Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Performing the Ritual Update

Today the Detroit Free Press had a short round-up piece that supports my post "Performing the Ritual" of January 2nd. (scroll down). It's "around the world" column has a brief story titled "Millions could die if aid isn't sent" to Africa.

In that post I pointed out that according to the morality of altruism, actually helping people is irrelevent, that going through the motions of helping them however, is absolutely essential. And if you perform this ritual convincingly, it doesn't matter if you actually help them or not.

According to this article: "Critics have said aid to Africa has been largely wasted through corruption. But Sachs said rich countries have misspent aid money and have never lived up to their 1970 promise to spend 0.7% of their gross national products to help poor countries." (Sachs is the director of the UN Millennium Project)

And: "If the cost of food purchased from U.S. farmers and money spent within the United States is subtracted, less than a penny out of every $100 actually makes it to Africa in aid, said Sachs."

Now the accuracy of Mr. Sachs numbers may be debatable but it's also beside the point. For going on 36 years now countless billions have been earmarked for African aid and Africa is still a basket case. Where is the outrage at this enormous waste of money? Where is the outrage at corrupt governments ripping it off? Where is the outrage at all the "consultants" and middle men who have made a living doing nothing but performing the ritual for the last 36 years?

There will be no outrage because actually helping Africans is not the goal. To actually help Africans would require changing their corrupt, authoritarian governments who keep them in poverty. But nobody wants to look at this root cause. Nobody wants to admit that statist govenments are evil. And this is where the United Nations displays its utter worthlessness. The UN could at least remove its moral sanction from these governments and bring economic sanctions to bear on them. But they just turn their heads and look away. It's easier to just perform the ritual "It's not for me but for others" and everyone will tell you what a moral person you are.

If Africa is to develop, the so-called civilized world will have to abandon the morality of altruism and adopt a morality of rational self-interest.

No comments: