Saturday, August 07, 2010

The NGO Economy

Via Megan, this post at Friends of Ethiopia echoes some of my own thinking.  Consider, for a moment, the frankly devastating impact on American manufacturing of WalMart’s ability and willingness to dump tons of cheap Chinese crap onto the market.  Now imagine the effect it would have if that crap was actually free.  Our industrial, technological, and retail sectors would be annihilated.

This is essentially what NGOs are doing in Africa:  dumping tons and tons of free stuff into the African economy, destroying in the process any incentive for the Africans to produce anything themselves.

That said, I’m not especially sanguine about Africa’s prospects under any scenario.  The people I know who have lived in Africa tell me that Africa is the place where nothing works, and NGO policy isn’t going to change that.

Candidly, I’m not especially upset about this.  Seeing as how elite opinion watches indifferently the slow-motion ethnic cleansing of African whites in South Africa and the fast-motion ethnic cleansing of whites in Zimbabwe, I can’t think of a reason why I should care one way or the other about the fate of the non-white Africans.  But for those who do, this should be something to think about.


newt0311 said...

Broken window fallacy. Free stuff means that all those people in manufacturing are free to use their time for something else.

The problem with NGOs is that they prop up corrupt trash. They make Africa dependent but refuse to provide what it needs the most --- order.

Elusive Wapiti said...

Thanks Φ for the find. I've linked this post in one scheduled to appear tomorrow over at my place.

Anonymous said...

Free stuff is not the same as the broken window fallacy. The concepts are different.

This was the lesson of Somalia. Aid organizations literally put local farmers out of business because no one woulf buy their produce when they could get food for free. Thus the famine was intesified and prolonged by international aid. Counter-intuitively, it was the warlords that fixed the problem. By stealing the free food from the NGOs, and selling it, they created a stable price which permitted farmers to compete.

gcatal said...

, I can’t think of a reason why I should care one way or the other about the fate of the non-white Africans.

I thought you were a Christian?