Thursday, January 6, 2011

Charity in Haiti

You may recall, or better, you may not want to recall Carlos Slim’s statement: “Charity never solved anything.”

I found it so touching, and so compelling that I posted about it a couple of times already. Link here.

Still, it can easily lend itself to misinterpretation. It sounds like it reflects a very cold heart indeed.

In fact, it states that if you really want to solve long term problems in underdeveloped countries, industry and trade do a better job than handouts.

Today Nicholas Kristof offered an excellent illustration of the point, by taking the full measure of what charitable giving has accomplished in Haiti. Link here. As you know, no one has ever accused Kristof of being cold-hearted.

In his words: “Private and public donations saved lives in Haiti, no question. But it’s also true that well-meaning bleeding-hearts tend to exaggerate the impact aid typically has on a country. Those nations that have managed to lift themselves out of poverty have done so mostly with trade, not aid — with giving people jobs and a ladder, not handouts and an elevator.”

He concludes: “ What Haiti needs above all these days is these kinds of livelihoods for its people, not just shipments of food and clothing. It’s hard to think of a charitable project that will be as beneficial as the Coca-Cola Company’s decision to build up the mango juice industry in Haiti, supporting 25,000 farmers. The same is true of the move by South Korean garment companies to open factories in Haiti.

“I strongly believe that we have a moral obligation to address extreme poverty around the world. But sometimes the best way to discharge that obligation isn’t charity in the old-fashioned sense of handouts, but rather helping people like Ms. Jean find their own ways to support their families.”

Capitalism and free trade, not charity... that's the solution.


RKV said...

I strongly believe that we have no moral obligation to address poverty anywhere. Stop suggesting that we trade anything other than for value or on a voluntary basis without fear or fraud. Governments have no right to the fruits of my labors except for services rendered, nor does any charity have call on the time of my life except by my informed and willing consent. We own our lives and the fruits of our labors, not any so-called government. Any other way is slavery.

Anonymous said...

Give a man a match and he will be warm for a while. Set him on fire and he will be warm the rest of his life....