Monday, November 15, 2010

Doing Good and Feeling Good

Last week we did a couple of posts on helping the poor. I subsequently came across this article in The Globe and Mail by Margaret Wente titled Is Humanitarian Aid Bad For Africa? Here are a couple of key passages:
A growing number of humanitarian and development experts – including former true believers – argue that aid money frequently prolongs wars, props up dictators, impedes democracy, aids oppression and stifles human rights. Nowhere, they say, is this chain of unintended consequences more apparent than in Ethiopia.

The starving children of Ethiopia were not the victims of drought, as most people believed at the time. They were the victims of politics. The government of the time was using famine as an instrument of war, and the rebels were more interested in defeating the government than in feeding famine victims. As William Easterly, a leading aid skeptic, puts it, “It’s not the rains, it’s the rulers.” Political famines attract the food aid industry, with the consequence that governments or rebel groups are able to feed their own armies and divert resources to buy more weapons.

Most of us believe that humanitarian aid is a morally pure way to respond to suffering in the world. But what if our good intentions are just a newer version of colonialism? That’s what Mr. Gill thinks. “The colonial mindset of ‘we-know-best’ has surely persisted,” he writes. The trouble is that we haven’t learned the difference between doing good and feeling good. Until we do, many of our aid efforts will be worse than useless.
Let's do all we can to help the hungry and the sick, but let's make sure that the aid we send is getting to the people who need it and not being used to erect opulent palaces for the tyrants who run the country and crush their people.

Et Tu, Brute?

Morning Joe's Joe Scarborough, on the very liberal MSNBC mind you, reveals that the most powerful Democrats in the Senate are disenchanted with the President and criticizing him behind his back to media people like himself. This can't be good for the White House. If the President has his allies stabbing him in the back (It recalls to mind Shakespeare's Julius Caesar) how can there be anything but turmoil between the administration and the Congress for the next two years:
If it's true that the President has lost the confidence and loyalty of the Democrat committee chairs he may well be a lame duck with two years left in his first term. Indeed, there'll probably be a movement afoot to challenge him in the primary or to persuade him not to run*. Has a sitting president ever lost a primary challenge? Mr. Obama may be a historic president in ways he never imagined.

Thanks to Hot Air for the video.

* After I wrote this I came across this editorial. Prescience.