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Politics

Red Nose Day: Misplaced Altruism

Red Nose Day and such laudable “Charadee” events show the British at our eccentric and altruistic best. From the granddad sitting in a bath of beans to the kids at school raising £100 to see one of their teachers “gunged”, people all over the UK with nothing but the best intentions raise staggering amounts of cash.

You can see the but coming at a hundred paces… 

Celebs line up to give their time for free. I am not denigrating this for a moment and wouldn’t presume to doubt anyone’s motivations for getting involved but my problems are the following. 

I think it is a sad society that can only understand poverty and suffering viewed through the eyes of their own privileged and rich celebrities The most frankly offensive thing on offer this year is called “Rich, Famous and in the Slums” and involved Angela Rippon and Lenny Henry visiting horrible pockets of poverty in Africa. You have to work hard to invent anything more patronising. 

These fundraising binges in the main simply reinforce the stereotypes about poverty in the world. The subjects are victims to be showered with pity.  

These shows and RND in general do absolutely nothing to address the reasons why we can be sat at home fiddling with pointless apps on an iPad, whilst 2 billion of our fellow human beings have no regular flushing toilets, let alone the luxury of wiping with paper afterwards. 

And despite the fact that if you are on the UK minimum wage it puts you in the richest 12% in the world one in five of its population live under the poverty line and over 9,000 elderly people died over the past 12 months from the freezing temperatures. 

No mention during RND that it is the poor and vulnerable that are being hit hardest by the harsh austerity budget designed to cut the deficit. 

The Cabinet of 18 millionaires, 11 of whom went to Eton, want to make the rest of us pay for the mistakes of their mates in the Banking system. 

These TV celebrity-led charitable affairs in the main simply tend to reinforce unhelpful stereotypes about the poor.  

The donors are made to believe they are really making a difference, but they restore no dignity to the victims, instead simply providing them with a bit-part in a warped soap opera about their own suffering.  

What is missing is the all-important ingredient of social justice.  

The fact that many in this country could not enjoy the lifestyles that they have were it not for the suffering of others needs to be pointed out urgently. 

The prevalent world economic system only works if the majority of people remain poor.  

If some of these points were raised and a vision for real change offered during RND then there would be a valid point to such fundraising affairs.  

Let’s nail the lie once and for all that there isn’t enough cash around to sort the fact that 50,000 across the globe die EVERY day needlessly due to the effects of poverty, a fact confirmed by the World Bank last year. 

More die through poverty daily than were killed by the industrial mass murder factories of the Holocaust. 

It’s a question of priorities. 

$50 Billion would solve this problem. That is made up of aid and debt cancellation. A colossal amount of money which would cause mega tax rises in the developed world, and economic ruin. 

Err… No fraid not. Here’s some figures to give proportion and perspective to that $50 Billion. 

Basic education for everyone in the world would cost $6 Billion

Amount spent on cosmetics in the United States $8 Billion. 

Water and sanitation for everyone in the world $9 Billion.

Amount spent on ice cream in Europe $11 Billion. 

Reproductive health for all women in the world $12 Billion.

Amount spent on perfumes in Europe and the United States $21 Billion. 

Basic health and nutrition for everyone in the world $13 Billion.

Pet food sales in Europe and the United States $17 Billion 

Business entertainment bill in Japan $35 Billion. 

We spend $250 Billion on cigarettes

Alcoholic drinks $310 Billion. 

Amount spent on illegal narcotics drugs in the world $400 Billion. 

Military spending in the world £910 Billion. All for the sake of killing one another.

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About dermotrathbone

Writer and co author "Through Red Lenses". Activist Unite the Union, Save Our NHS Hull. Fan of Yorkshire County Cricket Club, Hull FC, Munster and Ireland Rugby. Views are mine alone and may not reflect the organisations concerned.

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