Dead Men Left

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Our Word is Our Weapon on William Easterly and his enormous fallacy. Fnar fnar. Critical bit:

Firstly, there's a logical fallacy, in that it assumes that because Africa received aid and got poorer, the aid caused the poverty. But quite a lot of other things were going on at the same time, so the aid need not have caused the poverty - it could even have relieved a potentially much worse situation. And in fact that's exactly what did happen.

The second reason is that all that $450bn is described as 'aid'. This statement is usually dragged up to criticise today's aid-giving, and the implication is that today's aid is no different from that $450bn. Well, that's not true. Much of that 'aid' was simply bribes the rich countries paid to friendly African regimes not in order to promote development but in order to promote their foreign policy. The 'aid' was not expected to be spent as aid, nor was it. So pointing out that it didn't benefit Africa says nothing about the effectiveness of aid today.

He has links, too, so go there for them. I'd only add that I'm not going to get too excited about the latest round of debt and aid shennanigans because of the way both are being used to promote free trade at the expense of development.