Saturday, January 16, 2010

Provocative truths about poverty?

David Brooks is one of my favourite New York Times columnists. Stimulated by the tragedy of the Haiti earthquake, Brooks has a challenging column The Underlying Tragedy , discussing the tragedy of the US's ineffectiveness at helping alleviate poverty around the world. He argues that several difficult truths must be acknowledged if change is to occur:
  • we don't know how to use aid to reduce poverty
  • micro-aid is vital but insufficient
  • it is time to put the thorny issue of culture at the center of efforts to tackle global poverty
  • it’s time to promote locally led paternalism
It is worth reading the piece and the comments from readers. Most are negative, but do not actually engage with the substance of his arguments. People from a liberal perspective are so offended by raising the issues of "culture" [including voodoo] and "paternalism" they cannot engage. I am not sure how to summarise what people on the right seem to think, except "its not our problem".

I would add to Brooks list:

it is time to put the thorny issue of sin (both corporate and individual) on the agenda.

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