Saturday, March 09, 2013

Does Charity Really Begin in Government or at Home

Presumably the answer to both questions   posed in this blog's title is at least now in C21 often, "Yes", as home is where most people first learn  how to live and discern as they develop  from childhood towards adulthood, which hopefully is attained by many yet large Government resources are also used to pay aid etc on which more below.

 Part of many people's human development  involves an appreciation of the lives of fellow human beings and the  hardships that   occur. Being afflicted by hardship or worse at least from time to time,  is part of the human condition.   That there are so many human beings living on the planet  does mean that hardships   abound as obviously do the  happier aspects of life. Essentially questions can arise   as to what hardships affecting some  people should others try to ameliorate? These questions lead to a number of sub questions such as how best to attempt amelioration,  whose hardships to concentrate upon who or what should be responsible for trying to ameliorate them and as importantly as the other questions, what individual responsibility does one have?

In the   UK and elsewhere in Europe there is a sophisticated form of state support for those suffering certain hardships often including financial. Even so many  needy  people still fall outside the scope of the State's safety net. Others who at particular moments in time  have reasonable  personal resources, have to consider what, to whom  and how to provide private support. A difficulty is that there are so many needing support both locally and internationally that very few individuals can on there own make much of a positive impact on relieving others burdens. That presumably is where combining with other people to achieve significant  public benefits can be crucial.  For example charities which set up teams of  runners for the London Marathon each year  combine individuals'  personal fund raising and endurance efforts and produce £millions for the charities which their  runners select. Similarly, where friends or colleagues commit themselves to a particular cause and seek support for their chosen 'charity' then such support often seems well worthwhile.

National governmental 'aid' payments however I am more  sceptical about. Government  'Aid' often seems to have  non-charitable-type strings attached. For example India is a country the economic growth of which is increasing fast. There are many wealthy people there but even more Indians still live in poverty. Should this disparity which exists to some extent everywhere including in the UK, be for the locals to tackle or should third parties try to intervene. Just thinking about that question briefly, leads (me) to the  former answer namely local answers are best. That answer then causes me to speculate that British aid to India today  is probably  affected by much national self interest. Doubtless this applies as much to other countries national aid as to that from the UK; still  relieving poverty  for the poor and destitute is bound to be worthwhile even if the motives are imperfect, personally I am content to let that continue.

On the other hand some 'charity' or 'aid' payments particularly those at governmental level, give the impression of adding to rather than detracting from human misery. Support made by states  to factions in Syria  however well intentioned,  seem to me to fall into that category. I wonder however about the intentions leading to that kind of  quasi-charitable giving. Ultimately the givers are seeking some development in their favour. In my humble opinion that  type of hidden agenda renders the financial payment a non charitable if not actually counter productive transaction, which I would not support.

I wonder if the State is now too involved with charitable giving in a way which is substantially diluting personal responsibility towards the under privileged. This question  is possibly relevant to many of both  Bitish and other, domestic and international arrangements.

 I may be wrong but  I wonder if the comparatively recent development in the UK as regards  ceding much more independence to the Bank of England than was the case  a few years ago,  would  also be beneficial if applied to state funded  international aid and  maybe heaven forbid, even some more  domestic  social security payments? The state would need to set the budget but the difficult  prioritising decisions would be the responsibility of  non-politicians.

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