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February 09, 2007

Give your money to Save the Children rather than Christian Aid, argues Harry Phibbs

Posted by Harry Phibbs

Harry Phibbs argues you should gibe your money to Save the Children, not Christian Aid. Here he explains why.

Aspects of Communist genocide are reasonably well understood. That millions were killed by Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot is widely known and acknowledged. But in other instances when millions have died as a direct result of a Communist regime I find it surprising how little focus there has been on the real cause - instead the weather has usually been blamed.

The example that comes to mind straight away is Ethiopia. Their former dictator Mengistu has been convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for genocide but is currently being granted refuge in Zimbabwe and so is unlikely to serve his sentence until that country's own dictatorship is toppled. I don't know if Mengistu is providing policy advice to his hosts but he might as well be as they seem to be following his example.

Quite properly the Ethiopian courts have focused on deaths which he deliberately and directly caused. In the 1977-78 "Red Terror" campaign, suspected opponents were executed by garrotting or shooting. Bodies were tossed into the streets.

Emperor Haile Selassie is said to have been strangled in bed and secretly buried under a latrine in his palace. Mengistu's government directly killed more than 2,000 people, including 60 top officials, ministers and royal family members executed by firing squad. About 2,400 people were tortured Reuters report:

For months in 1984, Mengistu denied that famine was ravaging Ethiopia's north and aid workers have recalled how he flew in planeloads of whisky to celebrate the anniversary of his revolution. One million people starved to death.
But there is more to the problems of a Socialist system than the chance that evil men like Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot and Mengistu get on top. There is the more mundane matter that if the state seizes all the crops from a farmer and takes ownership of his land, output is inevitably going to tumble compared with the amount of food produced in a market system where the farmer has the profit motive.

Amidst all the media coverage in 1984 about the Ethiopian famine and the fund raising of Band Aid and Live Aid, there was precious little mention of the fundamental problem of the Socialist system in the country as the cause of starvation.

Despite that experience Socialists continue to brazenly attack free trade and capitalism. It should be stressed that most charities involved in the developing countries do excellent work - but some prefer to spend their time on political campaigning instead of concentrating on charitable activity. Christian Aid are among the worst offenders. The Globalisation Institute are to be commended on their courage and intellectual rigour in tackling them.

Tell Tony Blair to stop backing free trade policies
- declare Christian Aid in their advertisements. A charity shouldn't be spending money on political advertising in the first place but, in any case, the message should be:
Tell Tony Blair to start backing free trade policies.
I am pleased that Bob Geldof seems to have come to that conclusion, at least so far as scrapping the Common Agricultural Policy is concerned. Writing in The Sun in June 2005, Geldof wrote:
The CAP is a protection racket Al Capone would look at in admiration and be proud of. Why do Europe's farmers need protection? Farmers are being paid to look after fields - they are just gardeners. Some are growing stuff through subsidy that we don't even need - then we are paying more taxes to store the stuff we don't need and more taxes to destroy the stuff we don't need. The CAP was responsible for the butter mountains and the wine lakes. These surpluses are also being shipped out to Africa and destroying local markets and economies. It
is not giving people a chance to get back on their feet. The CAP should be scrapped and farmers should be open to competition. We're not a free market. There is no free trade. The CAP is anti-free trade.
As well as opposing free trade, Christian Aid also back collectivist domestic policies in developing countries. They complain of:
continued use of controversial economic policy conditions, such as trade liberalisation and privatisation.
Perhaps they prefer state ownership of land as the model for Christian harmony and feeding the hungry?

This is not Christian Aid's only muddled venture into politics. For a balanced look at the Middle East don't rely on them. They declare:

Christian Aid is gravely concerned about the Israeli government's unilateral disengagement policy, including its stated commitment to retaining the majority of illegal settlements in the West Bank.
Christian Aid News selectively quotes from the Archbishop of Canterbury to show him criticising Israel but cutting out his condemnation of Palestinian terrorism. One must assume that Christian Aid are sincere in wishing to end poverty and acknowledge that some of the money given to them is spent on genuine charitable projects. But their campaign for collectivism and protectionism is a formula for famine. I hope that less attention will be given to Christian Aid and more to, for example, the Ethiopian Government which now recognises free trade are a key if progress is to be made.

Give your money to Save the Children instead.

Harry Phibbs is a journalist.


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