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Assorted Links March 9, 2009

Posted by federalist in Uncategorized.
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  1. Which country’s citizens enjoy the greatest international freedom of movement?  The United States is close, but not quite at the top.
  2. Affluence and Ethics — a book review that includes a practical answer to the moral problem faced by most developed-world citizens: How can we justify any discretionary consumption when the same resources could save lives in the developing world?  (Hint: One might say, “The world is not flat.”  Resources cannot simply be shipped anywhere in the world to alleviate pain and suffering, nor is the third-world clearly held back due to lack of resources.)
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1. federalist - March 22, 2009

Dambisa Moyo, author of Dead Aid, explains further how financial aid can be destructive in the developing world:

As recently as 2002, the African Union, an organization of African nations, estimated that corruption was costing the continent $150 billion a year, as international donors were apparently turning a blind eye to the simple fact that aid money was inadvertently fueling graft. With few or no strings attached, it has been all too easy for the funds to be used for anything, save the developmental purpose for which they were intended.

In Zaire — known today as the Democratic Republic of Congo — Irwin Blumenthal (whom the IMF had appointed to a post in the country’s central bank) warned in 1978 that the system was so corrupt that there was “no (repeat, no) prospect for Zaire’s creditors to get their money back.” Still, the IMF soon gave the country the largest loan it had ever given an African nation. According to corruption watchdog agency Transparency International, Mobutu Sese Seko, Zaire’s president from 1965 to 1997, is reputed to have stolen at least $5 billion from the country.

It’s scarcely better today. A month ago, Malawi’s former President Bakili Muluzi was charged with embezzling aid money worth $12 million. Zambia’s former President Frederick Chiluba (a development darling during his 1991 to 2001 tenure) remains embroiled in a court case that has revealed millions of dollars frittered away from health, education and infrastructure toward his personal cash dispenser. Yet the aid keeps on coming.

A nascent economy needs a transparent and accountable government and an efficient civil service to help meet social needs. Its people need jobs and a belief in their country’s future. A surfeit of aid has been shown to be unable to help achieve these goals.

A constant stream of “free” money is a perfect way to keep an inefficient or simply bad government in power. As aid flows in, there is nothing more for the government to do — it doesn’t need to raise taxes, and as long as it pays the army, it doesn’t have to take account of its disgruntled citizens. No matter that its citizens are disenfranchised (as with no taxation there can be no representation). All the government really needs to do is to court and cater to its foreign donors to stay in power.

2. federalist - May 6, 2009

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