Monday, July 04, 2005

How could more than half a Trillion dollars in Aid make Africa Worse-off?

Despite having more natural resources than the rest of the world put together: Corruption.
"The failure of democracy and economic development in Africa are due to a large part to the scramble for wealth by predator elites who have dominated African politics..."
It seems to me that the question here is not how to provide more aid to poor nations, but rather how can we make it easier for poor people to climb out of poverty? Would any amount of financial aid actually eliminate poverty permanently? Haven’t we learned yet that just throwing money at a problem doesn’t make it go away? Aid can feed the starving for a period of time, but the problem will return unless people are able and willing to support themselves. Moreover, providing aid to poor nations frequently causes dependencies to develop, causing increasing demand for handouts. Free trade agreements worked extremely well in reducing poverty by more than 50% in places like Chile, while fifty years and half a trillion dollars of aid has done nothing for Africa but add to their misery. They say that a sign of insanity is when people keep doing the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result. Well, we as a global community must be completely out of our collective gourd then. What makes the whole poverty issue seem truly evil to me is the fact that we already know what works, yet the politicians insist on rejecting win-win deals like CAFTA and just keep on doing the same thing, fostering dependencies, killing off any hope for self-sufficiency for the African farmer by dumping food through their corrupt governments, and on top of that giving billions of dollars to corrupt thug-politicians like Mugabe thereby aiding and abetting genocide. Whoever wrote up Live 8's web page (which I will not link to) is a disingenuous communist and needs to be straightened out. And before you America-bashers start lecturing us Americans about how we're not paying our fair share in aid, try adding in the private donations and you'll find that we give more than any European country per capita. According to the Scotsman, US donations to Africa outstrip Europe by 15 to 1. These are the facts, people. No matter how you cut it, the United States is by far the world’s largest source of humanitarian aid. I am sick and tired of being lectured to by millionaire movie stars and rock stars about not being generous enough.

The one who really pisses me off the most in all of this is Dave Gilmour of Pink Floyd, who recently stated:
"I want to do everything I can to persuade the G8 leaders to make huge commitments to the relief of poverty and increased aid to the Third World. It's crazy that America gives such a paltry percentage of its GNP to the starving nations."
His statement is just plain ignorant for the reasons stated above. Also, this man's view of the role of government is an anathema to me - appealing to half a dozen or so diplomats to take and give more money that isn't theirs to give. Insisting that it is the government's function to fix all the problems in the world, while ignoring all the good that individuals do. Insisting that the capitalist system that made him a gazillionaire is the source of all that is wrong in Africa where most people are not even allowed to own property, legally. But what infuriates me the most is that this is David Gilmour, the soul of Pink Floyd. It hurts me to even say this: I've listened to Pink Floyd since the mid-1970s; I've probably listened to Pink Floyd more than all other music combined over my lifetime. It is probably surprising to people who have known me to look at my 'profile' and see that 'Pink Floyd' is not listed under 'favorite music.' Gilmour's stupidity is why. Turns out David Gilmour is just another useful idiot. All in all he's just another brick in the wall.

UPDATE: This Der Spiegel interview with Kenyan economist James Shikwati is a must read on this issue. I've said it before and I'll say it again: Africa needs trade, not aid.


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