Sunday, December 12, 2004

Is aid the answer?

Radio Amsterdam asks:

"Is increased aid the answer to world poverty?
"As Christmas approaches charities in rich countries launch seasonal appeals to tweak the consciences of those indulging in festive excess.
"Global calls to tackle poverty are renewed and governments and individuals are spurred on to do more. Aid is essential to help those less fortunate we are told.
"But the critics say aid is not the answer - billions have flooded into the poorest regions of the world, Africa in particular, and have had little effect, they say.
"People are as poor now, or even poorer, than they were 20 years ago.
"What do you think?"

I write this in their little answer box:

The fortunes of the rich and the poor under free market capitalism tend to be divergent, because of the nature of the system. To correct this we need to guide the market, both to protect the environment on which the economy depends, and to bring about a convergence between the fortunes of the rich and poor. So, although aid should continue as an act of humanity, we have to look to the emerging green economics to bring about the equity that will make aid unnecessary.

Then I press the Submit button. A screen says "There is something wrong with your email address." Back. Nothing wrong with my email address. Delete it and re-enter it incase there is something wrong with their form. Submit. "There is something wrong with your email address." There is nothing wrong with my email address. It is a rare antique Greennet email address that survived the Great Greennet Hack of the 1990s.
So I go back and find another route to get the message through.

The point is that ecological economics rejects both the free market and the planned economy. We like entrepreneurialism, because nature works in this way, with life forms evolving to fill ecological niches; but development of any life form must harmonise with the ecological system that it is part of. Free market capitalism, which worships monetary profit uber alles is more like a cancerous growth than a life form, because it lacks an inhibitory mechanism.

On the other hand, we reject the planned economy, because of its manifest failures both economic and environmental. It is perfectly possible to achieve a vibrant, organic steady state economy that is in equilibrium with planetary life processes. Not just possible, but necessary. Necessary but difficult. Difficult but not impossible. Not impossible but...

Anyway, the best Christmas present the "Christian" nations could give would be to retire the Third World Debt.

I think I will stop now and go take a look at the weather.

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