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Dec. 4th, 2008 @ 07:43 pm "They have blood on their hands"
A subject that doesn't get enough (any?) press: How Foreign Aid Destroyed Africa.
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From:nishmael
Date:December 5th, 2008 06:10 am (UTC)
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Not to be too ad hominem about it, but an interview with a climate change skeptic, under the imprimatur of David Horowitz's rag, probably doesn't carry a whole lot of intellectual currency. I especially like Glazov's questions, all of which are effectively reducible to "so what you're saying is that anyone left of center is an idiot?" Now that's rhetorical and argumentative nuance.
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From:extempore
Date:December 5th, 2008 04:06 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, I realized that, but I thought the guys made his points (when he didn't drift too far into generic liberal bashing) in a way that might jolt a person or two into reconsidering their dogmas. Thanks for giving potential joltees an easy out, you insensitive clod!
From:nishmael
Date:December 5th, 2008 07:20 pm (UTC)
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I am nothing if not the anti-jolt!
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From:jl2585
Date:December 5th, 2008 10:09 am (UTC)
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You may have read it already, but William Easterly's book The White Man's Burden has a more academic approach to the damaging effects of Western aid and is a critique/response to Jeff Sach's The End of Poverty.
From:seanlandis
Date:December 5th, 2008 06:50 pm (UTC)

There's Press On It

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I teach a section on relief aid in an intro to ethics course. We read the same basic message in this interview with a libertarian Kenyan economist. Also, Nick Kristof gave a nice roundup of books on this issue a few years back.

It's clearly not true that ALL aid does more harm than good. So it seems especially important to figure out which relief organizations are and which are not effective. Fortunately, there are charity watchdogs out there.
From:chrisrw109
Date:December 5th, 2008 07:41 pm (UTC)

Re: There's Press On It

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I think the larger issue is that the overwhelming effect of it is pretty detrimental, so the majority of aid does more harm than good. While I agree that some specific organizations do really good work there, they're effectively addressing issues that are symptoms of the buggered situation caused by overall aid.

The most damning point, surely is the main one. Massive amounts of aid money is diverted by people in power. Thus insuring they never want to give up power, and meaning the only way they are replaced is by those with the ability to violently overthrow them. Those people are rarely, if ever a nicer group of people.

The problem being of course, know that we're in this situation, we can't just take our $$'s and go home. Free Trade is part of the answer, but it won't fix everything that's broken.
From:mosch2000
Date:December 9th, 2008 05:18 am (UTC)

A kernel of wisdom...

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While there may have been a kernel of wisdom somewhere in there, that was quite possibly the largest pile of nonsensical propaganda that I've actually read this year. And it's an election year.

I'd love to see many of the free trade barriers taken down, but he never makes anything resembling a serious argument that aid (rather than say... diamonds, oil, mineral rights, water rights, a general desire for power) has caused the instability in Africa.

To be perfectly frank, if you believe this article was worth linking to, I think you need to do some intellectual exercise, and force yourself to read a larger volume of things that you disagree with ideologically, if only to exercise your critical analysis skills, so that you can start applying them to premises to which you already agree.
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From:extempore
Date:December 9th, 2008 03:33 pm (UTC)

Re: A kernel of wisdom...

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I respect your opinion so I'll take that under advisement. That said, are you suggesting those arguments cannot be made, or are you simply objecting to my choosing that article? There is a tendency to figure that if I don't post for a long time and then link to something, that I must be attributing it great significance, when in fact my posting strategy is fully described by my livejournal username.
From:mosch2000
Date:December 9th, 2008 05:33 pm (UTC)

Re: A kernel of wisdom...

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My problem was that it was a weak article. It didn't substantiate the potentially valid points, nor did it make any serious attack on the probable counter-arguments. It felt masturbatory, not illuminating.

I actually agree with the basic premise that positive intent is no guarantee against negative result, and that it's important to be quite careful with both aid and trade policies. After all, anybody with a passing knowledge of modern history can cite instances where aid and trade policies were used to the detriment of the one or more parties' citizenry.

And while it was overly presumptive of me to suggest I know whether your readings challenge your ideologies, I was (and still am) very surprised that you felt this particular article was worth sharing with, well.... anybody.
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From:extempore
Date:December 9th, 2008 06:09 pm (UTC)

Re: A kernel of wisdom...

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Sometimes (often) articles that are more convincing to thoughtful people are less convincing to less thoughtful people. Not saying that's necessarily the case here, but maybe. I suppose what made me post it is that I think many well-intentioned people do have blood and suffering on their hands (for this reason or any of innumerable others), their warm-hearted intentions don't make it ok, and more often than not people who make that point clothe it in weasel words to make it more palatable. We should not aspire to be ideologues, but at least they call spades spades (conceding of course the ideologue's flexible assessment of the qualities which define spadehood.)
From:mosch2000
Date:December 9th, 2008 09:48 pm (UTC)

Re: A kernel of wisdom...

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I suppose my first reaction is that if you truly believe that many well-intentioned people have blood and suffering on their hands for this reason, that you should find an article which is at least slightly compelling to such a person.

This article won't convince anybody who isn't already on your side.

Secondly, you talk of people clothing the point in weasel words, but to my knowledge it's a situation where not all charitible and government aid is created equal. To simply say it's all evil and you all have blood on your hands would be inaccurate, sensationalist nonsense. I'm not sure that it's even possible to honestly discuss the matter in broad strokes without using qualifiers.

Also, the article strongly implies that all aid is given out of some sort of feel-good socialist ethic. In reality, government-based aid is often a foreign policy tool, designed to help create situations that benefit the "donor" country. And with private charities, many are surely run for feel-good reasons, but it'd be quite surprising if many weren't run primarily because somebody likes to skim 10% off the top.

What I find sort of amusing, is that towards the end of the article, the author starts talking about free trade instead of aid, but he still portends that the aid in question is solely the dominion of sappy short-sighted socialists.

One point I will agree with you on is that often "less thoughtful" people are convinced by very different arguments than "thoughtful" people... but I'm guessing that most people who are interested in your thoughts fall into the latter category, rather than the former.
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From:extempore
Date:December 9th, 2008 10:31 pm (UTC)

Re: A kernel of wisdom...

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I'm guessing that most people who are interested in your thoughts fall into the latter category, rather than the former.

Sucker.
From:inet_stranger
Date:December 14th, 2008 02:38 am (UTC)
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Well it appears to fall on me to stand up and be counted as the sole reader for whom the article offered value, even insight. I can state, unqualifiedly, the notion that foreign aid over recent decades might be the primary driver behind many civil wars and oppressive regimes on the African had never occurred to me.

Needless to say I’ve contemplated the benefits and trappings, of charity acts and indeed the charitable consequence if not the principle of creating of welfare countries: better to teach someone to fish… Of course, it isn’t a leap to foresee how it can be abused, acknowledge money siphoned off corruptively but it is, somewhat hard to imagine on such a scale, and attribute to it such effects. In addition, I’m not convinced the majority of readers had considered this, or indeed, Paul Phillips (as I’d expected to have seen some commentary previously); that is this particular effect, rather than on the general guiding principle of good intentions.

The article alludes to individuals in part falling for the representative heuristic, by suggesting people hold good consequences to be representative of good intentions. The heuristic is somewhat in evidence in posts here, in it appears, the belief, that only quality stimuli generate quality responses/effects*. Though not holding a preference for biased articles, I’d prefer those which are overtly, over those equally biased, or perhaps less, but are so inconspicuously, since the former bias can be more readily identified and discounted. That said, it strikes me there is a presence of a bias bias of sorts on such things (or maybe it’s just me), in that when we identify a bias, we over discount it, or perhaps even reject an argument solely because of its presence. While the article will not prove anything, or be cogent, it can still be useful, as it can germinate, even it is not seen as entirely germane – as I mentioned, I’d never heard this claim.

On the global-warming front, I know little of the subject, save the existence of highly decorated scientists casting doubt, even rejecting that recent global warming is driven by primarily man: consensus doesn’t work for me on an issue such as this, particularly since good money is paid for science the preferred cause in evidence. The point he made on DDT was one worth making; I recall fairly recently watching a news article on global warming where some sort philanthropist character was attempting to take the initiative with some out of the box ideas. One of them I believe was, on a grand scale (naturally), to suck CO2 from the atmosphere and absorb it into basalt rocks abundant to Iceland. For what I know it might be wacky, impractical, unrealistic… or the greatest idea known to man, but I was certain, whichever were true, the green campaigning-for-years-for-reduced-CO2-emissions was never going to turn-tail on strategy and endorse it.

* ref: worth sharing to anybody…?

From:inet_stranger
Date:December 14th, 2008 02:59 am (UTC)
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Well it appears to fall on me to stand up and be counted as the sole reader for whom the article offered value, even insight. I can state, unqualifiedly, the notion that foreign aid over recent decades might be the primary driver behind many civil wars and oppressive regimes on the African continent had never occurred to me.

Needless to say I’ve contemplated the benefits and trappings of charitable acts and indeed the charitable consequence if not the principle of creating welfare countries: better to teach someone to fish… Of course, it isn’t a leap to foresee how it can be abused, or difficult to acknowledge money will be siphoned off but it is, somewhat hard to imagine on such a scale, and attribute it to such effects. In addition, I’m not convinced the majority of readers had considered this, or indeed, Paul Phillips (as I’d expected to have seen some commentary previously); that is, this particular effect, rather than on the pitfalls of the general guiding principle of good intentions.

By suggesting people hold good consequences to be representative of good intentions, the article alludes to individuals in part falling for the representative heuristic. The heuristic is somewhat in evidence in posts here, present it, appears, in the belief, that only quality stimuli generate quality responses/effects*.

Though not holding a preference for biased articles, I’d prefer those which are overtly biased, over those equally biased, or perhaps less, but are so inconspicuously, since the former bias can be more readily identified and discounted. That said, it strikes me there is a presence of a bias bias of sorts on such things (or maybe it’s just me), in that when we identify a bias, we over discount it, or perhaps even reject an argument solely because of its presence. While the article will not prove anything, or be cogent, it can still be useful, since it can germinate, even if it is not seen as entirely germane – as I mentioned, I’d never heard this claim.

On the global-warming front, I know little of the subject, save only the existence of highly decorated scientists casting doubt, even rejecting that recent global warming is driven primarily by man: consensus doesn’t work for me on an issue such as this, particularly since good money is paid for science showing the preferred cause in evidence. The point he made on DDT was one worth making; I recall fairly recently watching a news article on global warming where some sort philanthropist character was attempting to take the initiative on the problem with what were considered out-of-the-box ideas. One of them I believe was, on a grand scale (naturally), to suck CO2 from the atmosphere and absorb it into basalt rocks abundant to Iceland. For what I know it might be wacky, impractical, unrealistic… or the greatest idea known to man, but I was certain, whichever were true, the green campaigning-for-years-for-reduced-CO2-emissions guy was never going to turn-tail on strategy and endorse it.

* ref: worth sharing to anybody…?

(please delete previous, thanks)
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From:extempore
Date:December 14th, 2008 07:54 pm (UTC)
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Way to stand up and be counted, internet stranger! Now everyone knows you're just as big a propaganda fish as am I.
From:inet_stranger
Date:December 16th, 2008 03:40 pm (UTC)
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I think I've stood in the corner long enough now, and besides, I'm developing an allergy to the acrylic in the hat - gee I hope you're not such a disciplinarian during project 'home-ed'.
From:negropls
Date:December 26th, 2008 11:29 am (UTC)
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Your analytical reasoning skills are so phenomenal, and the tolerance you have for dishonest and manipulative arguments so low, that I'm surprised you read this article and didn't immediately dismiss it. Not to be Reductio ad Hitlerum, but I have zero time for people who want to label, fight, and destroy those "on the other side." No matter how smart they are, between the spin and manipulation I get more value per time spent from my mentally disabled uncle who has never once expressed anything but pure honesty about his experiences as a human being. It's almost 2009: there's no flying cars, but can we stop trying to rape and pillage the other cavemen ffs?
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From:extempore
Date:December 26th, 2008 02:03 pm (UTC)
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Pile on!
From:inet_stranger
Date:December 28th, 2008 01:31 am (UTC)
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but I have zero time for people who want to label, fight, and destroy those "on the other side."

man, when did you start reading this journal?