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February 14, 2018


Jacques René Giguère

Humanitarian work attract those who want to redeem themselves of whatever demon they have or think they have. Sometimes a substitute for chemical addiction. Especially for women (men enlist in the Foreign Legion.)


OK but given, in truth the issue in question is abuse of power, and clearly this is not something only prevalent in humanitarian organisations. Why is Oxfam a front page issue now, right now at this point in time ? The story was there to be splashed any time over the past few years. Is the challenge to corrupt power or to a principle of independent international aid?


«in truth the issue in question is abuse of power»

Actually that is a bit of hand wringing -- the issue at Oxfam is *sexual* abuse, and thus a moral panic to prove that all that charity does is to provide sexual abused opportunities for hypocrites. Do you think that the same hand-wringers would do a campaign about the innumerable cases of non-sexual abuses in the workplace? The unions try to mention that and there is no appreciable response.

«nothing unique about Oxfam, but perhaps that there are general mechanisms at work here rather than a few bad eggs»

So every army has a lot of "camp followers", and no doubt "our heroes" in their innumerable deployments abroad are keen on the local talent too.
Yet somehow the "army" of aid workers also deployed abroad should do without, and think of M Howard (or M Thatcher) to cold-shower their instincts?

The question then is whether all those randy aid laddettes did intimidate their casual hot, athletic bodied partners, or they were just getting laid, and that is a case-by-case question, it cannot be generalized.
The same happens in every third world country where the locals have hot, athletic bodies and the middle aged (or young) laddettes from colder climates want a bit of frolicky fun during their holidays.
Holidays and post-disaster areas are different situations, but people are the same...


"they are more censorious of Oxfam’s failings than of the underfunding of the NHS which is perhaps even more damaging."

Well this is both wrong, and nonsense.

It is a reverse law of organisations that little things matter more than big ones. You can explain away the big things, but the little things are just there, for all to see, with no justification. So, first things first. The incidents we have seen reported stand by themselves. Managers who have seen this behaviour and tolerated it have to face up to their actions and account for them. Wittering on about the NHS is completely beside the point.

As someone who worked in banking over the crisis and saw colleagues careers terminated because of actions over various benchmark fixings, all I can say is Welcome to the Modern World. First they came for the traders, then they came for the Oxfam workers, etc. Your actions will be judged not by the standards at the time they were committed, but by the morality of a future society, so be careful out there folks. And I must have missed your "never mind benchmark rigging what about the NHS" posts.

And then this crap about the NHS. Well why stop there? Even if we fully fund the NHS what about people starving in Africa? Or have you gone all nativist? And surely given that continental models of health-care provision are better than the NHS then the blame for needless deaths must go to those who insist on maintaining the monstrously inefficient system of healthcare provision in the NHA.

Just what is it with you, the good Professor, and all the other Oxford economists and the NHS? You do all that Adam Smith stuff, competition, efficiency, innovation etc, and then end up on the barricades defending a Soviet Tractor-collective approach to healthcare provision? Just nuts.


sigh ... perverse law not reverse law


The sound of axes being ground and knives sharpened. As usual the coverup is worse than the bad deeds. So far it looks as though bolting on more bureaucracy and lawyers and cost will be the favoured cure.

But just suppose whistleblowing was taken seriously. Imagine every employee was absolutely required to grass up any wrong doing. Further, suppose administrators who failed to act speedily suffered dire punishment, 20 years jail and total distraint of property say. What might be the result?

Apart from the usual game playing we would end up with managers being more frightened of their staff than they were of their directors or government ministers. Not necessarily a bad thing but the effect on management and government budgeting might be profound. Gone would be the days of cutting budgets and claiming things were improving. Our kiss up, kick down style of government might shift to something more evenly balanced. So that won't happen!


@ rogerh

"But just suppose whistleblowing was taken seriously. Imagine every employee was absolutely required to grass up any wrong doing. "

That is the current state of law in UK banking.

My experience of it was that once the organisation got used to the full implications of what that meant, then the organisation and individuals adapted. It has not stopped banking from being banking and the industry was IMHO better for it. The basic principles should be brought in to all large organisations and industry.

Basic principles being a requirement on individuals to undergo training and confirm they understand the law as it stands requiring them to inform any suspicious activity. Requirement for the organisation to show it has the organisational structures in place to actively seek wrongdoing, to enable wrongdoing to be brought to its attention and to demonstrate independence of compliance units and that they are taken seriously. And that senior managers should be able to demonstrate that they are actively engaged in stamping out undesirable behaviour,

One side effect of the program to monitor communications was that 90% of the incidents were not to do with attempts to collude or fix benchmarks but were incidents of staff bullying or other undesirable behaviour. The regulators were quite specific that this should be included in the scope of the investigative program.

Arthur Murray


A good rule of thumb on a newspaper story is to read it carefully so that you can answer these these questions:

"How did the newspaper get hold of the information?"

"How old is the information which appears in this story?"

If the information looks to be years old ask:

"Why has this story appeared now?"

"Has the newspaper had this story in store for many months/years waiting for an opportunity to use it ?" When, say, it will cause most damage.

It was clear during the 2017 election campaign that a lot of anti-Corbyn articles had been prepared weeks/months before and were brought out during the campaign to cause most damage to his electoral chances.


@ Arthur Murray

"It was clear during the 2017 election campaign that a lot of anti-Corbyn articles had been prepared weeks/months before and were brought out during the campaign to cause most damage to his electoral chances."

Yes. Because it was an election. And the same will happen next time there is an election. Because it is an election.

If Labour don't want lots of negative stories appearing about their leader when there is an election campaign, probably best not to have a leader who has done lots of things in his past which show him in what many people consider to be a bad light.


As for OxFam: The prostitutes aren't that big a deal, unless they weren't being paid or found themselves being coerced in some way. I would also assume that any company, charity, formal structure, or vaguely-associated group would attract the kind of hierarchy-oriented asshole who thinks harassment and abuse are all part of normal human interaction. These sorts of people should be tossed out, charged (?), and denounced in a timely manner, but I don't see how that kind of 'normal' organizational problem would delegitimize OxFam entirely, unless everyone was under the impression that it was being staffed by saints and angels. I mean? We've still got a Catholic Church.

Otherwise: Have you ever thought of writing a book? Your posts suggest that you are intelligent and reasonable. I know you've written a lot of articles and blog posts, but I'm asking for a friend who's been reading 'Manifesto of the Communist Party' online and would like to move on to other formal(ish) texts. Her problem is that many other Marxists appear to be insane, and none of them agree with each other. My friend grasps that there are many different ideologies contained by the label "Marxist," but she doesn't want to waste her time reading reports sent back to Mother from the front lines of the Petty Sectarian Intracommunist Internet War. Just a thought!


Haïti gdp per head is about $800. The Belgian chap says that he gave about $7500 to one woman for sex over a period of 6 months. Also he had to dismiss some of his team for inappropriate sexual activities. That's a lot of money in local terms. And yet it doesn't matter according to the socialists. It would be good to know exactly what Oxfam were doing and accomplished other than mass fornication

Zoltan Jorovic

"the blame for needless deaths must go to those who insist on maintaining the monstrously inefficient system of healthcare provision in the NHA."
Perhaps you meant the NRA? Assuming a typo for NHS, by what criteria is the NHS "monstrously inefficient"? I'll tell you - by none. Any health economist could tell you that by pound per head spent, the NHS is one of the most efficient healthcare systems on the planet. In terms of outcomes it also does pretty well - a lot better that the US system, for example (which is also the most expensive - almost 2x as costly as the NHS as a % of GDP). But why let facts get in the way of ideology.
The reason so many people defend the NHS is because it not only provides a good standard of healthcare, but it does it at a relatively low cost, and it offers a universal service that helps bring society together by ensuring even the poorest get decent care (most of the time and within the constraints imposed by those who want to undermine it - such as Hunt and his ilk).

As regards competition, looking at the world around us there is little evidence that it plays a major role in most areas of business where the prevailing model is oligopoly. In any case it can't apply usefully to healthcare because of the need for close cooperation between providers and the numerous professions involved in holistic care.

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