As we plunge deeper into our recession, it was a sight to behold Bertie throwing around our cash like snuff at a wake in Africa this week. As I've shown many times already, far from helping ordinary Africans, such largesse is counter-productive. This post explains why in more detail.
But in essence the problem is this. Power in Africa is tribal. You seize power for your own tribe(s), and you hold onto it, permanently, you hope, by dishing out the goodies to your supporters. Having first looked after yourself, needless to say. Foreign aid is the ideal mechanism for this, being in cash and largely unaccountable. Seizing farms in contrast means you’ll have to do some work (the horror! the horror!) to get rich.
As long as billions of foreign aid keeps flowing in Africans will never address their core problems. As an aside, if Bertie is as interested in efficient eGovernment as he claims, why doesn’t he just make an electronic payment direct to the despots’ secret accounts in Switzerland? Look at the trouble that’d save.
So now we learn that nearly €1 billion – one thousand million Euro - is to be wasted on this nonsense in 2008. While at home, to save money, we cancel a shelter for the homeless in Dublin, cystic fibrosis sufferers die from want of proper support, schools must scrounge around for computers, and priceless initiatives to address youth deprivation like the Fettercairn Youth Horse Project are starved of funds.
Why do we do it? Why do we deprive our own needy of funds and allow them instead be trousered by corrupt, incompetent buffoons in Africa?
Who knows? My own guess is that, in our new-found – and soon to disappear - wealth, we want to show the world how far we’ve come. Our leaders want to go to UN conferences and boast that we’re the third highest per capita donors, things like that.
We’ll repent at our leisure.