13 July 2005

What to do with Africa

I have always been a huge fan of Thomas Sowell. Mr. Sowell has the ability to translate complex concepts such as global economics into a common language easily understood by the great unwashed masses -- I suppose this is what is to be expected of a Senior fellow at the Hoover Institute. In a recent column, Mr. Sowell discusses what he calls the Tragedy of Africa. This piece is especially important given the recent worldwide orgasim caused by Bob Geldof's Live8.
The official declarations coming out of the G8 meetings in Scotland, as well as the raucous demonstrations surrounding those meetings, talk about saving Africa. But, looking back over the decades and generations, Africa has been "saved" so many times that you have to wonder why it still needs saving.

Desperate and tragic conditions afflict millions in Africa today and any humane person would like to help. But the repeated failures of previous help ought to make us at least question the particular manner in which Africa can be helped.

"Forgiveness" of foreign debts is always high on the agenda of those on the political left.

At any given moment, this would of course free up money that African governments could spend to help relieve their people's distress -- assuming that this is what they would spend it for. But why would anyone think that promoting irresponsible government borrowing by periodically "forgiving" their debts is going to help African countries in the long run?

As for the people of Africa, they have to survive in the short run in order to get to the long run. So emergency aid for emergency conditions makes far more sense than long-run "foreign aid" programs with an almost unbroken track record of failure, not only in Africa but around the world.
The rest of the column can be found here. In addition, Mr. Sowell has published Part II of the story.

As noted by Mr. Sowell, the key point is long-term v. short-term gains. This is somewhat counter-intuitive to the typical economic speech given by our 401(k) administrators or fathers-in-law.

Other than Madonna flipping the west the bird, this doesn't even make the evening news. Sad.

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