\"Particular knowledge of time and place\" in disaster relief

In the article Red Cross slams 'misguided aid', the BBC makes an excellent point: local knowledge is best. The two quotes in the side bar sum it up quite nicely: "It's a myth that only Western governments and aid agencies know best," and "Affected people are far more resourceful than we assume."

If only more people, including the BBC, would apply this thinking to broader topics in our every day lives. Strangely enough, the people who are right there on the ground know best what needs to be done, not far-off central planners. Not only that, but they're better at doing it.

What the Red Cross and the BBC didn't say is that private organizations with a mandate simply to help people are far more efficient than governments driven by politics at, well, helping people. Surprise surprise. Maybe governments should just stay out of the way and let locals, the Red Cross, the Mormon Church, etc., handle relief. If governments really want to help, maybe they should give the taxpayers' money back and encourage them to donate.

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