Since the Conservative government has come into power there have been numerous talks and measures imposed on the British public designed to curb the expansive budget deficit accrued by the Labour party during the recent recession. While some have claimed the measures to be harsh, I have always taken the opinion that they have been needed and that the ordinances that have been cut were worthless government programs and bloated, near socialist policies. Then we have student fees which I feel hit two birds with one stone by reducing government expenditure and also possibly reducing university admission. The reduction in university admission was needed in order to stop students from attending university for low value courses which add nothing to career prospects and just serve to increase the graduate unemployment level as people punch above their weight because of their perceived qualification value.
However, recent plans by the government have not sat well with me. It has been announced that Britain will be pledging further foreign aid into less developed countries. This is on top of the fact that Britain is already one of the largest givers of foreign aid, as a proportion of GDP, worldwide. The current figure stands that Britain gives foreign aid to a value of 0.56% of GDP which may not seem like much but amounts to around £8.5 billion. While I could understand this sort of expenditure if the economy was doing particularly well at the moment it seems irrational to increase the giving of money to other countries when we can barely afford to fund our own. Obviously, if there are expected returns to come from the aid than I can understand as it could be construed as a form of supply side policy which will benefit us in the long term. However as simple, no strings attached donations foreign aid is impractical at the current time.
David Cameron mentioned in his speech today that it was Britain’s “moral principle” to increase aid up to 0.7% which was allegedly agreed at a meeting of all the main parties in Britain shortly before the last general election. One thing that most people, even our own prime minister it seems, don’t get is that Economics as a science is amoral and hence the notion of using morality as justification for an economic policy is irrational in straight Economic theory. For me it’s critical at times like this that we follow economic theory more closely in order to stabilise the economy and reach periods of sustained economic growth and prosperity.
It doesn’t help that we are already the top giver of foreign aid. We have nothing to prove to the world, we are doing our share. Instead we should be convincing the rest of the world to catch up and achieve parity with us in terms of foreign aid. Specifically we should be pressuring oil rich Arab countries and newly industrialised states such as China to start contributing more to the worlds interests rather than remaining mainly inward facing. While it is known that China invests heavily in areas such as Africa, it is more just disguised exploitation and it’s government should be encouraged to take more compassion to, at least, its poorer neighbours.
We are not the main superpowers any more, others need to pull their weight.