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Monthly Archives: June 2010

Congolese stubbornly insist on celebrating 50th anniversary of their independence…

…despite the extreme negative images by which DR Congo is known exclusively in the Western media.  See also the great video at Texas in Africa.

Posted in In the news | Tagged , | 3 Comments

International Aid Worker Appreciation Day

A big part of what we do on this blog is criticize bad ideas in aid. But in our zeal to get this message across, sometimes other, important messages get lost.

Today, we devote the blog to expressing our admiration and respect for aid workers. Aid work can be a tough, grueling, frustrating, even heart-breaking job.

Aid work promises the adventure of foreign travel and the gratification of working for the good of others, but…

Posted in History | Tagged | 15 Comments

Is aid stuck using IBM punch cards?

This post was written by Dennis Whittle. Dennis is the CEO of GlobalGiving, an international marketplace for philanthropy.

When I went to college in the late 1970s we used punch cards like the one pictured here to put information into the (mainframe) computer. Over the next thirty years, competition in computer technology led to rapid innovation. Over those same thirty years, the aid industry followed a decidedly different pattern of development.

In the early 1980s,…

Posted in Technology | Tagged , | 24 Comments

FT: Celebrities urge G8 to make new unkept promises to keep previous unkept promises

Oh how we wish it would be otherwise! What will it take?

Alan Beattie writes on the G8 in the FT:

It stretches the most elastic mind to envisage the collective wrath of Scarlett Johansson, Annie Lennox, Bill Nighy, Kristin Davis and Her Majesty Queen Rania of Jordan, but it descended on the heads of the Group of Eight this weekend.

The obsolescence of the G8 has long been discussed during interminable and inconclusive international

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Badvocacy and celebs, Grand plans and aid targets, Organizational behavior, Political economy | Tagged , , , , , | 14 Comments

A journey through wealth and poverty in New York City

The horizontal axis is moving South to North through adjacent census tracts on the route described.  The vertical axis is median household income in each census tract.

Why are there such extremes of wealth and poverty even inside a “developed” economy like New York City? What does it teach us about economic development and underdevelopment?

Posted in Economics principles | 9 Comments

Do only democracies have anti-immigrant movements?

This great picture on changing share of foreign-born residents in the NYT today (showing countries with largest increase):

You can see why anti-immigration sentiment is a big deal in the European countries shown and in the US. (This is a descriptive statement, I myself hate xenophobia.)

But what about the countries at the top of the graph? Let’s exclude the special and controversial case of Israel from all the following statements.

Correct me if…

Posted in Democracy and freedom, In the news, Migration, Political economy | Tagged | 10 Comments

Here’s what reporters would really like to say about G20 summit

…at which ministers from around the world gather to wring their hands impotently about the most fashionable issue of the day. The organisation has sought to justify its almost completely fruitless existence by joining its many fellow talking-shops in highlighting whatever crisis has recently gained most coverage in the global media.

By making a big deal out of the fact that the world’smost salient topical issue will be placed on its agenda …it hopes to convey

Posted in In the news | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

US food aid policies create 561 jobs in Kansas, risk millions of lives around the world

I read recently the First Law of Policy Economics: Every inefficiency is someone’s income.

US food aid policy is definitely no exception, and it is riddled with inefficiencies.

Exhibit A: This invitation from a coalition of big US shipping interests to an event in Washington today. At this event, USA Maritime will have tried to convince lawmakers and their staff that ancient and outdated US food aid legislation, which requires virtually all US food aid…

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Disaster relief, Political economy, Trade | Tagged , , , , | 18 Comments

How the development of technology averts Shakespearean tragedies

  1. Juliet texts Romeo: Going 2 play dead, LOL!
  2. Huff Post unearths email incriminating Iago after 24/7 coverage of Desdemona-cheating-on-Othello rumors
  3. Hamlet gets treatment for depression, starts blog “Rotten in the State of Denmark”
  4. Brutus orchestrates Twitter campaign to overthrow Julius Caesar
  5. MacBeth double-checks Facebook page of Three Witches, comments: “no way I’m basing career decisions on somebody that twisted”
Posted in Technology | 7 Comments

Response to Dani Rodrik on Washington Consensus

Dani gives a response to some “counter-arguments” against his post favoring Import-substituting Industrialization (ISI) over Washington Consensus (WC) that had mysteriously “resuscitated” themselves after they “had long been laid to rest.” I appreciate Dani’s courtesy in not identifying the culprits in this misguided resuscitation of long-dead counterarguments, but it does make it a little difficult to carry on a precise debate. It’s possible that my post about skill vs. luck, and the comments…

Posted in Aid policies and approaches, Economics principles | Tagged , , | 8 Comments