QUILTS #2: Why “Develop”?

Somewhere in the bowels of the UN, I’m sure, are thousands of pages of internal memoranda discussing measurable, achievable goals for “development.”  Certainly “developing” or “underdeveloped” nations provide lots of lucrative make-work for liberal bleeding hearts all across the social spectrum, from Bennington trust funders doing a little misery tourism in the Peace Corps to titled Oxfam twits making up for great-granddaddy’s injustices towards the fuzzy wuzzy.*  But I have to wonder:  Why would any country not already among the elect want to become “developed?”

Our resident cuttlefish collective provided an answer of sorts:

Among other reasons, people in developed countries generally have more income, higher standards of living, more educational choices, better access to health care, and live longer and healthier lives.

As is typical of flip liberal answers, though, this confuses cause and effect — “more income” is the font from which all the rest of that good stuff flows.  More importantly, though — and more typically — this misses the point of the question:

“Development,” as practiced by institutionalized international do-goodery, works from the top down.  Those at the top of “developing” nations are happy just the way they are.

Consider, for instance, William Easterly’s brilliant polemic The White Man’s Burden: Why the West’s Efforts to Aid the Rest Have Done So Much Ill and So Little Good.  Here’s a fellow who should know — he was a research economist at the World Bank — and he argues, devastatingly, that institutional charity fails because it lacks accountability.  A million international aid dollars donated to Zimbabwe does nothing but buy Robert Mugabe a fourth Swiss chalet.

The main problem, once again, is liberals’ boundless faith in government, any government.**  It never seems to occur to them that Mobutu Sese Seko, say, was a seriously weird dude long before he came to power, and that’s not the kind of thing a sham election and a chauffeured limo are likely to change.  Or that one of the reasons we had to endure that awful “We Are the World” song back in the 80s was because the Ethiopian “government” didn’t give a crap that its people were starving, preferring to hock donated food aid for weapons in its ongoing civil war against Eritrean rebels.

And we in “developed” countries get to foot the bill.  So I’ll ask again: why would anyone want to “develop”?


*what, you don’t think the Peace Corps is lucrative?  How do you think those jet-setting international aid bureaucrats get their starts?  And you should see how “nonprofit” employees live around DC.  The Peace Corps is one hell of a resume builder if you want to be a professional taxpayer parasite.

**with the admittedly huge exception of the US government when Republicans are in power.

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