Blargh Blog

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Easy Answers to Easy Questions

Is foreign aid the solution to global poverty?

No, of course not. There isn't "a solution" to global poverty, unless you want to count the macabre (e.g. global death) or the deeply unhelpful (e.g. patience).

Alternative question #1: Can foreign aid contribute to a substantial reduction in global poverty over the short to medium term?


Alternative question #2: Can foreign aid help put the world on a relatively stable long-term trend in reducing global poverty?


Obviously, it matters how the foreign aid is spent. Simply throwing money at the problem won't fix anything, but many potentially productive plans for fixing things do require money.

The original question is the topic for a Garvey Fellowship essay that can win you money, if you fit the applicant qualification criteria. You probably also have to write something consistent with their description of the question:
A 2005 United Nations report called for a doubling of foreign aid to poor countries as the means to reduce poverty. Yet the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a for-profit microloan bank and its founder, an apparent vindication of the ideas of Peter T. Bauer, Henry Hazlitt, Deepak Lal, and others. As Bauer wrote, “Development aid, far from being necessary to rescue poor societies from a vicious circle of poverty, is far more likely to keep them in that state.…Emergence from poverty requires effort, firmly established property rights, and productive investment.”
In other words, because some forms of for-profit investments can be effective at reducing global poverty, foreign aid must be completely ineffective. Airtight logic. Unbreakable logic, we might even call it, in honor of the gentleman who reasoned that, since his body was easily injured, there must be someone out there who is incapable of being injured.


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