One thing I hope we can all agree on:
It is a disgrace that in the 21st century
real poverty, famine, malnutrition
and lack of medical care
The dispute is over what will actually work
in changing this state of affairs.
Make Poverty History
sums up the inability of people to understand the cause of third world poverty and famine,
and conversely, the cause of western prosperity.
Yes, it is brilliant that millions of people are focused on how to end poverty in Africa.
But Make Poverty History promotes the delusion that the solution to poverty is:
The main problem is to get the West
(for example, the G8) to change.
In reality, the solution to poverty is:
Free speech and a free society.
Free trade, not fair trade.
The main problem is that
Africa needs to change.
Aid, Debt relief and Fair trade are not the answer
To elaborate, aid and debt relief, when given to
governments that care about their citizens,
might do some good,
at times of emergency at least
(long-term aid may distort markets and cause harm).
But poor countries do not have good governments, or they would not be poor.
They have rotten governments, which stamp
on political freedom
and economic freedom.
Aid and debt relief, when given to dictatorships like these,
fuels civil wars, genocide, arms purchases and palace building;
fills Swiss bank accounts;
and distorts markets, often increasing poverty.
$1 trillion in aid has been given to Africa since WW2,
and there is nothing to show for it.
Aid is obviously not the solution to poverty in Africa.
More Aid, Less Growth, report, 2005.
- Aid may cause poverty.
For every 1% increase in development aid received by a developing country,
there is a 3.65% drop in real GDP growth per capita.
of Zambia argues against aid for Africa
in her book
"Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is a Better Way For Africa" (2009).
Interview, 22 Feb 2009. She is asked: "What do you think has held back Africans?"
"I believe it's largely aid. You get the corruption - historically, leaders have stolen the money without penalty - and you get the dependency, which kills entrepreneurship. You also disenfranchise African citizens, because the government is beholden to foreign donors and not accountable to its people."
On Asian growth without aid:
"China has 1.3 billion people, only 300 million of whom live .. with Western living standards. There are a billion Chinese who are living in substandard conditions. Do you know anybody who feels sorry for China? Nobody.
Forty years ago, China was poorer than many African countries. Yes, they have money today, but where did that money come from? They built that, they worked very hard to create a situation where they are not dependent on aid.
I wish we questioned the aid model as much as we are questioning the capitalism model."
She recommends making micro-loans
such as at
where you eventually get your money back.
Though this is time-consuming
- a better solution would be for us to donate to charity,
and for them to run micro-loans on our behalf,
recycling the money constantly
(and using some for admin costs).
often means a form of
and, like all state attempts to control prices,
is likely to increase poverty, not reduce it.
Confusingly, "fair trade"
also sometimes stands for attempts to
such as eliminating the
In which case, the "fair trade" people are on the right side.
The solutions to poverty are well known.
If it is ever to become prosperous,
Africa must abandon
dictatorship, socialism, communism, Islamism, pan-Arabism,
tribalism, superstition, racism and corruption,
and must adopt western values of:
democracy, capitalism, science, free speech, freedom of religion,
free press, a free society,
property rights, the rule of law,
the ability to make binding contracts,
free enterprise, minimal bureaucracy, minimal taxation,
minimal state enterprise,
and free trade.
Any African country can simply choose
to become rich, if it wants.
All it has to do is adopt western ideas and the systems that worked in the west,
and prosperity will follow.
Currently, nobody is doing it.
Not a single country in Africa scores "Free" on both
and economic freedom.
Is there anything the West can do?
Is there anything the West can do to help end poverty?
Yes there is:
Make Africa change.
Declare a long term goal of ending all dictatorships in Africa.
Declare that the goal is to establish capitalist democracies in all of Africa.
Simply saying this would be a huge step forward.
Work towards that goal. Sanction dictators. Seize their assets.
Link aid, loans, trade and arms to democratic reform.
There are many
methods of ending dictatorship
other than by war
(though war should always be an option).
Scrap all agricultural subsidies in the EU and the US.
End trade barriers.
Of course, many trade barriers are internal to Africa.
But we can at least
end the external ones.
African aid and lack of growth
v. Asian growth and lack of aid
"between 1960 and 2005, foreign aid worth more than $450 billion, inflation adjusted, poured into Africa. Result? Between 1975 and 2000, African gross domestic product (GDP) per capita declined at an average annual 0.59 percent rate. Over the same period, African GDP per capita fell from $1,770 in constant 1995 dollars adjusted for purchasing power parity (PPP) to $1,479."
"In contrast, South Asia performed much better. Between 1975 and 2000, South Asian GDP per capita grew at an average annual 2.94 percent. South Asian GDP per capita grew from $1,010 in constant 1995 dollars adjusted for PPP to $2,056. Yet, between 1975 and 2000, the per capita foreign aid South Asians received was 21 percent that received by Africa. The link between foreign aid and economic development seems quite tenuous."
African stagnation over the last few decades.
Stats from Angus Maddison.
Dramatic Asian growth over the last few decades.
Stats from Angus Maddison.
we do actually know what will make poverty history:
"Much Third World poverty is the result of governments taking the decision,
in effect, to remain poor. The conditions under which they can prosper are known,
and available, if those in power choose to avail themselves of them.
As Hernando de Soto
... points out, it is easy to make a country prosperous. It needs only security of life and property,
and markets in which property rights can be valued and traded."
Live8: a triumph for sentiment, not for results
by Allister Heath
- "The real question is: why are some countries rich and others poor?
To the Make Poverty History crowd, the answer to this question,
by far the most important in economics and all of the social sciences,
usually lies with Western exploitation, insufficient aid
and the alleged ravages caused by free trade or greedy multinationals.
This conveniently omits to explain how so many poor nations in Asia have got rich"
Africa needs business, not showbusiness, Mark Steyn, The Daily Telegraph, July 5th 2005,
points out that almost all global rock stars are brilliant at business and marketing themselves,
which is how they got rich and famous.
"I love old rockers - not for the songs, which are awful, but for their business affairs, which so totally rock. In 1997, David Bowie became the first pop star to hold a bond offering himself. How about that? ... Moody's in New York gave them their coveted triple-A rating.
Once upon a time, rock stars weren't rated by Moody, they were moody - they self-destructed, ... they hoped to die before they got old. ... Today, Paul McCartney is a businessman: he owns the publishing rights to Annie and Guys & Dolls. These faux revolutionaries are capitalists red in tooth and claw.
The system that enriched them could enrich Africa. But capitalism's the one cause the poseurs never speak up for."
Why would I join a march that contained such banners?
To clarify, "Bread not bombs"
is indeed what I hope for for Africa.
I hope for an end to the war-mongering tyrannies of Africa.
But that's not
what it means in this context.
We all know that in this context
it is about Iraq
and what it means
is "Bring the British and American troops home"
and "Abandon the Middle East to fascism".
The cause of famine that charities dare not talk about:
dominated headlines in 1984-85,
letting the world know about the appalling
Yet no one at that time really explained the cause of the
To be precise,
the Ethiopian famine was caused by the Ethiopian communist government.
Killing the Ethiopian government
would have done more to save lives
than all the famine relief
But we could not hear this, because it was not politically correct.
Ethiopia in 1984
Mengistu's communist government (1974-91),
with the help of the Soviet Union,
killed at least
2 million innocent men, women and children
through mass executions, forced resettlements, death camps and famine.
Cruel to be kind?,
June 24, 2005
- On the impossible situation facing charities working under
genocidal totalitarian regimes,
whether The Red Cross under the Nazis
or Live Aid in Ethiopia.
Did the charities, by limited cooperation with the Ethiopian democide,
cause more deaths than they saved?
10 Facts for Bob Geldof, 14 Nov 2014.
An aid worker in Rwanda good-naturedly mocks Band Aid for its silly lyrics about Africa.
"Do they know it's Christmas?
Christianity in Africa began in Egypt in the middle of the 1st century.
In 2010 63% of African people considered themselves to be Christians.
... So yes, it is probably safe to assume, that they are aware of the Christmas period."
Lynn Geldof, Cuba and Ethiopia:
Bob Geldof's sister
was sympathetic to the
communist tyranny of Cuba, and chose to live there from 1985 to 1989.
At the same time that Bob Geldof was trying to save the Ethiopians from a communist famine,
his sister was choosing to emigrate to a communist state!
Not just that, she chose to live in a country that was actually helping Mengistu's communist government starve Ethiopia!
Bob's politics were more sensible,
but he still declined to really name the enemy of the Ethiopian people.
crackpot world view
- that the Third World are somehow
"oppressed" or "exploited"
by the First World.
Many people on the left claim
(based on no evidence) that
the Third World is poor
because we are rich.
In reality, of course, the cause of third-world poverty is simple.
Third-world people are poor because of third-world governments.
If the west got rich by slavery, empire, and exploiting other peoples,
then we have a philosophy of despair
- for the third world can't do the same.
In other words they will never get rich.
If, on the other hand,
are expressions of the
west's pre-existing wealth, technology and power,
rather than causes of it (*),
then we have a philosophy of hope.
If the west got rich because of
science, democracy, and capitalism
- with empire, and even natural resources, largely irrelevant -
then we have a philosophy of fantastic hope:
If the Third World adopts
science, democracy, and capitalism,
then they will get rich just like us.
(*) After all, why was it Western Europeans
that travelled and conquered the world?
There must have been something pre-existing
in Western European culture
that made empire possible.
denies that European colonialism and empire
was a significant cause of European wealth.
Quote from Ibn Warraq
on the idea that the third world is poor
because of the legacy of imperialism.
"Ibn Warraq pointed out that more than 50 years after the West left its colonies
in the Third World, Leftists are still blaming all the ills of Africa and the Middle East
on the former colonial powers,
while the same left-wingers only 10 years after the fall of Communism
blamed Russia's troubles on unrestrained capitalism."
points out that much of the Arab world has no idea where
Western wealth comes from:
"They may claim, for example, that the West has achieved its preeminence by illicit use of force and pillage, by exploiting and appropriating the oil of the Muslim lands, say.
.. the claim about the exploitation of oil is not merely self-serving; it is patently absurd. If anything, the direction of the exploitation has been precisely the opposite, for merely by virtue of their fortunate geographical location, and with scarcely any effort on their part, the people of the Arabian peninsula and elsewhere have enjoyed a high standard of living thanks entirely to the ingenuity of those whom they accuse of exploitation and without whom the oil resource would not be an economic resource at all.
I have talked to a lot of young Muslim critics of Western society, living in the West, and few of them were aware of the philosophical basis of Western achievement, which they believed to be merely materialist and founded on crude plunder, never having heard any other viewpoint."
What I love about De Soto is that he refuses to see the third world's
future as modest, self-sufficient and agrarian,
living in harmony with nature in rural villages,
their countries existing on permanent welfare
- which seems to be the model the left promotes.
He sees no reason why they can't become high-tech, modern, complex,
urban, globalised and prosperous
- like us.
For me, South Korea is the model for the future of the third world.
De Soto's main point is that
capitalism depends on lots of things we take for granted
- property rights, a clear registry of who owns what,
enforceable contracts with strangers.
making it as easy and fast as possible
to do things like set up a business, rent a building,
hire someone, buy and sell land, raise a loan,
issue shares, etc.
Then capitalism is a pre-Internet "network effect".
You don't have to trade just with people you trust
(which is what most of the poor,
has to do).
You can buy and sell with strangers.
And the economy explodes.
Capitalism and globalisation are the solutions to
third world poverty.
Anyone who cares about the third world should promote
Anti-globalisation protesters are spoilt, rich children
who want to prevent the rest of the world
from enjoying the fruits of capitalism
that they have grown up with.
They are worse than immoral.
Poverty is not funny.
Poverty is not a matter of living in a squat
or not having enough for a pint.
Poverty is a matter of watching your children starve and die.
The Moral Inversion in Seattle
by Robert W. Tracinski
- It is a world in which hordes of middle-class students
and $25-an-hour union workers band together to take away
economic opportunities from third-world peasants
making 60 cents an hour - while claiming that their goal is "social
Battle in Seattle (2008)
takes the side of the protesters.
Wouldn't it be cool to see a pro-globalisation movie?
May Day "anarchist" rioters
- Anti-capitalism, anti-globalisation, "anarchists"
- it's just new names for the same old story
- just more people who want to take away our freedoms
in some oppressive collectivist project.
Antiglobalism - the green-communist-fascist-nationalist-protectionist-antisemitic
- "anti-Americanism is the most dangerous global ideology.
Today all the
totalitarianisms, the fundamentalisms, the anti-Semitisms
hide behind the banner of the fight against the USA."
Anti-Globalism = Anti-Americanism
by Jean-Francois Revel
- "Anti-globalists have tried to replace democracy with a despotism of the mob, advancing the
brutal proposition that street demonstrators are more legitimate than elected governments.
Democrats worthy of the name should not forget that power is
conferred by ballots, not by bricks hurled through windows."
It has been said before:
Those who cannot win elections, take to the streets.
Nobody will vote for the anti-globalisation street thugs, anti-semites and
So democracy will not help them.
Furious that no one finds their arguments convincing,
they turn to demos and riots to try to bypass the democratic process.
Western governments, sensibly, will let them protest
but will never listen to them.
The protesters against the
really do have something they could protest about:
the inclusion of Putin's illiberal dictatorship of
in this group of otherwise civilized liberal democracies.
But of course that's not what bothers them.
by Brett D. Schaefer
- Capitalism and globalisation are the solutions to
third world poverty.
The Decline and Fall of the First Global Economy,
by Brink Lindsey, Dec 2001,
points out that
the glorious late 19th century - early 20th century period
was based on globalisation.
The nightmare of the mid-20th century was based on a rejection of globalisation.
Let us hope that we are now moving to a permanent embrace of science and globalisation
and rejection of protectionism and collectivism.
His point is:
Nationalism, protectionism and collectivism lead to poverty and war.
Globalisation and capitalism lead to prosperity and peace.
It's not an opinion. It's what happened. It's historical fact.
Opinion survey, Apr 2008,
shows that most people, both in the West and in the third world,
agree with me,
not with leftists like Naomi Klein.
Most people in the world want to become rich (or at least comfortable),
and they are very interested in how the rich countries got rich.
Only in France and Turkey here
is there a plurality stupid enough to dispute the free market.
And in France's case it is only a decadent pose,
since the free market
made France herself rich,
and France is despite everything
one of the most free market countries in the world.
This survey provides grounds for optimism about the developing world.
with 66 percent support for the free market,
China's future looks bright.
They adopted some of the West's worst ideas in the 20th century
(socialism and totalitarianism).
Let's hope they're going to adopt the West's best ideas in the 21st century
(capitalism and democracy).
World GDP per capita over the last 200 years.
It keeps increasing.
Note how the world's wealth really takes off after 1950,
that is, after the age of imperialism.
Our wealth is not based on slavery or imperialism.
That is just a Chomskyite fantasy.
World GDP per capita over my lifetime.
It keeps increasing.
World GDP per capita over recent years.
It keeps increasing.
In the next 100 years, the entire world may become rich like us.
Wouldn't that be wonderful?
The world is getting richer and more equal.
From Max Roser.
Another version here.
World population living in absolute poverty over the last 200 years.
From Max Roser.
World population living in absolute poverty over the last few decades.
Contrary to everything written in the Irish Times,
the rise of neoliberalism
seems to be the end of world poverty.
See full size.
The number of under-5 deaths worldwide has declined from approximately 12.6 million in 1990
to 6.6 million in 2012.
This means around 100 million lives saved in 20 years,
more than were killed in both world wars.
In Iraq, despite the war,
the under-5 mortality rate dropped from approximately 45 to 34 per 1000 live births between 2000 and 2012.
In Afghanistan, despite the war,
the under-5 mortality rate dropped by 26 percent between 2000 and 2012.
Blocked on Twitter by the regressive left and Islamists:
I love debate.
I love ideas.
But the Western left
and their friends the Islamic right
do not return the favour.
Their response to opposing ideas, whether expressed politely or robustly, is often to block.
See Who blocks me on Twitter.
I will debate almost anyone.
Stick to ideas and I will debate you.
But I do have rules.
See Who I block on Twitter.
Twitter is broken, 2016 on:
I am on Twitter at
Twitter was a great place for debate before 2016.
You could meet everyone in the world, and argue about ideas.
Starting in 2016,
Twitter became increasingly broken.
It became full of reporting and bans and censorship.
In 2019, Twitter even started
for no reason that was ever explained, or could be appealed.
promised to end the censorship.
But it looks like a false dawn.
One day, we will have a better place to gather.