The Therapy Sessions
Thursday, January 06, 2005
The silliness of the aid crowd
Note: Upon reading this post, I'm aware that someone might confuse me for a critic of tsunami aid. Read closer: I'm not saying that. My wife and I have contributed to aid the victims of this natural disastar, and I encourage others to do so as well. In this post, I am referring to long term developmental assistance. It's track record is poor. But many people aren't concerned about track records and actually helping anyone. Their goal is redistributing wealth, and this is how they measure success.
I've been having problems with my internet connection lately (at least at home), so I haven't been able to blog much lately. This has had an unfortunate side effect: I am once again listening to NPR in the morning.
There has been a slight improvement in perspective there in the last few years. NPR's statists, for example, now acknowledge that when it comes to helping poor countries, there actually is a "debate" over whether trade or aid has a better track record.
Of course, in the real world - the world where we actually look at the historical performance of the two approaches - there is no debate: trade won this one decades ago.
Anyone doubting this need only look at the continent of Africa: the continent has been a recipient of aid for decades. States like Nigeria - which has recieved lots of aid - are just as corrupt and poor as countries that have recieved little, like Togo. Botswana and Mozambique - two countries that (until recently) recieved little aid - are among the best run countries on the continent (and consequently, they are among the fastest growing). Kenya - a huge aid recipient - is locked in corruption and decline.
What about trade's track record? Japan, South Korea (In 1955, the people of South Korea were about as well off as the people of North Korea), Taiwan, Western Europe, Mexico and Chile all attest to the ability of trade to lift nations out of poverty. China and India are currently tapping the power of trade. If they coninue to liberalize their economies, their futures will be bright.
But track records don't matter to the aid fans on the left. They just want to feel like they are helping. Whether they actually help anyone is irrelevant.
It is the primary sin of the Left: thinking with the heart instead of the head.
The way to eliminate poverty has never been clearer: FREE TRADE.
Rich countries need to stop protectionism, particularly in their agricultural sector.
This will benefit everyone.