I am ashamed to say my blog briefly sported a "make poverty history" virtual wristband. Who could disagree with that sentiment? Then, like Stephen Pollard, I read the programme behind the slogan and realised it would, as he says, "make poverty permanent".
The first world's tariff barriers do more damage to the third world than all our aid and debt forgiveness can rectify. The EU's Common Agricultural Policy is a case in point, but the Americans are not much better. The first world's contribution should be to let people in the third world sell their produce to us - even if that means a few French hobby-farmers have to work for a living like the rest of us.
The third world's own contribution should be to put their legal and administrative houses in order so that the accumulation of wealth by productive effort becomes possible.
PJ O'Rourke pointed out that modern Western aid to one African nation (I forget which and his book is not to hand) had been enough to buy every citizen there a farm. Yet they were poorer than ever. The money had been ripped off by a ruling elite quite content to keep their people poor; a ruling elite which has no interest in "open trade, reduced regulation and, critically, property rights." Those unsexy-sounding things are what could "make poverty history" - not celebrity posturing or politicians' generosity with other peoples' money.
I have no doubt however, that Blair and Brown will both sport their wristbands and throw away cash that could plug the "black hole" in our pensions making African dictators obscenely rich.
Stephen Pollard %u2022 Click, click, click. If only saving half the world from poverty were so simple. (The Times)