Foreign Aid—“Please Just Stop!”
It really irritates me when
people like Bono and Bob Geldof
pose as benefactors to the poor people
Back in 1985, when Geldof organized the
first Live Aid
concert, he had at least a plausible claim to the “benefactor” label. He raised $100 million by persuading
millions—of individuals to dig into their own pockets.
I’m skeptical about whether the money helped
many impoverished Africans, but since the donations were voluntary, the
was at least innocuous vis-à-vis the donors.
The Live 8 campaign of 2005 was an entirely
different matter. No longer content to be
a charity fundraiser,
Geldof now labels his ongoing crusade a matter of “justice, not
charity.” His Live 8 website proclaims to
supporters: “It is your voice we are after, not your money.” But how can that be true?
Once Geldof’s fans have harangued their
governments into donating 0.7 percent of their national incomes in
every year, whose money do they think is going to be sent?
At least some of it will come out of the
taxes paid by those very fans whose money he claims not to be after. Are Geldof and fans all unable to grasp this? Are the fans all participants in the
underground economy? Or is Geldof simply
lying to them about not wanting their money?
1985, Geldof doesn’t just want money from people he has managed to
persuade. He also wants money from
people he has failed to
persuade. He wants it taken by force,
giving its owners any choice in the matter, using their governments as
instruments of coercion. And his “long
march to justice” rhetoric attempts to embarrass them into silence,
appear to their neighbours as opposing justice.
Regardless of what Geldof or Bono or Paul
Martin may think,
Canadian taxpayers are not responsible for the plight of people in
The really ironic part is that while
aid is unjust towards the citizens of the donor countries, it’s
more harmful for the citizens of the recipient countries.
Kenyan economist James Shikwati of the Inter Region Economic Network (www.irenkenya.org), interviewed
German magazine Der Spiegel just
before July’s G8 conference, sent this urgent plea to the west
foreign aid: “For God’s sake, please just
Shikwati believes that development aid has
been one of
Meanwhile, Shikwati says that if the west
aid, “…normal Africans wouldn’t even notice.
Only the functionaries would be hit hard, which is why
that the world would stop turning without this development aid.”
When food gets sent from Europe or
The same thing happens when container loads
of donated used
clothing arrive. Local tailors and
seamstresses can no longer find customers.
As low as wages are in
For at least 40 years, the west has poured
The crying shame is that it doesn’t need to
be this way. The economic principles that
creation are well established and simple to understand.
People can claw their way out of the most desperate
poverty if they are given the freedom to work and to keep what they
earn. History has demonstrated this over
Natural resources and wide open spaces are
The one thing the west could usefully export