Africa needs reform not more aid

Mark Steyn as usual makes some valid points…

[quote]It’s hardly news that Western pop stars are so deeply concerned about Africa that they’re willing to climb into wacky gear and caterwaul geriatric rock hits in a stadium for a couple of hours every decade. But would they be prepared to outsource the book-keeping for their music publishing to a guy in Ouagadougou or Niamey? That’s tougher than another spasm of feelgood agitprop aimed at that brave band of guilt-ridden Western liberals who got such a frisson out of wasting their money on the tsunami appeal they’re itching to waste a ton more. (One quarter of all the tsunami aid sent to Sri Lanka has been sitting on the dock at Colombo since January, unclaimed and/or unprocessed. Maybe St Bob could do Sitting on the Dock of the Bay for his next charity single.) As long as Western progressives are divided into those who wish to keep Africa in a backward subsistence agriculture economy and those who wish to keep Africa in a backward subsistence agriculture economy.

According to the World Bank’s Doing Business report, in Canada it takes two days to incorporate a company; in Mozambique, it takes 153 days. And Mozambique’s company law has been unchanged since 1888. In the midst of the unending demands that Bush do this, Blair do that, do more, do it now, would it be unreasonable to suggest that, after 117 years, the government of Mozambique might also be obligated to do something about its regulatory regime? Meanwhile, next door in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe’s government is being given hundreds of thousands of tons of emergency supplies from the UN’s World Food Programme. At the press conference, James Morris, head of the WFP, was at pains to emphasise that the famine was all due to drought and Aids, and certainly nothing to do with Mr Mugabe’s stewardship of the economy. Some of us remember that during the 2002 G8 summit, also devoted to Africa, Zimbabwe’s government ordered commercial farmers to cease all operations. But still neither the UN nor his fellow African leaders will hear a word against Mr Mugabe. The issue in Africa in every one of its crises - from economic liberty to Aids - is government. Until the do-gooders get serious about that, their efforts will remain a silly distraction. [/quote] … ortal.html

I think Africa needs both. I think the ultimate that could come out of this G8 knees up would be some truly ambitious aid programmes and fair trade policies to enable Africa to develope, tied to a commitment to give only emergency aid to countries who fail to reform. There should also be a pledge never to support tin pot dictators who steal from their own people, no matter what excuse. Finally there should be a pledge not to give any help to South Africa or Nigeria until these two powerhouses start to show some fucking responsibility.

Zimbabwe is one of many examples of a successful prosperous state ruined by the delusional whims of whatever Big Man is refusing to leave. Whack Mugabe though and nothing is left.

Some great comments, butcher boy.

And as much as I sympathize with it, it is nevertheless quite depressing to consider how many countries would be ruled out of receiving aid by your “never support tin pot dictators who steal from their own people” though. I think you’d knock out a good portion of the countries receiving aid. And there’s the rub. :idunno:

Anyone up for a little colonization chat? In and out in 150 years, or when a true deomcratic market system is in place and functional.

There is NO WAY these African countries can combat AIDS, corruption, civil wars, poverty and ignorance by themselves.

I say carve it up and try again…this time with the world watching.

That’s an intersesting thought. I mean really what is “nation-building” if not colonization in a new form?

Will not make the multi culti crowd too happy though because they would be hard pressed to think of new excuses as to how oppression by Western interests is to blame.

So, where to begin? What to do? I am not confident. I predict that South Africa will go the way of Zimbabwe in 10 to 15 years.

My money is on Ethiopia and Eritrea. I believe that they could reach the level of very high low-development status or very low mid-level development status. That’s about it.

[quote=“fred smith”]
So, where to begin? What to do? I am not confident. I predict that South Africa will go the way of Zimbabwe in 10 to 15 years. [/quote]

I suggested that Mbeki might be up to something like this a few years ago to one of my professors. He hadn’t thought of it before which suprised me. I think far too many people give the ANC credit that they no longer deserve. My suspicions are very similar to yours. South Africa has no serious political oposition and so I fear a drift towards Zimbabwen style ‘government’.

[quote=“fred smith”]
My money is on Ethiopia and Eritrea. I believe that they could reach the level of very high low-development status or very low mid-level development status. That’s about it.[/quote]

I’ would love to see it. I spent time in Ethiopia not to long ago and it is a truly beautiful country. But they have many problems, and the latest elections have been followed by violence and allegations of corruption. They need stability and well thought out aid measures. My preference as always is for small locally based projects. Whilst there I saw a big new hospital which was of absolutely no use because it was built next to a lake in a malarial area. Big projects attract the sharks and the sharks do things like that. Big projects also often need big maintenaince budgets which are raely provided. They look good in the glossy brochures to show what has been done, but for me are ususally a waste of time. :s

I have split the questions regarding travel to Ethopia to here: … 291#365291


A blogger, former resident of Africa, Kim du Toit has a rather interesting take on aid to Africa. It may be a bit harsh for some, even most. But its a nice counter to the latest ‘feel good - kumbaya’ throw money at it failures. (And he explains in plain words why this has always failed and will always fail in Africa)

Let Africa Sink

OUCH Tainan Cowboy. That is a very harsh assessment indeed and one that is too often born out in the real world. Regardless, however, I do not think that we can refuse to help. I am also not worried about bringing Africa to our shores. In fact, I note that Ethiopians and Eritreans have been very successful in the Washington DC area. I do agree with the author, however, that many of the problems plaguing some of the Black communities abroad have nothing to do with institutionalized racism but more to do with the cultural practices of the various groups themselves. BUT doing nothing is not an option. The world is too much interconnected to just step back and ignore a whole continent and its people. Also, I am convinced that along with all the wretched filth, there could be people who have the potential to make great contributions to civilization as well. We would be very foolish to ignore the potential talent just because the continent is so F***ed up. Again, I do not blame colonialism or imperialism or the West or anything for Africa’s problems. They are homegrown and if nothing else I believe that colonialism was a net benefit to Africa. Since independence most nations have become poorer and it is because of their own institutionalized corruption, cronyism, and ineffective policies along with just plain sloth and incompetence. V.S. Naipaul writes particularly well if devastatingly in a very depressing manner about the rot that creeps into every African “project.”

Mr. Smith, V -
I had seriously considered putting a Warning - Harsh Words label on the link. Even had one on it and decided to remove it just prior to posting.
I worked in several areas in Africa during the '80’s and was introduced to realities there first hand. A varied and rich physical environment. Minerals, natural resources and possibilities to be a world leader in many forms.
I saw the results of post-colonialism - New hospitals pilaged of equiptment. Water and sanitation plants standing with doors wide open and everything that couldn’t be stolen destroyed. Road construction equiptment sold off and shipped out as roads end at the capital city limits. Ruling families sending their children off to Switzerland, Moscow, England, Paris and the USA for college where they become drunks and felons as schools back at home scrounged for chalk for dedicated teachers who earn in a year less than the kids spent in a month overseas.
I agree with much of what you say Mr. Smith, but I also do not know what the solution will be for the tribal mentality that dominates the continent.
Heck, the only place that really impressed me was Rhodesia -post 1980. An we know what happened there.
“Go to Rhodesian and see the ruins of once great Zimbabwe.” Read a famous tourist sign.
Now more apt is “Go to Zimbabwe and see the ruins of once great Rhodesia.”

Lets add this link for a look at Mugagbe - Speech by Mugabe ‘proves he is losing his mind’

Tainan Cowboy:

Don’t get me wrong. I have spent a lot of time in Africa too and I agree 95% with the harsh assessment and the realistic view of what Africa is really like. I just think that regardless we have an obligation to help. These problems may be with us for the next 1,000 years as well, but I still think we have to do what we can. Throwing money at problems, however, is not what I had in mind. I agree that we should not give any more aid money to corrupt organizations that just piss it away anyway. We need to stop pretending the governments in these countries are responsible moral equivalents to their Western counterparts. They are not and they should be treated with the respect they deserve (read that carefully. I mean it in the nasty way).

I once heard that there were more Ethiopian doctors in the Washington DC area than in Ethiopia. Not sure if the comment was 100% accurate but it illustrates one of the key problems which is the brain drain. There are many talented Africans, but the shit they have to put up with at home leads many to move on.

[quote=“kim du Toit”][b]So here

Unfortunately rooftop, regardless of his other views, he does have a point about Africa. If you do not agree with his views on other subjects that is fine. I do not either, but I think his views on Africa are extreme, caustic and sarcastic BUT the scenarios that he outlines regarding corruption, pilfering and the rest are all spot on and this can be born out by anyone who has spent anytime in Africa or working with relief agencies dealing with Africa. So that is the reality. What are we going to do about it? Continue the same failed policies or get smarter? I opt for the latter. I am also saying we must continue to help but we must do it more wisely. Let’s see if the same conservative approach that has reinvigorated the US and British economies can do so in Europe and maybe even in Africa. Look at the successes in India, China and East Asia as well as Eastern Europe. Look at the successful reform of welfare in the US. We need to do more to reform education using conservative principles. The lefties have had 40 years to do their damage in AFrica. Why not let us try something a bit more sensible and market based even though it will not provide the same opportunities for sanctimonious lefties to feel good about themselves. Rather let’s do something real to help Africa and Africans. Free trade would be a good start. Lowering tariffs. Ending EU agricultural subsidies and closed agromarkets would all do far more. So let’s get on with it.

At the risk of :flog: (always wanted a reason to use that icon) I will post one more article relevant to this thread.
With heavy condescencion a white prof argues it’s lack of U.S. handouts and a Black African says corrupt gov’t is problem.

College prof - Jeffrey Sachs, director of the Earth Institute and professor of development and health policy at Columbia University; he’s also a special adviser to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

And this is the African - George Ayittey, economics professor at American University and president of the Free Africa Foundation.
His most recent book is “Africa Unchained: The Blueprint for Development.”

[quote] In an effort to bolster struggling nations, G8 finance ministers have agreed to cancel the $40 billion debt that 18 countries owe to the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank. Two development experts discuss the proposal and what the cancellation could mean for Africa’s future.Intro to article … _6-13.html[/quote]

Interesting exchange. I tend to agree with Attiyey. First of all, as with any of these similar programs from welfare to public-school education, more money is not the answer, how it is spent is the answer and I sense that people like Sachs are not willing to look at that seriously enough. We do not need more bureaucracies and when George A. pointed out that some of these countries have 70 ministers and Sachs still wants to talk about more and more money? Incredible.

Sachs also keeps harping on malaria and how this prevents Africa from developing and I AGREE but why not bring back DDT for limited use such as spraying interior walls once a year or treating bed netting with it? Why not? Can liberals never admit that they are wrong? Can we not go forward with using this cheap, highly effective malarial preventive substance just because its banning was hyped and politicized in the past?

For those who “feel” that more aid for Africa is a good thing. Read on about the real experiences with the tsunami aid. What really helped? The US, Japanese and Australian military forces that were sent to the region. What didn’t help? Your well-intentioned check to whatever worthless aid agency you wrote it to. Read the whole thing for the whole incredible story, but hey, it’s your money, waste it as you will. Those who really care about helping others though will be pleased to note that Steyn recommends you write your check to the Pentagon. haha

[quote]But that would be in a world where we’re defined by ‘what we do’. Instead, on tsunami aid, what matters is what we feel inside, and when it comes to showing what we feel inside on the outside we can only do it through the proper channels — by sending a donation to the Indonesian Customs Inspectors’ Retirement Fund, or by demanding our government double/triple/quadruple/whatever its contribution to the ‘relief effort’, which means a man in a UN office in New York, who’ll hold a press conference announcing they’re sending someone to the region to conduct an ‘assessment’ of the ‘situation’, just as soon as the USAF emergency team have flown in and restored room service to the five-star hotel. The tsunami farrago would be a scandal but, like Western aid piling up on the docks in Indonesia, right now we’ve got more UN scandals than we need — Oil-for-Food, Darfur, child prostitution rings at UN peacekeeping missions.
The passionate hostility of Miss Short and co to action — to getting things done — is remarkable, but understandable. Getting things done requires ships and transport planes and the like, and most Western countries lack the will to maintain armed forces capable of long-range projection. So, when disaster strikes, they can mail a cheque and hold a press conference and form a post-modern ‘Task Force’ which doesn’t have any forces and doesn’t perform any tasks. In extreme circumstances, they can stage an all-star pop concert. And, because this is all most of the Western world is now capable of, ‘taking action’ means little more than taking the approved forms of inaction. [/quote]

[color=darkred][i]The conservative worldview, the strict father model, assumes that the world is dangerous and difficult and that children are born bad and must be made good. The strict father is the moral authority who supports and defends the family, tells his wife what to do, and teaches his kids right from wrong. The only way to do that is through painful discipline

Nice post Shenme Niao. I think that Lakoff’s perspectives are interesting reading for most people who enjoy discussing politics, even if one does not agree with him.


When it comes to how best to help countries in Africa, I see corrupt dictators as a little like tapeworms: you can keep giving more and more someone food to someone who has a tapeworm, but as long as the tapeworm/corrupt dictator devours a large portion of the food, you are never going to solve the hunger problem. In this sense, I suspect that both a “strict father” and a “nurturing mother” can probably agree that getting rid of the root problem is critical. I guess that’s one of the reasons why I’m optimistic that the various sides can (hopefully) make some progress on these sorts of issues over the next decade or so.

Lakoff’s Own Framing

One of the things I find most interesting about Lakoff, is how his own terminology/analogies illustrate his fundamental point about the importance of framing. (I’m not saying this is a bad thing, btw – I agree that we all frame discussions in our own ways.)

I actually think that there is a lot to the “strict father”/“nuturing mother” model. The main problem I have with it, is that the characteristics most of us associate with parents, are not the characteristics of governments (at least not real world governments).

Parents are wiser than their children. Parents have their children’s best interests at heart. It’s their job to try and make sure their children “grow up” and develop. Governments, by contrast, are often not wiser than their citizens. They often do not have their citizens’ best interests at heart. And it should not be their job to tell their citizens how to live.

Governments are not parents. And citizens are not children.

A government is more similar to the building manager of a large apartment block. The tenants are adults. And the manager’s job is to provide basic security for the residents, to fix the plumbing, pave over potholes in the driveway, etc. If two residents are having a dispute over a shared balcony, the building manager can step in and mediate the dispute. He sets and enforces basic rules. But that’s it. Other than providing a few basic services and enforcing some basic rules, it is up to the residents of the apartment block to make themselves happy.

And there’s how Lakoff’s framing of the discussion reveals its own biases. By suggesting that a government is more like a parent, and less like a building manager, it is easy to see how the “nurturing” philosophy would sound reasonable – even desireable. But given that governments lack the basic characteristics that would make the parent analogy work (greater wisdom than the citizens + genuine compassion/benevolent intent toward citizens), I will continue to view them as something closer to a building manager. And I will continue to think very little of building managers who attempt to expand their own roles, even if they assure their tenants that [color=darkred]"This is really for the best. You poor uneducated tenants just don’t know what’s best for you. I’ll just collect a little more money each month, and I’ll use if for the good of the community. I promise. [/color]:twisted: "