Archive for the ‘‘Charity’’ Category

by Don Franks

I don’t care what anyone thinks, I’ve had enough of all the talk about child poverty.  Some of the talk is well-intentioned, but much of it’s actually bullshit

Phrases roll off the tongue but what does poverty mean in New Zealand today?

The Ministry of Social Development works from the level of income set at  60% of median household disposable income after housing costs. This is deemed a reasonable level to protect people from the worst effects of poverty.

Source: Stats NZ 2016

In these terms it’s calculated that the poverty line after deducting housing costs for a household with two adults and two children lies at $600 per week or $31,200 annually in 2016 dollars. For a sole parent with one child it is $385 per week or $20,200 annually in 2016 dollars. Inadequate amounts of money for a decent life and, by such reckoning, there are around 682,50 people in poverty in this country, or one in seven households.

New Zealand is a far more unequal country than it was a generation back. Over the past three decades, under both National- and Labour-led governments, New Zealand has gone from being one of the most equal to one of the most unequal nations in the wealthy OECD countries.  In those 30 years, incomes for the average of the top 10% income earners roughly doubled while lower and middle incomes barely increased. Let’s compare two reports, almost a decade apart.

The 2007 Statistics Department study Wealth and disparities in New Zealand revealed that the top 10% of wealthy New Zealand individuals owned over half of New Zealand’s total net worth, and nearly one fifth of total net worth was owned by the top one percent of wealthy individuals. At the halfway mark, the bottom half of the population collectively owned a mere 5 percent of total net worth.

The most recent available information is a 2016 Statistics Department study Household Net Worth Statistics: Year ended June 2015 (published 2016).  It reveals that the (more…)

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 Pope Francis pauses in front of a sculpture of Junípero Serra, the Saint of Genocide, in the US Capitol. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/dpa/Corbis

Pope Francis pauses in front of a sculpture of Junípero Serra, the Saint of Genocide, in the US Capitol. Photograph: Michael Reynolds/dpa/Corbis

by The Spark

The Pope is being lauded as a champion of the poor for speaking out against poverty and inequality, the destruction of the environment and the plight of migrants fleeing war-torn areas of the world.

Many American Indian activists and supporters have a different view due to the Pope’s recent choice for sainthood, the 18thcentury Spanish missionary Junipero Serra. As “Father Presidente,” Serra oversaw the founding of at least 10 Spanish missions in the area from San Jose to Los Angeles, California between 1769 and 1784. Approximately 150,000 Indians died in the (more…)

imagesby Michael Roberts

In a great new book, Billionaires: reflections on the upper crust (http://www.newrepublic.com/article/120092/billionaires-book-review-money-cant-buy-happiness), Darrel M West outlined various social surveys that show the richer a person is, the less likely they are to redistribute some of their wealth and earnings to those less lucky or ‘talented’.

A University of California study found that people driving expensive cars were four times more likely to cut in front of other drivers or ignore pedestrians right of way than those in cheap cars. They considered themselves kings of the highways. In another study, the richer the person, the more likely they were to take candy from a jar left outside a laboratory, despite a sign saying that it was for (more…)

Reviewed by Daphna Whitmore

The slim contours of this paperback are deceptive. Although at just a hundred pages it is more of an essay than a book, every sentence is laden with content. Arundhati Roy has produced a weighty work.

Arundhati Roy

Arundhati Roy

Since winning the Booker prize for her novel the The God of Small Things in 1997, Roy has lent her voice to the cause of the poor, the dispossessed and the environment. In Capitalism a Ghost Story she focuses her poetic prose on the grotesqueness of corporate India. ” “In the drive to beautify Delhi for the Commonwealth Games, laws were passed that made the poor vanish, like laundry stains.” The numbers are staggering: India’s new middle class, who have reached 300 million, are still dwarfed by the country’s 800 million impoverished. Then there are the ghosts of 250,000 debt-ridden farmers who have killed themselves.

In this work she returns again to the government’s war, Operation Greenhunt,  being waged against the people living in the forests of central India which she introduced the world to in Walking with the Comrades, in 2011.

She has a challenge for the feminists: “Why is it that the dispossession and eviction of millions of women from land that they owned and worked is not seen as a feminist problem?” (more…)

Many well-intentioned people still see the United Nations as some kind of alternative to imperialism. Below we’re reprinting an article that first appeared in issue #2 of MidEast Solidarity (Autumn 2002), the Middle East bulletin of revolution magazine. The anti-imperialist arguments were contributed by Scott Hamilton of the Auckland-based Anti-Imperialist Coalition and Philip Ferguson of the Christchurch-based Middle East Information and Solidarity Collective.

The UN provided cover for the overthrow of the progressive regime in the Congo, led by Patrice Lumumba

Isn’t the United Nations a neutral body representing the international community? Can’t it work in an unbiased way?

The United Nations was established by the winning powers in World War 2. They redivided the world between them, with little concern for anyone else. The UN was created to give legitimacy to this new world order.

One of the first major activities of the UN was to create the state of Israel, thereby dispossessing the Palestinians. Shortly after this, the UN intervened mainly in Korea to back up the dictatorship in the South and preserve imperialist interests.

In the Congo in the early 1960s, the United Nations used its ‘neutral’ cover to play an important part in the overthrow of the radical regime of Patrice Lumumba. This resulted in years of dictatorship and the continued plunder of the wealth of the Congo by western interests.

Today, the United Nations is responsible for the (more…)

imageHere at Redline, we’ve consistently pointed out problems with the concept of child poverty.  In particular, that it’s not that the children are poor, but that the adults, their parents, are poor and that this poverty is the result of low pay and particularly low benefit levels.  Below is an article that appeared at Two Arab Girls, a site that describes itself as “Unapologetic diatribes, rants and musings of two angry Aotearoa-based Arab women”.  The article deserves a very wide readership.

2009 protest against low pay

For years now, and thanks to decades of commendable work by groups such as Child Poverty Action Group, the term ‘child poverty’ has increasingly emerged in my facebook feed, frequented our newspapers and dripped from the lips of earnest soap-boxing politicians traversing campaign trails. A few weeks ago even, our very own centre-right Prime Minister announced that “tackling child poverty” was set to be an important part of his third-term agenda.

For the groups who have rallied for awareness on the issue, this mainstream traction is a benchmark of success. For me, it confirms my longstanding belief that a linear focus on “child poverty” can all too easily become reproduced and exploited for sinister ends.

This is not to say that I don’t think we should advocate for (more…)

CSF003Below we are reprinting material that first appeared in issue 57 of Aspects of India’s Economy, publication of the Research Unit on Political Economy.  We would strongly recommend RUPE’s work to anyone who wants to understand what is going on in the economy and politics of India.  

by Jacob Levich

The Real Agenda of the Gates Foundation

“You’re trying to find the places where the money will have the most leverage, how you can save the most lives for the dollar, so to speak,” Pelley remarked. “Right. And transform the societies,” Gates replied.1

In 2009 the self-designated “Good Club” – a gathering of the world’s wealthiest people whose collective net worth then totaled some $125 billion – met behind closed doors in New York City to discuss a coordinated response to threats posed by the global financial crisis. Led by Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, and David Rockefeller, the group resolved to find new ways of addressing sources of discontent in the developing world, in particular “overpopulation” and infectious diseases.2 The billionaires in attendance committed to massive spending in areas of interest to themselves, heedless of the priorities of national governments and existing aid organizations.3

Details of the secret summit were leaked to the press and hailed as a turning point for Big Philanthropy. Traditional bureaucratic foundations like Ford, Rockefeller, and Carnegie were said to be giving way to “philanthrocapitalism,” a muscular new approach to charity in which the presumed entrepreneurial skills of billionaires would be applied directly to the world’s most pressing challenges:

Today’s philanthrocapitalists see a world full of big problems that they, and perhaps only they, can and must put right.  … Their philanthropy is “strategic,” “market conscious,” “impact oriented,” “knowledge based,” often “high engagement,” and always driven by the goal of maximizing the “leverage” of the donor’s money. … [P]hilanthrocapitalists are increasingly trying to find ways of harnessing the profit motive to achieve social good.4

Wielding “huge power that could reshape nations according to their will,”5 billionaire donors would now openly embrace not only the market-based theory, but also the practices and organizational norms, of corporate capitalism. Yet the overall thrust of their charitable interventions would remain (more…)