Much is being said on the internet and the press about Prime Minister Cameron's latest uttering s about maybe taking money out of the overseas aid budget to prop up security instead.
Now I have to say that I have become so disillusioned with politicians and politics that I have been fairly quiet on that front recently and not even any feel good stories have drawn me out of the stupor that I am in, have there in fact been any feel good stories that I may have missed, thought not!
I even have to confess that I am not up to date with what the latest hulaballoo is all about, as I really can't bring myself to look at in in any great detail!
But, what is annoying me even more and prompting this little return to the fray is the mention of oversees aid, again. £10 billion is the UK's budget for overseas aid I believe. Don't get me wrong I am all for helping out those less fortunate than ourselves and we should do it without any strings attached, and hope those we are giving aid to, manage to get their countries together making them a better place for their own people to live in. We hope the aid we give to the leaders of these countries is going to be put to the most beneficial use, but unfortunately, and all to often, all we end up with, is feed back from news specials about the corruption and the misappropriation of funding in the countries that we give to. Or, as in the case of India and Pakistan who we have giving millions if not billions of pounds to over the years, and who are continually firing shots at each other, while they both spend billions on their nuclear arsenals, and while the majority of their country folk live in abject poverty with no proper road, hospital, school, sanitary or welfare infrastructures.
The same can be said for most if not all of the African countries who also receive aid from us too. And then over the last couple of days I have heard that we should be proud as again, Prime Minister Cameron has stated his intent that the overseas aid payments will be maintained and that Britain's should be proud as we are the 'ONLY COUNTRY TO CONTINUE TO DO THIS'.
Now this brings me to another point about our own 'Green and Pleasant Land' where aid is also needed in the form of food banks to stop our own unemployed and out of work and low paid folk who are finding it increasingly more difficult to feed and clothe themselves on a daily basis let alone from week to week as we did not so long ago with our weekly trip to the supermarket, stumbling back to our cars with the burden of the overfilled trolley safe in the knowledge that we had enough food and detergent and toilet paper to last us the week before we had to make the return trip.
Now, people in our country are the starving masses, as they are in every other Western democratic country, with the only thing, free to us, for the moment, the air that we breath. Everything else is taxed, food, clothing, fuel and in the UK the poorest in our society are to be hit with the latest Tax invention, The Bedroom Tax. yes, you read that correctly, the current government, made up of a coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are bringing in a Tax system that will take those on low paid or out work and receiving state benefits, with a reduction in the benefits they receive if they have empty bedrooms in their homes!
Prime Minister Cameron came to power with the war cry of 'our big society' the idea I think was to make us all be inclusive and to think not only about ourselves but our neighbours and our towns and villages and districts and ultimately our country. That everything that we do should be done on the basis that it will not only improve our own lives, but everyone else's lives by the help and the sacrifices and the tightening of our belts; And the Government would do their part too! This was a policy that every one should adhere to, government, councils and businesses. But it seems to me that penalising people for having empty bedrooms is not a moral or just way to go about it, as it was our Governments who created the problem in the first place.
The bedroom tax is, I fear, designed to push people out of their homes, homes that they may have lived in all of their lives so that those homes can be given to people with families, regardless if your sons and daughters and grandchildren visit you on a regular basis. When you are forced to downsize you are effectively being told that you are now no longer allowed to have family visits. There are even cases where couples who might have two bedrooms but one of the parties is sick and or disabled. This may mean that they can't sleep together in the same bed in the same room. But the rules say that if they are married or in a common law relationship THEY MUST SHARE THE SAME ROOM, and therefore one room is technically free and therefore if they are on benefits, as they are likely to be as one is unable to work and the other is a carer, then they will receive a cut in their benefits!
Since the 1980's when the Tories introduced the 'right to buy' scheme where council tenants were actively encouraged to buy their own homes from the council, at below market prices, and with councils NOT ALLOWED to reinvest the shortfall in monies raised by building replacement stock, a policy that the Labour did not change when they were in power for 10 + years, the number of council houses available to the public has shrunk to the dwindling numbers that we have today, and as families have grown up, children have had families of their own, there has been insufficient housing stock built in the public sector to meet the needs of the unemployed and low paid, so family members who are on benefits now, must pay a price for the inadequacies of our Governments who continue to mismanage and govern badly on our behalf - So much for an inclusive and caring society.
The other battle cry of the politicians is the attack on those people on long term benefits in that they have been conditioned into receiving these benefits and because generations of the same families have never worked, their children and their children's children are therefore also conditioned into not working but to sticking their hands out to receive the 'free' benefits that those of us who work must pay for through taxation. So coming back full circle to overseas aid my questions are:
Are there countries out there that receive overseas development aid from the UK and other countries who are conditioned into receiving this aid?
Is the aid given to these countries being misappropriated by corrupt local politicians?
Is the aid being provided, the wrong aid?
Let's quickly look at the last question there. It's that time of year again in the UK for RED NOSE DAY where we are encouraged to donate to charities to help out the poor in third world countries. So, the millions that they raise, added to the already £10 billion that we pay for through taxation means that third world countries are certainly getting a lot of money each year, just like benefit recipients do, and they need do nothing at all to receive their 'reward' except live in abject poverty with starvation, drought and who knows what else thrown in for bad measure!
But there is one other constant, and it has been a constant for as long as I can remember seeing these images on the TV screen and even when I have been to Africa, and it is this.
You have large cities, and let's take Mombasa and Nairobi. Cities of gleaming steel, concrete and glass in the centre but surrounded, like a doughnut with shanty towns with little or no sanitation or clean water supplies. No power lines, no sewerage or water pipes, no metalled roads, nothing, nada; no infrastructure that allows a country to grow and develop, yet we continue to give hand over fist and investing in schemes that maybe help a few thousand instead of tens or hundreds of thousands? It is madness, yet we keep doing it, Why?
Why not, instead of giving these countries millions of pounds in cash each each year do we not just say enough is enough and every developed country who does try and help, instead just send their Army Corps of Engineers with all their equipment and we build proper roads, with sewerage runs, with the plants that go with them, Water pipes, electric pylons and metalled roads. We can then give them prefabricated houses that can be built along these metalled road routes and get the people of the slums they are living in with the infrastructure in place. Surely this would be better than continually pouring our money into an abyss of apathy and greed feeding local politicians and their corrupt regimes?
I only ask this as I seem to be unable to understand it all, maybe I'm just thick!