That 1920 Save the Children text didn’t just shock, it made moralistic demands: “every British citizen” was “called on to help”. And, for a few decades afterwards, charities continued incanting “duty” and “sacrifice”, and calling for us to “do our bit”. If charities still believed that moralising of this kind would fill their coffers, they’d continue to do it. So, what’s changed?
Thus asks Ed Howker. The answer is relatively simple. Since 1920, we have seen the tax take spiral and the government give some of that to various charities – some of which are not charities at all. Some are fake charities that use our money to lobby government to change the law for our own good. Foreign aid achieves nothing – after all, as Howker points out, the good causes of the early twentieth century are the same ones we are hectored over today. Constantly feeding an insatiable beast serves no purpose. Africa needs to stand on its own two feet and feed itself (and why are we giving to India and Pakistan?). Given its mineral wealth that should be achievable. And, frankly, there are many in Africa who want just that – trade, not aid.
I don’t give to charity (and I will never give to Africa – ever). I will not give to charity while the government steals money from me and donates it to the causes of its choice rather than mine. So, my charitable giving is being done for me. I won’t therefore, give more. When the government gives me my money back to do with it as I choose, I’ll give. Until then, no. It does rather look as if I am not alone.