“It is easier to search for your own solutions to your own problems than to those of others. Most of the recent success stories are countries that not get a lot of foreign aid and did not spend a lot of time in IMF programs, two of the indicators of the recent indicator of the White Man’s burden…Most of the recent disasters are just the opposite – tons of foreign aid and much time spent in IMF constraints. This of course involves some reverse causality….the disasters were getting IMF assistance and foreign aid because they were disasters, while the IMF and the donors bypassed success stories because those countries didn’t need the help. This does not prove that foreign assistance causes disaster, but it does show that outlandish success is very much possible without Western tutelage, while repeated treatments don’t seem to stem the tide of disaster in the failures. Most of the recent success in the world economy is happening in Eastern and southern Asia, not as a result of some global plan to end poverty but for homegrown reasons.”
The White Man’s Burden, pages 345-346, by William Easterly (2006).
Easterly is a US-based economics professor and has been a senior economist at the World Bank, as well as a columnist and regular commentator. His book, which despite the title is anything but a piece of Western triumphalism, is an example of a man who is prepared to discard ideas, however seemingly noble, if the results don’t stack up. And it is a book that ought to be compulsory reading for Britain’s coalition government as it continues to pour billions into overseas aid, despite the questionable results and even more questionable assumptions behind it.
For far too long, the late writer and economist, Peter Bauer, was, like John the Baptist, a “voice crying in the wilderness” when it came to government aid programmes. Let’s hope more people wake up to the nonsense that a lot of so-called “aid” actually is.