By any measure, the U.S. is extraordinarily generous, and President Bush is making us more generous still. He has already tripled development aid to Africa and plans to double it again. But for the anti-poverty campaigners it's not enough. It never is. Their animating idea is the same one that was behind Lyndon Johnson's Great Society: Massive transfers of wealth can eradicate poverty. It didn't work in the U.S., and it has even less chance of working abroad.
In the last 50 years, $2.3 trillion has been spent to help poor countries. Yet Africans' income and life expectancy have gone down, not up, during that period, while South Korea, Singapore and other Asian nations that received little if any assistance have moved from African-level poverty to European-level prosperity thanks to their superior economic policies.
Economists who have studied aid projects have found numerous reasons for the failures. In many instances, money was siphoned off by corrupt officials. Even when funds did reach the intended beneficiaries, the money often distorted local markets for goods and labor, creating inflation that drove local businesses out of business.
Only one major research paper in recent years has found any positive correlation between foreign aid and economic growth, and that only in countries "with good fiscal, monetary and trade policies," which excludes much of Africa. Most experts think even that conclusion is too optimistic.
There's much more, all worth reading. This is a simple concept, but for some reason it's beyond comprehension for any number of artists and social commenters. That's too bad.
Link from Instapundit.