DEEY DERKA DEERRRRRRRR: the sequel

Time is against me, this week.  Here’s an opinion piece.  More UKIP.

You know these floods?  What caused them?  The Met Office says man-made climate change.   If I recall UKIP’s position correctly, they don’t even consider man-made climate change a thing.  That’s a bit of a contentious subject now; they’ve not said much about it since this whole deluge began.

But, while the UKIP bigwigs have made little comment as to the ultimate cause of the flooding, they have been rather vocal about a proposed solution.  You see, this is one of those very peculiar sorts of problems that can be solved without knowing what caused the problem in the first place.

I’ve noticed that, when it is politically convenient to do so, UKIP will happily trans-morph into massive socialists whose first recourse when faced with a crisis is to fling a huge amount of taxpayer money at it.  If an issue is framed as one of budgeting, then budgetary solutions can be proposed.  And UKIP have a lot of ideas of that sort.  Oh, yes.

They have produced a short list of non-essential areas of government spending; which, in their view, should be cut immediately:

  1. Foreign Aid

You might have noticed that this list is quite short.  Well, I warned you.  You might also have noticed an astonishing coincidence: it’s the exact same thing that UKIP have always wanted to cut.

I’m not sure there’s any crisis that UKIP won’t meet with a call to cut foreign aid.  Too much rain?  Cut foreign aid.  Too little rain?  Cut foreign aid.  Tube on strike?  Cut foreign aid.  If a clutch of angry velociraptors were somehow loosed onto the streets of Droitwich, I’m sure UKIP would find a way of blaming some foreign agency or other.  Probably someone from Bongo-Bongo Land, where velociraptors are native.

Nothing like a domestic catastrophe with no precedent in living memory to push an agenda, is there?  Look, I understand that UKIP supporters don’t like foreign aid.  Really I do.   I noticed guys, well done on your communication skills!  But – here’s the thing – is this really the time to be making this sort of suggestion?  It seems a little…how do I say this?  Opportunistic?  Psychopathic?  If UKIP were really intent on avoiding lazy accusations of xenophobia, then they would do well to avoid being so terrifically lazy in their attempts to conceal said xenophobia.

Let me see if I can follow the logic.  Floods are bad, therefore more public money must be spent helping victims of flooding, and this money must be recouped from some other area of government spending.  Does it not then follow that whatever area of public spending you happen to disagree with, you can now voice this opinion as a solution to anything bad that happens?

Here’s an example:  I don’t like the monarchy.  Sorry, monarchy fans; it’s nothing against them, I just don’t agree with the principle.  I think the monarchy should be abolished.  Is this now the time to shout this opinion in the street?  “Hey everyone, did you see the flood?  This is it!  Fetch me my guillotine!”

The Red Cross have received an influx of donations, and some guy called Mark Cox has written about it.  His blog is worth reading in full; but since I know most of you are too lazy to click on a goddam link, I’ll quote the most pertinent extract:

…as a British charity, we already have general funds in place to deal with emergencies in this country…terrible as the floods have been for all those involved, the actual cost of all our work there will be tens of thousands of pounds, which we can afford from our general funds.

Aha.  Ah.  Ahaaaaaaa.  Charity does begin at home, though, doesn’t it?  It must do, since UKIP supporters have been loudly reiterating this idiom ad-nausem, like a zombie-horde reiterating its hunger for brains.  Who came up with this phrase?  The earliest example I could find was from scripture; specifically, from the first book of Timothy:

5:8 “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.”

Worse than an infidel, eh?  So you see, when the Bible was written we were talking specifically about your home – ie. the building you live in.  A few centuries hence, ‘home’ had become your village.  The term later evolved, via a series of intermediaries, to describe a nation state.  This definition of ‘home’ suits UKIP.  ‘Home’, in their view, is constituted by everything living within a specific geographical boundary (Except the people that are illegally living within that boundary, who should receive no charity whatsoever).

UKIP are tapping into a school of thinking that holds that foreign aid is a massive waste of money.  This is a load of old bilge.  Foreign aid is neither a massive expense, nor a wasteful one.  As this letter by billionaire computer nerd Bill Gates demonstrates far more comprehensively and more eloquently than I can be bothered to do here.

So, in summary, to suggest we should suspend foreign aid at the slightest whiff of domestic calamity strikes me as pretty cynical.  What’s more, I’m not sure the phrase ‘charity begins at home’ will convince me otherwise, no matter how many times it’s blithely parroted.

Charity may well begin at home.  Planet Earth is home.*

Until next week.

*I didn’t make this up, I totally stole it from the comments section of the Red Cross piece.

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