Skip to comments.You Canít Save the World
Posted on 02/01/2014 4:41:40 PM PST by servo1969
For only ten dollars a day or a month you can feed all the starving children in Africa. For only the price of a cup of coffee a year, you can make sure that no one in Kansas City ever goes hungry again. For just a third of your paycheck, you can subsidize a vast bureaucracy that will conduct studies on the best way to save the world and then come up with proposals that will only cost you half your paycheck.
This misplaced philanthropic confidence is the idiot stepchild of a free enterprise society where anything can be accomplished for the right price. Do you want to build a house on the edge of a cliff? Do you want to play on every golf course in the world? Do you want to clone a dinosaur so you can hunt it?
It hasnt been done yet, but its probably doable.
So why cant we end world hunger for only the price of a cup of coffee every six seconds or forty percent of the national debt or some other appealing figure that looks good on an infographic?
Hunger isnt a resource shortage problem. The Soviet dissident writer Vladimir Voinovich told an American cab driver about meat rationing in the USSR. The cab driver demanded to know why people didnt just set up more chicken farms. Voinovich tried to explain to the incredulous driver that under Socialism, setting up more chicken farms doesnt produce more chickens.
The USSR had plenty of land, labor and experts. It went from exporting wheat to importing wheat despite throwing everything it had into agriculture because there was a disconnect at every level in the process of planning and production. Like a sack race with three hundred legs in one sack, the harder the USSR tried to increase yields and production, the worse they became.
Sending the USSR food, as the United States repeatedly did from its early years when Hoover fought famine with an army of aid workers to its waning days when the Evil Empire went deep into debt buying American wheat, didnt solve anything. Soviet attempts at copying American successes in agriculture actually backfired leading to worse disasters. The only solution to the USSRs agriculture problems came with the collapse of Soviet feudalism whose central planning had created the meat shortages and bread shortages.
Most hungry countries arent Communist, but they are dysfunctional. They arent going to be fixed for the price of a cup of coffee a day, an hour or a second. Hundreds of billions of dollars have been poured into Africa and its the opinion of African economic experts that the money did more harm than good by crippling developing economies with a weak global social safety net.
Every free item sent to another country is one item that isnt going to be sold or manufactured there. An aid economy works a lot like a regular economy except that it cant sustain domestic production or domestic experts. Its doctors move to the West and are replaced by Western professionals who enjoy the philanthropic credentials of helping out in an exotic country.
An aid economy is planned, instead of responsive, and depresses local production without fully satisfying local demand leaving the population in a state of semi-deprivation. The aid never reaches the people who need it because of the corruption that caused the deprivation that made the aid necessary. This cycle of corruption feeds an aid economy by knocking out the middle class who might otherwise step into the roles of merchants and professionals and rewards anyone with enough guns to hijack the aid and shake down the charities that distribute it.
Trying to save Africa for the cost of a cup of coffee a day has made it a much worse place. And thats as true of the United States as it is of Africa.
Domestic warlords dont have child soldiers who drive around with machine guns on pickup trucks. Instead they wear suits, coordinate with community organizers and clamor for more money for broken inner city neighborhoods so they can siphon it off. There are parts of the United States that are just as broken as any Third World country because they run on the same aid economy that rewards political warlords and discourages independence and initiative.
Activists and politicians announce that for only twenty billion or two hundred billion we can end world hunger, educate every child or give every family their own cow. These proposals apply the free enterprise logic of solving a problem by buying a solution. But helping people isnt mass production. Throwing more money and people at the problem makes it that much harder to solve.
Buying a homeless man a sandwich for two dollars feeds that man. Appropriating twenty billion dollars to feed a sandwich to every homeless man in America will only provide sandwiches to a small percentage of the homeless at a cost of four thousand dollars a sandwich.
Once you try to buy sandwiches for millions of homeless men, the sandwich money is eaten up by the expenses of studying how to identify the homeless, learning what kind of sandwiches they would like, studies on marketing sandwiches to homeless people over social media, the costs of diversity training for the sandwich makers and a million other things.
You can buy a homeless man a sandwich, but you cant buy them all sandwiches because once you do that, you are no longer engaging in a personal interaction, but building an organization. You dont need a homeless man to exist so that you can buy him a sandwich, but once an agency exists that is tasked with buying homeless men sandwiches; it needs the homeless men to exist as clients so that it can buy them sandwiches and buy itself steak dinners.
The biggest piece of the aid economy is in the hands of the aid organizations that profit from an unsolvable problem that they have no interest in solving. Africas misery is their wealth. The worse Africa becomes the more incentive the guilty of the West will have to pour money into their latest plan to buy everyone in Africa a goat, a laptop or a sandwich.
The aid recipients, distributors and providers have achieved a dysfunctional equilibrium. In aid economies, the scale of the problem grows slightly faster than the amount of aid and activists hold out the tempting promise that by increasing spending to stay ahead of the problem, it can be solved completely.
But the West cant fix Africa no matter how much of the price of a cup of coffee it donates.
No one can save Africa except Africans. No one can fix Detroit except the people who live there. Social problems arent solved by nationalizing them or internationalizing them. They arent solved by guilt-tripping those who have already solved those problems and live thousands of miles away, but by engaging the people who live right there and are part of the problem.
If a man is drowning, you toss him a rope. But if a man jumps into the water, tossing him a rope doesnt accomplish anything. A physical problem can be solved by applying the right resources, but a problem rooted in attitudes and behavior can only be solved when the people change.
Trying to solve a problem rooted in behavior with monetary rewards only perpetuates that behavior. Instead of saving the world, throwing money at it destroys it instead.
Brutal, honest, and true. If I post this on Facebook for my Liberal friends to see, they’d probably have an aneurysm trying to respond that we haven’t thrown enough money at it yet, or some such nonsense. A few might try to respond intelligently, but all I’d have to do is say that Africa is still a bad place to be right now.
I had read an extraordinary study, conducted at least 10 years ago, on the “sweat shops” in east Asian countries.
Making less than a dollar a day, which was a dollar more than before, these folks learned a skill. They figured out better ways to manufacture their products that led to advancements both individually and for the whole.
Cubans know how to keep their 57’ Chevy’s running out of necessity.
Human ingenuity trumps central planning every time.
Exactly true. Is the NAACP going to disband now that a self proclaimed black man has achieved the highest elected office in the nation? Is Moveon.org ever going to move on? Nope.
And yet, the way things are going, you may see African [Christian] missionaries to the US within twenty years.
How can you beat it? Catholic volunteers donating time, effort, money and goods FOR THE LOVE OF GOD. That kind of love and loyalty CANNOT be bought.
Here's a news clip with lots of curse words but I think it's worth a look...people are getting sick of things.
When you hand out “free” food in a stricken area, you put the local food producers out of business.
The best solution, of course, is buy the food from the local producers before shipping in more (if necessary). Or to provide the locals with the means of obtaining their own food.
But that doesn’t actually get them the power they’re looking for...
Throwing MONEY into cesspools like Africa does more harm than good, because the corruptocrats simply steal it and buy weapons which they turn around and suppress their citizens further.
Look at the USA for Africa campaigns in the 80s.
Plenty of good intentions, but the reason for the starvation of say the Somalis was because the thug warlords forced them into the desert as a political move.
I bet that most of the $ went to the SOBs who CAUSED the problem in the first place. Making the starving people even worse off, because we were giving the tormenters more assets to hurt more people.
I can get behind doing tangible things like vaccines and digging wells so that villagers can have clean water.
And NGOs like World Vision do great work in that they give "loans" to people in 3rd world nations so that they can set up businesses themselves. But the expectation is that it isn't "free" money. It has to be paid back.
So it encourages entrepreneurism and the notion of self-reliance.
I used to think people needed to fix the problems of their own countries. But now look at us. We have been hobbled by government policies and have not been able to overturn them. We were successful because America rewarded ingenuity, hard work, and everyone working at self-reliance. We will fail and become another third world country because that is now being punished.
Ellen Ripley could fix it.
Recently UNICEF has been running very long commercials asking for donations to help starving children. Quite apart from the arguments made in this article, an agency connected to the UN is about the last one I would trust.
“I say we nuke it from orbit, it’s the only way to be sure”
yup.. you nailed it.
if you want to provide ‘aid’ in a long term sense, supporting the local ability to provide that aid is key.
of course, this is well known... and avoided as these situations of misery are used to gain money and power by ‘providing the solution’... but *never* solving it
I'm not making a larger point here. I'm just musing on the fact that our little Diocese, one of the smallest in the USA, still has the money to attract clergy from poor countries which probably need them far more.
I agree with the whole premise of this article, and have witnessed it first hand in third world countries, but I think the author needs to get into exact detail regarding the follwoing paragragh:
“Instead they wear suits, coordinate with community organizers and clamor for more money for broken inner city neighborhoods so they can siphon it off”
To be effective, we need to be able to explain “how” they “siphon” it off. This is the biggest problem with hyperbole, such as “those politicians just passed law “x” so they could “line their pockets”.
Specifics count. Otherwise, it’s just another accusation out of 10,000 accustations, some without merit, so no punishment ever evolves.
if you really want to help someone, help someone you already know and have a relationship with, that trusts you, and that you k now has a good head on their shoulders, they just need a break from someone at the right time.
none of us are tasked to save the whole world. but we can make a difference to those who are doing well, and maybe need someone to bet on them.
Save the world? Why would I want to do that? They hate us.
You know as well as I do that if the population of the U.S. was 99% black and 1% white, the whites would still be blamed for everything that went wrong. The whining and complaining will never stop.
I have always thought that, at rescue and refugee centers, they should be making the able bodied refugees work and help others. Work might help prevents the feelings of shock and helplessness.
Same thing for food. You need to support the local producers and encourage the locals to get in crop for the next season.