Taming the Beast (2)

Why is human progress so stifled?

The obvious reason is that our politicians are failing us. Why? Are they being bought off? I’ll let the economist Ha-Joon Chang answer that,

“Money gives the super- rich the power even to rewrite the basic rules of the game by – let’s not mince words – legally and illegally buying up politicians and political offices”.

Economics: The User’s Guide (p338)

  • Therefore should we allow business to make campaign contributions to political parties? NO! The reason is obvious, the business (es) are buying patronage.
  • Should politicians have jobs outside their political one? NO!
  • Should we allow lobbying? NO! Lobbying has no place in democracy!

The American system is a voluptuous but crass form of democracy. No business is giving to a campaign fund as an altruistic gesture or in a considered belief in the democratic process. As long as businesses dictate the size of the campaign fund they will dictate the policy of government. Unless they fall foul of the other big boys.

The Politburo of China is another major roadblock to human progress. While the present regime may face being toppled by their nouveau riche, that creates a new roadblock. The Russian Federation sideshow of democracy is another block on progress. Worldwide we have Junta’s and dictatorships and we have religious tyranny. The grab for power is one of the nasty aspects of capitalism.

Meanwhile, a quick scan around the globe highlights that there is no credible government. All treat the people as a bugbear. For the most part the people are belittled by the enormity of the task of moving human progress forward. Our hope rests with the leaders we elect but they become distant once elected.

The poet John Donne wrote that no man is an island, implying that as a mere mortal he has to live in the real world. The same is true of a nation. No one state can stand against the might of capitalism as we are witnessing with the growth of multinational companies. Human progress requires a concerted approach, a basic standard the people can support and view as achievable.

Who stands up?

Reliance on the left in politics has the people just as bamboozled as they have been with the political elite. There are a million hymn sheets out there flapping, each with a different tune. Little wonder therefore, that the message is lost in the babble of sound. However, that botched sound is as an aria to the ears of those who control the world’s economy.

As long as the voices of human progress are disparate the chorus of the 1% will always be in harmony. Therefore, the various groups and factions are as much a hindrance to progress as are the 1% who own the bulk of our industrial base. We must all join the orchestra or accept we are just another broken wind instrument.

An old motto ‘United we stand – Divided we fall’ has more relevance than ever. The origins of the motto are in dispute; some say it comes from the bible (Luke) others suggest Aesop’s Tales but modern use is accredited to the American Revolutionary, John Dickinson in his 1768 ‘The Liberty Song’. I find it ironic that that same liberty is now holding back human progress. www.en.m.wikipedia.org

thC0SM07SGThe motto whatever its origin still holds the power of action. Unfortunately, we hear things in monotone, groups, factions, those generally of the left tend to view events singularly and become tied to that specific movement. The overall symphony becomes subordinate to the intense focus of the moment. Human progress takes a seat in the gods!

Charities – something is wrongthTGFNAKKN

We have identified several misadventures by kings of business but a more telling damnation of the system is found in every town – charities. Millions are spent annually to entice us to give to a charity. Millions more is given by government who use charities as outsource workers. Charities point to everything we should be doing but are not.

I wonder if anyone has ever counted the number of charities around the world. If we lay the charities length ways then stand them upright we may get a better understanding of the scale of the task that lies ahead. We are reaching for the stars.

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Charity: Does it Work for You?

There are many who need charity and many who depend upon it. It would seem that poverty and the poor will be forever with us, such is the nature of our system. Charities are therefore a positive thing as anyone with a modest degree of humanity would not like to see others go without. It is a truism that everyone cannot be rich, nor can everyone be in good health; thus help is essential for those less fortunate than others.

However, what started as a philanthropic gesture has grown into a massive business. Some charities have an income that would far outstrip all but the largest conglomerates. Two examples should suffice as an illustration: Oxfam has an income of £385,500,000 that is one sizeable figure. They also employ 4,900 people. The employed figure is not so huge for such an organisation with such an income, until you add the 22,000 volunteers. Then you can start to appreciate that Oxfam is a very large company.

The other example is the’ Save The Children Fund’ with an annual income of £332,880.000 and employ around 5,000 workers. I am in total agreement with the sentiment of helping children. No child has a say in where or when they are born. Likewise s/he has no incline that they can become a burden. It does not matter whether born of love or lust, their future is our future too. Think of your own twilight years, of the society that would make you feel secure, the society that you want for your own offspring. That humane society, that vision, becomes severely blurred when a majority do not share your altruism.

Most people are aware via 24hr TV news stations, and the daily diet of crime reporting in our newspapers, that the disillusioned and disaffected and the pure evil find a means to survive, and we all suffer the vacuity of their activity. If charities can help some of these lost souls, then more power to their elbow.

That ends the sermon, lest we break into hymn.

I as other members of the public have been accosted on the street, had flyers throughthCA57R6FM the door and had my emotions bombarded by TV advertisements to give a little and often. If I do give then I want to know where the money is going and how it is being used.

There is disquiet about the use of donations to charity. No doubt they do some good and are praiseworthy but other aspects may leave a sour taste in people’s mouth. Donors want to know that their contribution is being well spent, that it reaches the places that it should. A report by ’New Philanthropy Capital’ based on a survey of 3,000 donors highlighted, “The report has sparked fresh concern that charity leaders are failing to prove the effectiveness of their work.” (Guardian 14 March 2013) The illuminating phrase is the reference to, ‘fresh concern’ which suggests a long term failure.

As of December 2012, there are 162,915 charities in the UK with an income of £58.5 billion. Both these figures are immense. My first thought when I looked at the number of charities, was duplication. I dug a little deeper and found several examples were duplication was indeed the case, e.g. 23 different bodies for ‘autism’, eight within London. No disrespect to anyone involved in one of these charities but would it not make more economic sense to combine their effort. Harness the energy and knowledge rather than a disparate approach.

Likewise, with water in a number of African states. Some of the charities were very focussed in one area and their income reflected this. I don’t doubt they are doing some good, e.g. ‘Pipedreams’ in Tanzania and ‘IRWA’ in Sudan, but more could be done by linking up with a more substantial body and pressing their case.

thCAQA6CPNI had to look twice at the total amount raised by the charities of £58.5bn. That is a staggering sum of money. Where does all the money go? It is more than the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of many countries. This is where doubt creeps in, because the advertisements are constant, news of more tragedy seems to be a more frequent alert nowadays. One is lead towards a conclusion of waste. Is there waste on a massive scale? Is corruption on a similar curve? The poverty, the need for aid does not diminish, it’s as constant as the sun in the Sahara desert.

Transparency is a buzz word at the moment and I thoroughly recommend the charities to adopt it as a philosophy. Scepticism is almost a tangible force and will only grow stronger with a current debate on International Aid and the 0.7% of UK GDP being earmarked to be spent on aid. That constitutes a lot of dosh to spend abroad at a time of hardship at home. Joe Public, is finding a bitter winter compounded by a freeze on income a huge burden.

Moreover, it is well documented that corruption in sub-Sahara Africa is almost endemic. Another concern is that anecdotal tales are being adopted as truth and thus shift the balance of public opinion. Transparency, well presented, not spin, can act as a George, with a mighty sword, to slay that particular dragon.

Are we being duped? Are large amounts of money being siphoned off to corruption? Is

Help or hinderance

Help or hindrance

the cost of feeding the desperate made exorbitant by the need to give backhanders? Have the charities created a monster that now consumes a large sackful of their intended gift to the people? May be it is time to think outside the box and find a way around the corruption or has corruption become too entrenched.

Above are classic examples of the sentiments often mentioned by people. If they are true or false then transparency would open the eyes of the public as well as the leaders of the charities. A powerful reason for opening the books stems from the fact that personal donors are triple givers. The large charities get money from the government as well as funding from the European Union (EU). As that money comes from taxation, then those who make a personal contribution are forking out thrice. Now I think that deserves an explanation.

I have mentioned ‘duplication’ of several charities focussed on the same objective and therefore dissipating their economic muscle, the same can be true in terms of administrative costs. E.g. location costs, warehouse, transportation, field workers, not to mention the over paid executives. It seems that the higher echelons of our society view charities as a sound place to work.

Do they really need plush offices in London? Surely with new technology; iPhone, internet, conference calls, faxes, etc., location becomes a matter of choice.

The Charity Commission (.gov.uk) in November 2012 urged the charities to, “be good, as well as do good.” Moreover, the New Philanthropy Capital survey suggests that a more open format by the charities would bring considerable benefits in contributions. Let’s put it into practice.