Sunday, July 22, 2007

"For God's Sake, Please Stop the Aid!"

Kenyan economics expert James Shikwati on why the billions of dollars of Western aid have crippled, rather than helped, the people of Africa.

On the intentions of Western governments:
If the industrial nations really want to help the Africans, they should finally terminate this awful aid. The countries that have collected the most development aid are also the ones that are in the worst shape. Despite the billions that have poured in to Africa, the continent remains poor.
On the effect of the World Food Program on local framing:
... and at some point, this corn ends up in the harbor of Mombasa. A portion of the corn often goes directly into the hands of unsrupulous politicians who then pass it on to their own tribe to boost their next election campaign. Another portion of the shipment ends up on the black market where the corn is dumped at extremely low prices. Local farmers may as well put down their hoes right away; no one can compete with the UN's World Food Program. And because the farmers go under in the face of this pressure, Kenya would have no reserves to draw on if there actually were a famine next year. It's a simple but fatal cycle.
On AIDS in Africa:
AIDS is big business, maybe Africa's biggest business. There's nothing else that can generate as much aid money as shocking figures on AIDS. AIDS is a political disease here, and we should be very skeptical.
On clothing shipments:
Why do we get these mountains of clothes? No one is freezing here. Instead, our tailors lose their livlihoods. They're in the same position as our farmers. No one in the low-wage world of Africa can be cost-efficient enough to keep pace with donated products.
On the collective African mentality:
Africa, however, must take the first steps into modernity on its own. There must be a change in mentality. We have to stop perceiving ourselves as beggars. These days, Africans only perceive themselves as victims. On the other hand, no one can really picture an African as a businessman. In order to change the current situation, it would be helpful if the aid organizations were to pull out.

Monday, June 18, 2007

"I Am Both a Muslim and a Christian"

Cognitive dissonance has gone chic.
Says the Reverand Ann Holmes Redding in The Seattle Times:

What makes Jesus unique, she believes, is that out of all humans, he most embodied being filled with God and identifying completely with God's will.

She does believe that Jesus died on the cross and was resurrected, and acknowledges those beliefs conflict with the teachings of the Quran. "That's something I'll find a challenge the rest of my life," she said.

She considers Jesus her savior. At times of despair, because she knows Jesus suffered and overcame suffering, "he has connected me with God," she said.

That's not to say she couldn't develop as deep a relationship with Mohammed. "I'm still getting to know him," she said.


Thursday, May 10, 2007

It's Cathartic, but I Feel Guilty About It

Joe Carter over at the Evangelical Outpost has re-posted his tongue-in-cheek top ten list of "Deadly Trappings of Evangelism."
I'm in total agreement with #4, conflicted agreement with #8, and unvarnished disagreement with #5.

Monday, April 30, 2007

Cranium-Embedded Concrete


Final exams begin tomorrow and these pretty well depict my posture for the next two weeks.
(HT: 3 Quarks Daily)

Indoctrinate U


This film piqued my interest. I hope it comes to the college/university-saturated city of Minneapolis. Anything that raises awareness of the intellectual inbreeding that happens in many universities today is in itself a valuable contribution to higher education. (HT: Instapundit)

Saturday, April 28, 2007

"Bono Still Hasn't Found What He's Looking For" - More on the (RED) Campaign


Ryan T. Anderson writes a discerning article over at First Things that illuminates some of the conflictedness Christians feel when considering relief efforts like the (RED) Campaign. Actually, he does more than that; he summarizes the spiritual dissonance of sacrifice-free humanitarianism. He also points out the practical damage done when millions of dollars are imprudently thrown at the problems of Africa, when Africa's greatest needs are spiritual and social.

Here's part of what he wrote:
A little more than a year ago, Bono and Bobby Shriver launched the (RED) campaign in London. It would go on to attract attention (and advertising) from such media elites as Steven Spielberg, Chris Rock, and Oprah Winfrey, while attracting sponsorships from AOL and MySpace. It created quite a buzz: Ads were all over the place and the world would be changed.

The idea was simple: new lines of consumer goods—all from the trendiest companies, Gap, Giorgio Armani, Motorola, Apple iPod—would be launched with the (RED) logo. When you bought one of these products, the company would give a fraction of the proceeds to the Global Fund. The (RED) Manifesto put it simply: “You buy (RED) stuff. We get the money, buy the pills and distribute them. . . . If they don’t get the pills, they die. We don’t want them to die. We want to give them the pills. And we can. And you can. And it’s easy. All you have to do is upgrade your choice.”

By “upgrade your choice,” they meant buy their products. “You, the consumer, can take your purchase to the power of (RED) simply by upgrading your choice. Thus the proposition: (YOU)RED. Be embraced, take your own fine self to the power of (RED). What better way to become a good-looking samaritan?!”

Buying overpriced luxury items—the true meaning of the Parable of the Good-Looking Samaritan. Anyway, it’s been a year now, and the results seem poor. Unhappy with the Advertising Age report, the CEO of (RED) issued a public response. It makes some valid points: The money was going to be spent on product advertising anyway, so we might as well raise awareness about AIDS in Africa and raise some money at the same time. Certainly the sick in Africa aren’t sneering at the $18 million. For many, it has been the difference between life and death.

But there is something wrongheaded—even repulsive—about the approach. Turning the life-and-death plight of an entire continent into just another advertising strategy. Making charitable giving a matter of satisfying consumerist desires. Attempting to solve African need by Western greed.

It reminded me of one of Bono’s earlier endeavors: the ONE Campaign. Bono titled this “the campaign to make poverty history.” Its strategy was simply to rally Americans to call upon President Bush to allocate one additional percentage point of the U.S. budget to fighting extreme poverty across the globe.

Surprisingly, they never ask for any direct contributions: “ONE isn’t asking for your money, we’re asking for your voice. ONE does not accept donations. Instead, we hope that you’ll take action with ONE by contacting Congress, the President and other elected officials and ask them to do even more to fight global AIDS and extreme poverty. We encourage you to sign the ONE declaration and help by spreading the word about the ONE Campaign by talking about it with your friends, family and co-workers. Additionally, you can show your community that you support ONE by purchasing ONE merchandise on our website.”

Just sign our petition! Just call President Bush! Wear our wristband! That’s all it takes to make poverty history! You don’t even need to give a dime!

What a bizarre method. Why not appeal to our consciences directly and ask every American to donate 1 percent of our personal budget to the poverty-fighting charity of our choice? The ONE Campaign made significant inroads with the religious communities—having them demand more from the government. Why not ask for a tithe? Why not call for personal contributions instead of political noise-making?

But that would require sacrifice. And that wouldn’t sell. Nor would it be trendy. It’s so much easier to say we can fight AIDS by buying Armani and Gap. It’s so much easier to say we’ll end world poverty by telling Congress to do something about it. My “good-looking” “fine self” sleeps so much better at night knowing that my (RED) purchase has bought pills for someone in Africa, that my signature on the ONE declaration means I’ve done my part.
The entire thing is well worth reading. _________________________________________________________________________________________

Monday, April 23, 2007



Just your average 21st century, AK-47-toting, lip plate wearing, Coldplay listening Mursi tribeswoman.
(HT: Wired News)

Monday, April 16, 2007

Random Essentials for the ADD-addled Mind


1. An irresistible reminder that relief is as close as your nearest bunny.
2. How the heck do I select a good seat on an Airbus A320?
3. Best free online documetaries.
4. Of the many reasons to hate the band Nickelback, this is probably the best.
5. A brief, lucid summation of the dangers of paternalism and imperialism for western
6. Google's effort to illuminate the tragedy of Darfur
7. Didn't get into MIT? Trip not, my friend.
8. Probably one of the nicest songs you'll hear today
(HT: Kottke, Evangelical Outpost, Cute Overload, Between Two Worlds)