budgetary nihilism: a response to the deferral of foreign aid

Courtesy of the ABC: http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201305/r1115368_13599551.jpg

Yesterday I was privileged enough to have an article of mine appear on the ABC Religion and Ethics website.

The article is entitled Budgetary nihilism: Deferring foreign aid signals a distorted moral vision. It discusses the recent budgetary decision to defer Australia’s foreign aid commitments under the Millennium Development Goals to 2017–18.

[In this decision to defer our foreign aid commitments] there is, it seems to me, no clearer indication of the nihilism that now permeates politics, for what other than political nihilism could account for the moral obstinacy of diverting foreign aid to help cover a perceived budgetary shortfall? The obscenity of this decision is only compounded when one realises that this shortfall is itself a product of the irrational rhetoric and shameless opportunism of political parties scrambling to annihilate one another and appease a shrill and self-interested minority.

On top of all this, there is the inescapable irony that Prime Minister Julia Gillard recently assumed the role of co-chair of the UN Millennium Development Goal Advocacy Group, charged with “building political will, rallying additional support, and spurring collective action to achieve the [Millenium Development Goals] by 2015.” It is unclear how a leader of our country can do this with any integrity or credibility, given the immorality of one of the world’s most prosperous countries diverting promised money away from programs for the world’s most vulnerable people.

The piece goes on to discuss an approach to the underlying ethics of foreign aid, particularly from a Christian perspective.

The article was also discussed on ABC’s Radio National Drive program (in which I am referred to as a “fiery … obscure PhD student”, which made me laugh).

The article on ABC R&E is largely an updated version of my essay from this time last year (also in response to aid deferrals in the budget) entitled Foreign aid and moral vision.



Feature image: http://www.abc.net.au/news/linkableblob/4689470/data/swan-gears-up-for-budget-data.jpg
Small image: http://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201305/r1115368_13599551.jpg

Posted on May 15, 2013, in Advocacy, Biblical Studies, Current Events, Development, Economics, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Where does the money come from for foreign (or domestic) aid to the poor? If it comes from taxes, it is a bad means that can never produce good ends. Taxation–the taking of property by the power of the state by force or coercion–may be the single greatest evil in the world today, for it condones the initiation of force and violence where none existed. When it is used tas a means to fund programs for the poor, it corrupts the poor by making them participants in evil, a fate they do not deserve. It may be the ultimate source of nihilism.

    You know how the tale of the Good Samaritan begins:

    On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” “What is written in the Law?” he replied. “How do you read it?” He answered, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” “You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” But he wanted to justify himself, so he asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”

    Then Jesus told his famous parable. Examine it carefully. When the Samaritan saw the stranger in need, according to Jesus, “He went to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put the man on his own donkey, brought him to an inn and took care of him.” Where did he get the oil and wine? Whose was it? Whose donkey did he use? Who personally took care of the stranger?

    Continuing, “The next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper. ‘Look after him,’ he said, ‘and when I return, I will reimburse you for any extra expense you may have.’” Whose money did he use to pay the innkeeper? Do you suppose, if there was extra expense, the Samaritan applied for a grant to repay the innkeeper? Or does the tale suggest that when he got to Jericho where he lived he took money from his stash and returned to the inn to see if the innkeeper had run up additional expense caring for the stranger–and repaid him for the expense with his own money?

    OPM: sounds like opium, is equally addicting, stands for other peoples’ money–forcibly taken. Because it has become so deeply ingrained in our culture, many people are blind to the damage–vast and virtually all encompassing–done by using OPM instead of one’s own resources for everything from schooling to charity to funding one’s retirement. Folks who see nothing wrong in this suffer from cognitive dissonance. It is a complete negation of the Golden Rule Jesus espoused. I do not think that someone purposely using OPM for any cause can be a disciple of Christ. What say you?

    Keep the faith, Ned

  1. Pingback: Someone said… | The words of a very minor prophet

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