The Tory approach to International Development is a farce


11:30 am - August 5th 2009

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by Left Outside

9.2 million children die before the age of five each year. Two million die on the day they are born – and 500,000 women die at childbirth. A third of children in Africa suffer brain damage as a result of malnutrition. 72 million children are missing out on an education. Every day 30,000 children die from easily-preventable diseases. That’s 21 children every minute. 33 million people are infected with HIV/AIDS. There are 11 million AIDS orphans in Africa. Every hour, 300 people become infected with HIV and 225 people die from AIDS…and 25 of these are children.

These bald facts are an insult to our humanity. Every life is precious. Everyone has unique talents and abilities. Every time the candle of life is snuffed out by disease, we all suffer. Every time ignorance triumphs over enlightenment, we are all injured. Every time a child is born into a cycle of poverty, we are all made poorer.

So opens the Conservative Party new Green Paper on International Development, One World Conservatism.

These two paragraphs read like an accusation. They are contrasted with the Millennium Development Goals set out by the UN. With the 2015 deadline looming they seem wildly ambitious contrasted with such continued suffering.

The Conservatives pledge a new approach to International Development should they win the next election. As this looks almost inevitable, it is important to examine what they propose as it will affect millions of lives. In this blog post I highlight some of the main points of the report and explain why it’s fundamentally a ‘failure’.

Horror stories abound on what was to be in the Tory plans. Although the Conservatives have pledged to dedicate 0.7% of GDP to Aid, it appears that appeals to populism and concessions to the right might have deprived the Department for International Development (DfID) of its autonomy. For example, the idea that an X-Factor style competition could determine where aid is spent is as horrifying as it is nonsensical.

Tories

Contradictions

Paul Cotterill does an excellent job illustrating the contradictions within the report. They perhaps giving a hint to the internal battles which rage within the Tory party when it comes to International Development. Or maybe Paul’s explanation, that the report is the result of a some junior staffers, Google and a handful of Tory rhetoric, is more likely. The contradictions come thick and fast, and substantially undermine the reports credibility.

Then there’s how work will be funded.

Apparently, funds will be paid in arrears, to make sure the job gets done:  ’We will adopt and champion the promising idea of ‘cash on delivery’ aid’ (p. 18).

Except that it won’t.  On the very same page, provision is made for payment in advance: ‘And we will need to ensure that developing countries are able to finance the up-front investments necessary to achieve the desired outputs’.

That’s clear then.

Choosing Winners and Losers

One of the ways in which the Conservatives claim to be  able to improve on Labour’s DfID is greater efficiency. This means not only an inevitable rhetorical flourish bemoaning Labour’s bloated bureaucracy but also an “[immediate] review [on] which of the 108 countries the Department for International Development currently gives aid to should continue to receive it.”

This should raise eyebrows. The full criteria for this review are not given but their target is clear. Spending $20bn on the Olympics was a step too far.

We will end aid to China, which has sufficient resources to fund its own development.

This may be one of the concessions which the right as wrung out of Cameron’s compassionate conservatives. Ben Brogan seems particularly pleased that aid to China is to be ended. However, it is utterly immoral, given all their prior grandstanding, to end aid to China.

From the IMF Datamapper. Prices shown at contemporary dollar value. In 1990 dollars China's current GDP per capita today stands at $2,172. In 1990 dollars China's GDP per capita in 2006 stood at $1,200

From the IMF Datamapper. Prices shown at contemporary dollar value. In 1990 dollars China’s current GDP per capita ($3,622) is $2,172. In 1990 dollars China’s GDP per capita in 2006 ($2,021) was $1,200. The relevance of these figures will become obvious below.

China and the Chinese are often treated as a political football. Those wishing to vacillate on Climate Change can use China’s pollution as an excuse to do nothing. It appears that the suffering of the Chinese people in sweatshops, mines and factories is now to be rewarded with a banner which reads “Mission Accomplished.”

Please allow me to put this move into perspective, in 1750 England’s GDP per capita (likewise measured in 1990 dollars) stood at $1,328. In 2006 China’s per capita GDP stood $128 below this. Today, on the brink of the worst global recession in a generation, China’s GDP pet capita is still only half of what the UK had achieved by the end of the 19th Century. The Tories announce that “Every life is precious” but when those live are collectively labelled “the People’s Republic of China” their well-being becomes a necessary sacrifice.

Gimmicks -”Bhutan’s got Talent”

The worst thing in this paper are the Gimmicks. They are not necessarily the most damaging proposals here, but they are a massive waste of resources and time. The MyAid section of the report is likely to be dropped, having been roundly denounced in the press and by charities. But I still feel it is instructive to show what was considered good enough to be included in the official Green Paper. The section is copied verbatim (pp 23-24)

“I think it’s a basic human instinct to want to help. But sometimes you just don’t know where the money’s going.” – Member of the British public

We are determined to strengthen public support for aid by giving individual British taxpayers a greater say over how and where it is spent. We will establish a new MyAid fund, worth £40 million in its first year. Every taxpayer will be able to log on to the MyAid website and view details of ten ongoing DFID-funded aid programmes, and vote for which one they think should receive the extra money. The options will include programmes run directly by DFID, as well as those run by respected NGOs. The Fund will then be distributed between the ten programmes in proportion to how many votes they  receive. For example, if 25 per cent of people vote for the DFID programme in Malawi, that programme would receive 25 per cent of the Fund – £10 million. Everyone who votes will be kept up to date with regular email updates about the progress of ‘their’ project.

We will consult carefully on the technical aspects of the voting system. The projects will be chosen so as to illustrate the range of activities in which DFID and NGOs are involved and the variety of countries they work in. This will increase public understanding of, interest in and support for Britain’s aid programme – and create a clear incentive for DFID to demonstrate and improve the quality and impact of its work. If this idea proves successful, we will scale it up in future years. One option would be to set the level of the fund so that it equals the total amount raised by Comic Relief.

Gimmicks – Turing up in pair of flip-flops offering to build a school…

Worryingly, there are plans to use “part of our growing aid budget to create opportunities for more young people to carry out voluntary work in developing countries as part of our plan for National Citizen Service.”

The developing world has a surplus of people compared to the number of jobs available. Sending middle-class kids to build schools is only depriving the most needy of a job which could help feed their family. The experience will be fantastic for those that go but utterly useless as a development strategy.

Gimmicks – Vouchers

On page 25, the paper suggests the introduction of a voucher scheme similar that suggested for schools in the UK. Individual aid recipients will be given vouchers or cash directly and will be able to choose between various aid agencies and NGOs. This is designed to increase competition and efficiency. It will be a disaster.

In vast swathes of the world there are no aid agencies operating and in other places there are not enough to provide the choice these vouchers imply.

Where these vouchers are introduced there will simply be an increase in internal NGO bureaucracy to process the collection of funding, an increase in the marketing budget to the detriment of real work and a duplication of capacity as various agencies overreach themselves. In short, vouchers are a disaster waiting to happen.

Gimmicks – Microfinance

CoinsTheir plans to introduce Microfinance funding can be welcomed. Microfinance involves lending small unsecured loans to those who could never get credit from a bank, slum dwellers, women and propertyless entrepreneurs.

Unfortunately, Microfinance will only ever be a palliative, not a cure for the poverty of the developing world. By focusing on Microfinace the Tories seem to sidestep the problems posed by volatile transnational capital flows which those in developing are confronted with.

As a poverty reducing strategy its results are relatively ambiguous. An article in The Economist goes to lengths to examine the validity of the claim that Microfinance reduces poverty. Of 104 slums in Hydrabad, India, half were given access to Microfinance and half were not. The results are interesting as “there was no effect on average household consumption, at least within a year to 18 months of the experiment.”

Increasing the ease with which the entrepreneurial poor can get access to investment did produce some positive results, but not the sort of change which the Tories seem to expect.

Rejecting Universal Education

It is a truism for the Tories that the state does not have to be the sole provider of education. They plan to extend this logic to their International Development strategy. (p 35)

Unfortunately, given the Tories record of education I have to be sceptical about their intentions. Presented as a method for fighting “special interests” which oppose improvements in educations, it appears that their proposals are more interested in fostering a small well-educated cadre at the expense of a comprehensive universal education system.

The Tories want to help ensure a universal service, but they have turned their back on the state led education and knowledge dispersion which saw the creation of educated working and middle classes in the UK, Korea, Germany and Japan.

Rejecting Universal Education

Red CrossThe similarities between their attitudes towards education and healthcare are obvious. A (un)healthy dose of private investment and a promise that “[w]e will not insist that developing countries follow the exact path that we in Britain have taken – that is a choice for them to make.” (p37)

Evidence of another concession which the right have won from Cameron. The language is clear, there is no way Conservative funds will be used to support a comprehensive health system, not beyond malaria nets and rehydration therapy (although the £500m dedicated to fighting Malaria will produce real results).

Fixation on Private Sector Wealth Creation

It will sound odd to the right but the Private Sector is not the only wealth creator. Moreover, with the partial exception on England, the Government of most now developed Countries played a large and crucial role in their development.

In Germany, when it was attempting to catch up with England, the state directed bank lending towards certain industries. In early 20th century Russia, the Government provided investment funds directly to entrepreneurs to foster development. In Japan the countries first railways were constructed by the state. In general, and despite some lingering disagreements, development in South East Asia must be seen as a success of activist trade, investment and technology policies pursued by the state.

Contrary to popular conception, the later a country is trying to develop, the more vital the role of the state becomes in fostering entrepreneurship, building infrastructure, and managing trade. And there are no policies designed to foster this autonomous activist state in the Tories’ Green Paper.

The Sanctity of Property Rights

The Conservatives pledge to uphold property rights, however, sometimes violating property rights can lead to positive developmental outcomes. To quote Ha Joon-Chang:

Security of property rights cannot be regarded as something good in itself. There are many examples in history in which the preservation of certain property rights has proved harmful for economic development and where the violation of certain existing property rights (and the creation of new ones) was actually beneficial for economic development.

Hence, what mattes for economic development is not simply the nature of all existing property rights regardless of their nature, but which property rights are protected under which conditions. If there are groups who are able to utilize certain existing properties better than their current owners, it may be better for the society not to protect existing property rights, but to create new ones that transfer the properties concerned to the former groups.

For example, violating the property rights to the landed aristocracy in Latin America could provoke a huge increase in income for people who live in rural areas. So too, violating the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies has extended thousand or millions of lives as HIV medication has become more affordable.

Fighting the Wrong Battles

handshakeThis is a dirty little secret. Whisper it: Corrupt countries get rich too. But you couldn’t tell this from the Conservatives’ determination to withdraw all funding from development projects if any corruption is uncovered (p 17).

This is a controversial position. I understand that the views expressed here may one day be quoted out of context so I would at least like to more fully explain before I am attacked. I believe an accountable democratic government is a basic human right, I also believe it is the best form of government for humane development.

However, the historical record of now developed countries like the UK, Japan or South Korea show that an democratically accountable government is not necessary to develop successfully. By concentrating on corruption the Tories are continuing to waste resources and direct attention from the real developmental tasks at hand.

The UK wasn’t a functioning democracy until 1928, when full suffrage was introduced. In Switzerland this stage wasn’t reached until 1971. The development of these countries’ economies certainly suffered as a result, but their successes still give lie to the idea that democracy and development go hand in hand.

As Japan and Korea developed, corruption was common and democracy mainly a sham. The state and private sector worked hand in hand, favours were exchanged for favours and nepotism was rife. However, the ties which this fostered, as corrupt and unfair as they were, produced economic miracles nearly unsurpassed in human history.

Some good points made it though

I do not want to pretend that nothing in this report is good. There are some concrete positive steps proposed which are to be welcomed. For example, “If elected, a new Conservative Government will be fully committed to achieving, by 2013, the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income as aid.”

Their support for Fair Trade appears like a brief flirtation with a fashionable idea, rather than an ideological or pragmatic commitment. Much like their plans for Microfinance and putting all of DfID on the web. One thing which I hope will not be a gimmick is their commitment to reproductive health and to women’s rights (p 37). Poverty disproportionately affect women and a successful International Development strategy has to be gendered.

Likewise, the proposal to support both a Green (agricultural) and a Blue (water use) revolution in Africa is one step which could help lift millions out of poverty and dependency. (p34) But despite it being an essential part of a sustainable development strategy, the methods proposed above just do not tally with the expected results.

Perhaps one area where we can rely on the Tories to be ideologically and pragmatically aligned with the developing world, is the reduction of tariffs in the EU (p 30). They know it will get British people cheaper food (this is vital as they will be cutting state expenditure) and will increase the income of developing nations.

A Pernicious lie Takes Centre Stage

This report is a failure. There are more which could be teased out however, I hope that I have provided a more than adequate summary of the shortcomings of this report.

The lie which the Tories use to prop up their policies is that “Capitalism and development was Britain’s gift to the world.” It is ironic that this paper which is so quick to invoke history is so blind to the lessons that might have drawn from it.

Capitalism has led to huge increases in productivity, wealth and living standards. But it is not the free market that has led to countries becoming wealthier. Capitalism has only taken hold and produced this development when it is embedded within a state and society which directs it towards this task.

This is what the Tories have ignored when they focused on Gimmicks, the private sector and popularity contests in their hurriedly written Green Paper. One World Conservatism is a well intentioned but fatally flawed scheme.

————-
cross-posted from Left Outside, and slightly edited down.

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Reader comments


From your criticism and summary this looks like an excellent report by the Conservatives. Andrew Mitchell understands his brief perfectly.

“There are some concrete positive steps proposed which are to be welcomed. For example, “If elected, a new Conservative Government will be fully committed to achieving, by 2013, the UN target of spending 0.7 per cent of national income as aid.””

If the Tories reverse Labour’s untieing of aid, the 0.7% figure will be meaningless.

Isn’t our aid to China equivalent to 3p per head of Chinese population?

And, yes, it is factory work which pays a multiple of the agricultural wage which has driven Chinese living standards up…is that not to be welcomed?

Good post LO.

However, let’s not be pretending that New Labour were champions of international development. DFID leaves a lot to be desired…and as for CDC, well you might be interested in the story of how the Blair Government took steps to privatise international development, and the dubious benefits this has resulted in for the world’s poorest:

http://taxjustice.blogspot.com/2009/06/can-cdc-assist-poorer-people-by-using.html

@1 :”From your criticism and summary this looks like an excellent report by the Conservatives. Andrew Mitchell understands his brief perfectly”

Why are you reading this site?

From what I can tell, you disagree with everything written here, and all you ever do is criticise and moan about the fact articles on a leftwing blog don’t chime with your rightist sympathies.

Seriously, I’m not being sarcastic. I genuinely want to know why you are here so much?

So essentially you’re saying that no-one has the right answers to international aid. Clearly Labour doesn’t, else we’d have seen far more progress over the last 12 years, and you deconstruct the Tory arguments fairly well, although in a fairly dreary manner (constructive criticism: I didn’t feel engaged with the article, it was just quote rebuttal, quote rebuttal).

I would take issue with you saying that government’s can create wealth. They can’t (they can only spend money taxed from their citizens). What they CAN do is create conditions for growth e.g. Japan’s Bullet Trains. And this is what Daniel Hannan has argued about international aid. We shouldn’t be aimlessly giving money to countries. We should instead be financing infrastructure within that country, which can then be given as a gift if we want (so we for example employ African builders to create a highway/trainline etc – the workforce gets the money and then wealth goes in from the bottom – the money can then be used to send their children to school etc).

I would take issue with you saying that government’s can create wealth. They can’t (they can only spend money taxed from their citizens).

So if a profitable private company were nationalised by the government, then it would *immediately* cease to create wealth?

In real life, both governments and private companies can create wealth, and only dogmatic idiots disagree with that assertion. The question for anyone sensible is, what’s the balance between prioritising private and public wealth creation that leads to the highest living standards?

“Seriously, I’m not being sarcastic. I genuinely want to know why you are here so much?”

I’m just another progressive who is trying to contribute to the debate. I don’t comment that often, but the internal contradictions and cack-handed nous displayed in most of Sunny’s articles are always good value.

Turning to this specific piece, which is about Tory policy it would be odd to exclude Conservative Party members and the additional insight they bring to the debate. For example, being a member of Birmingham City Centre Conservatives I have had the opportunity to question Andrew Mitchell in private over this area of policy.

Obviously, I wouldn’t necessarily expect ‘Left Outside’ to share the Conservative views on the emphasis there should be on private sector wealth generation and property rights – if he/she agreed with that he probably wouldn’t be contributing to this site – so I ignored that criticism.

Conservative policy looks all set to put to one side the post-colonial ‘white guilt’ approach to aid and will unambiguously address conflict and corruption. The diversion of resources away from China is indicative of a wider approach to concentrate on the most needy. All round excellent stuff.

Cheers for the criticism, it’s difficult to tackle a largish report in a largish post on economics and it not come across a little… well, dull. And I love this stuff (I came up with “Bhutan’s got Talent” myself too, I tried to put some gags in!).

I don’t believe no one has the answers and I don’t think contrasting the Tory and Labour plans are very useful either. Labour has hardly been particularly left wing at home, and definitely not abroad. Some people do have some answers, Ha Joon-Chang, Robert Wade, Alice Amsden, even Joseph Stiglitz. None of them propose anything which is in the Tory green paper.

I’m sorry Mark M but your position on the State and Wealth creation is ideological, not based on the fact.

The state is less efficient at returning a profit than private companies, but in development profit is not the most important thing. Transforming the economy is. That has variously involved; huge infrastructure investment, state intervention in favour of full employment, currency manipulation, industrial espionage, helping to firms break patent laws, tariffs and infant industry protection.

China contains a lot of the most needy. That’s what I was trying to address. There are massive developmental imbalances within China and the Tories want to ignore that.

“White Guilt” Aid isn’t about reparations (although I am sure they are still due), or about a patronising “gift.” It’s a basic condition of Justice. The whole world makes up one economic system and we bare a responsibility to those within it.

@Prageutory I would love to have some more information on what other Tories have said on International Development. It was already a pretty long piece and I didn’t want to delay publishing it while I trawled Conservative Home for some more pieces to comment on. If you can provide some links I’ll happily do a follow up.

11. Praguetory

“Transforming the economy is the most important thing”.

That has variously involved; huge infrastructure investment, state intervention in favour of full employment, currency manipulation, industrial espionage, helping to firms break patent laws, tariffs and infant industry protection.

With the exception of the infrastructure investment (which is a catch-all anyway) I don’t think any of these factors are critical or even particularly important.

Looking forward over the next say, 20 years, if any currently under-developed country were free of military conflict, were able to trade freely across international borders, had a free press and a fair judiciary, respect for property rights, minimal barriers to individual enterprise and invested in its population’s education, why wouldn’t their economy be transformed for the better?

12. Praguetory

“White Guilt” Aid isn’t about reparations (although I am sure they are still due), or about a patronising “gift.”

What I was referring to is different. I am talking particularly about a failure to address conflict (e.g. Zimbabwe, Rwanda) and corruption (many locations) which can be explained by a reticence caused by our colonial past, but is in fact inexcusable moral cowardice and deeply damaging.

By the way, Left Outside, I thought yours was a good article and I am very happy to see these policy issues being discussed.

huge infrastructure investment Everywhere, most notably in China’s special economic zones
state intervention in favour of full employment France and Germeny’s post war miracle, Japan too
currency manipulation China now, Japan then, most countries that successfully develop do so with a fixed not floating exchange rate
industrial espionage The first industrialised country – England We stole technology from across europe, especially the Dutch and Flemish
helping to firms break patent laws Switzerland didn’t have a patent law until 1907. India and South Africa’s recent breaking of HIV medicine’s patents will definitely contribute to growth.
tariffs and infant industry protection The US had large tariffs all through the 19th Century, and it also had a very large non-tariff barrier, the Atlantic Ocean.

@Praguetory Thank you, it’s a tough topic and there’s a lot to cover but I hope I’ve made some half decent points. I don’t really consider these particularly left wing criticisms. More Bismark than Marx

Aid to China? A nuclear-armed despotism?

Aid to India? A country with its own space program?

Aid programmes take resources from poor people in rich countries and spend them on rich people in poor countries. You all know the quote, of course!

Aid to Cambodia? Have you SEEN the new villas shooting up there, in PP and in Sihanoukville?

This whole con-job of aiding despots is vile and disgusting.

However, directly aiding suffering people like land-mine victims and people like lepers is commendable in its own right, even if it does no real good in the long run other than making sure the donors get a condo in Heaven, if there is a Heaven.

I was driving up to the Jebel Akhdar Hotel in Oman and had to slow on a long curve; an amazing sight met my eyes so I stopped and got out.

There were some Gap year kiddies – Jeremy, Nigel and Fiona and Samantha, all Public-School Brits – building a crude shelter so that the locals could sit beneath it and sell their honey and crude handicrafts. As they toiled in the noon heat, the locals squatted and watched them doing work done in the old days by slaves – and done these days by Hindis paid a pittance – with silent incredulity.

The truly bizarre thing was that these Gap Year kiddies really and truly thought they were doing something worthwhile and commendable.

Your critique is spot on, but most of this stuff is current DFID policy anyway. The points about corruption, property rights etc (Mushtaq Khan is best on this) and microfinance being useless are all true but they could equally be levied at Labour’s international development approach. Tory development policy is basically within the mainstream, they’re not gonna make any dramatic changes because they’re shit-scared of Oxfam. But granted, the tories will be even less likely to move away from this mainstream agenda, the limited heterodoxy within DFID will likely be more marginalised.

On the point about capitalism being a gift to the world, I think that the real issue is that actually the problem is poor countries have not established capitalism. Capitalism is more about creating a particular property rights structure than free markets, and developing countries have failed to establish a productive capitalist class capable of driving growth. To do this often requires massive property rights transfers to the productive classes as in South Korea etc., which is the opposite of stable property rights. It’s about protecting the property rights of capitalists, and withdrawing them if you’re not productive.

@16 a lot of it is current DfID policy, but I missed their white paper. I actually had a chance to get my teeth into the Tory’s One World Conservatism and I’m still saddened by how little we are going to do with all our resources, and how we may actually be doing something harmful.

I’m off to Thailand now, so I probably won’t be responding to any comments for a while, but I’ll be back in two weeks when I’ll be happy to tackle anything which is thrown up.

17. Luis Enrique

DfID is consistently rated amongst the best aid agencies in the world, by independent evaluators – i.e. American researchers rate it way above USAID.

b.t.w. foreign aid, when not consisting of advice etc., essentially boils down to giving a country a foreign currency – i.e. giving it dollars. China has $2 trillion of reserves. Your points about the huge numbers of desperately poor people in China are well taken (it is often overlooked) but that still doesn’t mean allocating aid to China is best use of scare resources.

Offtopic: is there a problem with your “Latest blog” column, or is my Firefox broken?

Hmmm. Works in Opera. Missing in FF 3.0.13.

“i.e. American researchers rate it way above USAID”

Not saying much, really. Doesn’t the US spend c. 0.3% of GDP on foreign aid? And under Bush, weren’t huge chunks of that dedicated to ideologically nutty projects like teaching abstention-only policies in nations ravaged by aids, whilst banning the distribution of condoms?

I’m glad DFID is rated way above USAID. Can you imagine how bad it would have to be to not rate more highly?

20. Luis Enrique

PaulS,

well USAID is much bigger than DfID in absolute terms, and does a lot more than the nutty stuff but I take your point – I was just trying to point out that DfID is already regarded as one of the best development agencies there is, up there with the sainted Nordics.

Have these people read Aid Watch or read anything by Easterley or Collier at all?

A whole policy paper, and no mention of the one group of people to whom aid should be accountable to:

The poor.

Someone had to come up with it – so it may as well be me.

“Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day – give him a net and show him how to use it and he will eat for a lifetime”.

That can be transferred into international aid – simplistic, but still, the most simple of ideas are usually the best.

As for the Indian and Chinese “problem” – while aid should not be stopped over night, surely as they are minted they can start to direct funds toward the poor in their own nations. If they should need help then we should offer it willingly.

For the betterment of the poor in, say, African nations, just as an example – feet on the ground would be a better proposition in helping people discover water, how to grow food stuffs in the heat etc rather than just sending over coin to be put in a bank account in Switzerland on behest of some tinpot dictator.

If the UK was serious about aid to developing nations, it would close down its network of UK-affiliated and sustained tax havens.

Tax havens facilitate mass capital flight from developing nations. Capital flight is the number 1 reason developing nations cannot develop, seconded by corruption (which tax havens facilitate) and a lack of domestically-accessible tax revenue (ditto).

But not only does the UK allow Jersey, Guernsey, the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, the Turks and Caicos Islands, the Isle of Man (etc etc etc) to go on operating as tax havens, it actually subsidises several of them. And further more, it directs its state-owned private equity fund – CDC – to use tax havens when “investing” in poor nations.

What I want to know is: what is the Tory policy on tax havens as part of its policy for international development?

Oh, there isn’t one. Because the Torries’ mates and donors have a vested interest in keeping the offshore financial world unregulated and unaccountable.

Gimmicks – Vouchers

On page 25, the paper suggests the introduction of a voucher scheme similar that suggested for schools in the UK. Individual aid recipients will be given vouchers or cash directly and will be able to choose between various aid agencies and NGOs. This is designed to increase competition and efficiency. It will be a disaster.

In vast swathes of the world there are no aid agencies operating and in other places there are not enough to provide the choice these vouchers imply.

Where these vouchers are introduced there will simply be an increase in internal NGO bureaucracy to process the collection of funding, an increase in the marketing budget to the detriment of real work and a duplication of capacity as various agencies overreach themselves. In short, vouchers are a disaster waiting to happen.

What a load of inaccurate, conjectural bollocks. Let me guess, you haven’t read the book or any of the papers by James Tooley and colleagues which the report cites, where he demonstrates how private schools serving the poor in developing nations are ubiquitous, cheap, and get better results than state schools. No, instead of a reasoned examination of the evidence, your arguments don’t even bother to attack the actual view in the paper! If you actually bothered to read it, you might see that instead of arguing for vouchers which can be redeemed via NGOs (as you mistakenly claim), the report says: “the vouchers would be redeemable for development services of any kind with a supplier of their choice. Such an innovation would help demonstrate what poor people really want – and who they perceive to be most effective in meeting their needs.” I’m not sure which part of that you don’t understand, to be honest.

I’m under no illusions that the Tory policies are perfect, but the only ‘gimmick’ here is your lazy and/or dishonest attempt at criticism.

23. Wilf Rhodes. Why not shut down Difid and give the money to Practical Action (Intermediate Technology) , Forest Aid and Water Aid. These types of projects tend to suffer less from corruption? How much aid money since 1945 has actually gone to the poor? How much aid money has ended up in offshore accounts, buying expensive Land Rovers for aid workers, providing offices for aid workers , funding civil servants and academics etc , etc. If people have the following :-
clean water, close at hand
and have sufficient food to sell in fair trade system , can use efficient ovens to minimise wood collectin

Apologies pressed wrong button

If people have the following:-
Enough clean water , close at hand and easily deliverable
Clean sanitation systems
Produce food in excess so they can sell it in a fair trade system
Efficient ovens to minimise wood collection
Grow trees which can often survive in droughts better than ususual crops and provide wood
Irrigation systems which they can repair and afford to run- no diesel generators
Basic medical care
Pesticide covered mosquito nets
Help to improve yields of crops (using copost ,not expensive fertilisers and minimising use of pesticides).
Be provided with a cow or goats to increase income

If the the above are covered then people will have the good health which will greatly reduce mortality from disease and afford to pay for education. Most of the above basic development issues are covered by Practical Action, Water aid and Forest Aid. They know what they are doing , why pay for civil servants in Whitehall ?

Ok, if I’m wrong on “governments can’t create wealth” (and fully I accept that I might well be), why doesn’t ours do so? Lord knows we could do with a bit of a profit making enterprise to get some more money in.

The problem is the inefficiency inherent in using a never ending supply of taxpayers money in a project, which means that you very rarely have cost pressures on your production line to encourage efficiency (no government is going to pull the plug on an overbudget project because they’ll have spent taxpayers money on absolutely nothing). In a monopoly this might work, but in a free market system the government cannot compete with private companies because of the lack of pressures that force efficiencies.

So yes, the government theoretically could make a profit (there’s nothing to stop them making and selling goods) but they will always struggle to match the quality and value of a private company simply because they don’t have the worries of failure/bankruptcy pushing them to match efficiency.

28. Praguetory

Ok, if I’m wrong on “governments can’t create wealth”

You’re not. Someone else didn’t read the Ladybird book of economics.

Praguetory. BA Hons Economics 2:1 Nottingham

29. Luis Enrique

Oh dear, I suspect many of the very good economists at Nottingham would be rather embarrassed to read that.

I find the section where Left Outside frets about us calling “mission accomplished” on Chinese prosperity astonishing, in how much it resembles the typical Missionary Position on these things from the 19th Century. And the economic history is total rubbish, a clear abuse or misunderstanding of GDP figures through time.

I’ve had a go at explaining why here:
http://www.freethink.org/index.php/freethinkers/5-freethinkers/423-leftwing-imperialism

But have a bit of common sense: can an economy capable of building that many sky scrapers, that many airports, really be at half the level of Victorian Britain’s productivity? No – when you get a weird result, check your workings!


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