Mar 16, 2010

More thoughts on aid

Rereading my last post on aid I think there's few points I need to clarify. First, I'd like to distinguish between developmental aid and humanitarian aid. In the case of a famine, or especially a huge natural disaster, humanitarian aid is very important and not subject to my earlier critique. When people are dying all the business about dependency and whatnot goes out the window. One still has to be careful humanitarian supplies aren't captured by warlords, but the moral imperative is clear.

Second, longtime readers of this blog (there might be a couple, who knows) might notice that I've got a pretty wide libertarian streak. How do I reconcile my support of obviously paternalistic aid programs like the Millennium Villages with my dislike of paternalistic policies like New York's trans fat ban? I think the difference here is coercion. I have no problem with people entering into a voluntary arrangement with an aid program, even if it's paternalistic as hell, where outright banning is forceful intervention from the government. I wouldn't like it if Kenya forced all villages to join the MV program either.

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