How To Do Good, Really

This blog’s traditional Saturday consists of waking up, shaking off Friday’s hangover, going shopping for animal feed and ammunition and then cooking up a delicious pastaciutta while listening to the Delingpole podcast in which the eponymous host talks right wing bollocks with a selected guest.

Delingpole might not be everybody’s cup of tea, but this week’s conversation was actually quite brilliant.  The guest’s name is Harriet Sergeant and she is a Fellow at the (relatively sound) Centre For Policy Studies.  The first part of the podcast discusses Harriet’s work interviewing poor teenage males to find out why they are such losers.  As part of this work she made friends with gang members in Brixton.  The conversation is well worth listening to in its entirety, but the chief take away is that these guys, 15-16 years old,  drop out of school mostly because of problems (particularly with literacy), and make a life for themselves selling drugs and getting into fights.  Jobcentres and welfare are anathema for them as being signs of being losers.  Constantly hungry, failed by their parents (presuambly welfare junkies, all) and by their care homes (teenage boys are for sure more difficult to deal with than girls), all they want is to strive for independence.  Why do so many boys fail at school, especially state schools?  The answer is that state schools are hopelessly feminised.  The biological fact that boys are different from girls is ignored, it’s much easier to deal with girls, there are hardly any male teachers nowadays, and as a consequence boys suffer.  And the most vulnerable end up on the street selling drugs.

The conversation moved on to the manifest failures of the headline charity organisations in Africa and other places, and for sure the same dynamic applies.  By focussing on handing out vast sums of taxpayers’ cash rather than enabling these countries to trade their way out of poverty, the charitable sector and their government backers have managed to piss away over a trillion dollars in 50 years.  The UK government has gven itself an obligation to spend 0.7% of GDP in this way.  Doesn’t matter a fuck what the money is spent on… There is no analysis of what spending produces what results.  They are struggling to give away so much. An amount by the way which corresponds to nearly a half of spending on defence in this country, the government’s fundamental responsability, where the money is spent with equal incompetence but it is rather less difficult to find stuff to spend it on.

The results are plain to see.  East Asian countries such as South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong which have not been overrun with NGOs have done well and are mostly richer than European countries.  All over Africa we see the opposite.

The EU is not without blame of course, its Common Agricultural Policy ensures that tariffs against African agricultural exports keeps them uncompetitive whilst ensuring high prices for European consumers, who therefore get stung twice – once in high food prices and again in taxes to pay to keep africans in poverty, and then again, a third time, to maintain the few rich ones who can afford to escape to Europe to spend the best years of their lives riding around on bicycles, uselessly on the dole.

The young lads documented by Harriet are the spiritual descendents of the men commemorated on every public square in England.  Restless, energetic, ambitious, in need of discipline, hierarchy and a way to fill their lives they should be regarded as a resource not a problem.  But the way to help them and help ourselves is not through the usual failed left shite nostra of welfare.  They want to be independent.  They want to make their lives.


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