellyBoobs Sat 16-Mar-13 21:28:21

I'm obviously only going to pick certain bits out of the article...

Unfortunately an article written by a confirmed wanker, no less.

You could at least have trotted out some shite from the DM instead of from a column by that bigoted, sexist moron. hmm

WafflyVersatile Sat 16-Mar-13 21:28:45

also echo that much western 'aid' to other countries is not aiding them at all but actually hindering them.

HeySoulSister Sat 16-Mar-13 21:31:26

Lol at heating homes being one of your 'sorting out' issues!!!

HollyBerryBush it is true that aid has been an issue in the majority world. However, there is aid and aid. Handing over vast quantities of money to corrupt governments is one thing. Training people in country to do something like midwifery or hydrology is quite another. 'Teach a man to fish' and all that. There are some great programs in Africa and some shitty ones. Actually, it is a good idea to question NGOs and governments about where the money goes. Just throwing our hands up and giving up is quite another.

FWIW, we took, and still take (debt repayments), a massive amount of money from India, Kenya and so on. It behooves us to look at what we can do to help people who were treated as less than animals during the colonial era.

There are some wonderful charities and NGOs doing great work. Yes, try to find ones that work locally, employ locals. Don't send clothes, food and money in an emotional state to famine stricken regions, it doesn't work. Support things like programs that educate women, health care for girls and women and training. These help the generations to some. Prosthetics for people with disabilities so they can work, anything that helps women with aftercare for childbirth. Pick charities that work grass roots and use local expertise. Small charities with specific goals are good. What about Kiva for small businesses?

TheSecondComing Sat 16-Mar-13 21:36:04

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

LynetteScavo Sat 16-Mar-13 21:36:24

I was thinking the same as lastnightidreamt.

HollyBerryBush Sat 16-Mar-13 21:39:23

Everything in that article will be a matter of public record and freedom of information; you may not like the journo (The Express isn't my usual reading material and I did say first time I posted it that it was the top article on google) I've read better - but it does make salient points that we give aid to rich countries. Why? they can afford to fund their own poverty programmes.

The distinction is giving to the government and not to ground working charities.

TheSeniorWrangler Sat 16-Mar-13 21:41:30

i do not object to the money raised by CR going to where its needed.. i do object to the governments promise to 'match' the donation to whatever it was.

Sorry, we are in need of Womens Shelters, adequate care for the elderly and the disabled. We have need for more facilities for the homeless, the destitute. There are elderly people freezing to death. They are withdrawing funding from projects to keep children out of crime, raising council tax, denying disabled people benefits.

Fuck matching the africa donation, match the donations going to the UK projects!

I would much rather 16 million quid was pumped into new equipment for schools, old folks homes and the NHS than go abroad.

It benefits lots of people to keep the debt crisis going. The rich in these countries benefit form the debt (they spend the money). At one point the personal debt of Mobutu was estimated to be almost exactly the same as Zaire's national debt. I wonder why? He had chateaux in Switzerland and his currency was being used as toilet paper.

The banks benefit as they want to milk the cow (interest) rather than eat the steaks (repayment).

Western governments win because they can manipulate the situation. They offer with one hand and take away with the other. The World Bank and IMF can mess with the economies. So, tell them to cut education and healthcare and introduce cash crops but you can't mess with national security so don't tell them to cut funding for the military. Which is trained and supplied by us...

If they try to default they are told... really it happened... "have you any idea what would happen to a country that couldn't get insulin for it's diabetics?" So, they were threatened with death for some of the population if they couldn't pay their debt. Nice.

SoulSister is the fact that I can't afford to heat my home funny to you? That when it snowed my children had to go to bed fully clothed with piles of blankets in order to stay warm? You have a strange sense of humour. hmm

There was, TSC but I haven't heard anything about it in a long time. It was a great idea.

No Waffly I was under the impression that the government have allegedly made those cuts because they news money to reduce the deficit. Therefore I wondered why they still felt it appropriate to give away money in aid - it would be like me complaining that I can't heat my home but I give £50 a month to charity (I don't, obviously). However some lovely posters in this thread have explained it and I'm grateful to them. I don't like your use of the phrase 'frightful foreign people' though, it makes you sound most unpleasant.

FeistyLass Sat 16-Mar-13 21:46:15

We have a moral responsibility as many of the problems were caused by colonisation. Plus even people living in the most deprived areas of the UK are still a million times better off than people living in poverty in Africa and India where there are areas with no running water, no sewerage system, no electricity, no right to schooling or health.Also, a lot of the continuing problems overseas are prompted by Western involvement.

The DRC is a beautiful country and rich in resources. Coltan from the DRC is found in many mobile phones but it's not the local population who benefit from that wealth, it's international companies. So there is still a cycle of exploiting with one hand and giving with the other.

The UK has never met its 0.7% commitment on aid spending. It's a tiny fraction but each successive government has come up with reasons not to keep their word.

Aid shouldn't be linked with big business and pushing a politicial doctrine as that politicising of aid has put many aid workers' lives at risk.

The best aid is about putting processes in place to allow countries to build their own infrastructure and work their way out of poverty. And, on the ground, lots of NGOs are achieveing that. I've visited projects across Africa where families are working their way out of poverty because of donations from the UK. The original donations are used to establish small businesses (eg growing veg) and then local people buy and sell the veg, pay back the initial funding and become self-sufficient.

The problem lies when big businesses subvert aid agendas for their own ends. There's a brilliant book called The Economic Hitman which explains exactly how the USA used (and continues to use) aid to create a culture of endebtedness. In its view if the countries were working their way out of poverty then their agenda wouldn't be working. They use aid to create economic bonds, exert undue influence and push their own political agenda.

An African continent that was controlling its own resources, building its own infrastructure and setting its own political agenda would be brilliant imo but I think certain Western leaders would see it as a threat.

Sorry I went on for so long blush climbs off soapbox

Oh and this is nothing to do with Comic Relief btw, I was wondering this after the 'there are no poor children in the UK' thread earlier.

TheFallenNinja Sat 16-Mar-13 21:48:25

If you pump money to needy countries the theory goes is that they will stay there.

Sorry, we are in need of Womens Shelters, adequate care for the elderly and the disabled. We have need for more facilities for the homeless, the destitute. There are elderly people freezing to death. They are withdrawing funding from projects to keep children out of crime, raising council tax, denying disabled people benefits.

Thank you SeniorWrangler, you've put itmuxh better than I seem to be.

Wonderful post Feisty, thank you.

LadyPessaryPam Sat 16-Mar-13 21:59:07

Not read the thread but I am sure this has turned into a complete bunfight, now I will read thread

FeistyLass Sat 16-Mar-13 22:00:30

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.
It's almost a 'divide and conquer' policy of pitting those who rely on the government off against each other.
imo it shouldn't ever be that call. We shouldn't have elderly people living in cold houses, we shouldn't be shutting women's refuges, etc, and we shouldn't be ignoring our aid commitments. We have enough money to do both.

backs away from the thread

drivingmisspotty Sat 16-Mar-13 22:02:51

Well, the way I look at it is that someone who lives far away and is in need is just as deserving of help as someone here. And in such a globalised society, saying 'charity begins at home' doesn't really make sense, the whole world is home. The food we eat and clothes we wear have passed through many different hands on the way to us.

Of course you could argue that middle income countries like india and brazil should look after 'their own' poor and not benefit from our taxes but good aid should and does empower poor people to work for more just systems in their own countries. For instance, one of the millennium development goals is focused specifically on women and girls, knowing that if they are educated much can follow.

I know our government don't give for completely altruistic reasons but they do allso have a mandate from people like me who have pestered them for years to increase aid, cancel debt and trade more fairly.

Also, we still spend plenty more on other areas of our budgwt than on aid. Aid is about £10bn whereas the NHS is over £100bn

LadyPessaryPam Sat 16-Mar-13 22:03:09

LadyWidmerpool Sat 16-Mar-13 14:08:21 You are aware that children are starving, right?

Basically these are not our children and we were happier as a nation before we knew these things. That's how it was, and TBH I think it was a happier existence for us. People have dies all over the world and the rest of the globe has not blinked, why should we?

harverina Sat 16-Mar-13 22:04:18

Joyful I don't think that anyone would laugh at your difficulties heating your home. That's a really horrible situation for you and your dc's to be in hmm

However, I disagree that poverty is relative in the way that you say. Many people do not have a home to heat, the may not have anything to cover them on cold winter nights and a cold house in the uk would seem like a palace to them.

I do understand what you mean when you ask why send money to other countries when our own services are suffering etc but ultimately the poorest person in the uk will be so much more better off than many people in the world.

LadyPessaryPam Sat 16-Mar-13 22:04:54

Globalised society only makes sense if we have the economic wherewithall to travel from place A to B, I think that will be changing quite soon.

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?

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

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!

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.?

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.

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.

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

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

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

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.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

SkaterGrrrrl Sun 17-Mar-13 02:14:15

Reporting lady pans disgustingly racist post.

LadyPessaryPam Sun 17-Mar-13 09:01:03

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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

Sorry, chica

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.

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