Foreign Aid – When is 0.7% just too much?

The next time your boss swings by your office and says “Henderson…” (It might be of course that your name is not Henderson. It could be Hepworth, Hendricks, Hixcock or Hepplethwaite, but no matter, we will stick to the euphemistic Henderson for now) “Henderson…it’s time we re-evaluated your value to “Haynes, Hunter, Hibbotson Higginbotham and Partners” You might be curious that everyone in the firm has a surname beginning with H but you would be more curious about the subtext behind the word ‘re-evaluated’. Would this re-evaluation lead to an upward tick in the career stock of the eponymous Henderson or some downgrading to junk-stock status where-by access to the Executive washing facilties are cruelly denied? The boss observes a slight nervousness descend over our employee followed by a sharp intake of breath and a dryness of mouth as he reaches for his protein-enhanced, water-filled polystyrene beaker. At this point the florrid cheeks and furrowed brow relax on our boss, Harold Hollingsworth-Huntington, and a smile starts to play on his lips. His voice softens and he restarts. “I mean, Henderson, it’s time for your annual pay raise” As Henderson belatedly exhales, Triple H continues to the climatic denouement…the percentage increase. “This year, Henderson. This fiscal year”, he corrects himself. “The board has instructed me to inform you that in recognition of your outstanding performance in the pursuit of the eradication of the dropped “H” that your salary will increase by nought point seven percent.

If you were the aforementioned Henderson you would be forgiven if you were to wince just a little. Or for your hairs on the back of your head to stand upright, a little heat permeate up from your neck, and cheeks redden at the injustice of it all. As it sinks in your shackles may be raised, your fists clench and knuckles whiten. But no, it’s about to get worse for now Triple H is about to justify the meagre monetary morsel. Your head is in a daze but you pick out words in the ensuing Mea Culpa. You hear “Times are tough”, “retrenchment is necessary”, “inevitable sacrifices to be made” and “the wagons are circling” This final slightly awkward idiom brings you back to your senses. Piecing together what has happened you realize that (A) 0.7% is not a big number and (B) there wasn’t much left to dole out in pay raises after the bosses had looked after themselves.

If 0.7% is such a miniscule, grudging, scrimy, stingy number, then why-oh-why do we decry the 0.7% foreign-aid budget as an unaffordable waste of tax-payers hard-earned money? Of course we do not want to see our money wasted and diverted to corrupt Governments (I mean their corrupt Governments not ours!) to fund wars and not get to the people for which it was intended. Nevertheless we seem to gloss over that we either build high barriers to entry or impose protectionst policies to prevent the free trade of goods and services with these developing countries. We find it non-consequential that Multi-National Companies often dictate the terms of foreign direct investment that involve paying little tax to that country. We mock the notion that freer trade would make these countries less dependent on state hand outs and the development of a prosperous middle-class would buy goods and services from The West and actually protect our jobs. We guffaw at the mere mention that much of the foreign-aid is spent on basic health-care, vaccinations and improvements in basic sanitary conditions, which as a member of a civilized society we should be appalled to observe and even more appalled if our Government ignored.

The saying "It is better to give than receive" has given way to "It's better not to give at all"

One more thought for poor Henderson. After Triple H had wafted over to Hopwood minor’s office he noticed that he had left an envelope on his desk. After fishing for his letter opener in his drawer, ripping open the sealed missive and pulling out his salary check, he was astonished to find that his salary had increased by only 0.3%. You see, it is unfortunate that like foreign-aid, companies and Governments make promises that they do not keep. Henderson will just have to wait for better luck and cross his fingers, just like the poor and the sick in developing countries do every year.

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