Is Private Help a Bad Thing? – Political Spectacles of the Left

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Some social and political analysts regard private help as a bad thing.  They speak of the “problem” of food banks, and of America’s “miserly” support for poorer countries.  In fact food banks are a solution, not a problem.  Private generosity has leapt into the breach to help tide people over temporary problems.  The great majority of food bank users do so only once. 

Similarly with US aid to poorer countries.  The United States is regularly berated for being very low on the list of aid givers, but this only applies to government-to-government aid.  Once the private contributions made by Americans to people in poorer countries are counted in, the US rises to the top. In fact US private help is better spent, usually going to people to spend in towns and villages in the local economy, rather than on gold palaces and white elephant steel mills in the desert.

Part of this mismatch arises from the fact that these analysts seem to wear spectacles that admit only light of a political wavelength and ignore private generosity.  The latest victim of this myopia is the “bank of mom and dad.”  It is assumed to be a bad thing that young people should turn to mom and dad to help out with deposits and mortgages.

In many cases these are simply funds that would have been part of an inheritance passed on later.  Instead they are being transferred now, when most needed, and in more tax efficient ways.  And when young people continue to stay with mom and dad instead of striking out on their own, this is presented as a burden.  The reality is that many parents tell of how pleased they are still to be useful and helpful to their offspring, and to give them, through low rents, the chance to accumulate savings of their own. 

What we should be doing, instead of castigating the help that parents freely and gladly give, is to be concentrating our efforts onto those not fortunate enough to have such chances themselves.  They are the problem; for the others it is one that is already being solved.

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Spike
Member

Private charity, such as food banks, is vastly superior to “entitlements.” You note that few become repeat users of food banks; this owes to a feature called eye contact, not present when alms are doled out by rulebook (or worse yet, in the U.S., by “stigma-free” Electronic Benefit Transfer that deliberately looks just like a debit card). These users become chronic, and caseworkers and politicians couldn’t be happier. Foreign aid is always essentially government-to-government. But even if agreements let the giver ensure that it reach the needy people, one unforeseen side-effect is that it undercuts local food producers. It’s harder… Read more »

Spike
Member

On borrowing from your parents, they will do you a favor worth more than money if they insist that you treat the debt as a duty that must be attended to, and not blown off in the mindset you mention, that “It will eventually be mine anyway.” See previous post, at eye contact.

Tim Newman
Member
Tim Newman

I think the objection to this, which I confess I believe has some merit, is the middle classes of one generation voted for successive governments to stitch-up the housing market in their favour, screwing everyone else over (particularly the next generation). Now their whelps are beginning to feel the effects of their parents’ selfishness, Mummy and Daddy are trying to find ways of helping them without ending the stitch-up that benefits them so greatly.