By Arjuna Seneviratne –
In the previous post, I reflected on what giving should be. In this, I will reflect on what giving has become. Both I think should be read in tandem. Enjoy…*winks*
Here are a few:
- Aid effectiveness: Holy freaking cow! Have we so far lost our heads as to believe that giving should only be done if that giving is effective? Asinine.
- Aid market: Eh? You gotta be kidding me here man. Giving as a business? With people competing with each other to give and people competing with each other to get? Blah!
- Aid industry: Yeow! you mean, there are actually a buncha people around who earn a living by industriously engaging in the giving and receiving of help? oh..help!
- Aid chain: A full 40% of the “aid” never reaches the people that it is supposed to assist. Instead, it gets pocketed by tiered ranks of middle men and women. Read, bilateral and multilateral aid agencies, civil society organizations in rich countries, facilitating civil organizations in poor countries, corrupt governments, enforcement agencies and line agencies. Whoa!
- Conditional aid: mmm? Giving that is based on the receivers fulfilling the givers conditions means that the givers are more interested in achieving their perceived outcomes than responding to the real requirements of the people that they are helping. Disgusting.
- Tied aid: Tied, eh? If its tied to the giver it was never given. Period.
Because, in this day and age of cheap communications, they are terrified that at some point, the yawning disparity between those who have and those who have not would reach catastrophic proportions, resulting in a spontaneous combustion of social forces and desperation fuels that will..um… basically…explode in their faces…in various Tiananmenish or Tahriristic squares across the world with a rather messy, inconvenient loss of both affluence and power for the super-heeled of the world.
So, one part of their thinking goes something like this: A few handouts tossed at the mangy scavenging dogs around the world, framed within conditions, insured through tying, facilitated by industry, auctioned through the market and encouraged by effectiveness would keep these mongrels relatively not unhappy, relatively not unfed, relatively not undeveloped so that they can’t really make much of their situations but, more importantly, they don’t reach that critical mass of desperation required to threaten our situations.
The other part of their thinking goes something like this: We got the dough so, what sort of ways are there for us to use it to gain something more than money.. such as say… political bargaining space…capture of strategic geographies…votes in the UN…expansion of our businesses…jobs for are hundreds of thousands of NGO workers, laborers, consultants, researchers, technicians.
For some of these people I feel sorry. The ones I feel sorry for are those slotted in at the middle level inside aid agencies and civil organizations. They are, for most part, pleasant and gentle human beings who actually believe that they are doing some good in the world. I just wish that they had managed to revisit the basics of what constitutes a human being before they embarked on their various crusades across the planet.
For some of these people I do not feel sorry. The ones I do not feel sorry for are the manipulatively affluent at every level of the “aid chain” raking and skimming so that each lower level gets a “handout” that keeps them relatively not unhappy.
What is the upshot of this insanity? Obviously, nothing wholesome. Poverty production in the name of poverty reduction. Conflict escalation in the name of conflict mitigation. Marginalization in the name of empowerment. Destruction in the name of construction. A planet destabilized in the name of stabilization. This, none can escape. Not the affluent. Not the middle-makers. Not the iffy governments. Not the corrupt rulers.
The people at the lower end of the spectrum already know this is true. It is time that those at the upper end realize this. For when there is a personal agenda driving anything couched within the broad term “giving”, that’s what one will get. And I mean get.