The good that is being done isn’t represented adequately in the sterilepercentage of one’s GNP. The Center for Global Development recentlydocumented how one American firm has been working with the World Banksince 1990 to eliminate river blindness in West Africa. In 2003, 40million West Africans were treated and prevented from blindness. TheBank details in an evaluation how this one program has permitted 55million acres of land to be returned to agricultural production, enoughto feed 17 million people. Unfortunately, money isn’t always thesolution. Even after being in effect for almost 5 years now, the GAVIprogram operated by UNICEF reports that 3 million children die annuallyfrom preventable immunizable diseases–even though all of the necessaryvaccines are available free of charge. The vaccines are mostly donatedby the R&D industry at the request of UNICEF.
Rotary Internationalhas put up $100 million, and by partnering with WHO and PAHO, has comevery close to eradicating global polio.
The Carter Center has donealmost the same with guinea worm in Africa. And, although HurricanMitch happened in October 1998, and the cameras have long gone, the USgovernment and PVOs are still there, repairing roads, bridges, powersystems, and social infrastructure to the tune of some $1 billion atthis date.
Values define America, Bob, not dollars. The American peoplewill be represented in the tsunami affected areas of South-east Asiafor years after Fox News and CNN leave the scene.
Best, Jeremiah NorrisSenior Fellow Hudson Institute Washington, D. C.
Dear Jeremiah, Thank you for your note. I completely agree that values define America, which is why your distortions are so hurtful to our great country, and so treacherous to our long-term security. They are also incidentally cruel insofar as they label generous a national effort that is grotesquely selfish and shortsighted — although admittedly financially advantageous for your private paymasters.
I looked at the study you referred me to — which, I note, was paid for by the government; why didn’t those generous corporations you put so much stock in pay for this work — and was not surprised to see it filled with the same sloppy thinking and apparent fabrications that characterize Adelman’s more recent efforts. She cites the Conference Board, a business spokesperson, as the sole source for her estimates of corporate giving; herself for estimates of the rate of increase in annual PVO giving; and Independent Sector as the sole source for her estimate of giving by religious organizations. This is not scholarship. It is just making up numbers and dressing them in the clothes of credibility. In short, propaganda.
Moving on to your next two points. First, marketing as development assistance. Excellent stuff, and a nice entree to your real purpose at Hudson, which is securing additional tax breaks for corporations but, sadly, as you write, "No one has any good idea of the dollars generated by this method." Let’s call them $0 until we do: people are dying.
Second, remittances as foreign aid. This argument is just absurd andI’d advise you in a friendly way to stop making it, even though thenumber is large: it just makes you look even more extremist andridiculous. By this definition, any financial transfer becomesdevelopment assistance: lunch money for your kids, or flowers for yourwife … even an investment, as your boss has argued, in a mutual fundinvested in foreign equities.I am sure you are a nice person. We would probably get along well if wehad a beer, so long I suppose as the conversation did not turn todevelopment assistance. But just step back for a moment from theregressive think tank hell Hudson must be and try to realize how absurdAdelman’s arguments are, and how much damage you are doing to thelong-term interests of our country.This is not a zero-sum game (except to the guys who fund Hudson, but wedon’t have to get into that again): the U.S. should give $7.8 billionin tsunami relief — or why not more, and by all means let’s have adiscussion about how such money should be spent — AND the efforts youdescribe should be encouraged. Then the world really might start to bea better place, and our country would be more secure.