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Oxfam – state-sponsored lobbying group for state socialism?

By Julian Harris
May 25th, 2009 at 10:00 am | 13 Comments | Posted in Economics

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.