Thursday, March 21, 2002
Show me the moneyThe United Nations has figured out how to cure poverty. And you'll be shocked to hear this one: rich countries need to give lots of money to poor countries.
In anticipation of the U.N. International Conference on Financing for Development, the United States and Europe each pledged billions of dollars to poor nations last week. But the United Nations says much more is needed – international development aid must double to $100 billion a year to meet the international goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015.Next, I hear they plan to declare a "War on Poverty," figuring that these policies, which obviously work so well in the international arena, will also be applicable to domestic politics. Soon there will be no more poverty in the United States!
While we're solving that simple problem, the United States thinks that aid should only be given to countries that reform their politics and economies. For some reason, that isn't going over too big.
Many aid recipients say that conditioning aid amounts to meddling in their internal politics.But apparently just forking over the cash is perfectly acceptable.
Advocates for the poor say some of the neediest live in countries whose governments are corrupt or totalitarian and they shouldn't be punished for the sins of their leaders.I see. They're too corrupt to reform, so we should just hand them money without any rules. How convenient for them. Because obviously, corrupt, totalitarian governments will rush to use the money in a socially responsible manner. We wouldn't want to see thousands of members of the secret police be put out of work, would we?
Strangely, the U.S. government wants to test this strategy before implementing it on a wider scale.
The Bush administration has said that if its extra $5 billion in aid produces results, it will give more. But many criticized the United States, by far the world's richest country, for doing little to help the poorest.Where the measure of what a country is "doing" is limited to the amount of cash handed over to those "corrupt, totalitarian governments," of course. The amount of money just spent by the United States to defeat the Taliban will never be included in these sorts of foreign aid calculations. Or the money spent defending South Korea from North Korean aggression. The millions of immigrants accepted by the United States, absorbed into society, taking some pressure off their home countries to reform, will never be factored in. Only welfare payments count. Isn't the term that's normally used for an attitude like that "ungrateful," or perhaps "spoiled brat"?
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