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Oxfam – state-sponsored lobbying group for state socialism?

May 25th, 2009 Posted in Economics by

bono_twoAside for their guilt-tripping adverts, I’ve noticed a couple of things about Oxfam of late – and particularly their political promotion of government resource allocation (also known as statist socialism).

Earlier this year they released a paper entitled “Blind Optimism,” a polemic rallying against private sector involvement in delivering healthcare services to the world’s poor.

This paper was not, I stress, an impartial evaluation of the benefits of state versus private provision – it was, explicitly, a vehement attack on the former.

The Center for Global Development criticised the report in a blog post entitled:

Oxfam – this is not how to help the poor

The blog post bemoans Oxfam’s reversion to old fashioned polarising politics. Highlighting the harm this could cause, author April Harding said:

“The harm is this: in many countries this would leave behind many poor people and those who live in rural areas who, whether we like it or not, turn to the private sector when they fall ill.”

Way to go, Oxfam.

But it doesn’t end there. Last week Oxfam co-sponsored an event at the World Health Assembly entitled:

“Why governments not markets are key to achieving health care for all”

Promoting this alongside Oxfam was a representative from the World Social Forum, a socialist group-come-event involving far-Left groups and other state-sponsored “NGOs”.

Now the existence of such groups is all very well, and indeed certain people (even within our own party) may sympathise with some of their views, but my point is as follows – is the promotion of such ideas what people associate with Oxfam? When people donate to Oxfam, do they think “jolly good, this’ll fund some splendid socialist propaganda”?

I think not, and feel that Oxfam should be more honest about their activities and objectives. If they believe in more socialist government, that’s absolutely fine – but they should say it, openly, as part of their objectives. At the moment they rather ambiguously say they “campaign for change.”

Oxfam, furthermore, is an organisation that receives tens of millions of pounds in government support each year. One would hope that it’s not simply a government-funded organisation lobbying in favour of bigger government.

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13 Responses to “Oxfam – state-sponsored lobbying group for state socialism?”

  1. Andrew Hickey Says:

    It’s hardly ‘socialist propaganda’ to say that governments are better than markets at delivering healthcare.
    I am an active member of the Liberal Democrats, I make monthly donations to Oxfam, and I think this is *exactly* the sort of thing they should be doing, and it is *exactly* what I associate with Oxfam.
    Of course, that’s based on actually reading the report in question, rather than a mischaracterisation of it by a ‘think tank’…


  2. Andrew Hickey Says:

    “The available evidence should not be used to mask the scale of the challenge facing public health systems. Nor does the evidence suggest there can be no role for the private sector – it will continue to exist in many different forms and involves both costs that must be eliminated or controlled and potential benefits that need to be better understood and capitalised upon. But where the evidence is indisputable is that to achieve universal and equitable access to health care, the public sector must be made to work as the majority provider.”

    Why, that’s positively Stalinist, isn’t it?! Definitely ‘socialist propaganda’. Right.

    If you actually *read* the paper, which neither you nor the person from CGD appear to have done, you will see that what it’s actually arguing against are organisations like the World Bank insisting on private sector involvement as a condition of funding, even when that is not the best way to deliver care. In other words, it’s an argument against channeling public money into private hands, the very thing you accuse them of doing themselves.

    This post, on the other hand, *does* come very close to propaganda – and propaganda against an organisation that does a huge amount of good.

    I mean, seriously, have you sunk so low so quickly that you are reduced to attacking a charity using guilt by association? You hate it when people use the fact that you’re an affiliate of ‘Progressive’ Vision to call you a bunch of Tories, yet you use the fact that Oxfam co-sponsored an event which involved someone who represented an organisation which also includes left-wing groups as ‘evidence’ that Oxfam are ‘a government-funded organisation lobbying in favour of bigger government’.

    I am ashamed to be a member of the same political party as you, and proud that you are in a distinct minority among that membership.


  3. David Morton Says:

    I just saw the title of this post on the Voice aggregator and immeadiately thought Liberal Vision ? Julian Harris ? and Lo and behold !

    This is a cheap hatchet job. Its a “Physican Heal Thyself Piece” in that you use the same cheap , rhetorical party tricks to smear Oxfam that you accuse them of using against free market involvement in health care.

    I have been a life long supporter and donor to Oxfam. I given the state of the planet they are your primary target for criticism then frankly what sort of God Foresaken project are you running with this blog ? Your final flourish about the tens of Millions of governmen fundng they receive witout any real mention of what it goes on is just smear.


  4. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    @Andrew

    No the market is a better provider as it responds to consumer demand not what is politically expedient


  5. Andrew Hickey Says:

    ‘Ziggy’, maybe you should also try reading what people say before trying to reply to them.

    As a matter of fact I am a supporter of public healthcare, as opposed to private, for many reasons, not least of which is that markets only respond to the demand of those who have money. But that wasn’t the point I was making. The point I was making was that this post is smearing Oxfam on totally spurious grounds and using tactics that, were they applied to Liberal Vision, the same writer would be decrying…


  6. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    ‘As a matter of fact I am a supporter of public healthcare, as opposed to private, for many reasons, not least of which is that markets only respond to the demand of those who have money.’

    Maybe ‘Andrew’ you should read Milton Friedman & research the voucher system


  7. Andrew Hickey Says:

    Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I don’t understand you.
    But again, my argument in this case isn’t with the rights or wrongs of public vs private healthcare, but with the frankly obscene way a valuable charity is being smeared here.


  8. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Nobody should ever be above scutiny & criticism


  9. Andrew Hickey Says:

    There is a *HUGE* difference between ‘scrutiny and criticism’ and mere abuse.


  10. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    Thing is you seem be one those with the mentality that you can’t say anything against Oxfam & if one does its automatically abuse.


  11. James King Says:

    “Thing is you seem be one those with the mentality that you can’t say anything against Oxfam & if one does its automatically abuse.”

    That is clearly not his point at all. His point (and mine) is that simply saying that a think tank disagrees with Oxfam doesn’t automatically mean that Oxfam is wrong. For some reason (laziness? Ideological complacency?), this article doesn’t actually argue against the thesis that Oxfam is putting forward – it just throws around phrases like ‘statist socialism’ with the hope that some of the mud sticks.

    If Liberal Vision is to succeed, then it will have to do better than this. This kind of thing persuades nobody except the converted.


  12. Akheloios Says:

    When people consider market driven health provision, I would assume the first example they think of is the nightmare of the US system. State provision in the UK, however flawed, is rightly considered to be superior in most respects.

    If you wish to argue for improvements in health provision, knee-jerk reactionism against state provision won’t get you anywhere with the vast majority in the UK.

    The US style market certainly doesn’t provide better choice, it simply cuts off the poor and gives those that can afford it whatever they want, from cancer treatment to botox. If you had given as examples the German or Scandinavian systems, then perhaps you might have had a point.


  13. Ziggy Encaoua Says:

    ‘When people consider market driven health provision, I would assume the first example they think of is the nightmare of the US system’

    I don’t

    I think of something similar to the system they have in Canada.

    Basically the government still pays for a proportion of an individual’s healthcare but the free market provides that healthcare.