Aid That Does Not Help – The Chronicle Review

Can foreign aid, poorly executed, do more harm than good?

Christopher J. Coyne’s claim that almost all humanitarian projects are ill-conceived, ill-executed, and ill-advised cannot fail to affront. After all, many thousands of Americans rush to help people hit by natural disasters and other overwhelming events.

Nor will it please U.S. government officials who justify interventions—including military ones—as essential for democracy, free markets, and human rights.

Whether in countries torn by civil strife, such as Syria, or ones shattered by an earthquake, such as Haiti, “what are the limits on what we can do?” asks Coyne, a professor of economics at George Mason University.

via Aid That Does Not Help – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


4 thoughts on “Aid That Does Not Help – The Chronicle Review”

  1. When Toms became popular, everyone I knew bought a pair. Some of them felt like it was their moral obligation to buy a pair of shoes to help a poor African child have a pair of shoes. What we didn’t realize was that this wasn’t helping the African people and economy. Toms gives handouts to the local people of rural communities which hinders to local shoe industry. This is just one small example. Relief should be given to those in need, but the United States should focus on building up local industries and providers in order to build up the infrastructure and economy.

  2. A study estimates that over the last thirty years the group formed by countries with the lowest GDPs and HDIs got 1 percent added to their growth rate from foreign aid. For many of them that 1 percent was the difference between “stagnation and severe cumulative decline”. Therefore aid does help.
    The problem is that countries in need of aid usually have debatable governments, full of bureaucracy and corruption. To exemplify: in 2004 a survey tracked money released by the Ministry of Finance in Chad intended for rural health clinics. The study was trying to find out how much money actually reached the clinics. Impressively, only 1 percent did.
    The conclusion is: although aid plays an important role, specially in countries facing extreme poverty, it often doesn’t reach the people it intends to. In order to make it work, countries providing the aid need to take some precautions such as donating the optimal amount of money and monitoring how it is being used.
    (Data retrieved from “The Bottom Billion” – Paul Collier

  3. For the most part I would say Coyne is right. However, is it how we see the word help. If help means to better people no matter how you do it or why you do it aid always helps. If help means an act of service without incentives, aid is rarely true help. Some people do selfless acts of service because they really care. Most of the time people have ulterior motives. Whether it is experience, resume points, or recognition most people gain things out of helping. In a governmental standpoint aid never truly helps the people. A state may claim they want to help, but they never are really looking at the issue at hand. They mostly look at the big picture in the long run. They might want to “help” and war torn country that just happens to be full of oil. They might want to “help” a country suffering from a natural disaster to gain global favoritism or just a positive view to that specific place. They most likely have a political agenda and aren’t really aiding that country. It is also interesting to note the effects of aid. How often do the civilians of an aided country see a difference? I would say hardly ever. Don’t get me wrong though, something is always better than nothing.

  4. I think that, more often than not, foreign aid does hinder those we are trying to help. It is like putting a bandaid on a gaping wound – it will help for a moment but no for the long run. The most successful aid operations I’ve seen are ones that don’t just dump a bunch of goods to group of people in need, but are their for the economy. Things such as micro-loans. One group that I’ve admired for a while is Rising Star Outreach. They set up businesses within the community. One man will get a goat, a woman gets some textiles, ect. and they create niches for everyone so their is a flow of goods and economy. That will help a group of people infinitely more than just giving them a bunch of clothes and food and hope they can figure out what they need now that they’ve been given basic survival needs.

    However, this way of giving aid takes time, and that is something the government never seems interested in. I think that many times foreign aid is done, with the intention of helping but helping so that the rest of the world can see it being done. Helicopters carrying crates full of goods will always look better to the public because it is a service that can be immediately seen.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s