03 July 2005

What A Day

Have a good look at the post below - if you want to - because I am probably going to remove it. I enjoyed the learning curve provided by two very eloquent commenters supporting a different position - Antonio and Martin, thank you.

I reserve the right to, very occasionally, be fired up enough to use rude words about non-specific people - to call a spade a spade - in my own back yard, ie on my own blog. I would not use such language anywhere else and in fact I would have to be pushing for a fight if I were to leave a comment on the blog of a vacuous pranny.

I did have one such person make a remark here - what a dilbert - and he exhausted me. He didn't even hear what I said before throwing in his tuppence worth. I guess if something means a lot to me so that I say forceful things on my blog, then hey, I am going to attract at least one of those sorts that goes around being forceful on principal, all the time.

Live and learn, and I don't want to play in that yard thank you, so in future I will reserve my more passionate fury for a traditional diary, perhaps.

I started the day by venting my spleen about the kind of small minded woman who can blog about designer shoes and drooling for a handbag and her foreign holiday/nails but then says that we shouldn't help people who are starving to death. By the way, someone new has died in the time it took you to read each one of the sentences above. Just that information has changed my whole worldview.

Here comes my reasoning, in more detail:

On the war in Iraq (figures twelve days old)
"More than 13,000 Americans have been injured, and the cost of the war now tops $200 billion."
Des Moines Register

Anyone felt that in their pocket yet?

Then consider places like the Phillipines where banks like Citibank once rushed to lend money to Marcos, as head of state, on the basis that the country would pay it back, not the man. The projects failed, billions of dollars went unaccounted for and all in all it means the poorest people there are still being taxed at 27% to pay the debt, currently standing at around $35 billion. Its crippling them, but its only worth 17% of what America alone has spent on sending troops to Iraq this time round.

International interest rates also mean that the entire third world debt plus fifteen percent was paid back over twenty years between '72 and '92, yet at the end of it the third world still owed almost as much as the original figure, I quote:

"According to the World Bank, Third World countries collectively borrowed $1.935 trillion and repaid $2.237 trillion between 1972 and 1992. Despite these repayments, today they owe $1.7 trillion to Northern governments (U.S., U.K., Germany, Japan, etc.), commercial banks (such as Citibank and Barclay's Bank), and multilateral institutions (the World Bank, regional development banks, and the International Monetary Fund)."

Agenda 21, 1992 Summit
"When the world’s governments met at the Earth summit in Rio de Janeiro in 1992, they adopted a programme for action under the auspices of the United Nations — Agenda 21. Amongst other things, this included an Official Development Assistance (ODA) aid target of 0.7% of gross national product (GNP) for rich nations, roughly 22 members of the OECD, known as the Development Assistance Committee (DAC)."
GlobalIssues.org using OECD figures

Sounds like a lot, huh? Might be, if we paid it. Latest figures show Britain coughing up an embarrassing 0.36% and America trailing well behind, next to bottom of the list, paying out only 0.16% of their GNI despite ratifying the 0.7% target over a decade ago.

Even if America doubled its aid payments, it still wouldn't achieve HALF of what it's been promising to do since 1992.

This isn't about your right to say where your tax dollars go - the governments you (and I) elected in the nineties already made that decision for us. Signing the Live8 petition is nothing more than asking them, finally, to put our money where their mouths have been for the last thirteen years.

The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs has some interesting figures about the amount of aid going to Israel, as an example. Scary numbers - its huge. It doesn't surprise me in the least to discover that the poorest countries receive less that 40% of the aid money that leaves the west every year. The UK pays half what it promised, the US only a quarter, yet even the larger part of that paltry amount seems to be dished out according to political expediency rather than need.

It just sucks.

And So To Africa:

I have heard rational intelligent people argue that the aid will not reach its intended destination. Obviously there is some unacceptable syphoning going on, but what these countries really need is fair trade.

"New research from Christian Aid shows that sub-Saharan Africa is a massive US$272 billion worse off because of 'free' trade policies forced on them as a condition of receiving aid and debt relief"
Christian Aid, 20.June.05

So you see, we give them this paltry percentage of the aid we've been promising them for more than a decade, but for that privelige they HAVE to allow the import of cheap western goods that undermine their own industry or cheap western food that forces their farmers to brutalise the land to try and compete. It all seems to work to make damn sure they never get out of debt. It seems the West makes sure that it 'giveth with the right hand and taketh away with the left'.

And you wonder what the religious fanatics tell the hungry young men, on a recruiting drive?

Please, please, please please sign the Live8 petition. For so many reasons.

And thats the last I'm going to say on the matter. Normal service will be resumed ASAP!

1 comment:

doris said...

Well said. Here, here.