We the people, prompted by a group of celebrity entertainers, have raised in excess of £950.000.000 for Comic Relief since it began. The target for this year is to reach or exceed £1bn.
I tried to put this into some kind of perspective for myself in the light of the current tax avoidance scandal and the ridiculous fact that 1% of the world’s population own about 50% of it’s $263tn wealth, a wealth that incidentally has grown in the last year by $20tn, so that’s $1000bn in one year (so much for austerity then, for top 1% austerity is boom time).
The first thing that struck me is that most who donate to Comic Relief to raise this £1bn are those for whom tax avoidance is not an option really, as HMRC just take it from them at source, if they take too little they may prosecute you, if they take too much it’s your responsibility to know this and ask for it back. For those in the top 1% charitable donations are just another tax avoidance method.
I wonder if this obscene division of wealth might be contributing to the very problems that Comic Relief is trying to ameliorate with this money.
I also note that the war on terror has cost the US a staggering $1.6tn since 9/11 (that’s $337m a day) and the Afghan war has cost the UK £37bn. (that’s £15m a day).
Do we in some way contribute to this hideous con trick when we apply this ointment to sooth our conscience, as we text a fiver on our smart phones with a tear in our eye or drop £2 into a red bucket at the checkout before wheeling our weekly shop, that cost enough to feed an African family of six for about a month, to our oil powered car? Maybe we should re-name it Red Face Day in honour of this shame driven exercise.
Don’t get me wrong I am not saying Red Nose day or Comic Relief is a con trick or that the money does not do some real good, but I do wonder if we are not enabling those in that top 1% to continue accumulate wealth and power, to continue to abuse the poorest and most needy, to continue to create a world in which such deprivation exists that we need charities such as this at all.
At the very least we should acknowledge that such charities serve more than one function, one of them is to make us feel better about ourselves, we place a red nose on the front of our cars more to say to others “I am a good person who cares” than anything else. Another is to help release us from that feeling of being powerless to effect the plights of the world, and this of course serves the powerful and invested minority well, who in their quest to control all the resources of this deliberately benighted planet wage eternal war.
©Francis de Aguilar 2015