By J. Yanqui Zaza
In 1979, another round of human suffering, due to the Cambodian genocide under the Pol Pot regime, was put to a halt. “Good men”, figuratively speaking, won over “evil men” because someone envisioned the idea to establish an entity (i.e., Mercy Corps) to reduce human suffering. Is the idea of reducing human calamity such as the pandemic Coronavirus still relevant? If yes, why some nongovernmental agencies such as Mercy Corps failed to build clinics, train medical personnel, buy protective equipment and respirator supplies that would have reduced the spread of diseases such as the Coronavirus?
Mercy Corps could have used some of the idle cash of the $126M held at bank accounts to finance hospitals programs? This economic arrangement, in my view, would also be correcting an error made when Mercy Corps used donors’ contributions to pay $200M to personnel and consultants, but spent $35M for Programs and Supplies in 2019. I surmise donors want NGOs to use cash and finance programs, not to pay excessive compensations.
Or, why not donate some of the $29M investment (i.e., Derivatives; money invested in the gambling on Wall Street). Further, why not reduce the $35M distributed to other NGOs and use the savings to fight illiteracy and hunger. Predictably, donors who have and continue to solve human sufferings, might willingly replenish cash reserves that Mercy Corps used to finance humanitarian problems.
If Mercy Corps has not changed its mission, it is certainly different from another nongovernmental agency called Mercy, which was established in 1872. The 1872 Mercy generated $29M in 2018, while the 1979 Mercy Corps generated $400M in the same year. In addition, the 1872 Mercy does not pay salary over $60,000, according to its assertion made on page # 29 of the 2018 Financial Statements, but Mercy Corps paid excessive salary.
Interestingly, while 1979 Mercy Corps might be different from 1872 Mercy, its financial arrangements are similar to other nongovernmental agencies’. For instance, instead of investing in food production or providing shelter, Mercy Corps, UNDP, UNICEF invest in risky investment portfolios such as derivatives (defaults swaps), keep huge cash held at banks accounts, undertake profit-making activities or increase profits of farmers in rich countries.
Let us look at Mercy Corps’ expenses and Assets.
Mercy Corps Expenses and values of Assets indicate that it has deviated from the original purpose of its existence. It new interests are they similar to those of the World Bank and Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO). These two institutions were organized after World War II to address poverty, ignorance, disease and weave together a safety net for the world’s poorest. But they have failed, according to C. Peter Timmer, a Stanford University scholar who studies food security.
The World Bank, instead of fighting poverty, generates trillion of dollars (i.e., as interest income) from lending money to poor countries that it borrows from Wall Street. (See 2016-2019 Financial Statements). It allocated minuscule amounts, if any, to build local housing units and/or educational facilities, the ladder to prosperity. Its assets, which make up about ninety percent of the value of its total assets and its related liabilities are owned by and owed to corporate profiteers respectively. Many of these owners of assets, the real owners of the World Bank, using donors’ money, gamble on Wall Street for profits.
For FAO, instead of assisting farmers in poor countries to produce food, it buys rich-farmers’ commodities at inflated prices, thereby increasing their profits. For example, in 2017, it used $6B donations to buy the excess farmers mainly in the West produced. FAO officials argue that if it did not purchase farmers’ excess commodities, price of food will decline, a recipe for bankruptcy. So, it buys the excess food for poor countries, and thereby, inhibits local food production.
Mercy Corps, like FAO or the World Bank, has abandoned the 1984 initiatives that focused on addressing development issues such as “health, education, & infrastructure. Let us visit the above Expense Schedule and Assets Schedule to see where and how Mercy Corps spent the $400M revenue. Did it buy medical supplies, agricultural equipment, educational buildings, etc.? It did not. In fact, it allocated $1M for Programs, but kept $126M in bank accounts, allocated $98M to generate income, and invested $89M in firms on Wall Street. Its payroll was $200M in 2019.
Nongovernmental agencies such as the FAO, UNICEF, Mercy Corps should not ask donors for contribution while they continue to increase profits for big business. Well, let us remember that NGOs (i.e., de facto agents of big business), like any rich entity, will not forgo huge donations. More so, they will support former employees to occupy influential positions in order to increase profits of big business. If you have any doubt, read the book called “The Economic Hit Man,” written by Mr. John Perkins.