First do no harm
In today’s FT supplement “The Future of Capitalism,” Gary Becker and Kevin Murphy urge caution on government interventions designed to resuscitate the global economy. In the rush to do something rather than nothing, we run the risk of maiming the only system that can deliver growth to those parts of the world that have so far missed out on the gains of global capitalism. (The previously published online version is here.)
Moyo vs. Maathai: the next big debate in development?
On Slate.com, Frank Fukuyama argues that despite obvious differences, Dambisa Moyo and Wangari Maathai actually “have more in common than their authors may admit”:
Both women see sub-Saharan Africa’s fundamental problem not as one of resources, human or natural, or as a matter of geography, but, rather, as one of bad government. Far too many regimes in Africa have become patronage machines in which political power is sought by “big men” for the sole purpose of acquiring resources—resources that are funneled either back to the networks of supporters who helped a particular leader come to power or else into the proverbial Swiss bank account. There is no concept of public good; politics has devolved instead into a zero-sum struggle to appropriate the state and whatever assets it can control.
Keeping a watchful eye on the Gateses
Can Twitter be a force for good in development?
Breaking News from the Onion: Ugandan Ambassador Seizes Control of the UN and Declares himself Secretary-General for life
Reporter: It’s extremely tense, Brandon, there’s no telling what a madman like Mtambe will do! As Secretary-General he has the ability to do anything, from outline the UN’s year long goals, to propose agenda items for consideration by the Security Council!
Anchor: I can’t imagine what it must be like for those ambassadors inside, having no idea what this maniac will decide to place on the preliminary list of matters to be included in the provisional dockets.
Reporter: It’s terrifying!
(Via Michael Kleinman)
How much is too much?
People had a lot to say to Chris Blattman’s question of whether development agencies should fly business class. One argument in favor of business class is that if development professionals aren’t well-compensated with perks and high salaries, aid agencies will lose out on the best talent and be stuck hiring third-stringers. Maybe these high salaries and deluxe perks are simply the price the market will bear for the most talented workers in the aid profession. But how much is too much? At what point does this outcome offend our sense of fairness and proportion? Canadian ICT blogger Steve Song poses a similar question about profits from Africa cell phone companies. When Kenyans are spending 50% of their disposable income on mobile communication from a part-government-owned provider with monopoly power, is it really a win-win situation?
Finally, a thoughtful post from Alex De Waal on the inverse relationship between violence and media attention.
Perhaps the most effective international measure to keep down lethal violence is the simplest: paying attention. And maybe everything else is secondary, including exactly what that attention is, and what is threatened in consequence….But if the intent is to solve the political problem generating the violence, then a different strategy is surely needed–one that is based on political analysis and diplomacy.