How to fail in development really trying

Assisting the development of the Third World is a goal often given lip service, but never seriously attended to. Big news lately is the cancellation of $40 billion worth of debt by the G8 countries. Debt forgiveness is high on the top of the U2 Left's list of priorities, and this decision has been praised around the world. But let's not forget that this is only a Band-Aid. In his book In Defense of Global Capitalism, Johan Norberg wrote that the average country supposedly crippled by interest payments on debt actually receives twice as much in aid as it has to pay out. Now maybe that aid also has to be paid back later, but so far the impression is that the influx will never stop. He also pointed out that debt forgiveness might be a one-time solution, but that if it keeps happening the impression of a never-ending aid stream will prevent the countries from making the best use of the money.

Catallarchy readers should already know how I feel about foreign aid in the first place, but the G8's method doesn't even pan out on its own terms. Most of sub-Saharan Africa is not developing at all, even afters years and years and billions of dollars in aid. If what the G8 countries' leaders and finance ministers really want is African development, they ought to pursue policies that maximize the bang for our buck. If they can't even do well by the standards they set for themselves, perhaps foreign aid isn't the best task for them.

Yet another argument for private assistance over public assistance is that it's far less likely a private charity is going to allow the government of the receiving country to join in the disbursement of the aid. The governments in the undeveloped world (let's not fool ourselves by saying developing) are the main obstacle to development. All the G8 ministers wanted for their promises was anti-corruption measures. What they ought to insist on is anti-socialism measures.

In addition to the debt relief,

Britain is also pressing for a doubling of international aid to Africa, but it is not clear whether that goal will be reached before next month's summit.

Among other proposed initiatives to fight poverty are a tax on airline tickets, put forward by France and Germany, and a British plan to raise money for poverty relief on international financial markets. Both ideas are opposed by the United States, but their inclusion seemed to be part of a trade-off to secure agreement on the cancellation of debt.

Britain, at least in this recent spectacle, comes off as the most confused donor of the group. Cancel the debt, then double the aid, and insist only on weak anti-corruption measures. What is the goal here? Given that debt cancellation is already a fait accompli, how about quit further aid and show some backbone in promoting global capitalism? Why not have Gordon Brown point out that no amount of aid is going to help if the receiving governments squander it in wasteful and pointless business ventures (not to mention buying new Rolls Royce fleets)?

As something of a postscript, observe the willingness of France and Germany to stiff the ordinary man in France and Germany (and presumably rest in the European Union). A tax on airline tickets? Find something currently cheap in Europe and ruin that too. Way to go, guys. And observe Britain's willingness to stiff everybody in the developed world. Thanks, pal. Last, observe the U.S.'s backing down against these proposals, as if cancellation of debt was Washington's baby and not someone else's. Jefferson, Thoreau and I are disgusted.

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The people forgiving the aid

The people forgiving the aid are the same mal-educated types that dug the hole in the first place, and now will have an open cheque book to begin the process all over again. In 20 years there will be another G11 conference(Brazil, China and India) where liberals will cry,pout, and pontificate about 'the poor' and blame western capitalists for the worlds woes. Its an industry unto itself and it needs capital, and a reason d'etre. Ta daaaa...'THE POOR'.

I'm disgusted too. The whole

I'm disgusted too. The whole precedent set here is rather disturbing. It rings of this article over at the NY Times (sorry it's a week old). Primates notice signals, and adjust behavior accordingly. This won't be any different; it's becoming sure-fire loss gambling on the part of the West and sure-fire win raking for the undeveloped leaders.

But, oh well, seems the present brass are following the "throw money at a problem hehehe" banner.

I enjoy your blog tremendously. Keep up the good work!

I wonder whether Bush does

I wonder whether Bush does these odd and useless gestures (Medicare Drugs is another example) because he believes that they are positive or he thinks that pandering to his critics will get them to ease up. Either is troubling.

I find that people who

I find that people who support the theft and redisbursement of money to "third world" countries (an unfortunate word and legacy of the colonial mindset, but nonetheless) have the typical benevolent view of government as some kind of gift giver with a legitimate and "organic" relationship with "it's people". If the U.S. government, a democracy, is not at all representative of the widely varied interests of many individuals, what makes COLDPLAY, NGOs and Robert MacNamara so damned sure that Mengitsu and Nyerre - unelected despots - are perfectly legit recipients of extorted money? I wish people would stop conflating the throbbing masses of Nigeria with it's government cronies. Thompson Ayodele of the Institute for Public Policy Analysis has alot to say on this matter. I reccommend him.

Indeed, requesting anti-corruption measures is missing the point. The very structure is corrupt, with people giving money that isn't theirs to someone else. You don't need to be a devout skeptic of the good-heartedness of humanity to find this situation corrupt to the core.

Cancelling debt is a good step. After all, the citizens themselves didn't ask for or even recieve, for the most part, the "loan".