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Old 06-06-2005, 05:41 PM   #16
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Originally posted by starsgoblue
Corruption isn't the root....poverty is.
No, they are both the root. They play into the same cycle and arguing here which is worse is like asking what came first, the chicken or the egg.

I have family in Africa, notably the stunningly beautiful nation of Namibia. I work with two people who are originally from Uganda, and one of my best friends spent most of her life in Kenya. They will all tell you tales of stunning corruption. They are regular people, two of them are incredibly well educated, both PhDs (one from King's College, London, another from the UofCape Town).

Corruption is most certainly not a myth. Bono will and has said as much himself. And for all his subtle and intelligent criticisms of Theroux, the man has made some stunningly accurate descriptions about the governance of many African nations.
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Old 06-06-2005, 05:52 PM   #17
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I feel as though some here are completley misunderstanding me...
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Old 06-06-2005, 05:55 PM   #18
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I don't think anyone's misunderstanding you, really...just that there are obviously a lot of views on a subject as complicated as that of Africa, and people have differing opinions on how to solve the problems there. All of which, I'm sure, are well-reasoned and compassionate theories.
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Old 06-06-2005, 07:27 PM   #19
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Mark Steyn raises some good points in this opinion piece about Live8
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The point is we all know Africa can produce wild, vibrant, exciting jungle rhythms. What's unclear is whether it can produce anything boring, humdrum and routine. Accountancy firms, for example. I mentioned in The Spectator a few weeks ago the extraordinary number of US tax returns that are now prepared by accountants in India.

Small hospitals in America have their patients' CAT scans analysed overnight by radiologists in India. These and a thousand other niche businesses were not facilitated by government leaders meeting at international summits. That said, government leaders did not actively obstruct their creation and growth, as governments do all over the Dark Continent.
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According to the World Bank's Doing Business report, in Canada it takes two days to incorporate a company; in Mozambique, it takes 153 days. And Mozambique's company law has been unchanged since 1888. In the midst of the unending demands that Bush do this, Blair do that, do more, do it now, would it be unreasonable to suggest that, after 117 years, the government of Mozambique might also be obligated to do something about its regulatory regime?

Meanwhile, next door in Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe's government is being given hundreds of thousands of tons of emergency supplies from the UN's World Food Programme. At the press conference, James Morris, head of the WFP, was at pains to emphasise that the famine was all due to drought and Aids, and certainly nothing to do with Mr Mugabe's stewardship of the economy. Some of us remember that during the 2002 G8 summit, also devoted to Africa, Zimbabwe's government ordered commercial farmers to cease all operations.
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The issue in Africa in every one of its crises - from economic liberty to Aids - is government. Until the do-gooders get serious about that, their efforts will remain a silly distraction. But, if you want some black music to cheer up the silly distraction, I recommend the lyrics of Andy Razaf, nephew of Queen Ranavalona III of Madagascar. If they ever clean up their kleptocratic act, Ain't Misbehavin' would make a great group anthem for Africa's heads of state. Until then, more than a few of their hapless peoples must wonder, "What Did I Do to be so Black and Blue?"
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Old 06-06-2005, 07:38 PM   #20
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Mark Steyn sometimes brings up some interesting points (and I agree with him on a number here).

However, he more often than that sounds like an ignorant racist hick and even in this, relatively restrained article, I can see it popping up. I'm somewhat familiar with his writings since he was being published in that rag, the National Compost, and he has multiply made comments which were either borderline racist or completely unwarranted.

I really kind of cringe when I see his name mentioned.
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Old 06-06-2005, 07:42 PM   #21
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Yeah...the "Queen Ranavalona III" comment is pretty racist, considering she's been dead since 1917 and Madagascar has been a democracy for most all of its time since gaining independence in 1960.

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Old 06-06-2005, 07:48 PM   #22
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I think that context can be important, I have read Steyn for a few years now first in articles published in 'The Australian' and subsequently online and I have not really come across anything that I would consider racist; I would distinguish between some of the sarcasm that peppers articles and 'statements of fact' that are racist, context is key. Writing ilicits different responses, I would not consider him to be on par with say Victor Davis Hanson in terms of historical analysis but his columns are lively enough on specific issues to warrant some attention (the almost hysterical treatment of the EU, UN for instance).
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Old 06-06-2005, 07:53 PM   #23
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Potentially racist comments aside, there's some interesting points in there. We need to make African nations partially responsible for the mess there. There's the potential for African nations to get lazy on Western aid and downright refuse to fix anything.

I'm reminded of the Northwest Territories/Nunavut in Canada, where the Canadian government, with all the best intentions, forced the Inuit et al. to settle and made them fat on welfare. Now they have a high suicide rate and spend a lot of their time getting drunk and high off of inhalants, because they've got nothing to do.

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Old 06-06-2005, 07:56 PM   #24
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Government paternalism really does a lot of harm with native people, in Australia we have an almost identical situation with Aborigines ~ welfare dependence, petrol sniffing, prison and poor healthcare and life expectancy. It is impossible to get property ownership off the ground so the cycle continues down the generations regardless of how much money is spent or how many people give a compassionate head tilt about their plight.
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Old 06-06-2005, 09:01 PM   #25
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Government corruption is one aspect in the difficulty of Africa to climb out of poverty but of course not the only one. I am sure everyone who has posted here does not think it is the sole reason for the problems. Geography, climate, social norms, discrimination, debt repayment, trade laws, and infrastructure all have an impact on the ability of many African nations to compete with the industrialized world.

But when people are dying because they don't have a mosquito net or a simple vaccine, then aid is an attempt to assist with a basic survival need. Many parts of the impoverished world aren't thinking about how to open a business or compete, they are just trying to survive the day through any means necessary. Of course, I don't mean all of Africa before anyone jumps on me for saying all of Africa is in extreme poverty. But much of the continent is suffering and doesn't have the time or resources to focus on organizing a democratic government in a nice tidy box.

Many people have advocated for Iraq's debt to forgiven and Iraq is in far better shape than many of the countries in Africa. It is a complex problem with a complex solution requring contributions from governments, NGOs, citizens and private business. Will foreign aid be the solution? No, but it helps along with debt forgiveness and other instruments of assistance to lead to an eventual solution. We cannot have an entire continent living decades behind the rest of the world and allow millions to die over the next decades because of politics. Although I fear that nothing will come of it because humanity has yet to embrace itself as one entity, we still see in colours.
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Old 06-06-2005, 09:09 PM   #26
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Of course we see in colours, Africa is in the red.
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Old 06-07-2005, 04:19 AM   #27
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It surprises me when people talk about corruption in Africa as an excuse for their problems. Every country is corrupt to a certain degree. People are generally corrupt. We may have attained a certain level of non-corruption but it still goes on in the west all the time, how many people think that some police and public officials don't take bribes for example. International banks seem to be quite happy to let certain corrupt African leaders launder money through them and they are western organisations. I think we have to accept that a certain amount of aid money is going to fall into the wrong hands. It would be unrealistic to think that all the money is going to go to it's intended target.
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Old 06-07-2005, 05:23 AM   #28
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But what if that aid money entrenches the corruption, then you are supporting these fundamentally flawed systems of governance making it even harder for these countries to get out of aid dependence.
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Old 06-07-2005, 09:47 AM   #29
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Re: Is aid really the solution to Africa's problems?

Quote:
Originally posted by financeguy
I remain to be convinced by the arguments of Bono, Geldof etc, and the Make Poverty History campaign. Can we be satisfied that Africa has got rid of corruption in its political classes? It is this corruption factor, more than anything else, that has Africa in the mess it's in, in my view.

Charity begins at home, I believe. U2 don't even pay taxes in their own country. I pay more income tax than Bono and I don't earn a lot.

Having said all that I fully agree with moves to liberalise trade and allow developing countries access to our markets.

As for the European Union's Common Agricultural Policy, I say :- dismantle it.

Thoughts?
I'm sure I'm repeating someone here, as I didn't read through the thread.

DEBT
The debts that need to be dropped were incurred by corrupt leaders a generation or so ago. We should not make the children of these leaders pay back money that never even benefited them. Instead of spending their money on old debt, they should be spending it on infrastructure, education, health care.

AIDS (and other financial assistance)
AID is being given with conditions. Countries that have proven that they have gotten rid of corruption receives most of the aid. Africa is being held accountable for the money it receives in aid.

TRADE
I see that you already realize the importance of fair trade.


financeguy, read what has been working:

http://www.data.org/whyafrica/whatworks/
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Old 06-07-2005, 09:51 AM   #30
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I think the title of this thread is misleading. Is aid really the solution (singular) to Africa's problems (plural)? Of course not. We are talking about a lot of different problems, some related, some unrelated, some simple, others unfinitely complex. But can aid make a difference? Can it help solve some of the problems and create some of the conditions for a future resolution of others? Yes it can.

I know there is corruption. I see it here everyday. Hell, most of my colleagues at work whom I like and enjoy being with are corrupt. But I think it has more to do with the fact that they are poor and living in a society where there is no future, no reward for hard work, where it's who you know rather than what you know that gets you ahead, not because they are lazy bastards that just want to sit around and get handouts. Imagine that you are the head of an African family living in the capital city. You work for the government as some basic clerical worker. You are expected to support not only your nuclear family but any extended family that decides to uproot and move to the city, as well as send money back to ma and pa and the myriad of relatives back in the village. And you're getting paid a salary that doesn't even start to cover the cost of your lodging, let alone food and transport, clothes for your kids and school costs. Not only that, but when you go to get your salary, you have to pay off the guy that is handing it out...that's right...you have to pay in order to get paid! Are you going to keep playing fair and ignore an opportunity to take your piece of the pie, should it become available? Of course not!

So given that corruption is a reality of life, what is the solution? Well, again, there is not one hard and fast solution, but having an economy where there are jobs to be had would be a start. That way you wouldn't have ten people sitting around being fed by a single bread-winner. Having a justice system that punishes corruption and treats the rich and poor as equals would also be essential. Having an education system so that people can read and write, are aware of their rights and have the ability to become fully functioning members of society also would be important. Having a healthcare system so that children could live past the age of five without dying of malaria and dysentary, encouraging parents to have less children, this would also be necessary. All of these things and more are crucial. And for many of the poorest nations in the world, including where I live, these are unavailable to them because they quite simply DO NOT have the resources. And whatever resources they have are being sucked up in incessant debt repayments.

So is aid necessary? I guess we will all draw our own conclusions, but I would submit that for the moment, to stand back and do nothing is not an option. By all means, we must continue to look for the best ways to distribute aid and to ensure equal and fair reception, but I don't think that just writing off Africa and telling it to get its act together before we will help is a moral choice I want to make.

That's just how I see it from where I am standing. In Africa.
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