Some objections and counter arguments against global poverty/health interventions


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Hi,

I've written a brief document (https://docs.google.com/document/d/1IwR7uO1yUR_78G8oR8Tg1UaY59A1riIuhP5p4roLMgY/pub), trying to collate some answers to frequently raised objections to donating to global poverty charities.

I'll probably extend this document in the next few months.

 

Q: Isn’t economic growth going to lift people out of poverty? Should we not focus on growth?

Q: Should we not support health systems strengthening instead of supporting ‘vertical’ interventions that might are not sustainable?

Q: Can stopping tax evasion by multinational enterprises close the gap in finance for development?


Q: Isn’t economic growth going to lift people out of poverty? Should we not focus on growth?

A: Yes, eventually, but it would take decades, because the growth trickles down to the poorest very slowly. We have written about this in detail here.

Q: Should we not support health systems strengthening instead of supporting ‘vertical’ interventions that might are not sustainable?

A: AMF and SCI must strengthen general health-care systems insofar as they reduce the burden of disease that would otherwise be met by the rest of the health-system (see figure from below).

We have written about this in detail here.


Q: Can stopping tax evasion by multinational enterprises close the gap in finance for development?

A: While tax evasion is certainly an issue that can help with development, the matter is much more complicated than this. We refer the interested reader to the Center for Global Development and the International Center for Tax and Development for more information on this. In brief, the Center for Global Development writes on this issue:

“We find that the potential for governments to raise additional revenues by taxing multinational companies is limited by the actual levels of profit generated by foreign direct investment in each country; changes to effective tax rates may also have impacts on investment prospects. Estimates of corporate tax dodging are often presented, mistaken, or repurposed in a way that exaggerates potential impacts - for example, large aggregate tax loss estimates are compared with aid revenues or healthcare funding gaps, implying that taxes raised in China, Brazil and South Africa might be available for public spending in Cambodia, Haiti and Malawi. Multi-year tax estimates are compared with annual costs of nurses or teachers. In some cases larger estimates (‘trillions’) which relate to estimates of corruption, informal sector activities or offshore assets held by domestic citizens are mistakenly repurposed to represent complex tax planning practices of multinationals. Much-quoted figures such as ‘‘developing countries lose three times more to tax havens than they get from aid each year” and “‘60% of global trade takes place within multinationals” or “Zambia could have doubled its GDP” are not likely to hold up.”