Friday, June 22, 2012

How Come GDP UP UP UP Yet More & More People Need Charity?

Was reported by state media that charity donations hit 10 year high. You may think is good news but is not. Charity donations just tempoary 'cable tie' to a system that's cracking. Back in 80s & 90s there's no charity shows & irony is S'pore not as prosperous as now. Ask yourself how come gdp up up up yet more & more people need charity?

I used to think charity to help the less fortunate & needy as good without a second thought. It was upon reading Economist Graeme Maxton's thoughts about charity which startled me.

Grame Maxton on need to rethink charity:
At first glance, charity seems to be a good thing. Yet they are a reflection of a fundamental problem. Charity is an attempt to patch parts of the system that are not working. Mostly such attempts are well intended. But sometimes they are driven by less enlightened motives. And in almost every case they are a poor way to make up for some of the shortfalls of modern economics. They mop up the externalities - rather than leaving them, like a puddle, for us all to see. Charities actually support many of the warped ideas of social progress by masking them. They have become a substitute for social justice & proper economics.

Charity depends on desires & incomes of unaccountable donors. Their managers decide where & how $$ should be spent. This makes their activities undemocractic too. Govts are subject to regular democractic or political review, as well as public scrutiny & control. Charity business is not. Because of this, the way they spend their $$ can be subject to favoritism, waste & inefficiency. Just as when a zoo gets visitors to sponsor animals & everyone wants to donate to the tigers, leaving vast majority of animals unsupported, charity is a way of supporting society's tigers. Donors give more freely to causes that appeal to them, rather than to causes where there may be greater need. Moreover, charities' first loyalties lie with the givers not the receivers, because this ensures a better flow of funds.

Grame Maxton on need to rethink philanthrophy:
Philanthropists rarely fight for social justice. Their actions are founded on an acceptance of injustice. They see their role as trying to mitigate the effects. Today's billionaires do not fight to being change to the system that created their unequal wealth. Few appear to see any inconsistency or irony in their offering help to the poor. The Gates Foundation attempts to provide greater social inclusion, for example, without attempting to change the system that encourages wider social division.

Whether the ideas of philanthropists & charities are right or wrong is not the issue. It is that the decisions are being taken by a handful of wealthy people & some business managers, without them being answerable to society for what they do. Who said Mr Gates & his friends should decide what is best for the world?

Genuine need should not be dependent on handouts at whim of the rich.

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