Tuesday, May 31, 2005

CAP SENT ME THIS PIECE TODAY, WHICH HE DISCOVERED via Tim Blair. Stephen Pollard tackles the "Make Poverty History" campaign, the latest 'let's do something to make us feel better about ourselves' effort from Hollywood. Perhaps you've seen the commercials.

While Pollard certianly applauds the effort, he worries that Kate Moss, George Clooney etc., may actually be in charge of policy, and not just providing the pretty faces.

The group’s manifesto has three aims: “trade justice”, “drop the debt” and “more and better aid”. They are, respectively, dangerously misguided, pointless and counterproductive.

According to Make Poverty History: “We need trade justice, not free trade . . . ensuring poor countries can feed their people by protecting their own farmers and staple crops.” With that, the campaign destroys any claim it might have to serving the interests of the poor.

Has anyone ever noticed that the more unjust the policy, the better the chance it will be referred to as "justice" by the left? I swear, every time you hear the word justice associated with a cause, like the aforementioned or the always popular social justice, it is a safe assumption that somebody is getting screwed. In the long run, it is often the very people being sold the "justice."

Pollard points out that the "trade justice" being sought by "Make Poverty History" is simply more of the same tariff structure that has kept poor countries...well...poor. He goes on to illustrate what free trade can accompish.

...In 1991 the Indian Government reacted to a financial near-collapse by cutting forty years of bureaucratic control in seven hours. Its economy now grows much faster than its population and India is becoming one of the leading exporters of computer software and services. There is a vast new middle class of 250 million.

The following paragraph, perhaps, illustrates the obstacles to free trade in the most poverty stricken nations.

The World Bank report, Doing Business in 2005, shows many of the regulatory and bureaucratic obstacles to prosperity. Registering property requires one step in Norway, but 16 in Algeria. To incorporate a business takes two days in Canada, but 153 in Mozambique. In Haiti, it takes 203 days to register a company, 201 days longer than in Australia. In Sierra Leone it costs 1,268 per cent of average income, compared with nothing in Denmark. To register in Ethiopia, a would-be entrepreneur must deposit the equivalent of 18 years’ average income in a bank account, which is then frozen. In Lagos, Nigeria’s commercial capital, recording a property sale involves 21 procedures and takes 274 days.

Of course, breaking down these barriers might cause Paris Hilton to break a nail. It is so much easier, as Pollard points out, to make witty commercials about the evils of free trade.

A better use of time might be to stop by Cap's blog and let him know it's time to expend a little effort.

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