Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Aid - The White Man's Burden

Tony Blair has used his keynote speech in South Africa to say there is a 'moral obligation' to use political action 'to make the world better'.

I believe he genuinely means well. But he is going about it in all the wrong and failed ways.

Banging the same broken drum is the OECD, which has called upon rich nations to increase aid to Africa by 11% a year to reach $130bn by the year 2010.

In the past 50 years, Africa has received $2.3 trillion of foreign aid. Liberia now relies on aid for 50% of its GDP. There is little to show for all this largesse.

In contrast, the most dramatic reductions in poverty have come from India and China. These economic success stories have nothing to do with aid and everything to do with free market reforms - the abandonment of collective farming in China and the cutting of government red tape in India. You would think, and hope, that the world would look to these two countries as shining examples of how to eradicate poverty. You would be wrong.

Kenyan economist James Shikwati is clear where the fault lies,

If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor. For God's sake, stop the aid!"

And so is Moeletsi Mbeki (brother of the South African President). In particular he is scathing of the Black Economic Empowerment (BEE) deals that are now prevalent in South Africa, arguing that SA must prioritise wealth creation rather than wealth re-distribution.

Elan Journo of the Ayn Rand Institute rips into the aid industry with this objectivist tirade,

"Instead of disputing how aid is measured or guiltily promising billions more, the G-8 should repudiate the alleged moral duty to selflessly serve the world's poor. We have no moral duty to sacrifice for the poor. Those who earn their prosperity by production and trade have a moral right to every penny of their riches. The notion that the richest nations must serve the 'needy' is based on the vicious moral code of altruism.

Altruism holds that one's highest moral duty is to selflessly serve others--and thus that the world's 'haves' must sacrifice for the sake of its 'have-nots.' The productive, on this abhorrent view, have no moral right to pursue their own interests and keep their wealth; their only justification for existing is to serve the needy. Thus the world's richest nations must atone for their prosperity by sacrificing for the sake of those who lack, or don't care to earn, values.

Africa is poor because it is rife with bloody tribalism and superstition--ideas that in the Dark Ages kept the Western world as poor, if not poorer, than today's Africa. If aid advocates were genuinely concerned with helping Africans, they would campaign for political and economic freedom, for individualism, reason and capitalism, for the ideas necessary to achieve prosperity."

And here in Australia, Noel Pearson, Aboriginal leader of the Cape York Institute, says much the same,

'The vortex of substance abuse and passive welfare has distorted our system of reciprocal obligation into a culture of humbugging, bludging and one-sided obligation, chiefly on the part of responsible elders to irresponsible drinkers.'

You do have to wonder why so few in positions of power have questioned the concept of perpetual aid, given that it has been such a spectacular failure. The benign racism of low expectations reigns supreme within the aid industry. If my seven year old takes a pee on our new rug, i would haul him to task. If my dog did the same, i would not as I expect more from my son. If only the aid industry and the G8 would expect more from people, they might finally give them the opportunity to show what they can do.

Shikwati and Journo quotes sourced from a recent ace blog discovery - Not PC

Oh - and in case there are any racists reading this who are thinking that Africans are incapable of looking after themselves, check out the inspiring story of little known Somaliland, a moderate Muslim state that is ineligible for any foreign aid, and that is, err, strangely, prospering...