The Right Coast
January 02, 2005
Posner of Foreign Aid
By Mike Rappaport
An interesting post by Richard Posner on foreign aid.
But when people criticize the wealthy nations, especially the United States, for being chintzy when it comes to foreign aid, they usually . . . want general wealth transfers to poor countries. And that is what I criticize, since the basic problem of poor countries is not that they are poor, but that they are badly managed; and being badly managed they are unlikely to benefit from handouts [because the handouts will be stolen or wasted].This capture my view in a nutshell. (But do notice Posner's qualifications.)
This also is part of the reason why the charge that utilitarianism requires that people from rich countries give unreasonably large donations to the poor of other countries is mistaken. The best way to help the poor of other countries is for there to be reform of those countries and it is not clear how much the developed nations can do to promote this. Often the best way is to lead by example, to trade with them, and not to subsidize their misbehavior. That seems workable.