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Monday, May 15, 2006

Warm hearts and hard heads

It's Christian Aid week. Edward Lucas, preaching at the Christian Aid Week service in Canterbury Cathedral and writing in today's Times, offers a bracing alternative take on CA and aid agency economics in general:-

Polite Christian society does not celebrate the wondrous wealth-creating processes of global capitalism. It winces at them. Worries about inequality (ultimately a secondary question to poverty) and, worse, a distaste for wealth, eclipse the extraordinary way in which the embrace of capitalism and global trade in India and China have lifted hundreds of millions of people from poverty in the past two decades.

This anti-capitalist attitude is as absurd as a Christian distaste for the laws of physics. It also leads to a very damaging conflation of private generosity with public policy. The overwhelming lesson of five decades of Third World aid is that, paid from taxation, it takes money from poor people in rich countries and gives it to rich people in poor ones.


Anonymous said...

Great points made here. Very encouraging to hear someone talking sense to the Christian Aidniks.

Haven't felt so heartened since I heard Thabo Mbeki's brother speaking out against the policy of pouring funding into the pockets of corrupt African dictators on the Today programme last year.

Cyrus said...

On one point I'm not sure I agree with Lucas: I still think there's a good case for buying Fair Trade stuff. Am I wrong?