Realist, not conformist analysis of the latest financial, business and political news

First They Came For Oxfam But Because I Was Not Oxfam….

We could parody that rather famous line or perhaps we could ascribe this sex scandal in charities in rather more vernacular fashion, there but for the grace of God go…..there being an interesting point here over and above just being able to point at the holier than thou.

For of course the argument from Oxfam, Save the Children, Action Aid and all the rest has been that they are doing good. Therefore we should just shut up and shovel the money their way. Even when they rather stray from that original golden path of comforting the afflicted, feeding the hungry and clothing the naked. Into, say, monstrous campaigns whining about inequality, an insistence that peasant farming must be retained, political interventions into relative poverty in the UK – all those being campaigned for already being in the top 20% of the global income distribution – to mention only the wastes of donations that Oxfam has been responsible for.

Thus there is a joy at this:

Cases of sexual abuse and harassment of vulnerable people and staff reported to the regulator by charities have trebled in the wake of the Oxfam scandal.

The Charity Commission revealed it had opened 440 new cases after receiving 523 fresh reports in February and March.

The figure is half the number it received in the 12 months to the end of March 2017, and a trebling on the 176 it received in the same two month period last year.

It comes as Sir Alan Parker, chairman of Save The Children, announced his resignation.

Thirty-three charities funded by the Government, including Oxfam and Save the Children, submitted 219 incident reports.

Of those, 127 of the new cases related to historical allegations…

One interesting use of all of this is as a proof of the public choice theory. This is more normally applied to government and governance but it extends into NGOs and other organisations rather well. For all we’re saying really is that humans are humans. They’re motivated by maximising their own utility. This means that bureaucrats and politicians will – often enough and not necessarily always – feather their own nests rather than be the devoted and pure public servants of the left’s presentation. Utility, to an economist, means very much more than money too. Here, being able to fiddle with the kids, fiddle with the staff, is a motivation, a utility, which people will maximise if they wish and can. What is it we’re seeing? People maximising their utility even as they’re supposed to be those comforting the poor and thus pure of mind and heart.

Public choice theory is proven.

But there’s also something of a joy at what is unfolding. For the defence is, of course, that this is only a few bad apples. And everyone is strongly in favour of rooting them out before they spoil the barrel.

Oh yes? Or rather more importantly, others have been saying the same thing about capitalism, financial markets, neoliberal globalisation and all the rest. Sure, there are bad things happening out there. But the basis of the system is fine, it’s bad apples, not structural failure. And who is it that tells us that this isn’t good enough? Why Oxfam, Action Aid and so on.

It appears that sauce for goose is not sauce for gander, eh?

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bloke in spain
bloke in spain
5 years ago

Plum or cherry, possibly orange. But never apple, bad or otherwise.

Hallowed Be
Hallowed Be
5 years ago

I do wonder whether schadenfreude is the sole source of joy for you sometimes Tim.

5 years ago

That is a brilliant verbal thumbnail of Oxfam theory versus practice! People are not enabled to do wrong by ideas, the existence of tools, guns, or kiddies to diddle, but by the impression they will get away with it; and nowhere more than in the compassion industry, the government, and their union: UN relief missions. Regarding the increasing pace of complaints, greater public scrutiny probably means the pace of sex offenses hasn’t increased (impunity is lessening), but that these are like copycat news reports (or circling sharks); those filing complaints realize that Oxfam diddlers is now a meme, and they… Read more »

5 years ago

A lot of the care homes involved in the historic abuse allegations and investigation were charity run

The residential schools in Canada as well, often church-charitable organisations.

One interview I saw the First Nations man summed it up quite succinctly, predators will gather where there is prey

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