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Does Comic Relief tackle poverty?


9:00 am - March 17th 2011

by Ellie Mae    


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Brazilian archbishop, Dom Helder Camara, famously said, ‘when I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.’ It’s an interesting quote, and one that I am often reminded of when watching Comic Relief: a phenomenon that is astoundingly good at doing the former, without doing the latter.

Camara’s statement reveals something that Comic Relief is also aware of: helping the impoverished is an act of generosity; asking why there is poverty is an act of politics. Comic Relief is certainly under no obligation to interrogate the global economy (in fact doing so would require it to leave the BBC altogether), but can it fulfil its aim to create ‘a just world free from poverty,’ without asking political questions?

Take, for example, its current supporting partner, Ernst & Young: a company which was recently in court for its complicity in the 2008 financial collapse. Auditors at Ernst & Young reportedly turned a blind eye to the misdemeanours of the banking system, figuring that if it all came crashing down, the taxpayer would step in anyway. Organisers of Comic Relief would no doubt argue that such an issue is none of their business; that their role is to accept donations, not to regulate corporations.

It’s a fair point, of course. And as always in life, the issue is not a simple one. The side of Comic Relief we see: the glittered-up, celebrity-friendly funfest, is an impressive media front for a dedicated grants team that does give to political organisations. War on Want, for example, is a benefactor of the money Comic Relief raises. The organisers are probably aware that Comic Relief’s lack of any visible politics is one of the reasons for its remarkable success: charity is something we can all unite under; global macroeconomics is a tad more divisive. If eschewing politics raises more money to help the needy, why not?

Such arch-pragmatism comes with its problems though. Returning to Ernst & Young, a company whose record on facilitating tax avoidance has, according to Professor Prem Sikka, deprived millions of ‘education, healthcare and pensions.’ Isn’t Comic Relief’s statement that it ‘couldn’t imagine doing it without them’ a political statement in itself? And how far does praise for such companies beguile the public into not questioning them more thoroughly? To suggest that Ernst & Young is part of the cure for poverty, rather than one of the causes, seems to me more inaccurate than pragmatic. Presumably, we give to Comic Relief in the hope that one day we won’t need to anymore, and yet I can’t see how that will ever be possible unless we fail to take on the activities of corporations like Ernst & Young head on. Indeed, despite twenty years of Comic Relief, the world is still failing to meet international poverty targets.

Then again, how many human lives, here and now, would slip through the net if Comic Relief favoured political campaigning over straightforward fundraising? It’s easy for those of us who don’t have to worry about starvation, disease, and isolation to sit in our liberal ivory towers and wax lyrical about moral purity. As we do, others are out in the world, raising money and helping those blighted by real, live poverty.

So which is it? Do we condemn Comic Relief for avoiding the causes of poverty, or do we laud it for actually doing something? The answer, anticlimactically, is that I honestly don’t know. I suspect the conclusion lies in your levels of idealism: in order to alleviate poverty Comic Relief style, you must accept that opposing its causes may not actually lead to worthwhile change. That’s probably true. But if it is, it seems a shame that the best we can do for poverty is to support an incredible and extraordinary cure, and not its prevention.

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About the author
Ellie Mae is an occasional contributor. She is co-editor of New Left Project. She is on Twitter and blogs here.
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Reader comments


“When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

Presumably, that was before he read Stalin’s speech in December 1929 and got to know about his policy for collectivising Soviet agriculture by “eliminating the kulaks as a class”:
http://www.marx2mao.com/Stalin/QAP29.html

No one knows for sure exactly how many perished in the famine in the Ukraine during 1932/3. Estimates range from 4 up to 10 millions:

“The dreadful famine that engulfed Ukraine, the northern Caucasus, and the lower Volga River area in 1932-1933 was the result of Joseph Stalin’s policy of forced collectivization. The heaviest losses occurred in Ukraine, which had been the most productive agricultural area of the Soviet Union. Stalin was determined to crush all vestiges of Ukrainian nationalism. . . The death toll from the 1932-33 famine in Ukraine has been estimated between six million and seven million.”
http://www.ibiblio.org/expo/soviet.exhibit/famine.html

@1 I’m pretty sure he could read all he wants and they would still call him communist for raising such questions…

@1 I’m pretty sure he could read all he wants and they would still call him communist for raising such questions…

Thanks for that thought. My late father was born in the Ukraine before WW1. Fortunately, his father was an English ex-pat engineer working for a British engineering company with a contract there so the family had the opportunity of repatriation after the civil war, which followed the Soviet Revolution of October 1917, had ended.

The answer to the original question is: No.

5. the a&e charge nurse

Does comic relief perpetuate poverty?

Comic Relief serves a similar purpose to the Welfare State – there will always be ultraleftists who dislike it because it’s a sticking plaster where dramatic surgery is required (similarly ultrarightists dislike is because it, um, helps people). Is the money raised by Comic Relief targeted well? I hope so, and that’s the only real question that plays on my mind when I donate my £5.
Yes, an ideal world would be one without charities but we’re not there, sadly, and it’s not in the interests of the global poor for the privilaged to condemn charity simply because we haven’t come up with better economic rules yet.

Poverty is best tackled by free markets, free trade, strong property rights and good governance, characteristics for which Africa is not renowned.

So, no, Comic Relief is not tackling the causes of poverty.

Though of course communism would make things far worse.

@1 That is one of the most stunning bits of whataboutery I have ever seen.

@8

You must be new here … 😉

I have to say I’m completely bewildered by Bob’s reply @3. Given that I was pointing out that knee-jerk accusations of communism would exist regardless of the Archbishops level of learning.

11. Chaise Guevara

@ 7 cjcjc

“Poverty is best tackled by free markets, free trade, strong property rights and good governance, characteristics for which Africa is not renowned.”

All of that hangs rather strongly on the definition of “good governance”. If your idea of good governance is “a government that supports free markets, free trade and strong property rights as much as possible”, then the poor are fucked.

12. Chaise Guevara

@ 10 Cylux

Bob mainly speaks in non-sequiturs. Don’t worry about it.

I don’t know what it is about Comic Relief that brings out this kind of attitude…

The answer is Yes, it’s ridiculous to actually look at what Comic Relief goes towards funding, which isn’t simply giving people money and food, and not conclude that their intentions and efforts are to help eradicate poverty.

When they are funding organisations that lobby local governments, provide education, help to create communities with collective responsibility and, through the more immediate actions like building of schools, providing of malaria nets, etc, remove some of the immediate barriers to the progression of society, it’s pretty much just ignorant to claim that the organisation isn’t tackling poverty.

Now…are they successful? Are there enough measurable stats to show how things have progressed due to funding from Comic Relief? I don’t know, probably not. We can’t say for definite that it is actually eradicating poverty, but “avoiding the causes of poverty”?

Don’t talk such bullshit.

“Auditors at Ernst & Young reportedly turned a blind eye to the misdemeanours of the banking system, figuring that if it all came crashing down, the taxpayer would step in anyway.”

Err, no, that’s not what they did.

They were asked, as are all auditors, to state that the banks were a going concern. That is, that they weren’t going to go bust tomorrow.

Which is something that can happen to banks, if they are subject to a bank run. So, to work this out, they went to the government and asked “if there’s a bank run, will the taxpayer support the banks?”

“Why do you ask?”

“Well, if they won’t then we’ll have to say that the banks are not a going concern and when we publish that then there will be banks runs and they won’t be going concerns, they’ll be bust.”

“Oh, right, so yes, the taxpayer will step in if there are banks runs.”

“Excellent, so we’ll report that the banks are going concerns then.”

For the rest of it, I’m with @7. And the spread of these horrible, dangerous, neoliberal ideas, is why poverty is decreasing around the world, yes, even in Africa, and why Sen Welfare (combining both incomes and inequality) is improving there.

15. Roger Thornhill

@13 Ellie Mae O’Hagan writes this kind of stuff here all the time, sadly. Next she’ll be complaining that “the banker” character on Deal or No Deal is an inaccurate portrayal of how evil real bankers are.

Great discussion, and articulates something I’ve been quietly grumbling about for a while now.

All in all we probably need a bit of both. We’re never going to get as many millions of people informed and angry about the politics of poverty as we will getting them to give a fiver by text after watching Take That dance around in silly costumes to help feed African children. But it doesn’t mean we should give up on the grittier stuff of critiquing the system.

Grudgingly (as I’m one of the leftists mentioned in @6) I think both strands can co-exist. In the meantime we can start spreading the debate about causes vs symptoms…

@10: “I have to say I’m completely bewildered by Bob’s reply @3.”

A little reflection might suggest reasons as to why Soviet policies led to the terrible famine of 1932/3 in the Ukraine are of particular personal interest – especially since this piece of inter-war history is well below the horizon of interest of most folk nowadays.

I’m with 5 on this.

@1 You’re a dick

19. the a&e charge nurse

This commentator would certainly agree with cjcjc [7]

“In the past fifty years, more than $1 trillion in development-related aid has been transferred from rich countries to Africa. Has this assistance improved the lives of Africans? No. In fact, across the continent, the recipients of this aid are not better off as a result of it, but worse—much worse.
In DEAD AID, Dambisa Moyo describes the state of postwar development policy in Africa today and unflinchingly confronts one of the greatest myths of our time: that billions of dollars in aid sent from wealthy countries to developing African nations has helped to reduce poverty and increase growth.
In fact, poverty levels continue to escalate and growth rates have steadily declined”
http://dambisamoyo.com/books/?book=dead-aid

And yes, I know, red nose day is not just about Africa.

20. Mr S. Pill

@Bob B

Not being funny Bob but the awful crime against humanity of the Ukrainian famine has little relevence in a discussion about Comic Relief.

@16 – I agree with you there, I think CR could do more to raise awareness (I’d add in throughout the year too, rather than just one particular day/week). I mean if it gets kids -who are simply watching for Take That or whatever- asking questions and questioning why the world is like this (as I did when young!) then it can only be a good thing for us all IMO.

All of that hangs rather strongly on the definition of “good governance”. If your idea of good governance is “a government that supports free markets, free trade and strong property rights as much as possible”, then the poor are fucked.

Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty in the last two decades alone by economic growth in India and China. Your pessmistic, Big Government ideas are a relic of the 20th century. The coming century will be dominated by globalisation, free markets and innovation and there aint a thing you can do about it.

Comic Relief actively works with organisations that get involved, politically, with the powers that be to enhance rights, protections and financial autonomy of communities. The claim that Comic Relief, under the hood, doesn’t operate on a political level, given that they are working with these groups and organisations, is patently false.

23. Ellie Cumbo

I think it would be easier to tolerate their dodging of the question if there was enough political analysis of poverty the rest of the time. Comic Relief exists to fundraise, not to investigate – but you can’t say the same for Panorama and the rest of the BBC’s factual output.

Is it really true that “interrogating the global economy” is beyond the Beeb’s remit? How is denouncing poverty in any way partisan – do Tories actually like it?

On poverty in Africa

http://www.voxeu.org/index.php?q=node/5890

Worth reading:

” * Using the $1/day definition of poverty adopted by the Millennium Development Goals, African poverty declined strikingly, from 41.6% in 1990 to 31.8% in 20061.
* Poverty seems to co-move with GDP almost perfectly.
* African inequality has also fallen over this period, almost entirely reversing its rise since 1970, but still remaining at a high absolute level (Figure 2).

That neoliberalism stuff seems to work then, eh?

19. The trouble with looking at an ambiguous term such as “aid” is that it doesn’t actually relate to projects like Comic Relief. While I would agree that the practice of handing other governments large amounts of money isn’t exactly the best way to improve the lives of those in deepest poverty, Comic Relief’s associated organisations work from the other direction.

@12 I see what you mean. It does appear that Mr Bob B would prefer to have a discussion about 1930s Ukraine rather than comic relief.

27. Mr S. Pill

@21

Remind me of the name of the Party that’s been governing in China for the past 50-odd years, again?

@26: “It does appear that Mr Bob B would prefer to have a discussion about 1930s Ukraine rather than comic relief.”

Recap: the opening quote of the header was: “Brazilian archbishop, Dom Helder Camara, famously said, ‘when I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.’”

I was just assessing from a personal perspective what possible relevance – if any – that might have to Comic Relief.

Hmmm Tim,

Neoliberal reforms in the early 80s and BANG! twenty years later adequate growth arrives… no, not really even good enough for post hoc ergo procter hoc.

Yes defending property rights is good in Africa, nobody is going to invest with old Mugabe salivating behind them, but I think you’ll find it is a bit more complicated than your prescriptions.

Giving poor people money is quite a good way to give them money, however there is the danger that it will cause exchange rate appreciation and make domestic industries’ lives more difficult, which is bad in the long run.

Much better to give Poor countries a moratorium on enforcing international property rights, for the west to drop all trade barriers and to set up guest worker programmes for African farmers to see how the US’s farms are run and how Germany organise industry. Money for infrastructure would probably also be appreciated.

@28 Er, you do know that if you carried on reading past the quote Ellie explained exactly why comic relief brought said quote to mind. I don’t think either her or the Archbishop were actually making the claim that communism solves poverty and hunger.

31. the a&e charge nurse

[25] I agree, to the extent that comic relief gives the impression we are doing something, and something is better than nothing.

Such endeavours certainly benefit the lucky few so it would be churlish to knock the efforts of Stephen Fry, Lenny Henry, et al, or perhaps more importantly those on the ground who are doing most of the actual work.

But if we are honest about the structural problems set in their historical context (especially amongst those regions most in need of assistance) it seems pretty clear that any meaningful, or lasting change, can only be brought about when there is sufficient momentum within those communities to address their own deep rooted problems – not least because external solutions hardly ever seem to work if we judge them on a macro rather than micro level?
At least this is what commentators like Moyo [19] seem to be saying.

@ Left Outside

On the effectiveness of aid, try William Easterly: The Elusive Quest for Growth (MIT Press, 2002):

“Easterly is skeptical toward many of the trends that are common in the field of foreign aid. In The Elusive Quest for Growth he analyzes the reasons why foreign aid to many third world countries has failed to produce sustainable growth. He reviews the many ‘panaceas’ that have been tried since World War II but had little to show for their efforts. Among them is one that has recently come back into fashion: debt relief. That remedy has been tried many times before, he argues, with negative results more often than positive, and calls for a more scrutinizing process.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Easterly

Compare:

Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI):
http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010

Francis Fukuyama: “people who do not trust one another will end up cooperating only under a system of formal rules and regulations, which have to be negotiated, agreed to, litigated and enforced, sometimes by coercive means. . . Widespread distrust in a society . . . imposes a kind of tax on all forms of economic activity, a tax that high-trust societies do not have to pay.” [Francis Fukuyama: Trust (Penguin Books, 1996). p. 27]

33. the a&e charge nurse

Just looking at Comic Relief’s mission statement;
“We raise millions of pounds through two big fundraising campaigns – Red Nose Day and Sport Relief – We spend that money in the best possible way to tackle the root causes of poverty and social injustice”.
http://www.comicrelief.com/about-us

‘Root causes’ – that’s a big ask, surely?

31. And I’m saying that it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes research to realise groups that Comic Relief helps to fund are working hard to achieve that very aim of autonomy in impoverished societies, and governmental change.

35. Planeshift

@Bob – I think left outside is probably familiar with the literature on aid, seeing as he is doing a masters degree in economics and development (actual title may be something different)

36. the a&e charge nurse

[34] “And I’m saying that it doesn’t take more than 10 minutes research to realise groups that Comic Relief helps to fund are working hard to achieve that very aim of autonomy in impoverished societies, and governmental change” – of course comic relief tries to improve autonomy (I’m less sure about governmental change), but because the odds are so stacked against them they are unlikely to make any lasting impact if we judge their efforts, or indeed other aid efforts on a macro level – such changes have to be driven by the countries themselves.

I wish it were otherwise.

@35: “I think left outside is probably familiar with the literature on aid, seeing as he is doing a masters degree in economics and development (actual title may be something different)”

That’s argument by authority, not by reason. By all appearances, Left Outside hasn’t taken account of Easterly powerful and persuasive critique of the effectiveness of aid in third world countries in his book. Easterly was for many years an aid administrator so his assessment is based on extensive field experience. That requires an argued response, not just a dismissal by someone studying for a master’s in development studies.

38. the a&e charge nurse

[34] as a comparison – a great deal of NHS money is pumped into ‘health promotion’ in an effort to reduce the number of Brits who are smokers, problematic drinkers, obese or have adopted a sedentary life style, etc.

Some (but certainly not everybody) would these are laudable aims but rather like aid produces few lasting benefits despite a considerable level of expenditure?

@ Chaise

If your idea of good governance is “a government that supports free markets, free trade and strong property rights as much as possible”, then the poor are fucked.

Exactly.

Look at the poor bastards in Hong Kong…………….

40. Planeshift

No bob – its an argument saying that it is likely LO is familiar with the literature. You are the one citing authority repeatedly, and carrying on as if there is only one book that has ever been written on aid.

This is an interesting piece that touches on a wider issue I have been thinking about recently. Surely the aim of a charity such as Comic Relief should be to put itself out of business? Yet here in the midst of globalisation, where poorer countries are supposed to be achieving some development at last, we seem to have an ever-increasing population of charities asking us to help developing countries.

The earthquake in Haiti, a recipient of so much charity that many NGOs had permanent offices in Port Au Prince, seemed to show a complete failure to protect against disaster with proper development measures. This should be a matter of concern.

Do we have more charities because there is a greater need, because we have become more aware of need due to improved communications or because they are a good business model? Is there another reason I may have missed?

I regularly donate to charities aimed at helping people in developing countries. I would like to think I am doing some good, but it’s hard to tell where my money goes sometimes. One day I might have time to look into it in more detail…

“Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI):
http://www.transparency.org/policy_research/surveys_indices/cpi/2010

Francis Fukuyama: “people who do not trust one another will end up cooperating only under a system of formal rules and regulations, which have to be negotiated, agreed to, litigated and enforced, sometimes by coercive means. . . Widespread distrust in a society . . . imposes a kind of tax on all forms of economic activity, a tax that high-trust societies do not have to pay.” [Francis Fukuyama: Trust (Penguin Books, 1996). p. 27]”

Thanks Bob. Not seen that quote before. This is the first interesting thing I’ve seen today. A very very interesting way to look at it (compare GDR to Denmark), sadly you’ve made me appreciate Fukuyama, which hasn’t happened to me before.

Aid is useful if used correctly. Where it is most needed it is most likely to be abused, where it is least needed it will be used best. Its a bugger, in brief.

43. Mr S. Pill

@39

Did you just use the historical and cultural anomaly of Hong Kong to prove a point? Oh dear!

44. Mr S. Pill

@33

“‘Root causes’ – that’s a big ask, surely?”

Not really – Hitchens pointed out the only known, proven cure for poverty is the emancipation of women. That can be achieved in many different ways, but education is the main one.

Comic Relief give money to Alcohol Concern- the fake charity set up and funded by the government to nag us about our drinking habits and lobby for authoritarian legislation.

Sorry, but anyone who thinks funding state sponsored busybodies is a good use of resources will not be getting my support.

Not funny.

Re Tim W et al

You’ve got to love the way right-wingers seize on any correlation between free trade and higher living standards as evidence that free-market fundamentalism is the way to Utopia, while dismissing any suggestion that nasty leftie innovations like state-funded, universal education, healthcare and pensions, redistributive tax and benefits measures, enhanced workers’ rights etc might have any causal connection with the higher living standards that mysteriously follow in their wake.

47. Planeshift

“sadly you’ve made me appreciate Fukuyama, which hasn’t happened to me before.”

I think he got a lot of unfair criticism over the media coverage he got, which simplified and sensationalised what he was saying. He’s written some decent stuff in the past, but pissed it all away by joining the neo-cons.

‘Remind me of the name of the Party that’s been governing in China for the past 50-odd years, again?’

Contemporary China is communist in much the same way the UK is a kingdom. Something that has a bit of historical legacy, but is mainly kept around because it would be awkward to change the name.

And the purpose of aid is not to solve other countries problems for them: only they can do that. It is to reduce the number of people who die (or live terrible lives) in the 20 to 50 year period while they do so.

Critiques of aid that miss that point are quite a nice little African growth industry these days: they are one of those products that have a lot better market image when imported than locally manufactured.

49. Planeshift

Pagar, I thought Alcohol concern was exclusively govt funded. If it isn’t, and accepts donations, then at what point does it become legitimately a charity in your eyes? or is anything that is established by the government made illegitimate for eternity?

50. the a&e charge nurse

[44] “the only known, proven cure for poverty is the emancipation of women. That can be achieved in many different ways, but education is the main one” – agree strongly – education is the starting point.

But some countries are simply too volatile at the moment to guarantee any sort of teaching infra-structure (see today’s LC piece on Sudan) while if we think of Maslov we can see that too many men, women and children are daily confronted by incredible hardship in meeting basic needs.
http://images.wikia.com/psychology/images/c/c3/Maslow%27s_hierarchy_of_needs.png

“while dismissing any suggestion that nasty leftie innovations like state-funded, universal education, healthcare and pensions, redistributive tax and benefits measures, enhanced workers’ rights etc might have any causal connection with the higher living standards that mysteriously follow in their wake.”

Quite. All those things you mention are luxury goods (no, not luxuries, it’s a technical term). They are things that we spend more on as we get richer. So the correlation is the other way around: you’ve got to have the growth first then you can afford these lovely things.

52. Planeshift

“you’ve got to have the growth first then you can afford these lovely things.”

Of course; the british welfare state was only set up following 20 years of peaceful high growth rates in the 1930s and 1940s.

53. Dan Factor

I object to the way the BBC is using Eastenders to promote Comic Relief with the rather seedy teen prostitution line.
Soap operas have become nothing more than outlets for agenda driven campaign groups to promote their causes to viewers.

@40: “You are the one citing authority repeatedly, and carrying on as if there is only one book that has ever been written on aid.”

Try not to be silly. I regularly post links to (hopefully useful) citations in support of what I have written.

Of course, there are many, many books and tracts about aid for third world countries, with many written to promote more and more aid without questioning the effectiveness of that recipe.

What is distinctive about Easterly’s scepticism is that he was an aid administrator for many years so has extensive field experience and his book made an infuential impact on professional economists. To be persuasive, the case he makes requires an argued response, not abrupt dismissal.

The fact is that several countries with colonial pasts have regressed since independence. There are several possible reasons for that but the causes need analysis. By many reports, political corruption is rife in many countries in Africa – although not all – look at Transparency International’s CPI map.

One of the challenging issues is why so many of the “tiger” economies post-WW2 have been in east and south-east asia and why so many countries in Africa and South America have fared badly in comparison. Perhaps there are instructive lessons to be learned.

Is religion a factor in differential rates of economic development? What of the Resource Curse – or the Dutch Disease?
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resource_curse

“Of course; the british welfare state was only set up following 20 years of peaceful high growth rates in the 1930s and 1940s.”

More like 150 years of the Industrial Revolution massively raised UK’s wealth (the depression and war were a quickly corrected blip in the historical scheme of things)

Pagar @ 29

Look at the poor bastards in Hong Kong…………….

But you don’t need to go halfway round the World to see poor bastards living in rich capitalist Countries. In fact, you can look anywhere to see free markets and you go to the bottom of the heap and you will find billions of people living in abject poverty. Then again, there are people using this blog who claim child prositutes and people eking out a living on rubbish tips are fine examples of Globalisation enriching people’s lives..

Somali fishermen.

The Somali coastline was festooned with fishing ports with small scale fishermen making a ‘not bad’ living. Once the Government fell the water being freed up for the large fishing fleets with factory ships.

Sure enough, the ‘free market’ completely unregualeted, meant that the fish stocks were exhausted and those little fishermen lost their only livelyhood. The free Global market ruined their lives and they became free marketeers (or free privateers) and all of a sudden we all want Somili waters to become under the ‘protection’ Nanny State again?

For some reason, no-one wants these waters to be subject to the red in tooth and claw, get the Government out of the way, capitalism that improves the life of those affected. Funnily enough Pagar, the lives of the ex-fishermen HAS been improved and their wealth has improved dramatically, so a win is a win, eh Pagar?

‘Catch a man a fish and he will eat for a day’
‘Teach a man to fish and he will eat for a lifetime’
‘Allow Global Capitalism to hoover up the entire fish stock and you will deprive a fisherman a livelyhood, then you will need a Navy to patrol those water that the man you have taught to fish in now uses the only skill he has to earn a livelyhood’

Doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it? Then again those Japenese factory trawllers make a few fucking yen out of other people’s misery, which is perfectly legal.

57. Chaise Guevara

@ 21 Garry

“Hundreds of millions have been lifted out of poverty in the last two decades alone by economic growth in India and China.”

I’m aware of that. Where did I say I was against growth?

“Your pessmistic, Big Government ideas are a relic of the 20th century.”

Yours are a relic of the 19th century. This is a stupid game.

“The coming century will be dominated by globalisation, free markets and innovation and there aint a thing you can do about it.”

Ah, bravado.

Tim @ 51

Quite. All those things you mention are luxury goods (no, not luxuries, it’s a technical term). They are things that we spend more on as we get richer. So the correlation is the other way around: you’ve got to have the growth first then you can afford these lovely things.

And you don’t the Post War State intervention in practically everything, from the Nationalized industries, State education, National Health Service, building council houses and millions of other things have contributed to making us all richer? You don’t think that having a roof over ones head made people richer? Or not suffering chronic illnesses or having clean drinking water made us healthier? Surely yopu would accept that having a healthier population made us more productive as a Country?

You surely are not telling me that had we left the rebulding of Europe after the war purely to the free market, we would have ended up where we are now or even better off?

Surely to fuck you cannot think such a concept is likely to fly?

Ellie / Dan / Jenny – please can you add the hyperlinks into my piece! At the moment, it looks like I’ve made a lot of assertions without feeling compelled to offer evidence for any of them! I’ll stick this on my blog later, with links.

Ellie C
Do Tories actually like it? Yes.

OK I’m being deliberately incindiary, before I get lynched for that.

I’m not talking about denunciations of poverty – that’s something Comic Relief does every five minutes when they replay those videos asking people to donate. I’m talking about denunciation of the causes of poverty which, as this thread demonstrates, necessarily means you have to nail your colours to the mast, politically speaking. Tim W – a right winger – sees the free market as alleviating poverty. I – a left winger – see it as the cause, for example.

Lee Griffin
Before I get to the ‘avoiding the causes of poverty’ line, I point out that Comic Relief’s grants team gives to many political organisations, including ‘War on Want,’ whose mission statement is to attack the ‘root causes of poverty.’ ALL War on Want does is ask political questions. As I point out in the article, I’m talking about the visible side of Comic Relief – the media front, which does avoid asking such questions.

But please, don’t let reading the article get in the way of your outrage.

Roger Thornhill
Do I know you? Anyway, in answer to your question: http://bit.ly/gMd4pi

Yes it’s a shame the debate has been derailed to talk about communism, when that really isn’t the issue.

@47: “I think [Fukuyama] got a lot of unfair criticism over the media coverage he got, which simplified and sensationalised what he was saying. He’s written some decent stuff in the past, but pissed it all away by joining the neo-cons.”

That’s a prime example of an ad hominem – or guilt by association. What matters is the analysis, not who his political friends were until he (belatedly) recanted.

His thesis of “trust” as a factor in the process of economic development is an instructive one providing we avoid the beguiling attraction of mono-causal theories.

A small issue made in some reports about Japan in the horrific aftermath of the earthquake and tsumani is the absence of looting.

Could that relate to the spectacular growth rates of Japan’s economy in the 1950s through to the 1980s? In successive surveys, cars made by Japanese motor companies turn out to be unusually reliable. Why is that and is it connected with trust?

61. Chaise Guevara

@ 55 DevonChap

“More like 150 years of the Industrial Revolution massively raised UK’s wealth (the depression and war were a quickly corrected blip in the historical scheme of things)”

Certainly, but the Industrial Revolution didn’t overthrow socialism. It was primarily a technological thing, hence the name: the big changes in society came as a result of those technical and methodological advances.

There’s no reason to assume that the Industrial Revolution wouldn’t have worked if it had co-incided with political pressure for labour rights and social redistribution. It probably would have been slower, but less inclined towards chewing up human being and spitting them out.

Others who asked – yes when you give £ to Comic Relief, all of it goes to the cause. It’s remarkably transparent.

Lianne – yes I think you’re right. I knocked this piece up in the midst of deadlines and illness, so didn’t ruminate over it as much as I would have liked. After writing it, it occurred to me that you can praise CR for tackling the symptoms of poverty, whilst acknowledging it fails to ask political questions. They’re not mutually exclusive.

I too am a leftist described at 6. This issue plays on my mind every time CR rolls round, because I don’t like having to acknowledge that maybe poverty will always exist in the world. I want to see things like CR as an attack on poverty that will one day lead to its eradication.

On the other hand, the world is certainly a better place for having Comic Relief in it, even if it’s not the best it can be.

@ Planeshift

I thought Alcohol Concern was exclusively govt funded. If it isn’t, and accepts donations, then at what point does it become legitimately a charity in your eyes?

Department of Health 565,000
Big Lottery Fund 127,275
Comic Relief 116,649
Bridge House Trust 13,000
John Paul Getty Foundation 20,000

A charity is an entity to which individuals contribute voluntarily and altruistically because they want to help someone else.

No individual wants to fund the above because they have no interest, as individuals, in paying to be socially engineered. All their funding comes from organisations who have extracted the money from us by force, fraud or, in the case of Comic Relief, stealth.

If you want to help the poor in Africa, as I do, I’d suggest a couple of goats from here.

http://www.sendacow.org.uk/

or perhaps some investment

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=264024240337

64. Chaise Guevara

“Yes it’s a shame the debate has been derailed to talk about communism, when that really isn’t the issue.”

…You just made me realised that I’ve been arguing on here awhile and haven’t actually said anything about Comic Relief! I reckon CR does its best of a bad situation, and if it’s not perfect, then that’s not a reason to blame it. Something is better than nothing.

I’m also aware of the argument that charities take responsibility off the government’s back. But even if the state had ever paid for CR, the investment would no doubt have declined (and would probably have been gutted by Cameron). Foreign aid isn’t exactly popular, despite the fact that it’s normally just a subtler way of advancing our interests.

@61: “There’s no reason to assume that the Industrial Revolution wouldn’t have worked if it had co-incided with political pressure for labour rights and social redistribution.”

But the interesting thing to notice is that the credit for first implementing a national insurance scheme for personal healthcare costs goes not to Britain for creating the NHS in 1948 but to Count Otto von Bismarck, first Chancellor of the German Emprire.

“The Health Insurance bill . . was passed in 1883. The program was considered the least important from Bismarck’s point of view, and the least politically troublesome. The program was established to provide health care for the largest segment of the German workers. The health service was established on a local basis, with the cost divided between employers and the employed. The employers contributed 1/3rd, while the workers contributed 2/3rds . The minimum payments for medical treatment and Sick Pay for up to 13 weeks were legally fixed.”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_von_Bismarck

Count Bismarck also pioneered a national state pension acheme and he had no socialist inclinations whatever. Quite the opposite, in fact, but we can trace back the enduring European notions of a social market economy to Bismarck.

“You surely are not telling me that had we left the rebulding of Europe after the war purely to the free market, we would have ended up where we are now or even better off?”

Hmm. Who grew fastest after WWII? I believe that was West Germany.

Who was the most free market after WWII: I believe that was West Germany again.

You know, under Ludwig Erhard, member of the Mont Pelerin Society, that nest of neoliberals….

67. AnotherTom

On another post here, I wrote about what makes a good journalist. Ellie Mae here gives a classic example of what bad journalists do:

“Auditors at Ernst & Young reportedly turned a blind eye to the misdemeanours of the banking system, figuring that if it all came crashing down, the taxpayer would step in anyway. ”

No, that’s not what they did. As auditor of Lehman, E&Y were accused of something (REPO 105) which the prosecutor may try to bring to trial. Latest reports suggest that this now will now not happen.

So, Ms. Mae conflates one bank to “the banking system” and then fails to accurately summarise the situation (presumably because doing so would not advance her thesis so helpfully).

I have limited time so I run a “one strike and you’re out” policy on bad journalists. I won’t read Ellie Mae’s work again.

My surname is O’Hagan, not Mae.

That statement linked to an article in accountancy age, which was referring to a Commons Select Committee that discovered that’s exactly what the auditors did. REPO 105 is a totally separate issue.

My links haven’t been copied over from my original article. And if only I’d have known it would cost me your readership! How can one continue in such a fog of grief?

Tim W

“All those things you mention are luxury goods (no, not luxuries, it’s a technical term). They are things that we spend more on as we get richer. So the correlation is the other way around: you’ve got to have the growth first then you can afford these lovely things.”

Well – strictly speaking I suppose you’ve got to have either past growth, or the present ability to borrow in order to spend money in a way that promotes future growth, or both. But leaving borrowing out of the picture: even if you need growth before you can afford these lovely things, it’s still those lovely things and not the growth itself that has typically led to improvements in the standard of living. The argument between the mainstream centre-left and the right isn’t therefore over whether growth is necessary or desirable, it’s over the extent to which the proceeds of growth should go wherever the market puts them (i.e. mostly into the pockets of the rich) and the extent to which they should be diverted by governments into spending on ‘lovely things’ like schools and hospitals.

70. AnotherTom

Thanks Ellie for the clarification of your name. I’ll know now to avoid articles by all names related to you.

I note no links still. Maybe it was this comment piece?

http://www.accountancyage.com/aa/feature/1808577/audit-change

There, I’ve now provided more information than the whole of your article!

71. AnotherTom

It’s of course a bad comment piece. The author (Ms. O’Hagan) assumes that the only to alleviate poverty is her own preferred way (indicated in the top line) and then doesn’t address this somewhat controversial issue anywhere else. I prefer evidence and discussion of topics rather than lazy assumptions and smears.

72. AnotherTom

And thanks for the update on your name, I’ll remember to avoid all derivations of it in future.

“it’s over the extent to which the proceeds of growth should go wherever the market puts them (i.e. mostly into the pockets of the rich) and the extent to which they should be diverted by governments into spending on ‘lovely things’ like schools and hospitals.”

I do realise that in the current UK dispensation it’s mostly government which taxes to privide schools and hospitals. But I have to admit to being entirely unaware that that is the only way that schools and hospitals can come into being.

Were there no schools before the state funding of education? And I believe that Bart’s has been a hospital since sometime in the 12 th century while the NHS started in what, 1948?

Tied up in that description of “luxury good” (and it’s really just another way of describing Maslow’s heirarchy of goods) is that, irrespective of the method by which they are financed, as people get richer they will desire and thus purchase greater amounts of these luxury goods. there’s nothing in it that demands that said goods be tax financed rather than privately.

Indeed, one of the arguments that’s used here to support the idea that health care is exactly such a luxury good is that the US spends the most of GDP on health care. For it’s the only place where there is even an approximation of a free market, meaning that it’s the only place where people can in fact spend as they wish on providing the level and standard of health care that they desire…..everyone else has that decision taken for them by government and perhaps too litte is therefore being spent?

It’s not unusual, after all, for government to claim that it’s spending the optimal amount but in reality be underspending….happened with the water companies after all.

Chaise G:

Yeah I think it’s important to remember that those involved in CR are driven by goodwill – even the organisers (though James Murdoch’s wife is on the board of trustees…). So it’s not as though there’s some grand conspiracy to stop people being political.

I wrote this article to pose the question of whether it’s realistic to attempt to eradicate poverty without politicising people. Also to question how far a charity should compromise in pursuit of donations. As I say at the end, I don’t think I can really answer those questions myself.

75. Chaise Guevara

@ 73 Ellie Mae

” Also to question how far a charity should compromise in pursuit of donations. ”

Aside from the direct ethics of the issue, one factor here is that compromising yourself to gain donation X may prevent you from getting donation Y.

For example, I remember being told that Guide Dogs for the Blind was still collecting donations despite sitting on more money than it could spend – and refusing to share with similar charities because it was “their” money. I henceforth resolved never to give them money.

On recently checking this out, I discovered that the allegations were made about the American version of the charity (indicating how much effort I’d originally put into confirming the story), so even a compromise that never happened can affect your future revenue!

On the topic overall, I’m with you on your conclusion. The topic is too complicated and includes too many unknowables to come down strongly on one side or the other.

76. the a&e charge nurse

[73] all of the evidence suggests we simply cannot eradicate poverty especially in the context of exponential population growth (close to 7 billion and counting) – no matter how many red noses are sold.

I imagine many, indeed most charity groups/workers ARE politicised to the extent they recognise that adverse social conditions do not arise in a vacuum.

Those I know (docs & nurses) who get involved in aid work do so, primarily, because they think a certain skill set is likely to be more beneficial, at least in the here and now than grandiose political campaigning?

77. Planeshift

Chaise, reminds me of a story that does the rounds at various training events. There was apparently a wealthy individual donating 10k a month to Oxfam. One day he cleared out his wardrobe and took the clothes in a van to the nearest shop intending to donate them. The volunteer in the shop told him (wrongly) they didn’t take clothes as it was a book shop, and he’d need to take them to a clothes shop the other side. He was so pissed off at the inconvenience he cancelled his donations immediately.

Tim @ 66

And what are you saying? You think West Germany had no state intervention rebuilding? Are you seriously suggesting that post war West Germany is a shinning example of ‘Laissez faire’ small State, deregulated free markets?

That has to be a sick joke, right? Post War West Germany must have been the most tightly regulated market place possibly on the planet. The strictest labour laws in Europe perhaps.

Come on Tim, you are phoning it in now.

79. Chaise Guevara

@ 76 Planeshift

There’s a local branch of a charity store chain that I won’t donate to any more, because last time I did the staff member present was strangely rude to me, managing to convey that me bringing the shop stuff to sell was a burden on her time. I suspect she just didn’t like the look of me (scruffy young guy, long hair, etc). I’m not boycotting the chain (and won’t mention its name here), but I won’t be giving anything to that particular shop again.

I know that’s not really rational, or fair (and I can only really excuse myself by pointing out that I’ll take stuff to another charity shop rather than throw it out or sell it on eBay), but it does show that one bad staff member can damage an organisation.

This thread is turning into a list of ways in which I am irrational about charity. Hmm.

@ 77. I wasn’t referring to the German economy today. Rather to that post war growth miracle.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ludwig_Erhard

“In September, 1949, Erhard was appointed Minister of Economics in the first cabinet of Konrad Adenauer. His party made his concept of social market economy part of the party platform.

Erhard believed in economic liberalism (now known as Neoliberalism). He joined the Mont Pelerin Society in 1950 and used this influential body of neoliberal economic and political thinkers to test his ideas for the reorganization of the West German economy. Some of the society’s members were members of the Allied High Commission and Erhard was able to make his case directly to them. The Mont Pélerin Society welcomed Erhard because this gave its members the opportunity to have their ideas tested in real life, something that had been lacking. Late in the 1950s, Erhard’s ministry became involved in the struggle within the society between the European and the Anglo-American factions and sided with the former. Erhard viewed the market itself as social and supported only a minimum of welfare legislation. However Erhard suffered a series of decisive defeats in his effort to create a free, competitive economy in 1957; he had to compromise on such key issues as the anti-cartel legislation. Thereafter, the West German economy evolved into a conventional welfare state.[1]

In July 1948, a group of southwest German businessmen attacked the restrictive credit policy of Economic Director Erhard. While Erhard had designed the policy to assure currency stability and stimulate the economy via consumption, business feared the scarcity of investment capital would retard economic recovery. He was deeply critical of a bureaucratic-institutional integration of Europe on the model of the European Coal and Steel Community.

Erhard’s decision, as economics director for the British and American occupation zones, to lift many price controls in 1948, despite opposition from both the social democratic opposition and Allied authorities, and his consistent advocacy of free markets, helped set the Federal Republic on its phenomenal growth path. Erhard’s financial and economic policies soon proved widely popular as the German economy made a “miracle” recovery to rapid growth and widespread prosperity in the 1950s, overcoming wartime destruction and successfully integrating millions of refugees from the east.[2]

Tim @ 72

“Were there no schools before the state funding of education? And I believe that Bart’s has been a hospital since sometime in the 12 th century while the NHS started in what, 1948?”

Pardon me while I reattach my straw legs… ah, that’s better.

I never claimed schools and hospitals didn’t exist before the state began funding them. I claimed that the state funding of schools and hospitals led to general improvements in people’s standard of living.

“Tied up in that description of “luxury good” (and it’s really just another way of describing Maslow’s heirarchy of goods) is that, irrespective of the method by which they are financed, as people get richer they will desire and thus purchase greater amounts of these luxury goods. there’s nothing in it that demands that said goods be tax financed rather than privately.”

What demands that said goods be tax financed (if they are to be widely enough available to bring about any *general* increase in the standard of living) is that most people never have earned and never will earn enough money to cover both the day-to-day costs of food, housing etc. and the full costs of such lovely things as their pensions and their families’ healthcare and education. Those things are just too damned expensive; even people on three or four times the median wage would find it a stretch to ‘go private’ across the board.

Now you’re going to tell me how if the government just gets out of the way, The Market will bring down the cost of healthcare and education while driving up quality…

An interesting read indeed. I am grappling with similar questions and like you have not been able to reach any conclusion. Is Poverty and Illness/disease and if so can be it cured? If so how can it be cured?

Up until recently I never paid much attention to Comic Relief because in my mind it was yet another way to show off what is wrong in Africa, and none of the good news on the continent. I also saw it as another form of AID and I suppose it is. But I did start paying attention recently just to see exactly what it is all about and especially the visits of the celebs who are sent out to Africa behave themselves.

Tax avoidance drains much needed income out of Africa so a company helping corporations to do just that cannot call itself squeaky clean nor pretend to care about poverty

83. Cynical/Realist?

I’m with all the people who have said exactly how much Comic Relief has played a part in various efforts to improve trade regulations for the developing world.

And equally against all comments such as claiming ‘free trade’ or ‘neoliberalism’ either has worked or would work in such a simplistic and dogmatic interpretation for the worlds poor.

The evidence stands that hardly any country in the world (if any) has ever sustainably developed its economy as a result of throwing its doors open to ‘free trade’ in the dogmatic neoliberal application of that term.

Opening up to international markets in a measured way, involving using many protectionist measures to insulate your economy during (and most likely after) the transition? Yes.

Throwing the doors open to ‘free’ trade at the whim of the US/EU/World Bank? No.

84. Cynical/Realist?

@79 – your quote contained an error, in my opinion.

Economic liberalism is not now know as Neoliberalism at all. As the name suggests Neoliberalism is a ‘new’ version of liberalism. Keynes would be seen as a version of an economic liberal. He very much not be seen as a Neoliberal though. Ditto now with Stiglitz.

Those of us on the left have also been too quick to tar all ‘liberal’ economic thought around markets and governance as being one and the same theory. Within liberalism theres huge discorde on these issues.

But my comment from previously holds – no country has ever developed its economy by throwing the doors open to the kind of liberalism espoused by Neoliberals.

Its unfair and downright untrue when people with a Neoliberal agenda claim the East Asian NICs did so. The used a very carefully controlled government developed set of trading regulations to integrate into the global markets through targetted opening of some tariffs and regulations while closely protecting and building others. As well any Neoliberal knows.

85. AnotherTom

reading through the comments above it’s like going back 20 years. It seems a shame that leftist (certainly not liberal) perspectives rely on sounding off against the great neoliberal straw man.

“Throwing the doors open to ‘free’ trade at the whim of the US/EU/World Bank? No.”

Do you REALLY think we are living in a unipolar world dominated by the economic might of the US?

Really?

“no country has ever developed its economy by throwing the doors open to the kind of liberalism espoused by Neoliberals. ”

What meaninglessness is this? Where are these “Neoliberals”? Do you mean the so-called Washington Consensus of the 1990s? Where is that consensus now, please?

This is like Naomi Klein’s witless attacks on long-dead economists who she does not understand.

“Tax avoidance drains much needed income out of Africa so a company helping corporations to do just that cannot call itself squeaky clean nor pretend to care about poverty”

What?

Anyway. Back to the main topic. Charity has lots of functions – primarily social, cultural and sometimes economic. As such it overlaps with political activism but doesn’t occupy the same territory. (I could argue that political activism is primarily for individuals’ own social benefits, but that’s a different story.)

And in final response to Ellie Mae/O’Hagan, much of the mainstream media is filled with largely irrelevant assertions based on people’s uninformed prejudices (Johann Hari wouldn’t have a career otherwise), so I wouldn’t worry too much.

If you want to help the poor in Africa, as I do, I’d suggest a couple of goats from here.

I’d suggest the charities listed here – they’re much better. The best can save the equivalent of a life for £100-300.

http://www.givingwhatwecan.org/resources/recommended-charities.php

87. Cynical/Realist?

@84 – if you read my comments again I think you’ll see I was arguing against the Neoliberal Straw Man myself. The leftist tendancy to lump together all forms of market based economic thinking to being ‘Neoliberal’ has actually harmed the ability the left’s ability to engage fully in economic conversations by falsly categorising many people and views, and helping bolster Neoliberalisms hegemonic standing falsely.

However, there are straw men applenty in various camps.

You ask what meaningless is ‘no countries developed through Neoliberalism’. It was in reaction to comments above suggesting Neoliberalism has infact helped Africa develop, and that the only route to end poiverty is free trade. You attack me for supposedly falling into a leftist trap of polarising the debate, when in fact I was arguing against such dogmatism in some of the other posts.

You are seeking to belittle people’s views by presenting any criticism as simplistic or naive. I suggest you start that analysis nearer to home.

The Neoliberal people who did dictate the terms of economic thought over the past thirty years (aided by many on the left often refusing to deal or communicate with liberal thinkers of any stripe) are still doing fine and dandy too. You ask where they are now? They are in bloody Downing Street.

75

Overpopulation is certainly a huge problem, but there are other things such as speculative food pricing, or large-scale tax avoidance (see activities of Goldman / SAB Milller) that are intentioal acts which undeniably cause poverty. See here: http://lurehumano.wordpress.com/2010/12/01/shut-it-grolsch-i-want-you-to-schtop/

And here: http://www.independent.co.uk/opinion/commentators/johann-hari/johann-hari-how-goldman-gambled-on-starvation-2016088.html

89. AnotherTom

@86 find me a self-declared Neoliberal and we can discuss that person’s views and their power. As it is, and as you say at one point (then seemingly contradict yourself later), the left finds it much easier to argue against the boogie man while presenting no viable alternative.

In that vein, I’m happy to point to John Kay’s “The Truth About Markets” as easily the most persuasive book I’ve read on the issue of states and markets. In it he tracks a variety of countries’ route to development and wealth. In conclusion, he argues that ‘disciplined pluralism’ appears to be common to them all.

Note that this idea transcends the stale and out-dated debate between state vs. market as the route to development.

I’d also recommend Paul Collier on the subject. His book “The Bottom Billion” is an approachable guide to reading about what to do about the poor without being self-righteous. Hernando de Soto, of course, has made an interesting contribution.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://bit.ly/gd5TwU

  2. Liberal Conspiracy

    Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/03/17/does-comic-relief-tackle-poverty/

  3. treeofman

    RT @libcon: Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/03/17/does-comic-relief-tackle-poverty/

  4. Jonathan Davis

    RT @libcon: Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/03/17/does-comic-relief-tackle-poverty/

  5. Lee Griffin

    Stunningly ignorant piece about Comic Relief on @libcon this morning. http://bit.ly/gd5TwU Claims it "avoids causes of poverty." Bullshit.

  6. deborahdoanewdm

    RT @libcon: Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://bit.ly/gd5TwU

  7. elliecumbo

    RT @libcon: Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://bit.ly/gd5TwU

  8. Lee Griffin

    AV is a fairer system for you, the voter http://bit.ly/gd5TwU while FPTP hides it's unfairness http://j.mp/eiJ0tX #yes2av #avref

  9. muirchertach

    RT @Niaccurshi: AV is a fairer system for you, the voter http://bit.ly/gd5TwU while FPTP hides it's unfairness http://j.mp/eiJ0tX #yes2a …

  10. muirchertach

    @Niaccurshi Did you mean that first link to be http://bit.ly/gd5TwU ?

  11. chunkylimey

    RT @libcon: Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://bit.ly/gd5TwU

  12. chunkylimey

    http://t.co/j7cKUwv

    This is why I'm not giving to comic relief. Because overpaid celebrities asking low earners to give is sickening.

  13. the murch

    Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/w7PkspQ via @libcon >> Good question, the type people are afraid to ask

  14. wood5y

    RT @the_murch: Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/w7PkspQ via @libcon >> Good question, the type p …

  15. Nigel Stephens

    “@libcon: Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://t.co/bQTcX4u”

    Effects not causes, but better than doing nothing, IMHO.

  16. saadaabjanab

    If you read nothing else all year, read this. Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://bit.ly/fxipyX courtesy of @MissEllieMae. #

  17. saadaabjanab

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  19. fwalloe

    RT @SaadaabJanab: If you read nothing else all year, read this. Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://bit.ly/fxipyX courtesy of @Miss …

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    Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? | Liberal Conspiracy: Camara's statement reveals something that Comic Relief i… http://bit.ly/g0xEhF

  21. GordonL

    RT @SaadaabJanab: If you read nothing else all year, read this. Does Comic Relief tackle poverty? http://bit.ly/fxipyX courtesy of @Miss …

  22. Chris Nicholson

    Hadn't realised Ernst & Young "supports" Comic Relief. They're an organisation that give money to the rich. http://t.co/b6rHteT /via @libcon

  23. Safe Asian Traveling Tips and News - Does Comic Relief tackle poverty?

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  24. Tim Hardy

    @stavvers @MediocreDave spot on! I know you don't like LibCon but read this on Comic Relief by @MissEllieMae http://j.mp/fxipyX





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