How £20,000 is more than £40million │ Angus Gillan
On a day of protests against the US President Donald Trump’s State Visit to the United Kingdom a strange sight appeared in Westminster Square and in the papers. What greeted us in the streets, intended to be a bastion of moral superiority, showcasing distain and judgement upon the Lucifer of our age as some appear to see the President … was a mechanical embodiment of POTUS taking a dump while saying sound bites.
The “artistic” creation cost $25,000 (circa £20,000).
In a moment of flippancy, I posted a thought. Imagine what that money could have done if you’d given it to charity or invested it in developing nations.
Like a meteor shower dozens of replies flitted their way into my inbox and while some applauded the thought, many were less than impressed with my moral faltering. How dare I side with the Deplorable Donald. For did you know, dear reader, nothing shows your monopoly over morality than gigantic cartoonish and childish caricatures of others?
One point in particular was hammered into my head. Like Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses into the church door, the repetitive strike had me informed the State Visit costed £40million and thus my outrage was misplaced. I was burning the wrong witch at the pyre. I should imagine how much £40million could do if we’d given it to charity or invested it in developing nations, or as one suggested if we’d invested in British public services.
These sentiments overlook how £20,000 is a much bigger sum than £40million. Now while I profess to not being a professional mathematician, the gymnastics I have achieved to reach this strange conclusion is that I am looking through a lens, the spyglass of relativity is guiding these sums.
While in plain terms there is no doubt £40million is the goliath of the two, in 2016 the UK spent £13.4 billion on international aid (Official Development Assistance). In 2017 the U.K. provided £14.1bn of aid (see graph). For a globally advanced economy it is but a drop in the ocean of the U.K.’s budgets to spend £40million. Blink and that money is gone.
Moreover, the offsets of a positive relationship with the US are incalculable. As we enter a post-Brexit world (maybe one day), the US will, as it has been for decades, our closest ally and one of the nation’s most in tune with our thinking and values. Let us not forget that without their sacrifice Britain would not have stood out for ever, alone, against the forces of the dictators and the Reich. In recognising our relationship and the value we place in it we also lay the strong and deep foundations for a trade agreement and simultaneously pander to Trump’s personality, an action of realpolitik.
It is clear that £40million is a small price to pay for national success. With a booming economy from close US relations imagine how much more aid the UK could deliver. Reflecting upon diplomatic and personal necessity illustrates in clear fine lines how if you act within the parameters of reality, if you too look through the spyglass to seek a greater end, you will be aiding many more than just yourself over time.
Now, given that the population of the U.K. is 65.64 million, this roughly equates to each person in 2017 theoretically contributing £214.8 to international aid. We see here that now £20,000 looms as large as a T-Rex casting a shadow over the paltry £214.8.
If that £20,000 had been donated to an aid project the individual would have in one moment donated nearly a factor of 100x more than each individual of the U.K. contributes via taxes. On a relative level of the individual versus the state their £20,000 goes a lot further for one person, than £40million for an entire state.
The designer of the now infamous Trump-Pooper-5000, or perhaps it should be called something more morally superior?… anyway, the creator could have saved countless lives:
• £20 could pay for an ambulance to transport a mother in labour to hospital in Uganda.
• £30 could provide vital education on maternal health in Sierra Leone.
• £50 would provide 160 quick diagnostic tests for people with malaria.
• £150 would provide five specialist therapy sessions for women with PTSD following domestic abuse in the UK. (Comic Relief).
Ultimately if you want to show off your self-righteousness, help those in need by providing for them. Set a positive example to others. Do not wave your vanity in our faces while those you could help suffer.
Angus is a former Conservative candidate studying MA Politics and Contemporary History at King’s College London.