April 30, 2014

Compulsory international aid is obsolete

"Britain has just done an amazing thing", tweets Tim Montgomerie. "Hitting the 0.7% target it's an aid superpower." There are all sorts of objections to this. For instance -
  • Long term aid means poor countries' rulers see no need to prepare them to stand on their own feet. The aid keeps flowing in, so the country does not have to made richer to increase its tax capacity. Most countries are becoming more prosperous. Why not all?
  • So trade helps a poor country more than aid. It can also spread power more widely in the poor country
  • Even if aid is desirable, it should be time limited, to encourage rulers to put their house in order.
  • And it is increasing too fast, far beyond the ability of civil servants to spend it wisely and monitor the results in the detail needed.
  • Experience suggests a policy all the Westminster parties agree on is probably wrong, partly because it won't have been challenged enough.
There's also an objection rooted in the donor country. The government, replies Douglas Carswell, is being generous with other people's money. Would you say the same, asks Tim, about taxpayers' money spent on pensions or unemployment benefit? Well, yes. Pensioners have paid in for their pensions. The Malawi government, notes Carswell, has not.

And maybe there's a case for relating unemployment pay to amounts paid in. Maybe Job Seeker's Allowance should be paid for a basic limited period, to be extended depending on what contributions that taxpayer has made. It's not outlandish, even though big government Montgomerie suggests it's a dangerous principle. But why?

Then there's the Big Compassion argument: Surely we cannot walk on by when others are  in need? I'm proud of our commitment to international aid, says one tweeter.

We all have the chance to commit to international aid. In the age of the internet it is (or could be) easy to choose a project to donate to. It's easy to transfer the money. It would be the choice of the individual. We could call it ... hm, let's see ... I know, we could call it the Big Society.

When the Compassionate applaud enforced donation via government, they are applauding compulsion, us being forced to do what They want us to do. There's no need for it, we can make our own decisions, such compulsion is anachronistic.

And that's without considering that government hasn't got the money anyway, that's it's borrowing it from the next generation, that the other people's money we're spending belongs to our children.

Montgomerie is out of date.


James Higham said...

Think Tim hadn't thought this through.

patently said...

International aid been going on for quite a while. Surely, if it worked, we wouldn't need it any more?