I’ve been thinking a lot about global aid efforts we in the US put on, both through out taxes, and through our own checkbooks.
In the course of reading about the issue, I also watched the documentary, Poverty, Inc. which was released in 2015.
The recent data, results, and of course responses by people in South America, the Caribbean, and Africa has been astounding to say the least: they don’t want our help anymore.
The documentary has shed light on the personal experience of those “helped,” or rather, hindered, by aid work and it’s fruits, which further hamper locals from establishing commerce, which in turn helps them sustain their own lifestyle, homes, and families.
It’s quite a bizarre situation. Since the late 60’s, when television news began corresponding from world locations other than where US military efforts were commencing, when the people in Biafra succeeded from Nigeria, US citizens pounded down the doors of the Nixon administration, demanding we send aid to children and parents, visibly dying of starvation on camera.
Ever since then, the global aid effort has turned into industry, says the documentary, and numerous other experts in the field of economics, who are showing that global aid’s only interest is itself…..sound familiar?
But the personal stories in the film are what expresses it in unfiltered, uninterrupted truth.
There are people in Haiti, who place their children in orphanages, not out of necessity, but because they can’t support children – with the inability to seek work, which is destroyed by all the subsidized food currently in the country. In 2010, President Bill Clinton brought in tons of rice, and to this date, there are still bags of subsidized rice in country, which decimated the rice farming industry in Haiti, which was fragile to begin with, but sustainable on it’s own.
There’s examples from Rwanda, where people were re-building their own farming community, but in the aftermath of genocidal war, a well-meaning church in the US began sending bulk eggs to the community, circumventing the efforts of one young man, who had long since invested in coups, chickens, and feed to start his own egg business. Instead, he had to sell everything, and once that happened, they church decided to lay their eggs elsewhere in Africa, which then meant the community would have to buy eggs, from another community down the road.
The examples given provide an overwhelming theme: Aid organizations, intentionally or not, are eliminating poor people’s ability to start their own business, from relying upon themselves, from becoming self-sufficient. Does that sound familiar?
The film, along with all the recent data suggests that our best effort, if we are to continue providing aid, is do so in short bursts, when disaster strikes, but that once the people, not their less than representative governments, say it’s time to go, we need to take all our toys, people, and resources, and get out of dodge.
Many reviews of Poverty, Inc. suggest that it’s tone is lighter, and not as critical. I admit, towards the end, the people being interviewed do try to soften the blow. But their tone is consistent. They believe US citizens, along with their aid organizations, are misinformed, misguided, and rooted in colonialism. They even identify the owner of Toms Shoes as being one of the most colonial-oriented people of the 21st century. To be blunt, all of these people affected by Global Aid efforts couldn’t be more blunt themselves: Please stop helping us.
Sadly, much of this effort is paid for by taxes raised in the US. That money is sent directly by our government, or re-directed to non-profits, that in turn spend that money on their efforts. The film exposes organizations spending much of their money on top of the line vehicles for the country they operate in, paying absorbent salaries to staff, and hiring……house staff! And here’s the kicker in that situation, they don’t pay at US rates for labor, they pay at the local rate….typically a fraction of a dollar per hour. Talk about aid!
The help they do need comes from a strong need for the laws in their country to change, so that people can go into business for themselves easily. And these people believe we could help that effort, espeically these aid groups. But no one does. There are countless examples of these people being asked over and over to help in that effort, and what do they do? Avoid answering, waffle, cower, anything besides help, which is the whole reason they are there to begin with.
Not surprising, the biggest defenders of what is now a multi-billion dollar industry, liberal academics, and celebrities, who try to explain away the data, and most of all the voices of those affected, as scuttle.
For me, that’s the nail in the coffin. If the US wants to return to it’s powerhouse status, without all the bloat, it’s time we turned off the faucet overseas. Because the help we give is not wanted, and the help that is needed, we still refuse to offer.