a not-too-bad article on development aid

From Nicholas Kristof of the NYT, one of the few public voices consistently addressing international poverty. He correctly praises President Bush in comparison to Clinton on aid to Africa. Not bad.


little dan said...

This article probably highlights the more agonizing portion of his Millennium Challenge Account problems.

Rachel talks about it also.

Back in 2002 I saw Bono & several other African aid workers come to Indy. The message was similar, Bush had pledged to give money earlier but the money had yet to materialize.

Joe said...

I think the article shows that Bush is more idealistic than some of his republican counterparts. This is what I've been wrestling with lately...coming to grips with the fact that Bush is a very idealistic, almost romantic president who makes bold moves. On the one hand, people who advocate a morally focused public policy (like myself), prefer idealism over policy based solely on our strategic interests (the strategy commonly employed by both republican and democratic presidents). On the other hand, when either 1) I disagree with his ethics or 2) idealism slips into utopianism, a more pragmatic leader is probably better. Pragmatism would have kept us out of Iraq, but pragmatism also kept us out of Rawanda.

Ben said...

Putting an end to European and American trade subsidies would do much to change the tide of African poverty. Anne Applebaum puts it this way: "among those who work seriously on Africa, it has long been clear that what Africans need isn't only cash, which can be stolen or wasted, but the opportunity to trade their way out of poverty, just as Asians did over the past several decades. Yet the current regime of agricultural tariffs, quotas and export subsidies, whether for American cotton or European sugar, so reduces the price of African agricultural products that African farmers cannot compete. Each European cow costs taxpayers $2.20 a day, while half the world's population lives on less than $2 a day. Withdraw the subsidies for the cows, and Africans might even be able to make competitive cheese.

To their credit, both President Bush and the British government have tried over the past couple of days to make precisely this point. Bush told a British television interviewer that the United States was willing to give up its agricultural subsidies if Europe would. Gordon Brown, the British chancellor, declared a similar position: "Let us make these unacceptable trade subsidies history . . . let us make developed country protectionism history." But there were few echoes of their calls in France, where politicians still consider the European Union's agricultural subsidies among their greatest political accomplishments, or in most of the rest of Europe, either. Instead there were a number of sniffy comments about how this week's Group of Eight summit would surely prove too stingy to "meet the challenge" of African poverty."

Ben said...

This clipping from a Max Boot article in the LA times notes: "In the last 50 years, $2.3 trillion has been spent to help poor countries. Yet Africans' income and life expectancy have gone down, not up, during that period, while South Korea, Singapore and other Asian nations that received little if any assistance have moved from African-level poverty to European-level prosperity thanks to their superior economic policies.

Economists who have studied aid projects have found numerous reasons for the failures. In many instances, money was siphoned off by corrupt officials. Even when funds did reach the intended beneficiaries, the money often distorted local markets for goods and labor, creating inflation that drove local businesses out of business. . . ."

Check Instapundit here to see more (and avoid subscribing to the LA Times online).