This preview shows page 1. Sign up to view the full content.
Unformatted text preview: e included, howev er, countries like Norway , Denmark, Sweden and the
Netherlands giv e three or four times as much foreign aid, in proportion to the size of their economies, as the
U.S. giv es — with a much larger percentage going to the poorest nations. At least as things now stand, the
case for philanthropic efforts to reliev e global pov erty is not susceptible to the argument that the
gov ernment has taken care of the problem. And ev en if official U.S. aid were better- directed and
comparable, relativ e to our gross domestic product, with that of the most generous nations, there would still
be a role for priv ate philanthropy . Unconstrained by diplomatic considerations or the desire to swing v otes
at the United Nations, priv ate donors can more easily av oid dealing with corrupt or wasteful gov ernments.
T hey can go directly into the field, working with local v illages and grass- roots organizations.
Nor are philanthropists beholden to lobby ists. As T he New Y ork T imes reported recently , billions of dollars
of U.S. aid is tied to domestic goods. Wheat for Africa must be grown in America, although aid ex perts say
this often depresses local African markets, reducing the incentiv e for farmers there to produce more. I n a
decision that surely costs liv es, hundreds of millions of condoms intended to stop the spread of AI DS in
Africa and around the world must be manufactured in the U.S., although they cost twice as much as similar
products made in Asia.
I n other way s, too, priv ate philanthropists are free to v enture where gov ernments fear to tread. T hrough a
foundation named for his wife, Susan T hompson Buffett, Warren Buffett has supported reproductiv e rights,
w w w .ny times .c om/2006/12/17/magaz ine/17c har ity .t.html?_r =0&pagew anted=pr int 5/10 Sho1/l14a1Billionair e Giv e – and What Should You? - New Yor k Times
ud / 3 including family planning and pro- choice organizations. I n another unusual initiativ e, he has pledged $5 0
million for the I nternational Atomic Energy Agency ’s plan to establish a “fuel bank” to supply nuclearreactor fuel to countries that meet their nuclear- nonproliferation commitments. T he idea, which has been
talked about for many y ears, is widely agreed to be a useful step toward discouraging countries from
building their own facilities for producing nuclear fuel, which could then be div erted to weapons production.
I t is, Buffett said, “an inv estment in a safer world.” T hough it is something that gov ernments could and
should be doing, no gov ernment had taken the first step.
Aid has alway s had its critics. Carefully planned and intelligently directed priv ate philanthropy may be the
best answer to the claim that aid doesn’t work. Of course, as in any large- scale human enterprise, some aid
can be ineffectiv e. But prov ided that aid isn’t actually counterproductiv e, ev en relativ ely inefficient
assistance is likely to do more to adv ance human wellbeing than lux ury spending by the wealthy .
T he rich, then, should giv e. But how much shou...
View Full Document
This homework help was uploaded on 03/04/2014 for the course PPOL 4770 taught by Professor Martin during the Spring '11 term at UVA.
- Spring '11