My personal musings about anything that gets on my radar screen--heavily dominated by politics.


U.N.: “We Just Need All Of You To Give Us Money”

The NYTimes has a laughable account of a report put out by the United Nations Millenium Project that will solve poverty in the world. . . if only they had more money.

An international team sponsored by the United Nations proposed a detailed, ambitious plan on Monday that it says could halve extreme poverty and save the lives of millions of children and hundreds of thousands of mothers each year by 2015.

The report says drastically reducing poverty in its many guises - hunger, illiteracy, disease - is "utterly affordable." To fulfill this goal, industrial nations would need to double aid to poor countries, to one-half of 1 percent of national incomes, from one-quarter of 1 percent.

Yes, that’s what we need to do—give the U.N. more money. How about we try to find that $22 billion first, and see what kind of good we can do with that. And, of course, given the U.N.’s startlingly successful track record at dealing with poverty and famine in places like India, Ethiopia and the Sudan, what could be more reasonable than to just fund this failure of an organization at even greater levels?

At least one person on the panel has a clue, and to the Times’ credit, they even mention her:

At least one economist involved, Nancy Birdsall, president of the Center for Global Development in Washington, said she worried that it put too little emphasis on the need for poor countries to make deep political and social changes to reduce poverty.

Unfortunately, her views were not the prevailing sentiment of the article. To give you an idea of the naivete of the Millenium Project, here’s part of their agenda:

The project's agenda is the first in a series this year intended to refocus attention on fulfilling promises to fight poverty that were made at the United Nations in 2000. There, world leaders unanimously agreed to institute universal primary education, promote sex equality and achieve sharp reductions in hunger, and in the proportion of people living on less than a dollar a day, by 2015.

Now, let’s just think about this for a moment, and consider the U.N.’s history. It wants to institute universal primary education and promote sex equality. Does this desire to do good extend into the Arab world, where in extreme cases women are forbidden from going to school? Is that what they mean by universal? And by what measure would “universal” be evaluated? Does a madrasa count?

Perhaps the U.N. ought to try to put the horse back in front of the cart. Universal nothing happens until corrupt governments and despots are thrown out—political systems create their own prosperity or poverty. If the U.N. would just come to grips with this simple fact, we would all be much better off.

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