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Foreign Aid – A Danegeld extracted by the Liberal Internationalists

“Aid – an excellent method for transferring money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries”. — Peter Bauer  (http://www.lse.ac.uk/collections/globalDimensions/research/aidTradeDevelopment/Default.htm)

The UK has been pumping Aid into the Third World since the 1950s.  At present day values several hundred billion pounds of British taxpayers’ money has been given to foreigners.   Despite the present  economic crisis all three major British Parties have committed themselves to not merely maintaining the Aid but substantially  raising it.  This year around £9 billion will be given away ; by 2014/15 that is projected to increase to £11.5 billion as our political class have committed themselves to meeting the UN’s 0.7% of GDP target by then.  (http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Media-Room/News-Stories/2010/Spending-Review-2010/).   If  the UK’s economy  grows by more than anticipated by 2015,  the figure would be higher and to maintain the 0.7%  target  it will continue to rise after 2015 as UK GDP increases. No other developed country of larger or greater size than the UK  spends as much on Aid (http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/207565/Britain-s-foreign-aid-bill-scandal)

Because all the parties which can realistically to be expected to have a major presence in the House of Commons  are for the payment of ever increasing Aid, the British people have no choice in the matter.   This is indubitably not what the electorate wants.  A poll in July 2010 (after the Coalition Government announced only two  budgets would not be severely reduced – the NHS and Foreign Aid) came down firmly on the side of reducing the Aid budget  (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10504916).  Such polls, together with the consistent placing of worries about immigration and race relations as high on the public’s list of concerns , suggest  that scrapping Aid altogether  would meet with widespread  approval.

There is also growing evidence that the political and media elites are beginning to get cold feet over Aid.   Tory backbenchers got into the act early in this Parliament (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/8196241/Tories-warn-Cameron-Listen-to-us-or-we-mutiny.html) and the Defence Secretary  Liam Fox argued against the cutting of the Defence budget when the Aid budget was protected and enhanced (http://www.thisislondon.co.uk/standard/article-23950774-tories-back-liam-fox-warning-against-overseas-aid-law.do).

On the media front,  most of the national press has criticised the ring-fencing of Aid  from cuts and there have even been a few brave souls who have called for Aid to  be discontinued at least during present circumstances (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/comment/rogerbootle/8571156/No-need-for-UK-economy-Plan-B-but-lets-suspend-the-foreign-aid-budget.html).

The problem is that the leadership of all the major political parties and the broadcast media, especially the BBC, are still Hell bent  on showing  how  “compassionate” they are and make ever more absurd and reckless statements about their commitment to Aid.  Here are a selection of recent statements  from supposed Tories:

“My ambition is that over the next four years, people across the country will come to think of Britain’s fantastic development work around the poorest parts of the world with the same pride and satisfaction they have in some of our great institution like the Armed Forces and the monarchy,” he said. “This is brilliant work that Britain is doing.” (Andrew Mitchell Overseas Development Secretary http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/8560089/Britain-will-love-being-an-aid-superpower.html).

“We, as a nation, should be proud that our humanity and generous spirit will reach every corner of the world – and we will all be richer for that.”  (Sir John Major  ex-Tory PM http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/conservative/8556639/Sir-John-Major-foreign-spending-isnt-just-right-it-should-make-us-proud.html).

“I think there is a strong moral case for keeping our promises to the world’s poorest and helping them, even when we face challenges at home,” he said.

“When you make a promise to the poorest children in the world, you should keep it.”

Mr Cameron recalled watching the G8 summit at Gleneagles and the Live 8 pop concert in 2005 and thinking it was right that world leaders should make public pledges to help the poorest countries.

“For me, it is a question of values,” he said.

“This is about saving lives. It was the right thing to promise. It was the right thing for Britain to do. And it is the right thing for this Government to honour that commitment.”

Some people were pressing him to put off aid commitments until after Britain’s economy is back on an even keel, said Mr Cameron.

But he insisted: “We can’t afford to wait. How many minutes do we wait? Three children die every minute from pneumonia alone. Waiting is not the right thing to do. I don’t think 0.7% of our gross national income is too high a price to pay for saving lives.”  (David Cameron on announcing a further £814 million Aid to fund vaccinations in the Third World (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-13744922)

This is so far removed from what the vast majority of Britons believe that it is risible.  Its  relationship to the truth is akin to Soviet grain harvest and tractor production figures and reality. The reality is that Foreign Aid is a Danegeld extracted from the populations of Western states by political elites in thrall to the doctrine of liberal internationalism.  In the fifty odd years of this practice the countries which have been the main beneficiaries of Aid have either seen their economic  condition deteriorate (for example, virtually all of  sub-Saharan Africa) or no discernible relationship between Aid and economic development can be shown (for example, India and China).  This is unsurprising given the amount of money spent on war and repression or embezzled by Third World elites whose wealth is often not measured in  millions but   billions (http://finance.yahoo.com/news/How-Hosni-Mubarak-Got-So-usnews-3723955512.html?x=0).

But determined as they are to continue with Aid,  those with power and influence realise that it is becoming an ever more toxic issue. Because of this,  the supporters of Aid have begun to argue that Aid is good value for the UK taxpayer because it reduces the risk of the UK becoming involved in wars, reduces the likelihood of terrorism in Britain and  makes mass migration less likely.  The most used argument is that Aid is part of our defence  strategy. To this end UK foreign Aid has been included in the official Government spending on UK defence  (www.ukpublicspending.co.uk/uk_defence_spending_30.html).   David Cameron has led the way with repeated claims of a defence aspect for Aid , for example, before a panel of House of Commons select committee chairs: “Preventing a conflict is always cheaper than taking part in it.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/blog/2010/nov/18/1)

The idea that  Aid prevents wars is risible, especially while we have governments following the so-called Blair Doctrine that intervention in states which had not been aggressors to other states was legitimate if it promoted liberal internationalist values . Since this dangerous nonsense was floated in the late 1990s, the UK has been embroiled in more wars  than in  the  previous fifty years.  Not only that,  but the provision of massive amounts of Aid has enabled dictatorial regimes to conduct war and repress their populations far more efficiently than would be the case without or fuel civil wars. It is also deeply ironic that the likes of Cameron are arguing this when they are at the currently  deserting regimes  the West has supported for years .  If foreign Aid has had a national interest element in it has been to prop up regimes which are beholden to Western governments  on the basis that that they may be bastards, but they are our bastards.

As for terrorism, the claim  that Aid prevents the radicalising of  Muslims abroad who will then attack the UK is fanciful in the extreme.   There have only been two Muslim terrorist attacks which got as far as an actual attempt, 7/7 (which succeeded) and 21/7 (which failed).  This in itself suggests the actual threat, as opposed to fears of a threat, is not massive given the ease with which bombings  could be made if there was a widespread and serious attempt at terrorism in the UK by those here and abroad.   There is a great deal of difference between those who are serious about being terrorists and those who like to fantasise about it and form groups who do nothing but talk or the individuals who  get a thrill from downloading  bomb-making instructions,.   Moreover, both UK attacks were carried out by Muslims either born in Britain or Muslims who had spent a long time in the country.  In addition, those convicted of terrorist offences short of an actual terrorist attack in the UK  have mostly involved Muslims who have been long resident here.

The highly questionable effect of  Aid on  extremism abroad is mirrored by the outcome  of money spent in Britain to discourage radical Islam. The Government have just admitted that the millions poured in has been ineffective at best and may well have financed radical groups at worst (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/terrorism-in-the-uk/8560679/Failed-anti-terror-campaigns-waste-of-money-Prevent-strategy-admits.html).

With the claim that  Aid prevents  mass migration to Britain, it is difficult to know whether to laugh or cry. Not only has there been massive and ever increasing immigration to the UK since the Blair Doctrine was established (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/immigration/8449324/David-Cameron-migration-threatens-our-way-of-life.html), a large part of that immigration has come from places where Britain has intervened (the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan) and immigrants have continued to flood in from the Third World countries to which we have given the largest amounts of Aid (for example, India, Bangladesh) (http://www.dfid.gov.uk/About-DFID/Finance-and-performance/Aid-Statistics/Statistic-on-International-Development-2010/SID-2010-Section-4-Where-does-UK-expenditure-on-International-Development-go/).   It is also worth bearing in mind that  we do not give large amounts of Aid to most of the Third World (http://www.dfid.gov.uk/Where-we-work/). Even if the idea of Aid as an immigration preventative carried weight, it would not prevent vast numbers of  people from the Third World seeking to come to Britain because we do not send them any or much Aid.

The second prong to the defence of Aid  is the ending  of direct Aid  to some of the more outrageous recipients of such as Russia and China. This is Aid still within the UK’s power to directly allocate rather than be allocated by bodies such as the EU and UN) ended . (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-12589626).  However,  Britain will still be handing large amounts of direct Aid to India, a country with its own space and nuclear weapons programmes  and more billionaires than Britain (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/8350487/Andrew-Mitchell-British-aid-to-India-will-continue.html) and indirect Aid may still go to the likes of Russia and China through the UN and EU.  Any changes will be  essentially cosmetic and an attempt to blind the public to what is happening.

Finally, there is the claim that  Foreign Aid will buy Britain friends as the recipient countries grow richer. The fact that there is no evidence of the Aid enhancing the wealth of countries is strong evidence against the claim, but any one with normal psychological and sociological insight will also doubt whether Aid will leave a residue of gratitude. Rather , it is more likely to leave resentment  because people do not like to be dependent on others especially those outside their community, a resentment which will be enhanced by the constant refrain from Western liberals  and Third World dictators that the West is to blame for Third World poverty .

Despite these rumblings of public dissent,  on 13 June 2011 David Cameron put two fingers up at the British public  by committing the UK to a further £814 million of Aid for vaccinations in the Third World, money which will make the UK the largest donor in the world to this programme (http://www.express.co.uk/posts/view/252594).

Disruptive and unpleasant as the effect that  Aid on foreign governments in terms of promoting war, repression and corruption,  there is a  more fundamental problem. Despite the corruption and violence of experienced by many  Aid recipient countries, the provision of  governmental  Aid and the work of NGOs such as  Oxfam  has fed a population explosion in countries whose ability to accommodate their now vastly increased populations from their own resources is nil. By keeping the Aid flowing a vicious circle is created. The population in a country rises because the Aid allows more to survive which generates a demand for more Aid is made because the country cannot support them. More Aid is forthcoming and the population increases again above what the country can bear. This was an easily foreseeable outcome and a policy  no responsible person let alone a government should ever have advocated, bringing increased  poverty to the  poorest countries. Aid has disrupted the traditional structures which supported and limited the population to what the environment would bear.

The disruption of  the Third World  has  been worsened by the West to varying degrees driving them  towards economic practices which have radically altered their native economies for the worse. In the poorer, less developed states, the political policies with regard to international trade and consumer demand of the developed world (and latterly the developing world in the shape of the Chinese) has slanted their economies towards dangerously narrow economic bases, most commonly built on the extraction of raw materials, tourism and the production of food and horticultural products

The extraction of raw materials commonly has little benefit for the local population because the countries lack the ability to develop the resources themselves and have to sell licences to foreign companies. This means deals between foreign companies and governments   with the money derived from the licences going directly to the governments. The consequence of that is it commonly ends up in the pockets of a corrupt native elite, is squandered on grandiose projects, used to fund civil wars or simply employed to keep a regime in power by force (Nigeria is a prime example of how a great natural resource – oil – can turn into albatross around the neck of a country).

The solution to Third World debt  is in principle simple: the debtor nations  repudiate the debts and take the consequences of bankrupts. The debts should be ameliorated by the West by their identification of  money stolen and placed in Western banks  by third World kleptocrats. This money should be sequestered by the West and used to defray the  debts of the defaulting states. Simply writing off debt and increasing Aid will feed the corruption and debt accumulation.

The claim that Western protectionism is  keeping much of the Third World in poverty does not stand up to scrutiny. The agonised liberal directed public debate over African poverty ignores two  fundamental facts.  First, the trade relationship between Africa and the developed world is the choice the African rulers. They could, if they chose,  protect  their own markets and refuse the trade regime wanted by the West.  That would do far more for the long term stability and wealth of the poorer states of the world because they would develop a strong domestic economy based on the resources of the country and the capacities of its people.  Economic history tells us that a strong stable domestic economy is the most certain way of economic progression.  As for relaxing trade barriers one-sidedly, that is, by allowing African  goods freely  into the West but not vice versa ,   what of those in  West who lose their jobs because of it? Fair and unfair to whom is the question?

If I wanted to play the politically correct game I could rest my argument on black commentators who have called for its end such as Dambisa Moyo (: Dead Aid: Why aid is not working and how there is another way for Africa, 208 pages, Allen Lane. http://www.deadaid.org http://www.hiiraan.com/news2/2009/mar/_stop_giving_aid_to_africa_it_s_just_not_working.aspx) But that would not only be cowardly but  to miss the point.  Peter  Bauer’s dictum on Aid: “A system which  takes money from poor people in rich countries and gives it to rich  people in poor countries”  is all too true.  But even it  was “taking money from rich people in rich countries to give to people in poor countries”  it would indefensible.  It should not be the business of a government in a supposed democracy to tax its own people to give money to foreigners.  That the UK is currently having to borrow the money given  in Aid because of the massive fiscal deficit whilst massive cuts are being to British public services makes the situation more poignantly absurd and indefensible, but any Aid is indefensible because it is taken from the taxpayer  without the public  having any meaningful say in the matter.

Aid should be  restricted to private charity. Then we would see how much the British public want to subsidise foreigners.  Of course, those who support Aid know very well that only a minute proportion of what is currently sent abroad would be voluntarily donated. That is why they are so determined to keep state-enforced Aid.  ( It should be remembered that many of those who wish to keep Aid  have a vested interest because they either work for the  government directly or for NGOs which are substantially funded by the taxpayer. )

Could Britain end its Foreign Aid? The direct Aid could be stopped, but Britain would need to leave or get them to moderate their  Aid demands, organisations such as the  EU  and the UN.  Yet another fine internationalist mess our politicians have got us into with their love of “right-on” vanity projects.


IQ and national wealth

 In their books “IQ and the Wealth of Nations” and “IQ and Global Inequality” the psychologists Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen advance the theory that the economic state of a society is to a substantial degree reliant upon the IQ distribution within the population, with a tendency for higher IQ populations to produce stronger and more sophisticated economies than lower IQ populations. But there is not a simple relationship between IQ and economic development, for example, Asians probably (see section 2) have a higher average IQ than whites, yet it is whites who have produced the richest and most economically sophisticated societies to date. Moreover, there is no uniformity of economic development within races. Lynn and Vanhanen’s thesis is that IQ is a necessary but not sufficient condition for economic development. Put another way, societies with a high average IQ have the potential to progress to a sophisticated economic state but those with a low average IQ do not.

 Such a conclusion is unsurprising because it mirrors what happens at the level of the individual – the lower the IQ of an individual the less likely the individual is to occupy a substantial and significant position in their society. This individual tendency is to varying degrees distorted by the amount of inherited material and social advantage an individual enjoys, but even within social groups with similar inherited advantage, the same tendency can be seen: the lower the IQ the less significant a position the individual is likely to occupy. In addition, there are absolute limits to what someone can do with a particular IQ, for example, someone with an IQ of 150 may or may not take a first in maths; someone with an IQ of 80 will never take a first in maths.

Lynn and Vanhanen’s correlations also suggest that the average IQ of a society will have a significant effect even if a society does not progress to the front rank of advanced states or peoples at any point in time. The Chinese and Japanese did not develop into modern industrialised states of their own volition, but even at the pre-industrial stage they had much more sophisticated economic systems than populations with lower average IQs, for example, compare China and Japan with sub-Saharan Africa at any point before China and Japan were forced into widespread trade with the West in the mid nineteenth century and began to industrialise.

If Lynn and Vanhanen are correct, they have achieved something much more profound than simply discover a relationship between economic development and IQ because the economic state of a society has fundamental implications for its social structure and social structure for the culture of the society. A more advanced economy necessarily requires a more sophisticated social organisation than a less advanced economy, because the social relationships needed to produce it are inherently more complex. An industrialised state requires large scale urban development to produce the concentrated population required to man factories. Urban development allows greater division of labour and increases the opportunity for a wider range of occupations, including greater scope for those which are not utilitarian such as the arts. Large conglomerations of people require extensive public administration and works.

What Lynn and Vanhanen are actually arguing for is a link  between average national IQ and general social organisation: the higher the average IQ, the greater the opportunity for social complexity is the implication of their work. If this is true then the general nature of a society will be governed by the IQ distribution of its inhabitants. Societies will share certain fundamental structural similarities because IQ distribution sets limits to what a society may be, although that does not mean societies with a similar IQ distribution will match each other in the detail of their respective cultures. Take as an example two tribes of hunter-gatherers, one in South America and one in Africa: they will differ in their tribal rituals, the weapons they make, their marriage customs and the means by which they hunt and so forth, but they will share the same general social arrangements which allow them to survive: a high degree of group dependence, the general means by which they live (hunting and gathering), the division of labour between men and women, a nomadic life and so on.

The evidence on which Lynn and Vanhanen base their theory is substantial. In IQ and the Wealth of Nations they examined nearly two hundred IQ studies from around the world to obtain average national IQs for 81 countries. For those countries where the data is lacking Lynn and Vanhanen extrapolated their national average IQs from nearby countries with similar racial populations for which data does exist. For example, country A with no test data has two neighbours B and C with racially similar populations to country A. Countries B and C have test data which allows their national IQs to be measured at 85 and 87 respectively. The national IQ of country A is given as 86, the mean of B and C. Objections were made to this form of estimation by critics but Lynn and Vanhanen found a very high correlation of 0.91 between the 32 countries which were estimated in their first book from neighbouring country IQs but calculated from measured IQs in their second book.

In “IQ and Global Inequality”, Lynn and Vanhanen increased the number of countries for which they were able to calculate national IQs from test data from 81 to 113. The correlation between IQ and per capita income for 2002 (0.68) was  similar to that in “IQ and the Wealth of Nations”.

For their second book Lynn and Vanhanen managed to calculate national IQs for all other countries without test data, thus obtaining national IQs for all 192 countries in the world. They found a correlation of 0.60 between IQ and per capita income for 2002 for the 192 countries. The correlation is close to that in their first book.

Lynn and Vanhanen have probably done as good a job as can be done with the available data in justifying their hypothesis by the correlation of data. However, it will not convince everyone, not even all of those who are not ideologically opposed to their ideas. Is there another method by which their hypothesis can be bolstered? There is – by taking the sociological/ anthropological/ historical and the commonsense route of appealing to what any individual can see for themselves in their everyday life. That is what I shall do over the coming months in a series of articles. These will be accessible as a group by clicking on the  psychology category or the tag IQ.

Such an approach has the advantage of making the subject accessible to the general public, or at least to the intelligent and educated lay reader. This is a vitally important consideration, because the implications of research such as Lynn and Vanhanen’s are as political as it is possible for academic research to be. By definition it is a subject which affects everyone and consequently should be made accessible to as many people as possible.

I have a second end in view, namely, I want to explore the implications of Lynn and Vanhanen’s work if it does represent reality.

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