Richard Maher is 16 years old and has just started A-Level Government and Politics. In this groundbreaking new series of posts, he will record his education within the world of politics and see how his opinions are shaped over the course of the year.
Firstly, an introduction is in order. My name is Richard Maher, I’m 16 years-old and, quite frankly, I know very little about politics. I’ve struggled to find a political source of information I can truly relate to and have taken it upon myself to record my mental journey (please excuse the infamous ‘X Factor’ metaphor) from a teenage, political novice to a man capable of holding an impressive conversation with a potential father-in-law about public spending, surely the perfect first impression. I hope you can enjoy and learn with me as my political brain, hopefully, matures.
After watching the news recently, it seemed absurd to avoid the public spending cuts being employed by our new coalition government as my first topic, especially when it seemed so apparently obvious to me as to what was the perfect expenditure to ruthlessly slash; foreign aid.
I was sure I had more knowledge on the subject than a friend, who when I recently questioned, mistook what I had said for; “Foreignade”, a potential new, exotic, fizzy drink which he was pitifully surprised to have not seen advertised, but, being no expert, some research was still in order. And it failed to change my mind.
Firstly; I fail to see, with our own economic problems on such a large-scale, why we should use taxpayer’s money to subsidise the incompetence of the third world. It’s almost as if we are made to feel guilty for our free water and sufficient resources to house and feed our population, as if this is a fortunate fate we’ve fallen into. This has taken Britain years of hard labour; shouldn’t we be able to enjoy it? Of course we are in a favourable position as individuals in comparison to the unfortunate people born into poverty abroad but, as they say, charity comes from the heart, organisations are set up to directly help these people, and members of the public would get much greater satisfaction if they were to donate money themselves rather than resent the fact it was unwillingly stripped from their pocket.
These organisations are also a much safer method of providing aid to other countries in need. For instance, taxpayer’s money instilled into the foreign aid budget was recently used to fund several million pounds for a TV show based on a Kenyan football team. Is this really the most efficient way to spend this money whilst our own country languishes in heavy debt and Kenyans suffer in poverty? In an even worse case scenario, the money could be given to a corrupt official who uses it to strengthen an extremist government and further suppress his/her people into misery. ‘Supressing opposition’ is another common method of spending aid received from abroad, basically this means we’re funding weapons for smaller nations. If promoting war in this fashion wasn’t bad enough, what if an extremist leader gains control in one of these vulnerable countries? The weaponry we funded could, potentially, be turned on us. Surely, injecting taxes into our own economy and generously funding direct help programmes such as ‘OXFAM’ is the safest, fairest and most rewarding way to use this money.
Even if the money from foreign aid was used in an attempt to strengthen the economy of the struggling nation, price inflation is sure to occur. Wouldn’t this widen the division between the wealthier and the poorer citizens? And, if even harder times fell upon the providers, such as Britain, it’s likely we’d be demanding our money back. With no sustainable income, these nations would have little chance of returning the colossal fees and would plummet into an even more difficult situation than they were originally.
Overall, I find it totally absurd that whilst Britain struggles in debt we’ve increased the foreign aid budget from 6.8 billion to 7.7 billion for the coming financial year, when our proud NHS and important public sector jobs in our own country have been viciously hacked. It is a dated and patronising concept which childishly bullies countries into ‘friendship’ and effectively buys their support and, in this period of the infamous deficit, it should be the first to go.