David Cameron is offering up even more of our money on the altar of altruism: £814m to provide vaccinations for poor people in third world countries. Story.
Isn’t this a noble action? No. Let’s dispel this myth at the start. There is nothing neither noble nor honourable in pouring hundreds of millions of taxpayers’ money into another country. Bill Gates says “The United Kingdom has also been very generous and its taxpayers should be thanked.” No we shouldn’t, because we didn’t have a choice whether to contribute or not. Charity at gunpoint is not charity. (This little truth is ignored by all socialists in their war for a “humanitarian” redistributionist utopia.)
I am most certainly not cold to the suffering of others, but I am not a hypocrite either. In the words of Ayn Rand: “Poverty is not a mortgage on the labor of others—misfortune is not a mortgage on achievement—failure is not a mortgage on success—suffering is not a claim check, and its relief is not the goal of existence—man is not a sacrificial animal on anyone’s altar nor for anyone’s cause—life is not one huge hospital.”
With the economy on its last legs here and around the world, with recession and an ever-rising cost of living, with schools and hospitals being closed, overcrowded prisons, the NHS millions in debt, why is our government, our sacred protector, our servant, being so generous with our money? Now, this isn’t to say I support the NHS or state schools (as I reject all socialised institutions), but if taxpayer money is to be spent on futile altruistic causes, those causes should at least be domestic for one very important unassailable reason: the government serves the people of its country, NO ONE else. Redistribution of property is bad enough, as it necessarily means the sacrifice of the capable, intelligent and productive, but when taxpayers’ wealth is distributed outside the country it is an act of treason by the government against its very clients. The proper role of government is to protect Rights, not to act as international good-will emissary or charity function, or to play philanthropist with the very property of the people it should be safeguarding.
“Shadow international development secretary Harriet Harman said it was “unacceptable” that millions of children in the developing world die from illnesses which could be prevented by vaccinations which are taken for granted in the UK.” I think it’s unacceptable that tens of thousands of deaths occur every year in the UK because cancer and blood clots aren’t spotted early enough by the NHS. But more on that shortly.
Pouring millions into third-world poverty is like trying to fill a colander. The point that our governments and all the altruists don’t realise, or choose to ignore, is this: why are some countries better off than others in the first place? If most diseases are easily preventable in the UK, it’s not because we are raping and pillaging poor countries. Our cures don’t come from the blood and souls of the poor. Diabolical pharmaceutical companies are not rounding up third-world children and making drugs out of their bones. So why then in the Western world is our standard of living so much better? Industrialisation, brought about by capitalism. Capitalism, though perverted, diluted, bastardised and corrupted by our governments, has a superb track record of improving quality and lowering prices. Any free or semi-free market proves this. Or in the words of Joseph Schumpeter: “It is the cheap cloth, the cheap cotton and rayon fabric, boots, motorcars and so on that are the typical achievements of capitalist production, and not as a rule improvements that would mean much to the rich man. Queen Elisabeth owned silk stockings. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within the reach of factory girls in return for steadily decreasing amounts of effort.” (Bold mine).
The cure for poverty is not charity, and charity cannot by definition be given by taxpayers. What the third world needs is capitalism. The third world will be forever dependent on the developed world until it starts to produce for itself. That isn’t going to happen overnight and it won’t be easy. But it shouldn’t come through our sacrifices either. Consider that Bill Gates himself has donated more than the British government. Is it any surprise that GAVI is encountering a massive shortfall as fiat currency and inflation destroy the true wealth and savings of private citizens? (This is the source of charity.)
Harriet Harman continued: “The private sector must also play its part by supplying vaccines at the lowest possible prices.” Well, before one starts making demands on the private sector, one might want to consider where the bulk of tax actually comes from, and who discovers vaccines in the first place and the plethora of regulations and red-tape they are forced to endure. If government really wants to encourage private companies to be more generous with their vaccines, they might want to stop eating into the latter’s profit margin and investment capital. Why doesn’t the government be more generous with business tax and regulation?
“But don’t you care about millions of children dying in poor countries?” It is hard to give a straight answer to this question without being pilloried or misconstrued. Do I care? Yes and no. I would love to see poverty eliminated on earth entirely, just as I want to see crime and disease eliminated. I think a child dying of an easily-preventable disease is a tragic but logical consequence of their surroundings. I don’t feel guilty about it and I don’t believe I owe anything to those worse off. I don’t believe that the poor have earned goodwill simply by being poor, but I do approve of helping others when they are honest and well-intentioned people, and if their lives are conducive (however indirectly) to one’s values. (For example, if third-world terrorists are starving, I couldn’t care less.)
But I also I accept that poverty, just like crime and disease, isn’t something that can be wiped out by fascist governments (no matter how well-intentioned their motives). The solution will require slow and strenuous effort to drag a country from poverty to wealth, and it will be the inventors, the businessmen, the capitalists, doing the dragging, as it always is. But it is not fair on the people of another country to be looted, even if it means that many lives are saved in the short-term. Charity must begin at home. Finally, we must totally reject the notion that governments make aid happen. If all government aid stopped in a week, the free wealthy people of this world would continue to help the poor, inasmuch as it is practical and worthwhile for them to do so.