We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Unfortun- ately, the people who need to read Kling's piece at TCS, dealing with Africa and poverty in general, will not. He reminded me of one of the few of Tom Lehrer's great songs which I don't have stashed away somewhere. By quoting Tom, Kling reveals himself as a highly intelligent, highly sophisticated, excellent fellow, and reveals his age too. Lehrer holds up remarkably well over time:
"We are the Folk Song Army. Everyone of us cares. We all hate poverty, war, and injustice, Unlike the rest of you squares."
His point is that the economically uneducated still believe in a stone-age, pre-currency and pre-growth economics - ie a zero-sum game economy. If you have it, then I don't. Bird Dog jumped on the story in this blog last week. Kling goes on to explain:
In fact, redistribution can be counterproductive. It can serve to foster dependency while keeping entrenched bad leadership and harmful policies. An article in Der Spiegel notes that "today there are increasing numbers of Africans who call for an end to this sort of support. They believe that it simply benefits a paternalistic economy, supports corruption, weakens trade and places Africans into the degrading position of having to accept charity. 'Just stop this terrible aid,' says the Kenyan economic expert James Shikwati."
Moeletsi Mbeki, brother of South Africa's President, believes that abuse and exploitation by Africa's political elites plays a major role in the continent's underdevelopment. Mbeki recently wrote,
"Merely handing more aid money to African governments only reinforces the pattern of abuse. The key to development lies in a dynamic private sector. For a country to produce more, private individuals must generate savings and plow those savings back into the production process in the form of new and improved techniques, processes and products."
Read the whole thing, and forward it to your economically ignorant friends who also think they live in the stone age. (Photo of Lascaux art from the Lascaux website.)