Welcome to Bill Easterly Watch. We actually agree with a fair amount of what Professor Easterly says, however, we see the broken system as the starting point, not the ending point and we don’t think just criticizing without proposing alternatives is making a productive difference. A point which will be elaborated on in a future post.
This entire aid “debate” which Bill has placed himself in the center of, hinges on false dichotomies and broad generalizations. “Huge” amounts of “aid” money have been wasted. Most of it was given for purposes having nothing to do with development so holding it to development outcomes seems a little silly. Until the end of the Cold War speaking about “aid” can be somewhat of misleading because it was pretty much used to buy geopolitical allies (very little went for development) so that’s pretty much a write off and useless for trying to gauge future outcomes.
Also, the “huge” amounts of wasted aid referenced by Easterly break down to be very little on a per capita basis. $2.3 trillion in aid has been spent in the last 50 years. That also works out to be around $15 per person per year. Again most of which was given for purposes having nothing to do with development. Here might I highlight the better part of the more and better aid policy demand of various advocacy organizations.
$15 per person most of which was given for non development purposes, lots of which went to technical consultants or warlords or dictators, lots of which was wasted (on the prerogative of the donors), while confronting the world’s worst pandemic disease, amidst decolonization and countless struggles for power (many of which were funded and fueled by the donors at the expense of the recipients) did not single handedly lift all of the most vulnerable and marginalized populations of the world out of extreme poverty and spur economic growth so therefore we should end aid?
I might be alone here, but the argument that you need to learn how to manage your $15 better seems a little ridiculous. Especially keeping in mind that the $15 we’re talking about is one week’s worth of subsidies for a cow in the EU or that in North America we spend a couple thousand annually per person on health care. Never mind the $18 Trillion that went to bailouts let alone the $14 Billion that went to Wall Street bonuses. Human equality? Anyone?