An indebted British government released its budget last week and, as promised, cut not one penny from its handouts to poor countries. Rather, increasing Western aid to Africa has become a mark of political piety and good citizenship. According to Prime Minister David Cameron, "We do have a moral responsibility, as one of the richest countries in the world, not to give up on [developing nations] just because we are having a difficult time at home."
Remarkably, this notion persists in the face of overwhelming evidence that such "aid" does the world's poor more harm than good. In North Africa foreign economic aid has propped up Arab dictators for decades. In sub-Saharan Africa it has stifled political and economic freedom.
Aid advocates often speak of wealth as if it were a pot of found gold that should be redistributed according to the whims of the elite. In 2006, for example, Irish singer Bob Geldof criticized the government of New Zealand, saying "The pathetic 0.27% that this government gives to the poorest people on the planet . . . is a disgrace." Yet every dollar produced in a market economy comes with a property right attached. The creators of wealth—be they workers in large corporations or small-business owners—have a right to expect good stewardship of tax revenue. Unfortunately that has not been the case.
Lord Peter Bauer, the late British economist, once wrote that foreign aid is "an excellent method for transferring money from poor people in rich countries to rich people in poor countries." Indeed, over the last half-century, hundreds of billions in foreign-aid dollars, pounds and euros have been stolen or wasted. In 2002 then-Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo estimated that African leaders pocketed at least $140 billion between 1960 and 2000. Andrew Mitchell, now Britain's secretary of state for international development, promised in 2009 when he was still an Opposition Member that under Mr. Cameron, "Britain's generosity will be matched by a relentless drive for value for money. . . . We will demand transparency, accountability and real results from all our aid." In truth, no one knows how to achieve such transparency and accountability in countries without free media, fair elections, independent judiciaries, strong civil societies and parliamentary supervision.
And so today Africa is filled with dilapidated airports and empty factories that were built at great expense by donor countries but failed to reduce African poverty. World Bank data shows that Africa received almost 12 times as much aid per person as India between 1975 and 2005. Yet over the same period, India grew at an average annual rate of 3.5%, while Africa shrunk at a rate of 0.16% per year. In fact, at least five aid-recipient countries in Africa were poorer in 2009 than they were in 1960. India shows that economic liberalization and democracy is much more effective at creating prosperity than international charity.
To compound the problem, foreign aid tends to discourage economic and democratic reforms, both directly and indirectly. Since many African governments continue to receive much of their revenue from outside donors, they are often indifferent to the well-being of their countries' private sectors, which in the rest of the world are the engine of growth, jobs and government revenue. In much of Africa, the private sector is an afterthought, and the best jobs can be found in parastatals and state monopolies. So it's unsurprising that Africa remains the least economically free continent in the world.
Foreign aid has thus also undermined democratization in Africa. A vibrant private sector is a source of rising incomes and wealthier citizenry, and a populace that has more to lose from arbitrary rule is more likely—and able—to demand political representation and create an independent civil society.
Aid has also retarded democratic evolution by enabling dictators to repress opposition. Paul Collier of Oxford University estimates that aid financed up to 40% of African governments' military spending between 1960 and 1999. Since most of Africa's conflicts are internal, it is very likely that the continent's leaders used some of that aid-financed weaponry to subdue domestic dissent.
The tide might be turning. In the U.S., the House of Representatives voted this month to cut the aid budget. And last week former British Cabinet Minister Peter Mandelson told a conference in London that "Most of the aid we have sent to Africa over the last five decades has probably, in the main, been wasted as far as growth is concerned." If only politicians could remember that when they're actually in office.
While it may occasionally make a positive difference in individual lives, aid harms economic growth and democratization and, in the long run, makes African societies less, not more, prosperous. By cutting aid, the West could not only save their taxpayers some money, but also benefit the victims of their supposed support: ordinary Africans.
Mr. Tupy is a senior fellow at the Legatum Institute in London.
Robert Orr needs a Chinese Visa to enter UN's DC2 building
Rio+20: GreenPeace Statement
Greenpeace International Executive Director has released a statement on his views of Rio+20. "The future we want has gotten a little further away today. Rio+20 has turned into an epic failure, It has failed on equity, failed on ecology and failed on economy" were Kumi Naidoo frank comments after the text for the outcome document was adopted. Please click here for the full statement.
UN Policy Coordination on the Road
DESA's Telecommuting Assistant Secretary General
Sha Zukang's behavior not appropriate...
Sha's behavior was not appropriate as a senior advisor. And he also knows that his behavior has embarrassed most of the [other] senior advisors at that time.
Mr. Chance (buy this book now)
Click on the picture and purchase this book now. It's already a best seller. It shows the coward Ban Ki Moon and his Korean team in action.
Chinese Social Affairs Department
"UN needs complete leadership overhaul"
International Development Secretary Andrew Mitchell, who asked Ashdown to carry out the report, said the government would give its response in about six weeks.
Czech President Klaus
"...this is the time for international organizations, including the United Nations, to reduce their expenditures, make their administrations thinner, and leave the solutions to the governments of member states"
Sha Zukang Disrespectful of UN Rules
UN staff rules require employees to uphold and respect the principles set out in the Charter, including faith in fundamental human rights. They prohibit U.N. employees from accepting instructions from any government or from any other source external to the organization. UN staff should avoid any action and, in particular, any kind of public pronouncement that may adversely reflect on their status, or on the integrity, independence and impartiality that are required by that status.
Barack Obama on UN Reform
Obtain Refund of Funds Owed to the U.S. by the U.N.
CLICK ON VOTE - to save approximate $180 million in one time savings
Get ready U.N. !!
Let's raise our voices
The following months are critical. Changing DESA is in your hand. Speak up now and share our message with all colleagues.
NyTimes disavows Ban Ki Moon
"The United States, meanwhile, should think hard about whether it wants to support Mr. Ban’s re-election" NyTimes Editorial - Nov 03, 2010
Feel like saying smth ?
You are free to respond to any of our critics. Send an email at - email@example.com - your reply will be published as is
UN at 65
State Department Spokesperson P.J. Crowley
"Sha Zukang seems to be cranky at lots of folks. It will not affect our relations with China."
UN STAFF RESOLUTION ON BAN KI MOON
If SG Ban Ki-moon fails to take immediate steps towards real reform to address these urgent systemic issues, Staff Union will consider a vote of NO-CONFIDENCE
Backstabbing for Beginners
Backstabbing for Beginners is at once the darkly comic tale of one man's political coming of age and a stinging indictment of the hypocrisy that prevailed at the heart of the world's most idealistic institution.
Hacked Emails Show Blatant Climate Change Fraud
anyone who wants to report facts in our Blog is welcomed. You can send us anonymous messages thru leaving comments into our past blogging or you can send us an email at: firstname.lastname@example.org. We ensure full confidentiality of your reporting.
What will this successful Chinese Diplomat do different?