Friday, February 27, 2009

More Heresy Department

Dambisa Moyo in the NY Times: Stop all aid to Africa, Bono's an idiot and nobody feels sorry for the Chinese.

I've always wondered why an ability to sing makes somebody an expert on foreign policy. Maybe in the future "American Idol" contestants will give five minute oral presentations on George Kennan. My guess is that it's part of the same American idiocy that bestows sainthood on the relatives of people unlucky enough to be in a building when it was hit by an airplane. That makes about as much sense as appointing me to head GM's car safety division because I got in a fender bender, or worse yet my relatives and friends. For some of those friends the solution would be to install bongs in every car, because everybody knows that when you're stoned you drive really, really slow.

Related note: it's been brought up over and over that Africa and Asia were in the same boat in terms of being rural economies facing the challenge of industrialization in the 20th century, but that Asia was able to claw its way into the first world while Africa is still mired in the third. I wonder what the state of the literature is in detailing the differences the approaches countries on the two continents went through in modernizing themselves. One story I heard on NPR a few years ago speculated that part of the difference was in educational spending: Asian countries invested in primary education (termed in the US as "K-12") while African countries invested in high prestige universities.

Interestingly enough, isn't affirmative action in the US simply a transplanted version of the inferior, repudiated African model? What's the point of getting disadvantaged kids to college if the primary schools they came from are wrecks which are incapable of providing the basic education their students will presumably need to succeed in a higher education setting?

Finally, could it be that nobody feels sorry for the Chinese because they talk funny and play an inferior variant of checkers?