Oxfam—Betraying its Roots and Sabotaging its Own Mission

Guest post by Indur M. Goklany


Image by net_efekt via Flickr

On its website Oxfam reminds us that its name comes from the Oxford Committee for Famine Relief. Today it claims to work to “find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.” So imagine the surprise when I read on WUWT that Oxfam is now pushing an international tax on maritime transport.

Why the surprise?

Such a tax would increase the price of all goods that are traded via shipping. First, it would add to the difficulties that many developing countries have in meeting their demand for food. In particular, a substantial share of the food consumed in developing countries is imported:

  • In least developed countries, cereals account for 57% of the calories consumed. But net imports of cereals amount to over 15% of domestic production. [Data from FAOSTAT.]
  • In Africa, cereals account for 50% of food calories consumed, but net imports amount to 41% of indigenous production.

Thus, even a small increase in the price of imported crops would push many who are already living on the margin in these areas into poverty and hunger. The UN Food and Agricultural Organization estimates that 925 million people suffer from chronic hunger worldwide. Adding to these numbers would seem to be antithetical to the purpose of the Oxford Committee on Famine Relief.

Second, a tax that would increase the price of traded goods would reduce trade and, with that, economic growth. But economic growth is the best antidote to poverty. Historical experience shows that poverty is reduced fastest where economic growth is greatest, as suggested by the following figure.

This figure shows that the most spectacular reductions in poverty occurred in East Asia and the Pacific, where the number of people living in “absolute poverty” (defined as living on less than $1.25 per day in 2005 dollars), dropped from 1,071 million to 316 million between 1980 and 2005. And as anyone who has bought anything in the past few years ought to know, their economic growth was driven substantially by trade.

To summarize, despite Oxfam’s claim that it works to “find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice,” the policies it pursues assures that it will never be out of a job.


Figure: Poverty rates (in %) in the Developing World, 1981-2005. Source: PovCalNet, World Bank (2010).


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Lew Skannen

OxFam would better stand for Oxford Famine Production. They kicked off their existence in the early days by supporting the Biafran rebels with whom they sympathized politically. This had the effect of turning the Biafran War from being a two week walk over into a long drawn out struggle which slowly starved thousands.
The law of unintended consequences? The road to hell paved with good intentions? Take your pick. I have always said that a modest success beats a heroic failure …

Right. Bureaucracies, notwithstanding mandates and mission statements and directives from above, NEVER operate to work themselves out of business. They make their target problems worse and more intractable to guarantee their own growth and longevity.

Alex Heyworth

International tax on maritime transport … aka a tax on being Australian.


The thing that confuses me is all these types of organisations, Oxfam, WWF, Greenpeace, seemed to start off with such good intentions. I find it hard to believe they have all strayed so far from their roots and can’t see the consequence of their actions


@Alex Heyworth
Or British or Canarian (what are people from the Canary Islands called apart from Spanish) or Jamacan etc


Since charities like Oxfam, Greenpeace, WWF and Christian Aid put AGW at the top of their priority list I tell chuggers (charity muggers) “I’m sorry, I put the money I would have given you towards reducing my carbon footprint.”


“…find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice…”
They appear to have embraced a final solution to poverty.


They could use the revenue collected from the ships to subsisise the goods carried by the ships whose prices have had to increase to cover the tax.
Naturally the bankers and accountants will have to be paid to service the exchange, and the money sucked out of the system by them would be paid for by the affected parties or perhaps by the carbon credit market.


“, the policies it pursues assures that it will never be out of a job.”
Is that not the credo of any political party anywhere in the world?

George Tetley

Give your old clothes to OXFAM for the poor in Africa, it will also assure that there are no clothing factories to employ the poor unemployed.
OXFAM another green disaster..( in Germany 89% of those that donate to OXFAM also vote green )

Alex Heyworth

Yup, just about anybody who’s not mainland European. Some worse than others, though. I used Australia as an example because (a) I live here and (b) we have a very open economy. You could also add (c) a lot of our exports are high volume stuff like coal, iron ore, LNG.


Oxfam is a charity. The first job of a charity is to expand its customer/client base to ensure its own survival and growth. The second is to demand measures/regulations/taxes/imposts/regulations/fees/processes etc to “capture” the customer/client base to ensure their continued and, especially, deepening dependence on the charity provider.
See Charities-101 from the Chicago School of Economix.


Lunacy, the policy harms so therefore it is wrong.
A double calamity – less nett revenue (after tax) and increased competition for exports combined with increases (added tax) in costs to buy food imported.

File list of UNIX timestamped txt files.
Can be opened by Foia Grepper.


Good intentions? Those with good intentions were overrun by marxists, mostly. Now they are no more than (virtual, green, zero carbon) vehicles for various left-wing agendas.

bobby b

During the first five to eight years of the typical “Social Justice” NGO, its ranks are filled with its founders (who tend toward the technocrat side, because the problems that comprise their mission are, at heart, technological ones) and the founders’ choices of employees (who tend to be technocrats also, because who else would a technocrat boss hire to solve such problems?)
As time progresses, the perception that there’s “not enough money” grows and grows, and so new hires change from problem-solving technocrats to fundraisers.
Eventually, the organization becomes entirely devoted to the raising of money. The measure of success changes from “lives saved” or “trees planted” or “spread of illness checked” to the more easily-measured “number of dollars raised.” Situations where the original problem greatly increases in severity and effect are no longer counted as failures, but rather as wonderful fundraising opportunities.

Old Goat

People give money to these organisations, that’s why they attract those who have other agendas – the left-wing nutters, etc., who infiltrate and take control, thus increasing the demand for more money, and using it to further their nefarious ends. It happens all the time. As these institutions grow, the more ideologies they adopt, the more powerful they become, the louder they shout, and the more influence they appear to have. Just give ’em your old clothes…


It’s really quite simple. Something awful happens in a third-world country – drought, flooding, starvation – and there’s a news report that tugs at the heart strings of some decent people in … let’s say Oxford. A few chats at college cocktail parties lead to declarations of “we need to see if we can help these poor thirsty, drowning, hungry people” and a committee is formed. They recruit a few helpers and the movement gets some momentum. People’s lives are saved and everyone gets a pat on the back. Some of the committee realise that there could be more people needing help, so maybe they need to keep things going. In any case, pats on the back are really nice. Some of the original members no longer have the commitment nor the energy nor the time, so they recruit new members. They get lots of volunteers and the size of the committee grows to handle the bigger workload. Meetings last longer and longer, particularly when the new members need to make longer and longer statements about really important matters that are vitally relevant to the minutiae of the contract for toilet roll holders in … anywhere, really. As long as it takes a long time to make really boring speeches a bout it …, and some of the members can’t stay until the end because they have to get up in the morning to go to jobs or feed their children. Decisions are taken after most of the original members have gone home and the meetings are changes to take place at times when the original members can’t attend and then the meeting place changes and the original members aren’t advised of the change. And so it goes.
Standard procedure taught by “Moscow Central” in the good old days. Looks like their pupils have been good boys and girls and have applied their learning to lots of targets. Charities, environmental movements, political parties, …

John Marshall

This is a typical off the cuff attention grabbing shout from an organization that pays its CEO more than many bankers receive. Another wish to add to the list that is confirmation that mouth was opened before brain was switched on.


What’s OXFAM’s authority to do this?


And actually ship transport can be very efficient compared to land transport. The swedish “broccoli report” found out that “Interestingly enough, transporting the broccoli from Ecuador produced about 40% of the greenhouse gas emissions of transporting Spanish broccoli even though the broccoli from Ecuador is transported 12,000 km compared to 3,200 km for Spanish broccoli.” (see http://www.energybulletin.net/node/22737 )


I’ve withdrawn my support for Oxfam now. In a circular a while back, they stated that their prime concern was ‘Catastrophic Climate Change’, which in my view, it isn’t! I subsequently had what can best be described as an arrogant young man on the phone asking why I had withdrawn my support and how dare I not believe in catastrophic climate change – he wasn’t even vaguely interested in what I had to say, so I put the phone down on him.
For me, this is where the whole thing has gone badly wrong. In principle, the notion of developing more sustainable forms of energy (fossil fuels won’t last for ever and we owe it to future generations to leave as much as possible), taking better care of the world that we live in, making sure that there’s enough food and water for everyone are thoroughly laudable aims. But we should do them because they are the right things to do (in their own right) and not because if we don’t the world will collapse in on us.
How much real and useful research could have been done, how many hungry mouths, how many peoples’ lives could have been and could be genuinely improved with all the billions (or is it trillions?) of dollars that have been wasted on AGW?
It seems in the UK that peoples’ attitudes to climate change are becoming increasingly laissez faire. There’s only so much battering in submission that you can take!! In the end, I wouldn’t be surprised if people just said “we don’t care about the environment any more” and then more harm than good will have been done.


@Tez says:
December 13, 2011 at 12:24 am
“They could use the revenue collected from the ships to subsi[d]ise the goods carried by the ships whose prices have had to increase to cover the tax.”
I would not surprise me at all if that’s part of the plan.

Ah, but increasing the numbers of those in poverty and need are essential to the longer term game plan of making sure there is always someone they are “required” to patronise with their Aid services. The need to intervene and patronise the poor and the starving seems to be a form of psychological dependency now among the offspring of the educated middle classes and better off …
Either that, or they are completely blind to the impact on disposable incomes of ordinary people, national economies and jobs their advocated policies will ensure. Of course it won’t impact on them, the majority of Oxfams directors are from “independent moneyed” backgrounds and “work” in “charity” as a penance for their “privileged” upbringing. Naturally they rationalise their desire to impose these and other punitive taxes by claiming that shipping companies can afford it – if only they cut their profit margins.
Sadly, once they have reduced all western economies to the status of “developing nations” their incomes will not be affected as mummy and daddy will have had the good sense to set up Trusts to protect it. It is, as ever, the rest of us and our children that will end up paying.

Bone Idle

I contracted (I.T.) for a very large multinational NGO for 15 years.
There organizations aim is “allegedly” : to stamp out poverty.
Over the years their “Advocacy” department has got bigger and bigger and bigger.
They sent a large continent to Durban and have have sent large contingents to previous climate conferences.
They average donator is only somewhat aware of the organizations every increasing active stance on climate change.
The organisation does not have a science department. All knowledge is scooped up from local and overseas media reports and papers from activists connected or associated with the IPCC. They have a media department to regurgitate this “gospel” into second hand “factoids”

Ursus Augustus

Oxfam and the rest of the similar anti western NGOs are primarily interested in maintaining market share and their revenue streams just like all other institutions. The Roman catholic church took the message of a gentle prophet and turned into a nasty, misogynist, guilt peddling ideology and ruthless orthodoxy that it took over 1000 years for serious opposition to manifest. These eco/humanitarian leeches have similarly taken noble causes, given them the St Augustine makeover and freely borrowed from the Catholics the hate language, hypocrisy and guilt peddling, corporatised beyond both recognition and caring in the slightest about the odd unintended consequence of their actions.
It is now all about corporate profile, the self importance of the new high priests of dogoodism and slithering sanctimoniousness.
When will these greasers have their Putin moment? It cannot come soon enough.

Richard says (paraphrased):

* Something awful happens… – drought, flooding, starvation…
* “see if we can help…” everyone gets a pat on the back.
* “this is a Permanently Good Idea”.. more volunteers means a growing committee…
* …meetings last longer and longer … Decisions are taken after most of the original members have gone home
* … the meetings are changes to take place at times when the original members can’t attend
* …the meeting place changes and the original members aren’t advised of the change…

Well said. However, this is just a Fact of Life, equally applicable to the genesis of all institutions – which at the (implied) moment of reckoning, have three choices: to reform, to close, or to continue B.A.U. with hypocrisy, until shutdown is forced.
We all know here that serious reform is needed in high places, in Science, and now in WWF and Oxfam. But change always starts with me, with strengthening my own integrity before challenging that of another. Real reform takes years of dedicated activity – so one has to envision, is this something that will help humankind and make me feel good to do?

Dave Pitchford

I’d like to know which anti-poverty organisation we should support. Any? Should we set up our own science-based one? Or shall we just moan? By the way John Marshall clearly doesn’t know how much bankers earn. The CEO of Oxfam got £107,006 last year to run an organisation with a turnover of £350m – much less than she’d earn for an equivalent organisation in the private sector.


A recent exchange with Oxfam – I should have got round to doing this before now.
–Original Message–
From: gbdorset@xxxxxxxx.xx
Date: 12/09/11
To: enquiries@oxfamunwrapped.com
Subject: Oxfam Policy[#3099010]
Until Oxfam stops supporting the poverty maintaining policies propagated by the Climate Change alarmists/IPCC, you will not have our support. How you can justify sending an army of attendees to the Durban Conference is quite beyond me. It seems like Oxfam has become more interested in providing lucrative remuneration for its officers and perks for its employees – a complete loss of its original sense of purpose and direction. Please remove us from your e-mail listings.
–Their Reply–
Thank you for your email and feedback I shall forward this message onto our head office once I have removed you from our lists.
So that I can check your records and remove you from our mailing list, may I just ask for your billing address and postcode, so that I can locate you on our database?
Thanks again for contacting us and I look forward to hearing from you shortly.
With Best Wishes
Oxfam Online Shop Team
Tel: +44 (0)300 200 1252 (Monday to Friday – 9am to 6pm)
E-mail: enquiries@shop.oxfam.org.uk
Website: http://www.oxfam.org.uk/shop

Unfortunately the “network” is stuck in all places and things are not what they seem, indeed large organizations like this, and some are driven by dark hands and intentions … not too noble.

Been running a campaign against Oxfam’s Climate obsession in my blog. Here’s some extracts from one of my posts:
The major beneficiaries of the proposed Climate Green Fund are the NGOs themselves with WWF and Oxfam positioning themselves to grab a huge chunk of the fund’s resources. We can expect NGO staff and consultants with strong links with WWF and Oxfam to grab all the top positions at the Fund – positions that comes with hefty tax free salaries comparable to multi-lateral agencies such as the World Bank and the United Nations. While taxation of the aviation sector will make it difficult for ordinary global citizens to fly, such a fund will ensure that WWF’s and Oxfam’s top executives and board members continue to fly business class unfettered. The taxation of of the shipping sector will give a fillip to inflationary pressures of food commodities which should be bad news for global poverty and hunger.
Oxfam has also been a high profile player in promoting Climate Smart Agriculture through its reports ‘Growing Better Future’ and ‘Overcoming the Barriers: How to ensure future food production under climate change in Southern Africa’. In context to the former report where this blog made a detailed critique we exposed Oxfam attempting to pass off propaganda as research. Oxfam’s CEO, Barbara Stoking claimed for example “The food system is pretty well bust’, contradicting observational data for the last 100 years. Crop yield growth rates might be plateauing as the limits to a finite biological system will eventually be reached. But that is very different from equating it as going bust. Yield levels are still higher by at least a factor of 7 from the launch of the Green Revolution. India is poised for a second consequent record breaking harvest this year is a validation of this point. This untruth from Stoking as CEO gives us an insight of the degree of intellectual corruption that pervade NGOs like Oxfam.
Oxfam makes the remarkable case “Climate change poses a grave threat to food production. First, it will apply a further brake on yield growth. Estimates suggest that rice yields may decline by 10 percent for each 1°C (1.8 °F) rise in dry-growing-season minimum temperatures” Remarkable as the study is based on a measly 100 sq metres experimental plot maintained by the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI) in the Philippines.
Some comment earlier here painted Oxfam in the business of famine production. That exactly is what Climate Smart Agriculture does, particularly in Africa. We have done a critique of it (http://devconsultancygroup.blogspot.com/2011/12/climate-smart-agriculture-new-eco.html) but we wish more people would write against it. We must remember that though a Global Climate Treaty has been deferred NGOs like Oxfam are implementing this dastardly programme in over 100 countries in the world


Everybody wants to stop poverty, but when Oxfam decided to capitalize on such a divisive issue as climate change this was a step too far for the charity. No more money for charities to have lavish parties in Durban or anywhere else. This is lost charitable donations going on political junkets.


NGOs: The Self-Appointed Altruists
Their arrival portends rising local prices and a culture shock. Many of them live in plush apartments, or five star hotels, drive SUV’s, sport $3000 laptops and PDA’s. They earn a two figure multiple of the local average wage. They are busybodies, preachers, critics, do-gooders, and professional altruists. They are parasites who feed off natural and manmade disasters, mismanagement, conflict, and strife.


@Dave Pitchford says: Should we just moan?
Depends whether you’re giving your money away to feel good about yourself, or you genuinely care.
If the former, sure. Look the other way. Don’t give a damn. Keep doing the same thing. Keep getting the same result.
Seal the envelope. Drop it in the post. Cross “guilt” off your “To Do” list. Ahh, that feels better.
But seriously, Oxfam deserves censure for this. Just as it does for its dishonest advertising campaigns that continue to exploit bogus weather event correlations that even the IPCC rejects. How can you maintain a moral high position when you knowingly lie to raise money?
We have three options: play dumb, quietly boycott Oxfam or complain. Which one do you think is more likely to end in a positive outcome for the human race?


Standard socialist stuff really – we centralise power, because nobody is as smart as us, then we soak the “wealthy” middle classes because…..well….who else has got money without the power to protect themselves. So the middle class gives up and then there’s certainly not enough to go round. So then we have to sacrifice a few for the good of the many and guess what those few just happen to be the ones we started out to protect.


Dave Pitchford says:
December 13, 2011 at 3:34 am
I’d like to know which anti-poverty organisation we should support. Any? Should we set up our own science-based one? Or shall we just moan?
Yes, it should be science-based. Go find someone who validly needs help yourself. Then do it.

Fred from Canuckistan

OXFAM . . . must be Old English for “Head Stuck up Wazoo”

The pattern I see with several “Doo Gooder’ enterprises is how they harm the people they claim to benefit.
Today they want to force farmers to not allow boys to run equipment at a young age. A city kid with no job has a greater risk of death than a farm boy on a large tractor. Jacking up fuel costs for farming show up in high food costs for those on food stamps. 2008 the price of corn tortillas in Mexico trippled. That meant no money for meat with the tortilla. This was during high energy prices. America is 25% of global GDP. It takes a lot of energy to make industrial goods, raise food and do general commerce. A farmer on a tractor with 200 gallon fuel tank can raise more grain per energy unit consumed than can poor people with hand tools.

Green Sand

Old Goat says:
December 13, 2011 at 1:28 am
People give money to these organisations

OG, we all give to Oxfam whether we like it or not! 30%+ of Oxfam funding comes from the public purse. Why they are they called NGOs? (non-governmental organisations)
Out of
£318.0m – Total gross income
£112.7m – Income from government and other public authorities
£7.3m – DFID – Partnership Programme Agreement
£120.0m – Total government funding
Sec1:40 – http://www.oxfam.org.uk/resources/downloads/reports/report_accounts09_10.pdf

Pamela Gray

Send farm animals to poor people in marginal desert areas. They can start a cottage industry with say…goats.

Pamela Gray

Ursus Austusus, tell us how you really feel. When I was confirmed (a rite of passage for 12 year olds), I was told that the Bishop would give me a little slap on the cheek and then present his hand for me to kiss. Needless to say I had a righteous Irish fit over that and refused to allow either one to happen. I was raised on a farm and knew where men put their hands so I wasn’t gonna kiss a man’s hand if Jesus came down from the cross and demanded it. And the only time I ever got slapped was when I had a potty mouth. Since I had done nothing wrong to deserve a slap, I wasn’t gonna let that happen either. So I got confirmed without the slap and without the kiss.


Tax alarmist rhetoric! I want to create an ouroboros of tax-wealth creation.


I call this the immutable law of liberal irony: the end results of liberal’s programs will always be the complete opposite of their intentions.
Liberals simply have no clue how economies/businesses work, so their clumsy actions simply cause distortions, inefficiencies and mismangement of labor, resources and capital. It’s a travesty to watch.
Millions suffer from liberalism’s ignorance.

Rob Potter

Oxfam, like Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth etc., have completely lost their mission.
What is it about these Multinational NGOs that they so quickly become more concerned with their own importance and existence than the existence of the things they were originally trying to protect?
I write as one who supported these organizations in my youth and am now saddened by the depths to which they have fallen.

Biofuels are already raising the cost of food, as perfectly nutritious material is converted to expensive meaningless fuel. So, why not raise the cost even more with a shipping tax which will be used to fund third world countries who need money for food?
Wait, wait, how does that work? Oh, the UN will skim their part off the top and THEN give money for food, maybe, that is, if there is any money left after 1000 bureaucracies feed themselves.
This is just fine. Isn’t it the goal of the greenies to kill people? If they do it by starving them to death, that’s natural, right? No problem. But, they were only trying to help? How could they be hurting anybody?


if one acts on a belief, e.g., altruism or collectivism, and it produces the opposite of the advertised effect every single time, one might question the theory, eh? but nooo – you’ll be teaching your kids about santa clause and congress just as you have done – and produce the same results again until there’s nothing left to ruin.
charity is the destruction of values in order to destroy the virtues which produced them.
collectivism is the means by which one parasite strives to live at the anothers’ expense.
none of it could be done without your agreement and endorsement and funding.
why not stop it? it never works. repeatedly screwing up the same way is not regarded as sane.

These “NGOs” have assumed gigantic proportions. Some of them are multimillion pound organizations. Clever positioning, really: what Scrooge would have the nerve to question the bona fides of charities? There are literally hundreds of thousands of them in Britain, some tiny of course. Is anybody aware of investigative journalism into the whole sector? I can’t see a dicky bird said against them on Amazon.

Keith Battye

gnomish says:
December 13, 2011 at 7:46 am (Edit)
“charity is the destruction of values in order to destroy the virtues which produced them.”
That is the absolute truth.
Remember charity is always about the giver, never the receiver.


I’ve been to Oxford. There’s no famine there.

Gary Pearse

When I worked in Nigeria in the 1960s and shopped in the local marketplaces, I used to buy rice that came from a cardboard drum with the stencilled “A gift to the people of Nigeria from OXFAM”. I observed that a scoop of rice cost locals two pennies, whereas it cost me 5 pennies. I told an Oxfam campaigner about this a few years later and he assured me this wasn’t so, that the locals probably enterprisingly made use of an empty barrel. Yeah, right!