When Infographics Go Wrong

I just came across this infographic produced by the International Business times. I couldn’t help but laugh when I read the title of the article that accompanied it.

Reporter Lisa Mahapatra asks: “Which Governments Are The Most Generous, Charitable?

There can be no such thing as a generous or charitable government because governments have no money of their own to be generous or charitable with. They have yours and mine. This infographic doesn’t answer the question, then, because the question as is can’t be answered.

Even if we changed the question to “which people are the most generous/charitable?” this infographic still doesn’t answer the question because it only shows us figures for humanitarian aid provided ‘by governments’ via taxation, and not privately through voluntary donations to charities.

It’s remarkably easy to be generous and charitable with someone else’s property, which is why the generosity and charitableness of politicians is not genuine. It’s the redistribution of society’s wealth by politicians in order to serve their own interests or to massage their substantial egos masquerading as generosity and charity. Given that international aid is one of the few areas of government spending here in the UK that hasn’t been cut in the last few years (it’s actually continued to increase) and no one seems in the least bit bothered about that, I guess that the majority believe that the money follows a direct path to the starving, displaced or sick people it’s intended for. However, if they realised that this money is simply handed over to governments, Presidents or military leaders, then they would probably start to question the merit of taxes as aid.

The thing with using governments for humanitarian aid is that we inevitably end up funding governments, tyrants and militias rather than helping innocent people in need, whose predicament is likely worsened or even caused by the power the former have over them. Which is why if you’re going to donate money to the needy, then it’s best that you do it yourself (i.e. via private charities) rather than hand it over to some high-functioning socipaths motivated by a desire for power to hand it over to other sociopaths and say “now you promise to use this money to help your people?” Although there’s no guarantee that private, voluntary humanitarian aid will achieve its goals during a crisis – no doubt charities like the Red Cross have to circumnavigate hand-rubbing local government officials and militia – it’s by far the better option.

We only find true generosity and charity in the vast sums that are donated by poor and rich people the world over to charities regularly and whenever a humanitarian crisis happens. The Internet and social media has accelerated and expanded this process to an astonishing degree. It’s always heart-warming to witness how humans almost instinctively respond to human need, wherever it may be.

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