Wednesday, April 8, 2009

At least they get the bridge

An African infrastructure minister visits an Asian colleague. The Asian colleague lives in a magnificent mansion. "How can you afford this on your salary?" asks the African minister. His Asian colleague takes him to the front window and points to a large bridge across the river. "See that bridge? Half of it, mine" says the Asian minister. The African minister looks thoughtful.

Some time later, the Asian minister visits his African counterpart. His African colleague lives in a palace far more magnificent than the Asian minister’s residence. "How can you afford this on your salary?" asks the Asian minister. His African colleague takes him to the front window and points across the river. "See that bridge?" he asks. "I can’t see any bridge," responds the perplexed Asian minister. "That’s right," replies the African minister, "All of it, mine".
And that, is the difference between foreign aid to Asia and Africa – at least in Asia they get the bridge. A lot of foreign aid is just handing money over to exploitative and corrupt elites. Not only does it fail to bring prosperity in its wake, it entrenches failed arrangements. Why go to the painful effort of institutional change, when this ‘free money’ comes in? Such "aid" helps keep people poor.

Talking to folk knowledgeable in the field, publicly-funded indigenous projects in Oz tend to fall into two categories; the good ones are "Asian" projects, the bad ones "African" projects. And there are a lot of "African" projects. With their own, home-grown, taxpayer-funded corrupt and exploitative elites. Funding which keeps people poor by throttling needed changes. (Read Why Warriors Lie Down and Die by Richard Trudgen for the full horror.)
Yet to raise this is to be ‘anti-indigenous’ even ‘racist’, it’s ‘blaming the victim’. And so the waste and exploitation goes on. Noel Pearson, being black and Mr Land Rights, gets permitted by the ABC and others to say things which need to be said, that they wouldn’t let anyone else say.

It is also partly why the asylum-seekers became such a cause celebre. Indigenous Australians stopped being comfortable territory for progressivist pieties, so a change of mascots occurred. (It's not as if the problems of indigenous Australians got any less urgent, they just became less fashionable.)

The lack of reciprocity is a general problem for income-dependence. In the CIS’s Australia’s Welfare Habit a study is cited of thousands of young Australians who turned 16 in 1996 which found that, by age 19, those raised in welfare-dependant households were three times more likely to become homeless, four times more likely to become teenage parents and five times more likely to end up on welfare benefits. Welfare literally breeding welfare.

Noel Pearson got along quite well with both John Howard and Mark Latham. But then, they had common enemies. And common concerns.

No comments:

Post a Comment