Tuesday, June 20, 2006

How the village people benefit from Pope’s indiscipline.

Italy 1 - USA 1

The sight of 9 men (including one with a nasty-looking facial injury) holding Italy for a battling draw would usually be enough to bring joy to the heart of any of us, but the performance of the USA made me especially happy on Saturday. This was because they managed to hold Italy whilst simultaneously providing the foreign aid of 87 US citizens. How, you ask? By getting two men sent off of course.

Whilst some people have bemoaned the number of cards bandied around in the tournament so far, it is good to look at the positive side of the FIFA crackdown. For example, the fines for the red cards shown to Pope and Mastroeni (approximately $4,000 each) won’t be going towards the remuneration of the fifth official (a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s...) but will instead be going to the 6 villages for 2006 charity (http://www.sos-childrensvillages.org/) which aims to provide funds for constructing and maintaining a village in each of: Brazil, Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Ukraine and Vietnam.

The red cards earned by Pope and Mastroeni will see them donate $8000 to the charity, a sum that represents the per capita Official Development Assistance (ODA) to developing countries of 87 of our cowboy-hat-wearing, gun-toting friends across the pond (if one divides the total ODA of the US by its population, figures courtesy of Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development – http://www.oecd.org/). Yes, despite finding enough money to spend $173 per capita on its military, the US government spends just $92 per person on ODA to developing countries, which represents a pathetic 0.22% of its Gross National Income (GNI).

Lest we become too self-righteous, we should remember that the UK and almost all other rich countries still are not reaching the target of giving 0.7% of GNI as ODA – a figure that was agreed in a UN Resolution of October 1970. There are no prizes for guessing which countries are fulfilling their promise (Denmark, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Norway, and our favourite supplier of flat-packed living solutions and uninspiring substitutions, Sweden).

So, whilst the USA versus Italy might have been the first time since 1998 that a World Cup match has featured 3 red cards, long may it continue. At least until developing countries start to make good on their aid promises.

2 Comments:

At June 21, 2006 5:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post demonstrates how illogical your "Who should I cheer for?" campaign is.

You equate the fine for the US team, a private organization, with the per capita ODA of the US government budget, which is public.

So if you consider the fines to be a worthy contribution to foreign aid, why do you refuse to factor in *all* private American aid into your calculations and opinions?

It is a notable obmission because the private aid provided by Americans far exceeds public aid. More importantly, a private decision to donate one's own money after taxes is more laudable than just having some tax money automatically spent on foreign aid.

Finally, saying that "long may [red cards] continue" just because their fines are donated is disgusting. These donated fines are merely a silver lining on an ugly cloud. Elbows to the face with bloodshed is not my idea of helping the world.

 
At June 22, 2006 1:43 AM, Blogger Guy said...

Thanks for taking the time to read my piece and add comments. I’ll address your points in order, if I may.

(1) As you say that your comments are from “a cowboy-hat-wearing, gun-toting stereotyped friend across the pond” I think I’m safe to assume that you didn’t interpret that particular comment as poking fun at stereotypes of American people. I didn’t think that “cowboy-hat-wearing” was a stereotype anyone actually believes in (I’d liken it to “Bowler-hat-wearing” for English people). Still less did I imagine anyone would think I was trying to propagate the stereotype. But, I can see how confusion might arise, given that I was critical of the American government (amongst others) in my post, so apologies for the confusion.

Now, onto the content of your comments.

(2) You say, “This post demonstrates how illogical your "Who should I cheer for?" campaign is.” I disagree with you as my post, and your comments, constitute a dialogue on global justice issues, which I take to be exactly the point of this site. The “who should I cheer for” site isn’t intended to tell people who to support. It’s designed to use the World Cup as a way of introducing global justice issues and provoking discussion. Consider the disclaimer on the front page:

"It is intended to be a fun and interesting way to think about a serious issue – that of global poverty and inequality between the nations competing in the World Cup. Please take it in that spirit."

I think your claim is false as your comments, and the relationship it stands in with my post, are exactly what the site is for.

(3) You say that I “…equate the fine for the US team, a private organization, with the per capita ODA of the US government budget, which is public. So if you consider the fines to be a worthy contribution to foreign aid, why do you refuse to factor in *all* private American aid into your calculations and opinions?”

I do indeed consider the fines to be a worth contribution to foreign aid as they’ll probably make a real difference to the coffers of the charity. In keeping with the spirit of the site (see earlier quote from the disclaimer) I was simply using the red card fines as a vehicle to link the world cup with global justice issues – namely the failure of rich countries to fulfil their promises on foreign aid. Given the nature of this site I thought that my post would be understood as such. Even if I didn’t mention private donation explicitly, I thought my explanation of how the figure of $92 per person ODA was calculated, my referencing of the statistics as being from the OECD, and the mention of the US government, rich countries, and the UN would make it clear that my subject was government aid, not total aid. The $92 per capita figure was a way of representing this aspect of foreign aid, not a way of refusing to factor in private American aid.

(4) You say, “It is a notable obmission because the private aid provided by Americans far exceeds public aid. More importantly, a private decision to donate one's own money after taxes is more laudable than just having some tax money automatically spent on foreign aid.”

Of course you are right that Americans give a lot of dollars to charity, more than their government. I would like to make two points though:

(1) There are reasons of efficiency for thinking it better for governments to be the main providers of overseas aid. These stem from the vastly superior position governments are in to:
(a) Identify the neediest people
(b) Deploy funds in ways which maximise return (through economies of scale) and which minimise waste and fraud
(c) Monitor the effect of the donations over time and the political and economic climate of the recipient country.

(2) Secondly, I think it’s perfectly reasonable to single out government aid when governments have agreed ODA targets in the UN and failed to meet them. As far as I’m aware, neither the US government nor the government of any of the other rich countries has pointed to the contributions of individuals as justifying its failure to meet ODA targets (and presumably doing so would not be looked upon very favourably). Private individuals haven’t agreed foreign aid targets but governments have, so it seems appropriate to focus on the failures of the latter.

(5) You say, “Finally, saying that "long may [red cards] continue" just because their fines are donated is disgusting.” These donated fines are merely a silver lining on an ugly cloud. Elbows to the face with bloodshed is not my idea of helping the world.”

First, I should point out that I obviously didn’t mean (or say) “long may elbows to the face continue” so I think your claim that my sentence was “disgusting” is wide of the mark. Nowhere do I speak admiringly of acts of on or off-field brutality. My only reference to the bloodied face of McBride is when I spoke of how happy I and many other people were to see USA hold Italy (whose brand of cagey defensive football is usually tedious and successful in equal measures) to a battling draw. The reference to McBride’s bloodied face was admiring and empathetic. In my last paragraph I used hyperbole to ironically claim that I’m in favour of lots of red cards, not facial injuries. “Elbows to the face with bloodshed” are not my idea of helping the world either.

You omit the final sentence: “At least until developing countries start to make good on their aid promises.” With this sentence in place, I think the hyperbole, and the purpose behind it, are clearer. My ideal world is one where neither Brian Mcbride nor anyone else gets their faces bloodied and Governments fulfil their promises on overseas aid.

Many thanks for reading.

 

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