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Friday, July 08, 2005

The 2-4-6-8 Solution

Like Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati (in my post yesterday), Max Boot, in the LA Times, also wonders about the effectiveness of aid to Africa:
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.
Max repeats many of the same theme's as James:
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.
This leads Max to propose the 2-4-6-8 solution:
Any real solution to Africa's problems must focus on the root causes of poverty - mainly misgovernment. Instead of pouring billions more down the same old rat holes, maybe the Live 8 crew should promote a more innovative approach: Use the G-8's jillions 2 hire mercenaries 4 the overthrow of the 6 most thuggish regimes in Africa. That would do more to help ordinary Africans than any number of musical extravaganzas.
I'm well aware that between my post yesterday about James Shikwati pleading that aid to Africa be stopped and this post that I must seem particularly cold hearted. However, repeatedly doing something that doesn't work seems to me like a type of insanity, even if it does feel good to be charitable, even if you can be charitable to music. I think it's time to try something new.

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