Shame on this Administration!

Discussion in 'Politics, Religion, Social Issues' started by skunk, Apr 17, 2005.

  1. skunk macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #1
    http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle....YCRBAEOCFFA?type=businessNews&storyID=8202137

    Could it be that the US sees third world indebtedness as a geo-political tool? After all, they can't very well agree to let all the good work of those "Economic Hitmen" go to waste, can they? What a disgrace! If they were really interested in "defeating terrorism", they would agree to this cancellation of the debt they have conspired to cripple these countries' economies with.
     
  2. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #2
    To me this is a thorny subject.

    I heard an interesting piece on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago about the endemic corruption in Swaziland and how people were starving while leaders were buying new BMWs for themselves and their mistresses...

    Here's another article.
    http://www.ipsterraviva.net/Africa/viewstory.asp?idnews=92

    If debt relief actually was going to help people rather than help line the pockets of those in charge, then who could argue against it? Certainly not me. I remain sceptical but am also open to hearing the arguments...
     
  3. Lacero macrumors 604

    Lacero

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    #3
    We need to bomb Africa. Get rid of all those wealthy overlords!
     
  4. skunk thread starter macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #4
    Unlike in our "civilized" west, you mean?
     
  5. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #5
    No. Nor did I say anything about civilization... As I said, show me how debt relief is actually going to help the people that need it.

    Look at sanctions against Iraq previous to the war, didn't hurt the people at the top, hurt plenty at the bottom.

    I'm afraid I'm with Paul Theroux on this one.
     
  6. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #6
    Damn it, we're killing their private sector! The horror!
     
  7. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #7
    Just what is exactly wrong with the private sector?
    Would you rather see a revival of the glories of the command economy?
    I work for a large charity and know full well how funding gets diverted from those who need it.

    I'd rather take the word of someone who lived and worked in Africa for the Peace Corps 40 years ago, speaks many African languages and knows the continent well than a few quips and an impassioned plea from Bono.

    Of course, Zimbabwe is yet another shining example of where things are going...

    Paul Theroux:
    "Now a complex infrastructure was devoted to what had become ineradicable miseries: famine, displacement, poverty, illiteracy, AIDS, the ravages of war. Name an African problem and an agency or a charity existed to deal with it. But that did not mean a solution was produced. Charities and aid programs seemed to turn African problems into permanent conditions that were bigger and messier."

    "The whites, diplomats and agents of virtue I met at dinner parties had pretty much the same things on their minds as their counterparts had in the 1960s. They discussed relief projects and scholarships and agricultural schemes, refugee camps, emergency food programs, technical assistance. They were newcomers. They did not realize that for forty years people had been saying the same things, and the result after four decades was a lower standard of living, a higher rate of illiteracy, overpopulation, and much more disease."

    "Where are the Africans in this?"

    "In my view, aid is a failure if in forty years of charity the only people still dishing up the food and doling out the money are foreigners. No Africans are involved - there is not even a concept of African volunteerism or labor-intensive project. If all you have done is spend money and have not inspired anyone, you can teach the sharpest lesson by turning your back and going home."

    "All aid is political," Theroux is candidly told. The donors are not developing institutions or anything else. "They maintain the status quo. The politicians love that, because they hate change. The tyrants love aid. Aid helps them stay in power and contributes to underdevelopment." It doesn't develop social or cultural institutions, or facilitate economic development. "Aid is one of the main reasons for underdevelopment in Africa."
     
  8. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #8
    When they get one we'll find out, eh?

    I know what's wrong with ours.
     
  9. skunk thread starter macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #9
    Clearly this is a huge problem, and the Theroux review is harrowingly pessimistic. But surely giving with one hand and taking with the other is merely an exercise in cynicism. Fair access to world markets would certainly help in those cases where people can still get it together.

    That is a different question.

    I defer to your greater understanding of the realities through your job, but what do you think would help? Does your organisation work in Africa?
     
  10. Blue Velvet Moderator emeritus

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    #10
    Harrowingly pessimistic, perhaps. But a refreshing and knowledgeable perspective that makes points that are difficult to deny.

    Don't defer because: no, our organisation does not directly work in Africa. We act in an organisational and informational capacity to the charity sector as a whole...although I have visited some destinations in Africa. However, it is a running joke and concern in the sector how funds get allocated and then distributed.

    I don't know what would help. This is at least something, that I admit that I don't have the answers instead of the reflexive rhetorical sloganeering and pointed quips that don't address the realities on the ground. I suspect it comes down to the nature and quality of government -- despite many qualms about China, it at least managed to pull itself out of the times of mass famine that resulted from the disaster of The Great Leap Forward, without needing massive international aid. They also didn't have a meddling and counter-productive Church to worry about.

    I would like to hear more of the practical and less-politicised arguments but I also don't believe in the vanity politics of wearing plastic armbands that say 'Make Poverty History' either...
     
  11. pseudobrit macrumors 68040

    pseudobrit

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    #11
    But you touch on something good:

    Perhaps the problem with the aid is not the aid itself, but the nature and quality of it. Simply throwing money at a problem seldom makes it go away, and even if it does, it's almost never the most effective way to achieve your goal.
     
  12. skunk thread starter macrumors G4

    skunk

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    #12
    But we're actually talking about debt relief here, or I thought we were, at any rate. The combined effects of servicing the huge debts run up by the poorest countries and the restrictive trade practices of the richest countries have left even the few "improvers" with pretty sorry prospects. And most, if not all, the most repressive regimes are supported by foreign interests, either commercial or political. It's not as if the corruption stops at the coast of Africa.
     

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