Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wealth redistribution 101

We are told we need to rely on massive bureaucracies like the UN to redistribute wealth to the poorer people in the world at a cost of billions of dollars. This is a load of bollocks.

The technology already exists for people to sort this out amongst themselves with no bureaucracy at all.

All you need is a bank account, a web site and email.

A person, in say Kenya, registers their details on a personal page on a secure web site outlining their specific needs.

In my experience the needs are reasonably basic.

Anyone can choose to contact this person via email and if they are satisfied with the genuine status of the person, can send a small amount of money directly to that person via the banking system.

The recipient can place feedback and photos on the website. And so build the relationship.

I am thinking of a model along the lines of Trademe.

Anyone could add comments to the person's page and so help eliminate the potential for fraud.
Of course people would try to rip the system off but with time the fraudsters would be weeded out and the individual sums involved would be a fraction of the billion $ fraud the UN gets away with every year.

I should add that in 20 years of dealing with 100's of "grass root" African people I have found 99.99% to be completely honest and only trying their best to put a roof over their heads and get their kids through school. The only African who has ripped me off ever was an aspiring politician, so I should have known better!!

Even $100 a year can make a huge difference to these people and our governments could make donations tax deductable.

And the banks could cut a deal to do the transaction for $5 instead of the $25 fee they extort now to send a TT.

The best thing is that it will be people power not government power.


KG said...

Excellent idea! I'd be onboard with that.

Adolf Fiinkensein said...

I wonder how hard it would be to cut a deal with a bank to do this sort of job?

Lou Taylor said...

Not that hard I would suspect Adolf.
Capitalist competition would soon drive the price down.

PM of NZ said...

OK, so what's out there that might need a few hundred Kiwi dollars or even a couple of grand?

Any potential recipients reading this? Hit us with ideas. I'd like hard products like bricks and mortar.

Not into stuff like social engineering projects where money could be easily wasted eg UN style.

How would such an investment be managed? Last thing you'd need is a bunch of leeches sucking the returns a la UN again.

Lou Taylor said...

thanks for you input.
The money would go directly to the individual person who would use the money themselves. The most pressing need I ever see in Kenya is at the start of the year when school fees $50-$100 need to be paid up front. No fees paid= no schooling.Otherwise I would see the money being spent on clothes, medicene, food, rent etc.
As I said the basic needs are exactly that.

Lou Taylor said...

I meant to add PM that at the next level up there are thousands of do-able little projects. Community buildings, schools, water suppy,forestry, even shipping over second hand tools.

These people don't want a hand out, they want a hand up.

Lucy said...

Dont be silly Lou.
This idea is logical, has merit and would not be open to corruption. It would never work!

Lou Taylor said...

Thanks Lucy
That gave a a good chuckle.
Over the years I have sent several million $ to Africans. Sure they send me goods in return, but I have had the privilege of seeing kids I have known since birth achieve brilliantly at school and go on to university.

Lindsay said...

Lou, Would this be better than supporting a child through World Vision? And, with your experience, how many Africans have regular access to the internet? Genuine questions because I think it sounds like an idea with much potential.

Lou Taylor said...

Thanks Lindsay
Internet access is well and truly available to millions of people in Africa. Plus texting.
World vision is still a great idea but why not let the technology do the work.

Lou Taylor said...

I meant to add Lindsay, please don't take exception to the aspiring politican comment,although I see you may have moved on from that.
This idea is only feasible through trust and in my experience that is one thing you can definitely count on from the African side.You will have a true friend for life.

Anonymous said...

Lou - Do you think you might have missed the point of the billions promised to Africa? It's to help them adjust to climate change. So... the money will go to the multi-nationals to build powerstations, or dams or or or (put your own choice here). The education, housing and food of the local people will not get a look in ( or any money)


Lou Taylor said...

Exactly Dyann
"Trickle down to grass roots" has always been a socialist lie.

bez said...

I'd be on board. How to get a bank interested, and who will be able to assist setting up the required website etc. Why not make this an NZ bloggers initiative and select say two or three african countries where we have a few Kiwis "on the ground" to provide some input.
Also isn't there some scheme like this already operating somewhere? I remember having seen something similar, although I think that did involve one of the larger charities, i.e. quite a few dollars of overheads.

Lucy said...

Sounds good to me Bez.

Dyann T said "So... the money will go to the multi-nationals to build powerstations, or dams or or or (put your own choice here)."

By the time the money has greased all the required palms Dyann T there wont be any left for anything.
Just as all the billions already spent has achieved very little to nothing.

Lou Taylor said...

I have been away at work. If anyone is interested in trying something like this I am happy to be part of it. I could find a 1000 people in Kenya and Zimbabwe tomorrow for whom this would be a miracle.
I don't know anything about websites but would be happy to put $1000 in to come up with one.
You can email me on
lou at
if you can help

mawm said...

All you need is a bank account, a web site and email.

You guys live in la-la land. If you can afford a computer, a link to the internet and have a bank account, in Africa you are rich. The starving masses have none of this.

Lou Taylor said...

There are millions of people in Africa who have access to the internet through what we would call internet cafes less the cafe bit. And these people live day by day. They would walk 20 miles to get a hotmail email if they thought it would get their kids through school.

Lou Taylor said...

And Western Union is just as good at getting money to people with no bank account.

ZenTiger said...

Lou, what an interesting idea and one worth exploring. I'm snowed under with work this week, but will come back during the break and see what can be done.

Lou Taylor said...

Thanks Zen I appreciate your comment.
At the end of the day there is only so much one person can do but many hands make light work.

Lou Taylor said...

Just to give you an idea there are many people in Nairobi alone who make no more than 100Kenya Shillings (about nzd2) a day and spend half of that just on transport to and from work.
And they are good people.

Lou Taylor said...

Just to add further to Dyanns point re aid. Here is a story from Somalia in the 1986.
The German's decided to spend us$70 to irrigate a large area of land. The first $7m went to some corrupt govt official just to be allowed to do the project.
The Germans shipped in everything including all the machinary and established a large self sufficient compound for all the expats to live in. They hired a few token Somali to do a bit of menial work. They cleared and flattened large areas of highly unsuitable land as the water was coming from wells and the salinity of the water soon increased. By the time we saw the project there was a couple of broken JCB diggers and quad bikes that the Somalis had no hope of fixing and many well paid Germans heading home with fat pay checks. That's the way government aid works Fullstop.

Inventory2 said...

mawm said "You guys live in la-la land. If you can afford a computer, a link to the internet and have a bank account, in Africa you are rich. The starving masses have none of this."

mawm - when we visited Ethiopia two years ago (and it doesn't get much more third-world than that!), we gave our e-mail addy to a group of boys on the side of they road miles from anywhere - they asked. We had an e-mail asking us to be thier "parents" within hours!

Lucy said...

Have you people noticed something? We are asking how we can help and not the 'government'. Thats as far from the left as you can get!

Jenna R said...

Lou Taylor said...

Thanks for that Jenna

ZenTiger said...

Hi Lou. I'm still keen to work your idea through and see what can be done.

I'll chase you down in the new year.

Merry Christmas to you and all at No Minister.