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Discussion: (35 comments)

  1. so they’re telling all the Churches and NGOs to leave also?

    1. Jon Murphy

      They are talking about governmental aid, not churches and the like. Works separately, mainly because private aid goes directly to those in need. Government aid needs to go from government to government. By the time everyone is done skimming, very little goes to help those who need the assistance.

      1. Jon, my understanding is that NGOs have to work through the existing government. The aid doesn’t go directly to the government, but they can’t operate without the government’s permission and, by extension, its influence and often without bribes and other non-direct subsidies to the local government. Is this no longer true?

        1. Jon Murphy

          I think it depends. Most governments are skittish about restricting the working of the church, even if they distrust their motives (as a missionary friend once told me, even atheists have a fear of God).

          They probably do still have to deal with governments, but the amount that is skimmed is much lower than direct government aid.

          1. I see. I didn’t mean to imply NGOs were similarly ineffective. They’re much more effective and much less beholden to the local government (though, I don’t think this has much to do with fear of God and more to do with keeping people just above the line of misery where they actively revolt against the strongman). But, if it wants to, the local government can stop the NGOs. My first brush with that was as a teenager in the 1980’s. We were in a frenzy to buy the Band-Aid song and donate money to feed the starving Ethiopians and the food just rotted on the docks. My mother famously quipped at the time: “Good luck with that. While you’re sending them food, the Soviets are sending them weapons. Guess which one they’ll actually get.” We just thought she was, like, TOTALLY out of touch and cruel and, like, didn’t care about starving children.

          2. re: “bureaucracies”…. NGOs are not?

          3. Jon Murphy

            Not in the same sense, no.

          4. Jon Murphy

            There will always be some type of process involved in an organization. It’s the nature of the beast. But private organizations have a lot less of a mire to wade through, simply because they are responsible only to shareholders/doaners/owners.

          5. re: ” But private organizations have a lot less of a mire to wade through, simply because they are responsible only to shareholders/doaners/owners.”

            Jon – are you familiar with the Red Cross, Doctors without Borders, the Baptist Missionary programs, etc?

            I would posit that the govt is far LESS responsive and responsible to taxpayers that donors to private charities.

            A few years back, a scandal with the United Way in DC virtually wiped out that program.

            If you go to Charity Navigator, you’ll find a ton of charities with highly paid CEOs and high administrative costs … but you will also find the opposite.

            I think it’s hard to put a blanket statement on NGOs or govt for that matter.

            but from what I have seen of the Red Cross, it is mired in bureaucracy but they have a very large organization that is well connected to the Govt.

          6. I love your bankrupt attempts to equivocate government and NGOs.

            I have the option not to fund bad NGOs. I don’t have the option not to fund government. You have never been able to see the difference.

          7. Jon Murphy

            Well, I’m just talking orders of magnitude here, Larry, in terms of the bureaucratic process.

            Let’s say the President wants to give aid to Ethiopia. To do so, he needs to have it in the budget. That gets debated and eventually voted on (after checking to see they are not violating any laws). Then, a treaty with Ethiopia needs to be worked out (and subsequently voted on in the Senate). Then, the aid is transferred to Ethiopia, where it goes through their own processes. Finally, what’s all said and done, it gets to wherever it was intended.

            If a private organization, say Doctors Without Borders, wants to provide aid, it is (somewhat) easier. They do not need to go through the state-side political process, which saves a lot of time and money too.

            Also, a little off topic, but I thought the Red Cross was a government-run program. Am I wrong about that?

          8. @Jon – but the article says that folks in Africa are saying they don’t want it ….. no matter what is funding, operating it.

            re: the Red Cross – not govt.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Red_Cross

          9. Jon Murphy

            I see, Larry. I had interpreted the article has talking about only government aid.

            By the way, thanks for the link on the Red Cross. I must have confused them with someone else.

  2. Regarding AIDS, probably doesn’t help when the two-term president of South Africa didn’t believe that HIV caused AIDS. I’m all for cutting all govt aid though, including to Israel and every other country, which is used to prop up foreign govt bureaucracies that cause far more harm than good.

    1. Hear, hear!

    2. I’m mostly for that, but Plan Colombia has been a tremendous success. The FARC and ELN were smashed with the help from the US under President Uribe. The only reason they have any juice left is due to the sanctuary and aid Hugo Chavez provides.

      1. Yeah, but I think you know that the problem is the success rate is very low. Foreign aid is a massive negative expectancy boondogle. Government spending on occasion produces something that isn’t a total loss, but the expectancy is still negative.

        Plus, I wouldn’t be surprised if Obama turns around and helps his boyfriend, Hugo, to aid and nurture the FARC.

    3. Hear, hear, hear!

  3. SeattleSam

    So huge bureaucracies promote corruption and complacency, and citizens are taught to be beggars and not to be independent? Is this story about Africa or the US and Europe?

    1. All of the above. People respond to incentives no matter what country they are in.

  4. 65trgikhgv6

    How come “foreign aid” from China to the USA by means of undervalued currency is good but foreign aid to Africa is bad?

    1. Heh!

      Very good…

    2. China’s undervalued currency is bad for Chinese consumers, and good for American consumers (we get Chinese stuff at a lower price).

      US foreign aid to Africa is bad for Americans (our wallets are lighter) and for Africans (their despots are richer).

      Since we can’t control the Chinese government, we might as well take advantage of low prices. We have a slight chance of controlling the US government, and it doesn’t cost anything to try.

  5. MacDaddyWatch

    Time for a trade…

    Reid and Pelosi for Shikwati !!!

  6. Oh, please, this is 1) Nothing new. This self trained economist “one of the 100 most influential economists in Kenya” (are there 100 influential economists in Kenya?) has said this ad nauseam. 2) It is such a blustering statement as to be meaningless. Sure, some latch on to the idea that some aid displaces innovation, self sufficency and competition in markets however a) that assumes functioning marketplaces and b) it only applies to certain products and services.

    Does he think the government (or the private sector) of Malawi, for example, is going to supply HIV medicine if aid agencies aren’t? Does he really believe Chad (or the private sector in Chad) is going to fulfill the food needs of its people if aid agencies aren’t?

    Come out and say it: yep, it is unsustainable for governments to have their people get HIV/AIDS medicines- it would be simpler and more cost effective for them to just die quickly. Same with areas that have too many people and too little food- Mr. Shikwati says let them die, and do so quickly- let the markets call it.

    He loses his credibility with his flippancy, lack of experience (not all African academics know of suffering in Africa), lack of formal education and generalizations- its too bad because underlying all of this is the potential for a thoughtful discussion of what aid is best and how it can best be targeted and changed over time to produce the best outcomes. Shame.

    1. what’s not so surprising is for the AEI to pick it up and blather it as if it had some immutable truth to it.

    2. Jon Murphy

      All due respect, David, you missed the point entirely.

    3. David

      Does he think the government (or the private sector) of Malawi, for example, is going to supply HIV medicine if aid agencies aren’t? Does he really believe Chad (or the private sector in Chad) is going to fulfill the food needs of its people if aid agencies aren’t?

      Not sure what he thinks – you would have to ask him. But, what should be quite clear is that those needs will NEVER be filled locally as long as outsiders provide for them. You appear to be one of those who believes Africans are a bunch of helpless children who can’t survive on their own without your enlightened benevolence.

      Also, what Jon said.

  7. To a certain extent, the Kenyan expert could be right.
    If corruption and debauchery at the upper echelon of power are that rampant and notorious, why give aids that never reached the poor really in need.
    Dark Africa is still quite dark.
    (vzc1943, mtd1943)

  8. While I do consider myself a Libertarian and noninterventionalist, I always used to have questions on this. I attend a Catholic high school and have a theology teacher that studies liberation theology (yeah, i know how absurd that is).

    Even though I frequently remind him that his lessons are garbage, I felt like he had a point when he showed us Hotel Rwanda and talked to us about foreign aid. He portrayed foreign aid as though it were something that primarily helped out NGO’s, but I guess that isn’t the case. I always used to feel like we have SOME moral obligation to foreign aid (if for nothing but an IOU).

    I am also curious as to the general opinion about quelling rebellions through outside forces such as the US for instances like the case of Rwanda.

    1. Cody

      While I do consider myself a Libertarian and noninterventionalist, I always used to have questions on this. I attend a Catholic high school and have a theology teacher that studies liberation theology (yeah, i know how absurd that is).

      Libertarianism and religious beliefs are not mutually exclusive, you know. Judge Andrew Napolitano, for example, is a devout Catholic as well as a fierce defender of liberty.

      I always used to feel like we have SOME moral obligation to foreign aid (if for nothing but an IOU).

      Most of us feel a personal obligation to help those in need. I think it’s part of our nature as human beings. However, I don’t believe that means we can ask our government to take other people’s money to send to unspecified locations for unspecified uses, and then pat ourselves on the back for being so generous.

      African economists such as James Shikwati and Dambisa Moyo tell us that the foreign aid we are providing is harming, rather than helping.

      Have you considered starting a business that would create jobs in a location you believe to be in need, that currently gets aid of some kind?

      How about funding microloans through this or another such organization?

      I am also curious as to the general opinion about quelling rebellions through outside forces such as the US for instances like the case of Rwanda.

      No idea about general opinion, but mine is that it is not a function of the US government to interfere in the affairs of other countries. Of course you and I and others who are concerned should be free act on our own to protect innocent lives.

      What if a powerful outside force had acted to quell the violent rebellion going on in eastern North America in 1776?

  9. Wally Right

    The HIV virus is a chimera, it has not been identified, you cannot put it under a microscope and take a photo because it doesn’t exist.
    Wally, Auckland, New Zealand

    1. Wally

      The HIV virus is a chimera, it has not been identified, you cannot put it under a microscope and take a photo because it doesn’t exist.

      You might be right, but one can’t help but wonder what so many people who think they have AIDS are dying from.

      I know the power of suggestion can be a powerful thing, but that’s one helluva lot of people!

  10. Thanks for introducing me to James Shikwati’s ideas. He has many good things to say.
    You can find a long list of Mr. Shikwati’s articles here:
    http://www.africanexecutive.com/modules/magazine/articles_editor.php?editor=4
    Lots of great stuff to read.

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