fivemack: (iguana)
[personal profile] fivemack
The total amount Race For Life has ever raised would pay the NHS's drugs bill for a fortnight.

The total amount Comic Relief has raised in thirty years would pay Britain's housing benefit for three weeks.

The total amount ever raised by the Disaster Emergency Committee is about a month's budget for the DFID.

Those are the kind of statistics it's worth having in mind when listening to talk of the Big Society; replacing single specialised pieces of taxpayer funding would require initiatives as big as the biggest ones we have. There's not the slightest hope of reliably getting three times as much donated annually to the task of funding the library service as was donated to the relief efforts for the 2004 tsunami, and that's what libraries in the UK cost.

Date: 2015-05-10 03:56 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
Yes. I also think the other problem with Big Society is it's based on a false premise: that rich people's only objection to the welfare state is that it's the state. I think if Big Society initiatives could truly help protect people, then the rich would attack it just as hard. Rich people's objection to the welfare state is that it brings welfare.

Fully autonomous non-government entities that are not shareholder corporations include things like the Automobile Association, building societies, housing associations, cooperatives, and worker-owned enterprises like John Lewis, and the first two of those have suffered heavy predation from wolves looking for profit. The AA is now a corporation, and so are many building societies. They were attacked by incomers whose only reason for joining was to extract profit from voting to carve up the organisation, like the mob bust-out described in the film Goodfellas.

The third in the list, housing associations, was during the election threatened with having their stock distributed to buy-to-let landlords like Thatcher did to council housing, even though housing associations are supposedly the very non-state welfare Cameron claims he wants. The implication is clear: if charity ever truly alleviated poverty, the rich would step in and put a stop to it.

Date: 2015-05-12 02:46 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I regularly find myself explaining this to people who think a billion pounds is a functionally limitless amount of money. A billion pounds is the total amount of money raised by Comic Relief in 30 years. It's vastly more than a person can plausibly spend on things that are actually useful to them in their entire lifetime, and enough to buy you a substantial stake in any non-huge publicly traded company. It's also enough to run the NHS for three days, or build about five miles of railway line.

It's essentially the same problem that creates sci-fi economies where dinner costs 5 credits, and 50,000 will buy you a battleship. And of course public understanding of science is massively hampered by similar failure to understand scale differences. You may think it's a long way down the street to the chemist's...

Date: 2015-05-14 02:28 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I admire your sensibilities in this respect no end!

Your brother Ben

Date: 2016-07-20 01:35 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
This is also about the same amount of money required to start a web based chat room (, $550m).

It dwarfs the annual running cost of ParkRun (~£1m-£2m) which is probably the best value public health initiative in the UK.

It's about the amount required to start a loss making streaming company (Spotify, $1.5bn), but not a taxi company (Uber, $12.5bn).

It's about half that required to start Facebook ($2.4bn).

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