Thursday, 12 May 2011


Orphans of Liberty have published a piece on the self-perpetuating nature of most charity work.

They start with the example of Ethiopia; Band-Aid did great work in raising funds, finding food, and supplying it to the starving.  As OoL point out, though, nothing was done to address the basic problem that the area was still not very fertile but now had free food.  So while we should be encouraging people to move away to somewhere more fertile, we were in fact attracting people in.

Their other example is homelessness in London, suggesting that by making homelessness a less painful option, we draw people in to a situation where their prospects are non-existent.  If homelessness was more scary, goes the logic, more youngsters would stay at home until they could find and fund a bedsit - from where they could actually progress.

I can follow the logic, but I don't like where it leads us.


  1. It is the ever-present problem with helping people out of a tight spot. Some will take the help and use it as a leg up and an opportunity to help themselves, others will say "cheers" and then wait for the next hand-out when the first one runs out. A safety net rapidly becomes a way of life for some.

    There are no obvious answers. I suspect this question will always be with us.

  2. Your post raises a matter that troubles me. To obtain charity increasingly you have to be vetted, which is designed to bar or discourage people from exploiting the system, as you correctly identified.

    However, increasingly people are encouraged to lie and exaggerate to be portray themselves as worse than the person next to them, in order to secure assistance. DLA - "You are entitled to put down what it is like on the worst day". Bankruptcy - "The TiB will never check the contents of your home." ....this trend is going to get worse and who is there to stop it? It is not a good omen for moral standards in society.

    Btw you have to approve comments now? What made this happen? I have always tried to be polite. Wait until you see me really angry; then I'm irresistible. My comments might not be though. ;-)

  3. No easy answers, I agree.

    M - disruption to comments is thanks to Blogger, seems to be fixed now.