Tuesday, January 04, 2005

World Gone Mad


American Aid Arriving in Sumatra

Granted, Britain’s the Independent is not the most objective or representative paper on the planet, but their recent roundup (via Drudge) of quotations from local notables is prima facie evidence of the World Gone Mad: (Shaking Spears in italics)

Question: Will the tsunami disaster be a turning point for the world and might 2005 see a new determination to tackle global poverty?

STEPHEN TINDALE, Executive director, Greenpeace
"It seems churlish to say it, but while it's relatively easy for most of us to give £50, it would be much harder for us to make the changes in our modern lifestyles that are needed if we are to move to a fairer world." What he's really saying: we need a world where everyone lives in economic misery and subscribes to my eco-hysteria, and the way to alleviate our manufactured guilt is to funnel money thru Greenpeace so that I can make a living terrorizing those that actually do the work of lifting the fortunes of the developed and developing world.

THE RIGHT REV TIM STEVENS, Bishop of Leicester
"I am hopeful, but we must see a real commitment to changing the economic relationships between the West and the poorer countries. As well as charitable giving, we need to tackle these fundamental issues." What he's really saying: the rich are rich at the developing world’s expense, we need to get poorer and less relevant. . . adopting the Anglican Church management techniques could be a start.

RORY BREMNER, Comedian
"On an individual level, it is not just about what we are prepared to give, but what we are prepared to give up. Having left Afghanistan and Iraq in their wake, can our leaders be trusted to fight a war on poverty?" What he's really saying: I can fain guilt for not living in a Sumatra hut while the pictures of devastation are on the telly, and it’s easier to pledge intentions than pounds. Oh, and I side with the Islamists in the war on terror.

DINOS CHAPMAN, Artist
"Western capitalism demands that people must be impoverished. I cannot think that anything will change this year, because we are the ones who have made the world the way it is. I don't believe in altruism." What he's really saying: How many greenies to induce a coma?

SIR MAX HASTINGS, Journalist and historian
"We have to bear in mind that we have been here before. There have been tragedies before, and many fine things have been said, a lot of them by the US. We just have to hope that in this case they will follow through." What he's really saying: the tsunami is due to fat Americans driving big cars, so let them shoulder the burden of providing the aid while I carp from the sidelines.

TONY BENN, Former cabinet minister
"It may make people realise that the UN needs to be well-equipped and funded. If people diverted money from weapons and war, we have the technology and money to be able to help - if we decide to do that. " What he's really saying: the outlook for jobs for a former minister within a U.N. bureaucracy would be greatly increased if it regained its credibility, and the skimming is less messy than in national government.

Conclusion: Sumatra isn’t poor because the West has free markets and a higher standard of living. The path to raising the Third World economically is ultimately through trade, investment, and political pluralism. Emergency aid is a moral imperative, but it is not the long term answer. The path to eliminating liberal guilt and environmental hysteria is less clear.