Save The Children – Poverty in the UK

Save the Children,  in launching a campaign against UK poverty have been criticised for straying into overtly political territory, says the Telegraph:

Mr Forsyth, who advised Tony Blair during his time in No.10 and was latterly Gordon Brown’s communications director, insisted that poverty levels were worsening under the current Government.

“No child should see their parent going hungry or start the new term without a warm coat and with holes in their shoes,” he said. “Poverty is tearing families apart, with parents buckling under the pressure of mounting bills and children seeing their parents argue more about money.

“That’s why for the first time in our history we are launching a UK appeal. We need to help poor families survive the recession.”

As a critic of Big Society, it would be tempting to lay the  blame  on the coalition government It goes back further, to the government Justin Lewis were advising who’d made social enterprise government policy.

In 2003,   P-CED founder Terry Hallman had been fasting for the US government to ratify the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural  Rights.  I wrote earlier of our interaction with US presidential candidate John Edwards and the foundation of the Center on Poverty Work and Opportunity in 2005.  I invited him to work with me in the UK

In the proposal he wrote for the UK in 2004, he described how impoverished communities could be simulated through micro economic development to create new enterprises,  having proven the concept over 5 years in Russia. Warning of this risk of uprisings he drew attention to the insufficiency of capitalism as an economic paradigm.

“Dealing with poverty is nothing new. The question became ‘how does poverty still exist in a world with sufficient resources for a decent quality of life for everyone?’ The answer was that we have yet to develop any economic system capable redistributing finite resources in a way that everyone has at minimum enough for a decent life: food, decent housing, transportation, clothing, health care, and education. The problem has not been lack of resources, but adequate distribution of resources. Capitalism is the most powerful economic engine ever devised, yet it came up short with its classical, inherent profit-motive as being presumed to be the driving force. Under that presumption, all is good in the name of profit became the prevailing winds of international economies — thereby giving carte blanche to the notion that greed is good because it is what has driven capitalism. The 1996 paper merely took exception with the assumption that personal profit, greed, and the desire to amass as much money and property on a personal level as possible are inherent and therefore necessary aspects of any capitalist endeavour. While it is in fact very normal for that to be the case, it simply does not follow that it must be the case.”

Back in 1996, he’d presented his seminal paper on an alternative economic model to the White House It warned that money imagimeed into existence as debt would increasingly disenfranchised those least able to compete to the point that they could only respond with violence.

Within 4 years the failings of capitalism would be apparent to the rest of the world, in another 3 years the arrival of anticipated uprisings.  Now it’s beginning to  look like the situation he described in Russia when he wrote:

There were also critical food shortages in the region, children living on the streets because they considered orphanages intolerable, women having to resort to prostitution to feed their children, and a near-total lack of new economic opportunities.   Economic opportunities for women were routinely negotiated in bed, if at all.”

In 2006 much  the same was reported in our national strategy plan for social enterprise, as introduced to Erste Bank, Grameen Creative Labs and three governments

“We see a staggering array of social problems arising directly from poverty, including but not limited to tens of thousands of children in orphanages or other state care; crime; disrespect for civil government because government cannot be felt or seen as civil for anyone left to suffer in poverty; young people prostituting themselves on the street; drug abuse to alleviate the aches and pains of the suffering that arises from poverty and misery; HIV/AIDS spreading like a plague amidst prostitution, unprotected sex, and drug abuse; more children being born into this mix and ending up in state care at further cost to the state; criminals coming from poverty backgrounds, ending up as bandits, returning to communities after prison, with few options except further criminal activity.”

What few realised until after 2008 was that the problems in Russia and now the US and much of Western Europe had been set in motion some years earlier with the deregulation of markets and  OTC derivative trading.  We were creating money which had no tangible anchor, it would inevitably implode.  From 2009, some of the more recent material on this issue was gathered for our study guide for students at the International  Economics for Ecology conferences.

Social enterprise in the UK from the outset was about showcasiing. The word was used by Gordon Brown and is still used by the APPG on Social Enterprise and SE UK.

Rather than a broadly based  strategy to tackle poverty by whoever felt compelled to act it was a a tightly controlled strategy of  nominated ‘ambassadors’  and ‘thought leaders’.   There was a gravy train of public funding and  a growing establishment who didn’t want others et the discussion table, even if they were investing their own profits as we were to resolve social problems.

Social enterprise would increasing become a round of  end to end conferences. There was a living to be made from being an “expert” yet  sadly little support for grass roots organisations who were trying to walk the talk.

It has taken those full 8 years for government to come up with Big Society Capital and it’s going to be managed by for-profit intermediaries, who now seem unable to find projects which are “investment ready”.

Eight years ago one of the first to dismiss fighting poverty through this alternative to capitalism had been ICOF the funding arm of the co-operative movement.  Social Enterprise Coalition chairperson,  Baroness Thornton a Labour Cooperative peer,  even disregarded my letter to her at the House of Lords about this.  Clearly any external suggestion   about funding social innovation was far from welcome.

This has been something in which Social Enterprise London and the Social Enterprise Coalition said they could not help.   The South West Regional Development Authority said they’d get back to us, if it matched  their own plans and the APPG on Social ERnterprise simply ignored us. The APPG on microfinance turned down the offer of a presentation on impact in Russia.

We moved on to Ukraine and the cause of children abandoned to state care.  In proposing to end the vicious cycle of poverty and asserting  that Every Child Deserves a Loving Family.

Today, and probably now too late,  Cooperatives UK have joined in the call for a ‘cooperative’ capitalism using the same reasoning as our own, the ‘Debt Threat’ described in our 1996 white paper.

Poverty is  clearly among us and defeating it isn’t a battle that can be won under any individual banner.

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2 thoughts on “Save The Children – Poverty in the UK

  1. Mishonick says:

    Democracy is a total fraud, a charade to make people think that they have control.

    All over the world, political hopefuls pound the campaign trail whipping voters into frenzied ecstasy like a group of howling lapdogs. There’s never a rational discussion about actual plans… just high-sounding bombastic talk masquerading as substance.

    Then the guys get in office. They wage wars. Drop bombs. Spend like drunken sailors. Indebt future generations. Pollute the currency. Spy on citizens. Suspend the rule of law whenever it suits them. And in short, they do nothing that they promised.

    Curiously, voters are always surprised when ‘their guy’ never turns out to be the principled leader they voted for… as if this doesn’t happen after every single election.

    Of course there’s always somebody else to blame. The other party. Evil terrorists. The Chinese. Rich people. Ziionists, immigrants etc.. And so, with blame appropriately assigned, the same cycle of frenzy and folly starts right over again at the next election.

    Meanwhile, unelected central bankers who are accountable to no one play God with the economy… destroying their currencies and the functions of the free market along the way.

    European Central Bank president Mario Draghi (one of the aforementioned unelected false gods) was telling the world that he would indefinitely continue printing money in unprecedented quantities.

    Stocks, bonds, gold, oil, agricultural commodities… absolutely everything reacted to Draghi’s statement. A single individual utters 472 words about devaluing his currency and it moves markets around the world. It’s utterly absurd.

    This is what passes as democracy today, and it is not something that should be celebrated. Because any government, whether a democratic republic or anything else, is based on the principle of awarding a very tiny group of people nearly unlimited power– to kill, steal, start wars, control the money supply, etc.

    These are powers that no single person or small elite should have. Yet it comes with the territory in every system of government, awarded to people whose only qualification is their desire to control others. The only difference is that, in a democracy, people cling to an illusion that they’re free.

    This deceit is definitely not something to celebrate… or participate in… or reflect on how it made the world a better place.

    Human beings are one of the most adaptable species on the planet. We don’t need masters telling us what to do or how much freedom we can have. And the truth is, it doesn’t have to be that way.
    There are solutions to this financial crisis.
    First, we need to remove the ability of the Bankers to create money out of thin air. This is the cause of the crisis. It is their compound interest bearing, debt based money, that expands exponentially to infinity, that is the problem. It can never be repaid. The debt must be forgiven or defaulted on.
    The ancient Babylonians ,knew this 3000 years ago and the Law of Hammurabai is the source. They knew the only solution was ‘debt that cannot be paid..will not be paid’.
    The alternative then was a starving nation,as farmers could not find credit to buy seed to plant.
    Secondly, Govt must use this money making power. In Greeks case, they must exit the Euro . Revert to the Drachma and issue their own debt free money, but only to productive ,wealth creating industry, and not to the FIRE sector, ( finance,insurance ,real estate).
    This has been Mervyn Kings ,BIG MISTAKE when he issued over £375billion to the banking sector, and Camerons plan to build 70k more new houses is wrong and a misdirection of money.
    The issue of this money must be controlled by a non-political Monetary Panel. This is the difficult part ,to prevent corruption of this panel.
    Productive industry will create ,wealth and jobs. The taxes accrued will cancel out the Investment money issued.
    Money is a means of exchange, a token and a tool to assist trade and industry,in itself it is worthless and not wealth.
    The present Capitalist system is dysfunctional and not fit for purpose. The Financiers broke it and they think they are the ones to fix it and go back to business as normal. This is not going to happen.

  2. jeffmowatt says:

    Thanks for you comment Mishonick,

    You may also find an argument about debt and the creation of money in our manifesto:

    http://www.slideshare.net/JeffMowatt/principles-of-people-centeredeconomics

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