Monday, 19 January 2015

Capitalism will eliminate poverty if we let it (and ignore Oxfam)


The world's plutocrats are gathering in Davos. And, in its annual tradition Oxfam has issued an update of its report on how us evil capitalist bastards are responsible for all that death and starvation in Africa. If only we would tax ourselves more and give the good folk at Oxfam more aid money then things would be fine. The problem is that Oxfam is utterly committed to promoting policies that sustain poverty - its stated aim is to make subsistence farming "sustainable" thereby keeping those peasant farmers just above the point of starvation through the use of aid money.

This article argues that policies used by middle and high-income countries are unsuitable for poorer, agricultural countries; it recommends instead that these nations promote broader access to land and raise land productivity. The authors explain why instruments used by richer countries, such as those that control prices and cheapen food, fail in poorer countries. They describe the features of smallholder farmers in poorer countries, drawing upon evidence from India, Peru, and Guatemala to demonstrate how subsistence farming can be part of policy responses to the distress of a food crisis in both the short and medium term. They call upon donors to improve their understanding of and support for small-scale, subsistence-oriented farming.

What Oxfam are saying here is that it's different in these poor countries and that the thing that made us western folk rich - capitalism - isn't going to work. Indeed, it is utterly shocking that Oxfam support policies that lead to more expensive food, less efficient agriculture and the maintaining of abject poverty in poor countries. So when you reach into your pocket for some change to put in that Oxfam tin or sponsor some well-meaning niece in her swimming or running, think for a second where that money is going. I'm not talking about administration costs here or even the buying of top end 4x4s for aid workers but the policies - policies that sustain poverty in Africa - that Oxfam supports.

The truth is that, not only is Oxfam wrong, but their support for protectionist policies at Davos actively advances the very agenda of those plutocrats and prevents Africa from challenging the dominance of the west. Instead of wibble about taxation or the liberal use of the word 'neoliberalism' what Oxfam needs to demand is an end to agricultural protection in the developed world, a more open banking system and the wider promotion of property rights, free markets and free trade.

Over the past three decades that neoliberalism - the thing Oxfam wants to blame for the ills of the world - has resulted in a billion people escaping abject poverty. Better still, for many of that billion the escape from poverty has been an escape from the tyranny of dirt-scrabble farming. They've moved to the city from where they can play a small part in creating exciting, free and innovative societies - just as happened in the west. Oxfam and its fellow travellers stand - using our cash - between people and the realisation of this dream.

I wrote this a while back - it is still true:

Sit back, put a smile on you face - punch the air with joy. You and me - capitalists both - have sat getting a little richer for thirteen years while a billion folk have escaped absolute poverty. All the international trade, all those businesses and those business folk filling the posh seats in aeroplanes flitting across the world - they've done that, they've lifted those people out of poverty.

Tell Oxfam to either get out of the way or get with the neoliberalism that is ending poverty more quickly that at any time in human history.



Anonymous said...

Just curious, don't you think your attributing a lot to neoliberalism there?

There´s been a lot of other things happening in the last 3 decades including a computing revolution where my smartphone can do substantially more than a super computer the size of a room 3 decades ago. I suppose you can attribute that to neoliberalism too if you choose to ignore the substantial contributions made by governments and individuals. Android is based on an open source operating system after all.

jOHN nEWELL said...

The solution:

Procedure By Which conservatives Could Control Parliament

If UKIP  is  Lucky,  UKIP could  get,   perhaps,  get   ten to thirty   seats
in  Parliament.  Do  not   forget,   the  public  still regards  UKIP  as   a
one  issue  party.  To gain  control of  Parliament  UKIP  and  (and frie-
nds) should  form a  new  conservative  party  with  a  platform that is 
close to that of the existing Conservative party, omitting, of course, 
policies that are objectionable to conservatives. The purpose would
be to make a bed that would be easy for conservatives to slide into,
including  the eighty  percent  of  the Conservatives who left Conser-
vative  associations. UKIP and the  conservatives  should   then  form
 a  political  association  in  each  parliamentary  district.   UKIP   could
merge with the new party, thus getting rid of the one issue problem. 
Every one who would have worked  to  form  the new,  conservative,
 party   should   be   prevented   from    joining    the    new   party    for
a  period   of time  to  prevent  the  impression  that  UKIP  controls  it.
The two or three conservative parties should hold a primary election
to determine who runs as the Parliamentary candidate, with the losers
to help the winner. The cost of forming new associations can be raised
by local contributors. It is suggested that the  new   conservative   asso-
ciations and the political party be controlled by the lowest level of con-
servatives, such as teachers, small businessmen, solicitors, professionals
etc. If the  above   procedure   can  not  be  completed  in  time  to   get 
candidates   elected   to    Parliament,  the  new  party  must  wait  until
after the  election  and  hold  a  petition  demanding  that  the  elected
MP  resign. Note: an MP  represents   every  person  in  his  district,  not
just members and   supporters of his party. When the petition reaches
fifty percent of those who voted in the prior election, the conservatives
will be morally justified in demanding their MP"s resignation. Then the
new party could run their  candidates  in  the  following by elections. 
To select a candidate, a local  association should  advertise  for applicants
or the position of candidate for  Parliament, then  select   the   best  app-
licant  by using rigorous tests, including, most importantly,  psychological 
evaluation. psychological evaluation is an absolute necessity as the psych-
ological evaluation is the only way to tell who is honest and who is a con-
artist; members of the public  cannot.  Testing  could  be  required  of the 
association  officers,  committee  members and delegates, etc.

The platform, selected by new party associations,  should be some what
 vague in order to facilitate integration  the platforms of the  new  assoc-
iations into one platform. It is suggested that self forming cliques of those
who are   honest  and   trust  worthy  be formed;  then form   self  forming
cliques of those who have   political skills  and  capabilities,  within  the
first described clique.

The corruption in Ukip is a cause for concern. Information about the corr-
uption may bee seen on the following websites:

John Newell