Disparity Feature Film


Far from here, in my home county,
I first saw crushing poverty in 1962. In the back streets of Hong Kong and later in the same year, I saw worse in Delhi and in, Indian villages. We economists are interested in people’s well-being, which we measure as utility. In the richer countries most of us,
do in truth, live quite well. But there in India I saw
people who plainly had too little to eat, had nowhere to sit or lie comfortably,
had diseases no one was trying to cure and many had never been to school. As far as I could tell they were
much of the time miserable. Aren’t our basic needs almost
universally the same? Yet by the chances of life some are miserable while others live well, how do we live with that? Passing through a slum on the edge of my
ancestral hometown of New Delhi drifting towards the city with a groans
systematic struggle. Women toiling in the hot Sun, carrying bricks on their heads, upholding misery. Working in appalling conditions, rolling the dice, chancing ill health, accident and death. I noticed a lady in her saree, weakened, worn out from
hard labor spent for she was building a palace for some rich guy. Dulled by the
monotony she wrestled with hunger each day. She returns home to her squalor, to the
frustration of how to feed her children, , who are excluded from knowledge because they
too are forced into merciless labor. But the rich man’s child studies.
Invents, goes on to create and direct.
He finds his place in the world. Her hands are blistered from injustice. She’s denied self-expression; to comprehend, to know or
maybe to enrich our civilization. The higher self she craves is mutilated. For
she is trapped in the dungeon named poverty. She covertly aspires but the
world’s ostentation mocks her. Her delusions humiliates her. She looks out
at a world of plenty, but a faraway faith is trampled on. This
was my first experience of poverty and the plight unraveled before me – economic
segregation was the root of all her fury, and the shame I faced as a
free citizen of the world. This is not our highest humanity,
but a dismal disparity. Being an economist I asked myself how
much it would cost to turn this misery into comfortable well-being. Economics is
about applying money labor and resources where they can do most good. Surely would be much cheaper to improve the lives of these people struggling on a tiny income
than to improve the lives of well-off people to the same extent. But it is not
enough to have ideas about measuring the lives of the poor, or about policies that
could improve them. For me as an economist ideas
have to change the world
or what is the point. Disparity A Film By
Renu Mehta Narration by
Sir Ben Kingsley Director of Photography
Kane Kramer Music by
Red Bennet Executive Music Producer
Alex Heffes Executive Producers
Renu Mehta
Kane Kramer Producer
Bruno Wang Inequality Today the way we have built economics, people
not at the center of the economics. Somehow the money is
the center of the economics, people are treated like a trash, as a kind of things
that has need to be done and they are the pyramid builders, to build a pyramid
for them, they don’t have their own existence. That is an insult to human
being, human being is the center of the whole planet and that’s what we should
be doing. Each one, little kid who is born in the street he is the center of the
world like anybody else. what we’ve seen increasingly is increasing inequalities, disparities between the top 1% and everybody else or the top 5% and
everybody else. We also see continuing disparities between the countries that
are doing very well and the countries that are being left behind. It’s not the
case that a rising tide lifts all boats. What we’ve learned is that some boats
can rise very fast, but that tide can actually lead to smaller boats being
smashed in the waves that associated with those tides. So our
economic policies have to recognize, that this is one of the most important
problems of the 21st century. It’s a moral problem, but it goes beyond that
it’s a political social and economic problem. The World today is an amazing
place, I mean you look at people around here in Cambridge many of them, what they
spend in a day is more than what, you know, a quarter of the world’s
population spends in a year. Something like,
of that order of magnitude. The life expectancy
difference between people living in a good part of Mumbai and one of the
Mumbai slums would be well over 15 years. A Kilo of our
great organic Arabica coffee you buy from the farmer in the mountains of
Timor-Leste for 30 cents. In Hong Kong, you can sell it for $200 a Kilo. So these are the disparities,
that make the West rich. The rich have got the pan by the
handle. A typical FTSE CEO earns as much in a year as 10,000 people working in garment factories in Bangladesh. There’s income inequality, there are
large health inequalities, there are inequalities of opportunity, one of the
most revealing aspects of wealth inequality, One family the Waltons,
together have as much wealth as the bottom 30% or so of our whole society.
Two families the Koch brothers and the Waltons have as much wealth as roughly
the bottom 44 percent of our society. In a way this is testimony to how wealthy
they are, but it’s also testimony to how poor the bottom half of our population
is. But it’s also testimony to the fact that trickle-down economics doesn’t work. There’s growing discontent about the collusion
between political and business elites who are starting to hoard wealth and hoard power. For a tiny sector of the population
actually a fraction of 1% wealth is concentrated beyond the dreams of
avarice and those are policy decisions. So for example, this has been correlated among many other things with sharp lowering of taxes for the very rich
which of course has these effects and it’s worth noticing that that’s against public
opinion this whole period has called for higher taxes on the wealthy and that tells you something about the meaning of inequality. So at all stages
of the system the rich are able to entrench
and increase their institutional power and the poor find themselves
pushed down and out if you think that they’re just a few creaming off all the resources and all
the income in a society it makes I think for less harmony and
less ability to work together. Now what is the practical damage that inequality does on the one hand it I think breeds social conflict because clearly when you have your neighbor you know showing sort of ostentatious display in weddings and you
know having fancy possesions and you have, you don’t know where your next meal is coming from you can be sure that it’s gonna cause tensions. This widening gap really is raising the tension
in the fabric of our societies in Africa and
elsewhere. It means some people are gonna really fall off out of the equation and
that is serious. People losing hope, people feel really disenfranchised, are
alienated, we end up with strange phenomena like terrorists, violence or waves of migration. Our societies are falling apart and that’s because, I believe underlying it and the factors that are driving it is growing inequality some people
just feel the system is not working for them. I think we’re in a very dangerous few decades where we combine very very wide
differences in prosperity between countries that are increasingly neighbors of each other, increasingly neighbors because the the costs of connectedness, have fallen a lot and so people are well aware of life elsewhere. The disparity between rich and poor is growing increasingly rapidly. The world’s population is going to grow from 2015, to the middle of the century
from around 7 billion to over 9 billion, we hope living standards will improve in
that time. So, we have to ask ourselves the question how can the extra demand
for food be managed? We’re talking about profound change, change of a kind that the world hasn’t seen in the case of 3 degrees centigrade, for 3 million years.
A fundamental rewriting of the relationships between human beings and
the planet, one that will affect us all, one that will involve the movement of hundreds of
millions of people and that likely to cause conflict and we also know that
conflict hits poor people particularly hard and conflict is enormously
destructive development. For the three billion plus people are going to be
living in shanty towns in decades to come there’s a real threat of deep
poverty. So that is, will they have the jobs, will they have the incomes, will they
have the infrastructure, the water, the sanitation, the roads, the electricity and
will they be able to connect with the opportunities of globalization, massive opportunity but also new threats and the new threats are marginalization. This is humanity’s agenda which connects all continents, religions, cultures and issues that are vital to our common security and wider global interests. The great drama of our time, being to lift the bottom billion out of poverty. To provide
credible hope. Poverty is not inevitable. It is not a fate, it’s not destiny.
Circumstances arise cause extreme poverty have to do with wars, instability,
has to do with corruption in our own countries, incompetence, waste,
mismanagement etc. So it’s not inevitable. Poverty is built into the system itself,
poverty is not caused by people, it’s imposed on them,
it is something coming from outside making people be poor, remain poor and so
on because the current system what we call Capitalism, is basically a
sucking machine, it sucks juice from the bottom and transports it
to the top. So over time top becomes very juicy and the bottom becomes dry and
that’s what we call poverty. in 2012 roughly 85% of the developing world’s population lived on less than $13 per day, the same as the official United States poverty line in 2005 Inequality translates very quickly into
inequality of political power, of decision-making in the political system.
So it’s self generating, wealth, as wealth concentrates, so does political power. Which leads to decisions, political decisions that increase the cycle of
inequality and marginalize the public. In most but not all countries, within the
country there is an increase in inequality. I say most countries because
there are some countries bucking the trend Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, a number
of the countries in Latin America and that to me shows that this increase in
inequality is not the inevitable result of just economic forces.
It is the result of policies. The countries that have managed to reduce inequality instituted policies that were directed at that and they succeeded. Unfortunately many other
countries including the United States policies have been put into place which
predictably and predicted, have led to more inequality. Nowadays there’s a new
disparity people hardly know there is a difference between people who understand
and others who are just being, manipulated. Government Aid Over the years aid has been increasingly
targeted on poor people. The Millennium Development Goals with their explicit
objective to reduce poverty in its various forms, income poverty, education
poverty, health poverty and so on. Those Millennium Goals did lead to much
greater focus on poverty through aid around projects directly which could
employ poor people, increase agricultural productivity, get the children of poor
people to school and so on. That kind of aid has helped lift incomes in
developing countries and thereby reduced inequality. When the MDGs were adopted in
September 2000, there was a redoubling of the commitment to pay 0.7 percent of
the GDP to support International Development Assistance. What is also commonly known as ODA, Overseas Development Assistance. If you were to look at the gap in the 0.7 percent, you could, some people
have said that said it runs into almost $1 trillion. If you put it in perspective 0.7 percent is,
as a percentage it’s peanuts, really you can’t even really notice it in an overall budget. When I was running the Millennium Campaign we had this pizza, which we had created
and we were trying to find out you know when you cut that pizza and try and get
0.7% of that it’s not even a crumb. So, so if you want to do it I mean you can do
it, if you do want to do it you’re going to find a hundred reasons not to do it.
Unfortunately the reality is that the rich countries there’s very few
countries that are giving 0.7%. If you take out the Nordics and the Dutch and the UK, most recently, there’s almost no country which meets the 0.7% number. There is an enormous amount
of skepticism about foreign aid First of all in, and I’m only
talking about the United States now people if you ask most Americans how
much money do you think we spend on foreign aid they’ll say thirty forty
dollars out of a hundred and of course that’s wrong we spend less than I think
1/10 of 1%. It’s relatively very very low. We have very few European countries that
have shown, generosity, solidarity and wisdom. Because, it’s not only generosity
it’s not only solidarity, it’s wisdom. You do not support developing countries
struggling against poverty. You have, you help
creating social tensions, political instability, conflicts, of course
exacerbated by in many situations poor leadership in these countries. So what
you do you end up with refugees flocking to your doorsteps and then what you do
you erect walls, so it is really myopic. You know thinking that you can resolve
your fiscal problems, your deficits by sacrificing oversee developing budget. One of the main problem is development has never been a main agenda. In 2016, 63 victims were killed global terrorist attacks compared to 15,343 children who died before their fifth birthday due to global poverty. DAILY Colonial history, is very often being
forgotten. What we did leave behind was to a very large extent, I would say
destruction, destruction of cultures, destruction of an economy, we were
pillaging countries. British Empire was built oppression, hegemonic power, extraction of resources
and killing of the indigenious people. Once they made a lot of money
they want to give something back that’s ok and that’s great but that’s peanuts compared to what is extracted from developing countries. Historically a lot
of the aid was given bilaterally. Bilateral are the individual donor
government programs. And the objective, was not so much to foster development and particularly pro-poor development but it was really given as part of a
country strategic foreign policy. Win friends, influence people, maintain
economic influence in countries. In a lot of bilateral programs, reducing poverty
isn’t really the main purpose of the program. It’s that commercial calling
card for the nations government ministers going to call upon Brazil or
China or whatever. So we shouldn’t judge, good aid by total aid because total aid
is contaminated by these extraneous reasons. I think international support is
very important and also it’s not just about the quantity of support it’s the
quality of support in many many cases we unfortunately we’ve found this whole
phenomenon of tied aid, so if a government gives aid they want to take it in the
other hand so if you want British money historically, you had to buy British Land Rover jeeps or you know, trucks and this the kind of nonsense which goes on at the same time, so I mean its not just quantity but its also quality. We produce some of the best banana’s in the world, and do you realise that Australian troops were eating banana’s brought from Australia. The objective is supposedly to help
developing countries but it’s actually to favor exporting industries in the
donor countries. Some countries impose conditions like Japan, impose conditions. If you have a Japanese aid, let’s say, Japan decide to donate 100 million
dollars for infrastructure developing in my country the bidding process is only among Japanese.
It not open to the rest of the world. We had the Tanzania air traffic control scandal. This was an air traffic control
system being sold by British Aerospace as it then was, Tanzania didn’t have any
military aircraft so it wasn’t needed if the government is miss spending money on
a useless air traffic control system and we’re giving money into the government’s
budget in order to fund the Department of Education in Tanzania in order to
improve its education system, in effects the aid money is paying for the air
traffic control system. Later on the American courts found it was corrupt and required British Aerospace to pay back money to Tanzania. So the tying of foreign flows
has to do with the fact that once they’re at your doorstep you
have no choice. You pretend to donate 50 million dollars to Timor Leste or Bangladesh but actually this 50 million dollars a lot of it will be spent on buying your
own equipment whether Japanese technology or German technology and then
you ship off to Bangladesh and you have to bring in Japanese or German
specialists who will do the assesment, the survey, all the studies so out of this
money a lot is stayed behind. When they say you know we provided a hundred million
dollars and when they say we provide a hundred million dollars, I guarantee you
many of these European companies they start getting ready, oh there are a
hundred million dollars going to Timor-Leste,
so let’s line up to try to get a good chunk of the contracts. Aid for trade: UK’s new deal The lobby in their country for aid, a very
powerful part of that lobby for aid, are the companies that are going to benefit from
the tied aid and from the fact that some of the aid has to be spent on the
nation’s own companies. Indeed I’ve met ambassadors who complain that all their ever has asked to do is run parties, you know in the countries they’re working in for
British firms who are trying to sell their products in the country concerned. Companies invest a lot in lobbying, there are more lobbyists in Brussels than there are civil servants in Brussels. So we talk about the effectiveness of
aid, I think also need to get out of tied aid, I mean there’s so many examples
where aid is conditioned. You must buy, I’m giving you ten dollars but you must
use these ten dollars to buy from my, my company here and even so your product really
doesn’t do the job or it is double the international prices I can get somewhere else,
no I have to do it this way of course that devalues the aid. I think we should be
a little bit more transparent in offering aid I mean that’s that
that’s the proper thing to do. The economic objectives are bizzare which is sort of,
you know, you give aid but you say you have to buy it from a French company or
Italian company that’s just pure waste there’s no, I mean you could just give
that money straight to that company or no, but you know, you the way where you
do it is sort of distorts what gets done it creates scope for corruption it’s
just, in every possible way a disaster so that I see no advantage to the economic
tying of aid. You see that the Department for International Development giving massive contracts to great big British commercial consultancy firms so that’s a form of tying and I’m not sure Adam Smith International, PwC and so on are the most obvious managers of aid programs that really understand the conditions in
developing countries but that’s the way British Aid seems to be going. The main powers which you have to to confront are not your colleagues in the cabinet.
They are big business, they are the powers who, more or less would be very
much interested in continuing the colonial relations of the past in neo-colonial forms they are the powers who have an
interest in a financial system which is not at all interested in poor people,
neither in Africa nor in Europe. They are the powers who want to continue
you to deliver arms and arms to developing countries. They are the
powers who want to dump our European agriculture products on the markets of
Africa so that the women over there aren’t going to earn any money anymore by selling
chicken or tomatoes on the village market. On the basis of technology
subsidies and quota, protecting our own farmers, with the result that products of developing countries are not easily coming on to the European market and that overproduction is easily being dumped on the markets of developing countries. Under the Department of
Agriculture in the United States, when there’s an excess
of production we want to keep the farmers, we want to ensure that our
farmers are continuing to, to produce goods. So the Department of Agriculture
buys the excess grains from, from farmers in the United States and then gives that
as aid to other countries. Now this sounds like a great idea
there’s too much rice in the United States, we subsidize the rice farmers and
then we give the rice way to starving people and in developing countries well
this is a typical example of how a good charitable idea goes horribly wrong. So a
few years ago there was an excess of rice in the United States and what did
we do we sent it to Haiti. So the US rice was selling at a dollar a bag and the
Haitian grown rice was selling at three dollars bag, so we wiped out the Haitian
rice market. The next year all the Haitian rice farmers didn’t plant rice
because they had been wiped out the year before but that year the US government
didn’t send rice to Haiti and so there were rice riots. Then Haiti becomes
dependent on foreign aid for rice and so this is an example of of aid
gone, gone terribly wrong. For several Donor Countries more than 75% of contracts goes back to suppliers from their own jurisdication Many aid activities nowadays serve
much more the interest of the donor countries by linking it again to, to the
interests of companies of Western countries but also linking it to our
geopolitical interests we tell many developing countries that they can
receive resistance if they behave politically. I come with an example Egypt,
we had Arab Spring, people rising up for democracy and human rights. The final outcome of that so-called revolution was a strengthening of the military regime
with just another person, the military stayed as strong as they were. There are
more people in jail now than even under under Mubarak, there are more human rights
violations than before and a little more assistance to Egypt from Western
countries because he now stays our friend. Unfortunately the international
community until now they support the dictator regime and they support the
corrupted regime we suffer from their, from their conspiracy and from their
absence and from their silence. Egypt is, is a very poor country but it’s much
much much richer than the poorest countries in Sub-Saharan Africa. it’s the biggest recipient of US aid in all of Africa. And this is directly a result of Egypt’s decision to
accommodate with Israel. I think if we were transparent about what was being
achieved there maybe that’s fine, maybe it was a good, you know, you buy off some
army people in Egypt and you get some, you know, some chance for peace maybe
that’s worth it, but I think we should label it as such. If we re-labeled it
when we use then the aid budget would look a lot smaller and that would be
fine then people wouldn’t feel that you know we are spending so much money for
the poor and nothing’s happening. In the case of Britain we’re always seeking to
sell arms, in fact it’s 80% of the arms sold in the world are sold by the five
permanent members of the Security Council and of course they in turn are
supposed to be protecting international peace and security so that’s the kind of
distortion at the heart of international power in the multilateral system that’s
quite a worry. International assistance is necessary for a number of reasons for instance reconstruction after a war however, if you as a Western country are
responsible also for that war. Which has been the case in quite a number of countries and then you give assistance in order to overcome some of the
consequences by means of reconstruction and you carry that out with your own
companies, I would say that is perverse. It’s a waste of money and that is to a large extent being done in Iraq, in Afghanistan and in Libya, is going to be done in Syria, they use taxpayers money and public money in order to do that. The causes of war are; racial
hatred, arms trade, arms race, exploitation of the poor and all these are causes of
war and the consequences are dire as we have seen in Afghanistan in Iraq in
Syria. Where not only millions of people have perished
but trillions of dollars has been spent and just imagine what we could have done
with the trillions of dollars. We could have lift the poor out of their poverty. There have been examples where Aid has been very tightly tied to the particular
political interests or commercial interests of the donor country. One
famous example was the Pergau Dam in Malaysia where it was pretty clear at a
time that the reason that this project was being pushed because the local
politicians were looking for arms supplies and the supplier of the aid or
the intended supplier of the aid, this case, the British government was looking
for arms deals. So in the case of famously, the Pergau Dam case. Britain did offer aid, I think for building bridges in Malaysia or something like
that small bridges in return for selling British helicopters. So that was a direct
trade off which is found illegal by the British courts. The danger then comes
that the military say give us the aid and they’re spending as well as killing
people they’re spending aid to try and get them on their side and then the aid
gets mixed up with military objectives and then nobody in the receiving country
trusts the aid workers and you get high levels of killing of aid workers, which
is happening in Afghanistan and so on. The figures I have seen is that only 10%
of money pledged to Afghanistan, actually spent in Afghanistan. Much of the
ODA for many many years was very misrepresented for instance when a
European Union country talk about let’s say a hundred million dollars to country
a or to, to my country Timor Leste well actually the best most optimistic
estimation is that, only 30 percent of that money pledged actually is spent in
the country in infrastructure, education,
training, job creation etc 70% of the money is actually spent by consultants,
officials traveling back and forth endless report writing, you know in my
own country in ten years we had 3,000 reports
expert studies, done on a country of 1 million. We were psychoanalysed from every possible angle. Do we need more studies? I have to say, even the UN sometimes does
absolutely silly things do you realize, that the UN has a Special Rapporteur on
extreme poverty and what does a Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty does when
she comes to my country well to talk to the poor people that do you realize
you’re poor. Norway, which is a very progressive country but they’ve got a very big NGO sector and Norwegian NGOs campaign very hard for a high aid spend
and a lot of it goes through them so then there’s a tying that no I must use
Norwegian NGOs. So it’s not all bad guys in this, it’s not just commercial companies, it’s sometimes NGOs have an interest in this. Aid tying is an old
scandal that’s still going on in many countries. It’s a recipe for the
disastrous use of aid, it’s a recipe for failure and then everyone can say oh
look at this it doesn’t work. There’s a crisis of trust in the aid world.
Taxpayers don’t trust aid agencies to do a good job. Sometimes they’re right,
sometimes they’re wrong, but unless we rebuild that trust aid
isn’t going anywhere. In 2014, over 17.4% of foreign aid budgets were tied to donor interest. This amounts to just over US $14 billion which was the equivalent of these UN agencies: – UNICEF Children, WHO Health, UNHCR Refugees I think what’s really, I think misleading
is this sort of this mismatch between the volume of, the so-called volume of
aid and the real aid that goes out to people who need it. So this has to be something
that societies themselves come to the realization that if they want to
be useful, if they want to be maximally useful, they better not tie their aid. There are many governments who’ve untied, there’s no question that it can be
untied, you know all of these, whether it is the Western donor governments or the
government’s in the developing world it finally boils down to political
commitment to doing things, I mean there’s no reason why it can’t be untied, absolutely not. Fortunately, many countries now have started to move away from that, still we see examples happening there, it’s not only the West.
China do that some times and others do it as well and I think we really need to get over that. In the US for example the
Millennium Challenge corporation, which Bush set up. For all his faults was an
attempt to tie the hands of policy makers so that aid could not be used
except based on some evidence, so there was some real attempt to reform aid.
I think there has been substantial progress and especially the last 15
years. One of the big changes in the processes by which aid is administered is, if we believe in democracy, the responsibility for how money is spent
should be left largely up to the governments and the people of the
country. The role the aid donors should be to provide them with more resources
and transfer knowledge, advice but the ultimate responsibility lies with the
government and the people of each country. Why are we poor?
I think we are poor because we have mismanaged our resources.
We have mismanaged our resources both human resources and natural resources
this is a question of good governance really. The biggest accountability gap we
have is a state citizen accountability gap the unfortunate reality is that a
lot of the programs don’t reach the people either because of inefficiencies, but often also because of corruption and misuse of resources We’re talking about
billions and trillions all the time wasted. Transparency The amount of money flowing out of
Africa in illicit financial flows is double the amount of aid it receives and
it can be as much as three times. So you ask what’s going on here?
We’ll give one with our left hand and we’ll take two by our right hand and then we go to sleep happily knowing that we help those poor people. One of the big problem
we have is that it’s not just that these people have become superbly, I mean
sort of extremely rich in a short period of time, very often it’s linked to tax
evasion and you know, dodgy tax deals inter-corporate deals which are
really murky. Where dictators are gonna hide their money? They are not good to put it in the
bank accounts or you know they’re not walk to the branch around the
corner and deposit the million in it they did put it in all these anonymous
companies, so this is a wonderful vehicle for criminals, petty criminals, normal
criminals and political climates and economic criminals and we need really to
banish this form of companies. Shell companies are legal constructs devised not
by lawyers in Africa, but by lawyers in London which conceal the true ownership
of companies and the bank accounts that they open in secrecy havens around the
world and shell companies turn out to be the main vehicle for corrupt money. So
it’s very important to, to bust that legal structure. And we need to ask our
politicians why we still have that class of companies available and this class of
companies are not only in leafy offshore islands. No they’re in United States, they’re in UK. We
need to deal with that otherwise all our talk about corruption frankly is just, is
just plain talking, it’s not serious. And so the task is for G20 countries to put
our house in order so that we’re not inadvertently aiding
and abetting the crooks who are the enemies of the people who are trying to,
to lift their societies out of poverty. Politicians don’t corrupt themselves,
politicians have partners in the process of corruption. Developing countries lose US $100bn
every year to tax dodging. What has been delivered? Is there food on the table? What’s unemployment, jobs, pay etc. What’s the state of the rural sector? These are the things you
really, freedom of association, if I stand and, and, and I express my views will
somebody come and beat me up. Are we free to express our views? Are
wefree to choose the people who want to choose for office or any
representative position. This, this is really all about governance. Of the World’s population 39% are free 25% are partly free 36% are not free If we talk about aid for instance the
last months we had a case in Venezuela where four journalists working
for a website had to flee from the country because they feared repression
after they exposed that a Colombian executive close to the Venezuelan
president had made much money selling food on inflated price for a program
designed to feed Venezuelan Poor’s. We’re in a new age where it’s much easier to
get proper rigorous evaluation of the effectiveness of aid. There are cases when
you can notice that some report change things for instance those investigative
journalists working on world level who produced the Panama papers or in Europe
the Lux leaks, which prompted the judicial authorities to take steps and which had
and will have also, as a consequence the changes on policies because those global frauds, are now, can be denounced. How do we make sure that the justice issue is not
forgotten as we move ahead and fundamentally it’s about are people
empowered, do they have information. I would refer to Reuters report on the Rohinga
situation in Myanmar, which helped and which pushed the American
authorities to, to ask for independent inquiry about the situation and also to
ask for the two journalists who produced information to be released because they
had been detained. Everywhere we look, we see new ways of holding governments to
account for the promises they make people are using information technology,
communication technology, to gather new information so that politicians can’t
tell us lies so that politicians have to live up to the promises they make. There is an old saying that press is the fourth power. You have the legislative,
the executive and the judicial power and they say the press is the fourth.
I definitely prefer the expression journalists are the watchdogs of
democracy. They report and they bring the public opinion non-official
news to help citizen build their own opinion and in this sense I
would say there is no democracy without Press Freedom and journalists contribute
to the development of the democratic life. Media is very important, is the icon
of democracy, is the key for all freedoms, rights, if we want to reach to the good
governance, we should guarantee the press freedom. Sometimes journalists pay the
highest price for their jobs, their lives. Some journalists remain very long time,
500, 600 days in jail without coming before a judge and of course it’s a
scandal the journalists are killed because they are doing their job but the
biggest scandal is the nine assassinations on 10
of journalists remain unpunished. We need to balance the perception and the discussion about Africa leadership. We have some criminals but we have some wonderful people just
like everybody else. You guys had, Hitler, you had,
Mussolini, you had Berlusconi, you had all kind of people there. It implies that
Africa public sector is full of crooks, there are some crooks there, but
basically there’s a lot of people with integrity in these jobs and they’re
struggling against terrible odds. I think the most important thing to ensure that the money that is given in aid is, is well-spent, greater transparency and
greater involvement of those who are going to receive, supposed to benefit
from the money they are the ones who are most incentivized to make sure that the
money isn’t wasted, they want to make sure that the money that was intended
for them actually gets to them. I have to say my brothers and sisters in
the developing world, the elites developing world, stop criticising the west until ourselves, we resolve problems of corruption, dishonesty, mismanagement, in our own countries. My own view is that this claim that
there’s lots of corruption is very, very, very much exaggerated and it’s part of
the attack on aid. Democracy cannot evolve and blossom
overnight, it is a long-term process Delivery Channels What’s needed is to channel aid through
institutions and organizations which subject themselves to proper evaluation
and so build trust. Pick your partner ask, for the right kind of
processes and audit afterwards those are all ways in which we can
reduce corruption. There has to be a more simplified
process, there has to be less bureaucracy, because bureaucracy, means time,
bureaucracy means money spent on itself and then you have a exacerbating the
conditions in the country because of the slow delivery, implementation of the
promised aid. Not all aid should be spent on things which are easily demonstrated
to be effective, if we go that route of only things that can be clearly
demonstrated to be effective, we’d end up with a lot of bed nets, but no efforts to
for example reduce corruption and so the things that are hard to evaluate are
sometimes very important. I think that aid can come and
should come in a number of ways. In civil disasters like a major tsunami
or something like that UN agencies are really the only
first possible responders, along with many NGOs like the Red Cross or Red Crescent and others and it very much depends on where, when, which institution has relative strengths and weaknesses, how one directs aid, the key thing is that there is aid and that the resources are there on time. The NGOs have a particularly important role to play in those countries where
governments are weak but even in countries where governments are strong.
I think they can play an important complementary role to that of the, you
might say, more governmental institutions. The advantage that NGOs have, is that
they can innovate, that’s their big advantage. Is that they can in some sense, a
government can’t really say we tried this and we failed because failure
is, it’s very hard to admit failure. Civil society is very strong, very
creative, very active, very dynamic. At the moment the NGOs are run as beautiful
boutiques, because a photo of the boutique is what puts money in the tin. One of the assumptions that many people make is that the aid industry is full of NGO types you know doing good going traveling the
world, but if you actually look at the facts a tiny sliver of the aid budget
actually goes to those non-governmental organizations and increasing amounts of
it goes to big business whether it’s accounting firms or defense firms who
have been contracted to build things. We need to really get to the bottom of why
it is that so much public money is being spent on these big businesses and not in
those non-governmental organizations or charities that people want to support. In 2013, only 11.6% of major Donor Country Aid was channelled to and through charitable Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), So where does the rest of the foreign aid budget go? The multilateral moment, was basically
after the Second World War. By multilateral, I mean the organizations
like the World Bank, the United Nations that pool our resources in some sort of
coherent management structure. The IMF is the world’s best repository for example of advice on taxation. It’s been involved in many countries in the improvement of
the way that tax revenue is spent now those two things have a vital effect
on the ability of a country to handle it’s own affairs. There have been occasions where it has been a bit doctrinaire, in terms of the kinds of policies that it has tried to impose. The World Bank is rather different, the
World Bank gives loans. The World Bank is a multilateral donor and lender and many
countries supply their own aid resources through the World Bank you
build up in those circumstances areas of expertise which can be shared and used
to support developing countries. The most successful story China, not only has it
had rapid economic growth but it’s made large efforts to ensure that the benefits of that growth are shared by people at the bottom. If you look at the way in which
China accelerated during the 1980s and 90s, a lot of that was with a strong involvement of policy advice particularly from the World Bank In multilateral institutions, where those institutions reflected to some extent the interest of the major shareholders,
in particular the United States. We can’t have a situation where the United States determines who’s the president of the
World Bank, we can’t have a situation where Europeans get to say who’s the
executive director of the IMF, I mean, that’s outdated, arcane, in a world where
power dynamics are changing. Where the economic reality is changing so quickly. I am very strongly in favor of such different multilateral organizations
provided that they are really multilateral, so covering all countries
and not only some. In the case of the World Bank I think there have been times when the IMF s insistence on drastic cutbacks have pushed countries into
recession. There is no law which creates the bank for the poor as a result microcredit remains an isolated NGO activity and so on, I’ve been debating
with World Bank, debating with the other regional banks African Development Bank
Asian Development Bank and so on why don’t you have a separate window to
provide this financing for the poor and encourage governments to create
legislation to create Bank for the poor so that it’s
separate class of bank can be created a separate regulatory authority can be
created so that banking for the poor becomes a mainstream banking rather than
footnote in banking I actually believe that there ought to be a whole portfolio
each of them has their strengths each of them has to some extent it’s weaknesses,
the international institutions like the World Bank and the IMF. I think today are
doing a better job than they used to, they have the ability to interact with
governments in a way, that’s more effective in shaping policies so not
just projects, but policies and institutions. Unfortunately, they sometimes in the past have not used that power in a way that I think is constructive for reducing poverty. Aid should be channeled in whatever way
is gonna be most effective and it very much depends on the particular needs at
the particular time so generalizations about the most effective way of
channeling aid, I believe are dangerous sometimes where governments are
effective doing the right thing and through a democratic process decide what
their priorities are I think we should get behind them and they are the most
effective agents of change but other times if you have a totally corrupt
government, then I think it’s dangerous to go through governments or you might
want to go through one ministry or one department or one province or one city that’s a reformer and civil society can play an extremely powerful role, not least in holding the accountability, ensuring the funds are well spent, and community organisations can play an amazing role I’m a big fan of scaling up NGO service delivery and for
that they will need a larger share of the, of the financial pie but in return
NGOs have to be accountable and first and foremost they have to be accountable
in the societies in which they’re operating. I think it’s better if you can,
to work with governments and improve their systems. So, make an aid commitment
over five years or ten, to say a Health Department or education department in a
country and then work with them so that they will train teachers, Commission
books, build buildings, maintain buildings so that by the end of the partnership
there’s a sustainable system of healthcare or of Education in that
country. I think there’s things NGOs that can do, that no one else can do. But if
they run projects then the project only lasts as long as they last and when they
go away and the grant funding stops nothing is left in that country. So,
working with governments to strengthen their systems is I think, enormously
important. So there’s a place for both. I really do believe that where we have
done the homework, where we’ve identified the reasons why programs don’t work,
where we’ve looked for programs that do work, We just know a lot more and are much
better positioned to spend money. We mustn’t be formulaic and insist that’s
just one way of doing it Growth My view is that, one of the main reasons
that poverty has not been eradicated is that governments haven’t had
sufficiently strong, pro-poor growth policies. The growth of markets and the
Emerging markets developing countries, have been the sources of growth for markets for economies and the world economy as a whole; that increases the market opportunities for our exports. For development, developing countries
did, already from the very beginning in the early 1950s as soon as they had
become independent, we would like to get aid but as a matter of fact we need
trade. Their export possibilities were limited they always got too low prices,
they always had to meet high tariffs, trade not aid. Of course they meant trade and aid
because they never say no to aid. We don’t want countries to remain aid
dependent. We want them to move from the hand out, to the hand up approach and
actually many developing countries would much prefer to have investors come in, build new businesses, provide new services so that their population can be consumers in their own right, rather than be aid dependent. This would be good thing, for aid to create
social business fund in each country; so that the same money can be recycled.
So that people are encouraged to come up with business ideas to solve problem and
this money goes in and then does the work with the social business and comes
back to the fund. So the aid money doesn’t disappear, aid money becomes bigger and bigger each year. I really think aid can play a very
important role the development of Africa. Of course you need to focus on that kind
of intervention, which really trigger serious development. Aid could revise a
lot of its goals, if they were not so intent on just simply alleviating the
situation of those who suffer but rather also investing in the means that are
necessary for them to leave that suffering but get, by getting organized
into a world where there’s a division of labor and where all wealth is created. It is not just about removing trade barriers and freedom of movement of
goods and capital, but actually the means to do that is important so we need to
have the roads, railways, power. Power is very important, we don’t have much of
electricity and that is holding the continent back. so we need really to
link our grids, we need the improve our, to improve our ports, speed
the process of goods passing through our borders. Infrastructure offers, let’s say
two big things it offers connectedness and it offers
power. So connectedness, transport infrastructure, roads, rail, ports, air, just
links people and what they produce into world markets and that is vital in order
to grow out of poverty. Couldn’t the Australians, the World Bank, the Japanese and so many countries provide us money, or claim to have provided. Set up for our country,
a modern electrification system. We didn’t have it for 10 years, they didn’t do
that. Why didn’t they upgrade our airport? So that today we’d have a modern small
airport to accommodate expanded tourism Which is needed for the economy of the
country. Why didn’t they build for us a new modern small port. We still have the
same port that can only bring in, accommodate, two, three ships at a time.
Sometimes ships wait outside for one month, before they able to unload their cargo. They didn’t do that, where it was these three billion dollars went? What we really need is smart aid, smart aid which can leverage everything, around it that’s
what we need. Where aíd has targeted specific programs
that for example improve water sources or improve vaccination practices or
where it improves, has brought better pedagogy to schools and funded
organization which do those we’ve certainly laid a basis for growth. My
view of the world is one, we should do what we can to reduce suffering and then
maybe growth will happen or not but we should make a better world irrespective
of that. This is, it’s not that poor people have
less talent and rich people have more talent the reality is rich people have more
options, more opportunities and poor people have no opportunities, that’s why
they’re stuck. So one way to get rid of it, allow them to move on, is to help
create those opportunities what you have available to other people in the top
level of the Society. if we are to achieve sustainable growth in society we must look at our children, and it’s very simple, if a child learns better she or he will earn better and become a member of society. We will actually have a more healthier, wealthier society around the world. One of the most important reasons that inequalities
persevere, disparities persevere, is lack of educational opportunity, the children
of the poor don’t have access to school of first-rate education, they don’t, as a
result aren’t able to live up to their potential. Unfortunately, poor countries
often don’t have the resources to provide education for all and that’s
where assistance from the richer countries to the poor is so important.
For a fraction of what countries like the United States spend on weapons. We
could provide education for all, for all people in the developing countries. The
same thing is true for health. When the weapons manufacturers want money they engage another war and military spending goes on, but a portion of that colossal amount of money which goes in to these sectors can solve the problem of development. Philanthropy It’s quite clear that the hundred and twenty or even
one might say hundred fifty billion dollars worth of ODA, will be woefully
inadequate. Governments need to engage with the private sector. The World’s 10 biggest corporations together have revenue greater than the government revenue of 180 countries combined. Particularly where you have corporations
that operate in developing countries, I think they have a responsibility to help
people around them, people who are working for them. So the issue of
multi-stakeholder partnerships or the concept really started to flourish way
back in the 90s. When Ted Turner came to the United Nations in September 1997 and
committed 1 billion dollars for UN causes. To properly use your money in a
charitable way requires almost the same kind of skills that it does to make it. I
don’t consider what we’re doing is, is making a gift or just giving the money
away to philanthropy, I consider it making an investment in the future of
humanity. There are times when it is less risky to take a risk than to avoid it. The greater your capacity to give, the
greater your moral obligation to give. Well certainly pro rata the rich, the
wealthy, who have the capacity to give more, don’t. Seems to me clear, that you
get much better value for your donation by helping people in extreme poverty,
than you do by let’s say spending a hundred million dollars as
recently donated to the Lincoln Center in New York, so that wealthy Manhattanites and international tourists can listen to great music in a newly
renovated and somewhat improved no doubt a concert hall rather than the concert
hall that they already have as part of the Lincoln Center. People think,
concentrate a great deal on the wealthy and the big philanthropist of course
that’s right and proper but it is the unsung philanthropists, who month after
month, year after year, support their selected charities with small but regular sums and they really are the underpinning of a lot of charity. This is amazing thing, when you
hear about the income disparity. Eighty-five people in the world, owning half the wealth of the world. How ugly can you be? What kind of system is that? And to put it many other ways, like one other way, bottom half of the world people owns one percent of the total wealth of the world. Again who owns
the rest of it? So those are the questions, this is a, it’s a product of
the system that we have created Since this interview Inequality has widened to 8 billionaire families. owning the same wealth as 3.6bn people, the poorest half of the world’s people. The priorities of this world are
pervertedl, but just accumulating riches is not the end game. Listen the reason
you’re rich is because you’re so good with money in the first place and you’re
greedy okay that’s what makes you rich. What good is it to be rich when
everybody else is poor? If the super rich give, let’s say half of their income or
half of their wealth even, to aid causes they’re still going to be very wealthy,
they’re still going to be far wealthier than the average person, the average wage
earner. There are cases of brain imaging studies where people are making choices
about whether to give or not give and when they decide to give you can see
that parts of their brain associated with rewards, that is those parts of the
brain that are active if you have delicious food or great sex, they light
up when people give as well. Mohammed said it and, and so did Jesus
that the rich should give alms to the poor right? I mean every every religion
in the world, the Hindu religion, they all say the same thing, the Jewish religion,
they all say that you should, the rich should give to help the poor. I mean that
makes sense doesn’t it? You know it kind of levels everything out a little bit. There was an extraordinary, Jesuit priest in Brazil in the 1970s, he was the
founder of liberation theology and he said when I feed the children they call
me a Christian and when I asked why the children are hungry they call me a
communist. What he was really saying is that everybody loves you to feed the
kids. But the point of aid should not be feeding people who are hungry, the point
of aid should really be, how do you disrupt the system? How do you create a
system, where you’re asking the question why are they hungry? How do we stop the
hunger? How do we empower them so they’re not
hungry anymore. Solutions One of the ways that you can increase
giving is to make it more attractive to give. Well we need to find a way, I think of using
money that is already in government budget and use it to attract new
donations by matching. It seems to me if we had an arrangement where the
government took some of the money that is in the aid budget, in any case and it so
arranges things, that every time somebody gives a hundred pounds, another hundred
pounds comes out of that part of the aid budget. This matches quite directly, now
that could be put into aid. I think we could work out a scheme along these
lines. Now, if we do that I think that it would give an incentive for people to
greatly increase donations and that’s what you’re after. Aid flows are mainly from
government to government’s, global financial institutions and agencies but
we’ve not enough money actually being spent on the ground. People are rightly concerned about high administration costs and corruption issues. We could improve on the current arrangements that are intended to encourage giving. The business of philanthropy has a new innovative model. It proposes to
encourage increased private contributions by matching those
donations from government to development aid budgets. Taxpayers will also be
invited to make donations, the target is to raise a hundred billion dollars a
year called the mm model. It’s the brainchild of Nobel Prize winning
economist Sir James Mirrlees and the founder of the Fortune Forum, Renu Mehta. I came across one telling statistic. The
rich give about 0.7 to 1% of their wealth to good causes whereas those on
lower incomes give around 3%. It’s really shocking isn’t it? shouldn’t it be the
other way around? Well one reason that people don’t give as much as they should to aid is because they’re a bit skeptical about how well it works,
that they feel that too much gets lost and fraud and corruption. There’s
obviously some some truth in that. Essentially you’re wanting people to
feel they get more for their money and you do that either by somehow or other
multiplying up the effect of their money directly so more money goes with it
or you do it by increasing the effectiveness of the money. Or the same kind of
thing really that make people more aware of the good that their money is doing. On one hand we need to find the
money to meet these needs and also we need to ensure that the money spent
wisely, and to ensure that money actually gets to the people on the ground. It could turn out to be one of history’s
most important and significant contributions to development. The UK led the way in adapting the MM Aid Model’s core ideas delivering over $300m of Real Aid Funds. via their flagship UK Aid Match; improving over 100 million lives globally * This is the philosophy which we are at the moment trying to get around to the governments of the world to change their policies especially the G20, where 90% of the wealth of the world lies. The amount of money that they’re talking about could even be enough to, more or less save the world, if they placed it properly. I’d like to see
a channel of a, of aid money which went from whoever’s, willing to provide the
aid whether, it’s individual donations or governments or a matching between individual private donors and government which seems a good idea. I like the idea of
challenging government’s to say we will raise so much but you must amplify by an
equal amount. The idea is excellent. The issues that have to be dealt with many of them like, education , poverty, health are too big for philanthropy. However private initiatives are much more innovative than Governments. So governments can benefit from examples set. If governments engage with them, partner with them, collaborate with them, they will benefit from the private sector acumen, the business type of model
of addressing problems. Many other philanthropists avoid Government they like to do it alone, we expressly need to set an example and to actually engage governments. I think it’s a very good thing for
governments to help charities to raise money by offering them matching funds.
It’s really a win-win because it’s good for the recipients of a charity to get
the support the charity gives, but it’s also good for the donors. There’s plenty
of research showing that people who are generous are more satisfied with their
lives and are more likely to help others too. I do believe that once the problem
has been solved, whereas in the NGOs are much better, then I think the
government’s often have the skill to, to turn that into a big program. So I think
there is a real complementarity between funding governments and funding NGOs and
you have to find the right time to do each. So you fund an NGO when you don’t
know the answer, you fund the government when you think you know the answer. Civil society organizations who have a proven track record about the proper spending
of funds, because too much aid money goes into pockets for which it is not
intended and to smaller percentage of aid money reaches the grassroots for
which it is intended. It needs to be accountable for the people who are providing the finance and that’s some combination of individual donors and
government donations from the donor countries and having private donations as part of that it’s quite a good way of enforcing accountability. A scheme which
ensures donors that the money will be used for the purpose for which it is
given, it is fundamentally important. If we can achieve that
I think donations will grow, aid will grow and aid will improve its track
record of really making a difference. The MM Model is a rescue plan, aimed at
building a more prosperous just and stable future. Success When poverty strikes, it strikes in, in a
way that it seems almost impossible to change, but it can be changed. I think there’s some, some cost in being reading this too negatively, I think a lot of
people become very pessimistic when in fact it’s all good news! I mean, you know
the poverty has fallen enormously, people are living much longer, children
are not dying at birth, everything is better now than it was 50 years ago,
a lot better. In the past 30 years there’s been massive success in
development and poverty reduction in the world. We’ve gone from something like 50% of the population of the world being
extremely poor, to down to about 10% now, it’s partly because of the rise of China
but you know the World Bank was a big player in China reforming itself and the
World Bank gets funding from the aid system and so on. Only 1% of people surveyed knew that extreme poverty has been cut in HALF since 1990 No longer is aid or development
some sideshow. Aid is catalyzing growth, some countries needed aid in order to grow and then you didn’t have to give the aid anymore because they do could
do it on their own, example India. This has never happened before when you have very rapid global population growth in the same time you have desperate poverty
coming down and that’s because of many factors including effective aid and many
others. The transformations in China, in much of Africa, Latin America and
elsewhere. There are fewer people in absolute poverty as a proportion of the
world’s population, we are making inroads into diseases like measles and malaria
they’re killing fewer people. We are seeing economic growth in some of the
world’s poorest countries in, in Africa there are a lot of indicators that Aid
is not a bottomless pit that Aid is actually highly effective in reaching
some of the world’s poorest people. On an indicator like literacy which is so
critical, you see the doubling of literacy rates in the world over the
last 25 years, average life expectancy in the world increased over the last 30
years by about the same amount it took from the Stone Age to the 1970s, that’s
the good news. In some parts of the world, there have been you might say, unfortunate events, the aids epidemic in Africa has clearly impeded the success
of that region. Average life expectancy in Southern Africa went down by 20 years, while improved by 20 years in the rest of the world. But when you look at the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa has been of immense progress, immense progress in the creation of democratic institutions, of civil participation. Aid has got better and that’s for some
very simple reasons, that one, is that until the beginning of the 1990s aid was
highly political, it was an instrument in the Cold War and so the effectiveness of
aid was judged by the political yardstick of, did it keep our guys in
power? Rather than by, was it actually reducing poverty. So it’s only the last
twenty something years, that you’ve seen the purpose of aid switched on to what
we now think of as its task. Since the end of the Cold War, since the 90s.
Aid has improved in it’s an effectiveness year after year, and there are a number of
reasons for this. The first is that more and more countries have become
democratic and put in place the institutions, which enable them to make
the decisions effectively for how they will prioritize their aid. I’m talking about,
the recipient countries the second is that the donor countries have learnt a
lot about how aid works, why it works. A lot of my own work has been on
randomised control trials. This is a sort of the, perhaps sometimes, called the gold
standard of testing. So really, if you want to test out a program you can
randomly assign it to some locations and not others and compare them and because
they’re randomly assigned you know that the areas that got them, who got the
program were just like the ones with that didn’t to start with and therefore
the difference can be assigned to the program it’s a very simple idea but one
that a number of the results on our cities have had very substantial policy
influence. There is now, among a large number of countries, a real commitment to make sure that aid is effective we’ve learned a lot about how to improve aid
effectiveness, so I think we can make aid more effective Aids got better because there’s a learning process and there’s much
better techniques of evaluation now than they used to be 20, 30 years ago. so
aid is improving, but it’s a changing scene. We’re actually talking at a time of a record of enormous success and progress. But you don’t hear about it, people don’t feel it’s going on, so there’s been a sort of failure to tell the story of the success. Some of the countries that are still extremely poor and maybe more difficult countries to work in, very small countries, very fragile countries, countries with conflict around their borders and so on. So we’re probably getting to a number of
countries where it’s harder to make such vast progress But I think the first order of fact is, poverty is, what we’ve learned is its not inevitable, it’s been coming down and I believe that with some effort, we can make it entirely go away. We fund foreign aid through OUR taxes Government aid is over DOUBLE individual overseas charity giving. To cut or increase aid? It’s not perfect, there’s still too many
cases of corruption or misuse of funds but compared to previous periods aid has
never been more effective and the donor countries have never been wealthier and
so that we are giving less aid per capita, particularly in Africa which needs
it most is I believe a scandal. I think the public, well one seeing the aid budget go up when everything else is cut, made people
angry and lots of right-wing politicians and the press kept denouncing it and
kept suggesting all aid is corrupt and all of it goes to rich corrupt leaders, which isn’t true. So there’s been a bombardment of attacks on aid Audience is fond of sensationalist news and there was the the problem with Oxfam, because
all Oxfam activities were forgotten because the attention was concentrated on the old case of unproper sexual conduct of one of its employees. We have lots of debates
about aid, I’ve been one of the critiques of the aid, but I must tell that aid has
done a wonderful thing, aid has reached out to the countries which normally
would not have done the things on their own. Aid has helped them to bring new
ideas, new technologies, new structures and so on that’s fine. But I’m saying that, that can aid can do much better than what it has done. That’s the only complaining I’m making, not I’m not saying that it should be stopped. On the question of whether there is enough aid getting through to people or, I think a lot
of the answers, just there isn’t enough aid countries, you know, the idea that 0.7% of
GDP is a lot is bizarre to me. So I, I start from the premise that you know, somehow
we have not sold the idea of aid well enough, we haven’t persuaded people that
generosity is, there’s some worth to the generosity, somehow it’s in fact, the
whole conversation on aid has been one which has sort of highlighted all the
failures of aid in recent years and therefore has discouraged people from
funding it. So I think the first order fact is that there isn’t enough
money, then some of that money is fake aid, goes to you know, placate some you
know powerful person in some country or the other so there’s lots of fake aid so
you leave it all of that out it’s a tiny part of world GDP. I think the first
order concern is to raise that amount and then we can the second thing to do
is to spend it well and I think those are tied because if we spend it well
more people will be willing to pay for it. Between those things we could make it
much bigger. If you’re only looking at it from a perspective of economics and stopping war stopping terrorism, it’s in our interest
to increase aid. However, the way we’ve used aid has so often been fraught with
extraordinarily terrible abuses, corruption and mismanagement those are
fixable problems and so really what we need to do is increase the aid and fix the
problems. Ensure that there’s transparency, ensure that the aid
programs are well thought through and ensure that the people who are really
the target of the aid are actually getting the aid and not others. What I
think we need to do is increase foreign aid, enormously because that’s in the
interest of the United States There has to be a lot more pressure on US congress. On the US administration, US policy makers, or in particular US Presidents talk a lot in eloquent speeches, you know President Obama is a great orator but when it comes to delivery, he has
delivered very little and that because of the U.S. Congressional opposition. In spite of all the progress we are making the morality in society is shrinking. In
all the spheres of life we, we see the politics is becoming more shallow and
promises become more Hollow for our children and the deprived sections of society. I think people just think there’s poor people having famines and we should send them some money, or not. And it’s a rather primitive
understanding of the complexity of what is done and I think we should do more to
have a really informed public debate. Actually about the whole of foreign
policy, I think if the public understood more, Britain could be a much more useful
country in the international system rather than just an American poodle. These are struggles that can only be won in these countries, society by society. We
cannot as outsiders, cannot win other people’s struggles for them. It’s their
struggle not ours and we should always remember that we are, we’re the bit
players. That said what we can do can make a difference we’ve got a moral
responsibility to do what we can to empower the people whose struggle it is.
And there’s a lot more we could do than we’re doing at the moment People Power Consciousness is the, is the first step
towards social transformation What it’s meant by poverty, it’s not only
an economic issue. The things that go along with poverty are also violations
of human rights so people who live in extraordinary poverty rarely have the
right to free expression, they rarely have strong political, rights they have
very little influence in general over governments or government policy or the
decisions that are going to impact their lives, they rarely have decision-making
power over their access to health care or access to education. Just as we need
to address economic disparities we have to address the disparity of voice and
power. Take any issue you like, women’s rights, civil rights, opposition to concern over nuclear weapons or the environment, abolitionism, unless there is strong popular activism, wealth and power are going to
concentrate in ways which increase the level of injustice, oppression, undermining of freedom and democracy, that’s almost automatic. The communities should fly with two wings which is women and men and when we invest on women that
means that we will reach to the sustainable development. To the
sustainable peace, to the healthy community. We should reach to the full
participation of women in all field in the in the community if we want to have
strong communities that can you know defend on all the rights of people, the rich communities,
power communities. I have full trust in the power of young people for changing the world. Not as the followers but as the leaders The underlying issue really is what is a social contract that citizens have with the state? The system of power and domination looks
all-powerful but in fact it’s extremely fragile. It relies on obedience and consent and as, when that obedience and consent are
withdrawn, it can very quickly collapse we’ve seen that time after time in
history and we can see it again. It’s held up by a system of propaganda
and willingness of the population to subordinate itself and not to pursue the
options that are open to us and that we can undertake which will cause this system to erode and open the way to a much more just and free society online activism, you know, unimaginable numbers of people signing petitions about issues
that were once obscure but are really now mobilizing large numbers of people. The recent period, last, roughly 30-40 years a period of neo-liberal assault against the global population has sharply increased disparity of wealth and with it political power, oppression, many other negative characteristics and it can be reversed. But it has to be reversed by the only way that change has ever come, in a relatively free country like the United States, other European comparable countries, there are many avenues open, the state
has quite limited capacity to repress there are difficulties but not insuperable ones much easier than in the past in fact, it can be reversed. Just as
it was reversed in the 1930s and 40s and there’s only one way that can happen by
popular mobilization All the history tell us, that in all great change around the world. In all great revolution, the people win. My earliest memories are, of when my
father was the Attorney General in the United States, at the height of the civil
rights movement and at the time there was no group of people who he admired
more than the Freedom Riders there were people who were willing to be beaten or
killed or in their protests against injustice, in their protests against the
American apartheid system. But he thought that ultimately, the way to secure civil
rights was not going to be through protests and not through civil
disobedience but the real change agent for civil rights was going to be through
the law. It was going to be through the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights
Act and he, he believed that, because if you empower people politically, they can
take care of themselves, they can take care of their own communities and that’s
really the connection, the disparity between wealth and poverty, is not just
about money. It’s about power in every way. So it’s about ability to influence
the political system. It’s about access to education, it’s about access to health
care. Wealthy people have all those things, people living in poverty have
none of them. It’s hard to really take a look at
what’s going on in the world in the, particularly in the third world, or
developing the world and not really be touched by it and want to do something
to help. I think that our humanity is, is the source of it is empathy. We can put
ourselves in other people’s shoes. The well-being of somebody, still matters
whether I can see them or not, whether they’re of my nationality or of different nationality, whether of my race or a different race. We have been
teaching our children all the things. We taught them good things but we have
taught them identities, you are Hindus, you’re Muslims, you’re Christians,
children are not born as that, with that identity. We have imposed those
identities on them and we taught them to be Indian or Pakistani or Americans or
Africans or whatever, we have created borders, we have created all these things, we have created those teachings which divide humanity. We really cannot succeed if society around us is failing, we’ll have to succeed together. In the end, when you’re concerned with development, you concerned with disparities. One of the questions that Adam Smith set
himself to answer and it was one of the questions that led to the creation of
the subject of economics. Why is water so cheap and diamonds are so dear? Because
water is obviously a lot more useful than diamonds and I would want to add is
actually more attractive than diamonds. He gave an obvious answer but it had to
do with scarcity, but the real point is that price does not measure the true
value of things. A woman who earns a tiny wage is not less important or less
deserving than one who earns a million and we want her to have a bigger income.
That’s one thing that aid seeks to achieve. Notoriously economists disagree
with one another, they have different views about aid. Surely when nearly a
billion people are in serious poverty we must try to do something about it. Some
question the cost of aid, is it too high? I think almost all economists would
agree that if aid could be deployed efficiently a relatively modest increase
would eliminate extreme poverty and extreme poverty has indeed diminished
partly as a result of aid. But a terrible amount remains. I hope we care enough to
deal with it. I believe there is a universal faith, in the potential of our
human counterparts who aspire in pockets all around the globe. But in the face of
their anguish we do little to transform the aid system. In the social contract
Jean-Jacques Rousseau stated, as soon as one says about the affairs of the state;
what does it matter to me? The state must be regarded as lost. Rousseau suggests here
an inequality of public action, for if we remain silent
we are resigning our principles to governments and our rights as taxpayers.
It would be consenting to the very justices that we denounce and would
further perpetuate disparities. If people freeload, if people watch and wait for
others to stand up, this would be leaving Real Aid to chance and so the prospect
eludes us. How can a world so cultured and connected be so stuck and unequal? How do we connect our character to those who just need a little hand in the beginning, so they can ultimately stand up on
their own, with dignity. Will the collective voice of caring citizens uplift nations, to free the world from
unnatural inequalities, this indeed rests on the bonds of the social contract,
without honoring our humanity without profound collaboration. How can we
possibly reach a reasonable place somewhere between opulence and destitution. In memory of Sir James Mirrlees Extended interviews at
www.real-aid.org TAKE ACTION
www.real-aid.org We re-discover the worth of human being and
each human, has to, be human being has to rediscover what is the purpose of his
being here? What do I do while I’m here. I’m here on this planet for a very, very,
very short time and if I don’t know what I’m supposed to do, what I should be
doing for myself, I have to discover my worth. In the context of the whole world. That I’m in the continuum of the human generation
I’m one little speck and I have the worth, I can influence the whole human history
and I’m the most powerful being created. Each human being is very unique
in the whole world that person will not be repeated in the entire history of
human being ever, so what do I do how do I discover myself and be somebody
that has done something and put a signature on this planet that was
here for this period of time. What I don’t have clarity, which would,
which would be really helpful in terms of statistical support for this film
is actually, it’s very difficult to find out how much goes where because
it’s always concealed under layers and layers of different types of spending. It’s a good question to ask because it’s, It’s a snapshot for people. I totally, I could, I couldn’t agree
more it’s a, it’s a greater number to look for but you know, I’ve been in this
space for a long time and I don’t know the number. I don’t know anything, any way
of getting at it, not just I don’t know the number and also it’s the way it’s disguised,
the wording and the definitions are different across the board and there’s no way comparing. Yeah. I mean, there’s no accounting standard. TAKE ACTION
www.real-aid.org

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