Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Live 8 – A Solution that is Simple, Direct and Wrong

For answers why this is so, taxpayers – and policy makers – need only pick up a copy of Lords of Poverty. Published in 1991, the book exposes the many failures of the multibillion dollar government aid business. Lords of Poverty is an indictment of the international aid industry, and as a New York Times book review noted, “If books had hands, this one would be reaching out to strangle the United Nations officials who will no doubt be reading it at their desks in brown paper wrappers.” (Voluntary agencies are spared criticism because they tend to be funded by charitable contributions and are pressured to spend money more wisely than government agencies.)

Author Graham Hancock became disillusioned with the aid industry after working in developed nations. He asserts – with examples of waste and corruption – government aid programs more often than not worsen the conditions of those they are meant to help. Aid organizations, like the Canadian International Development Agency, serve to keep western consultants employed but do little to develop poor economies. Government programs are ill conceived because they rest on the premise that developed nations must save the Third World – precisely what taxpayers are being told in advance of Saturday’s Live 8 concerts.

From 1950-55 total government aid seldom exceeded US$1.8-billion per year. By 1962 total world aid hit nearly US$6-billion and a decade later OECD nations (i.e. western countries) gave almost US$10-billion. By 1984 this figure jumped threefold and the Soviet Union was also doling out development assistance. Total world aid in 1987 was over US$50-billion, topped US$60-billion when the Berlin Wall fell, and stands at US$70-billion today.

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