Monday, August 01, 2005

My father used to tell me that when he was a child many decades ago in our hometown in Finland, there was a campaign started by missionaries of the Finnish Lutheran Church to help out poor African children. (The Finnish Lutheran Church has had a long history of involvement in Africa, mostly in tandem with the German Lutheran church, operating in the former German colonies of Tanganyika, Togoland, Cameroon, and Namibia).

When the ladies of the church knitting circle in our small community heard this, they wanted to do their part. But as Finns themselves were not very wealthy in those days, the ladies decided to do their good deed through labor instead, and started knitting mittens for the poor African children. Explanations of the warmth found in African climes fell on deaf ears as (according to my father) the ladies reasoned that the children might be warm in the summer, but there’s always winter….

It’s not too much of a stretch of the imagination to see that all those good-hearted people today who contribute money and insist on more foreign aid to Africa are essentially as well-meaning as the ladies of that knitting circle, - and just as deluded. However, when we consider the motivations of people in the governmental elites of welfare states, - who have access and knowledge of the counter-arguments against foreign aid – we must ask ourselves why do they still insist (as The Bimbo of Finland does) that government-to-government foreign aid should be raised to the level of .7% of the GNP of developed nations, - as suggested by that most crooked of institutions, the United Nations.

Something more insidious is at play, and we can only surmise that self-interest has a role in it. For what does a European welfare state gain when funneling money to the government of a nascent African state… but converts in the educated elites of such nations to the notion that an all-benevolent state should be at the controls of all aspects of societal activity, including economic activity. The welfare states of Europe are practicing a form of conversion that is as conniving, presumptuous and, - yes – imperialistic as the Lutheran missionaries of days past.

The sad part of it is, of course, that the people of welfare states like Finland are still behaving like those ladies of the knitting circle. For my father said that the church did not try to stop them from knitting – it was better to give them the illusion that they were doing something good. No doubt the pastors and missionaries routed those mittens to some other charitable organization that had nothing to do with keeping African children warm. And no doubt foreign ministries throughout Europe know that taxpayer foreign-aid funds are routed to all sorts of unintended destinations in Africa.

What is really at stake is a geopolitical strategy to co-opt African states to European-style welfare-statism and dirigisme.

And, most of all, what’s certainly at stake for the elites of the welfare state of Finland today – as it was for the elites of the church then… - is to preserve the notion that only they, indeed, know how to direct the altruistic yearnings of their constituencies.


Blogger Salo said...

While I agree with you that sometimes the help is more of a harm - I have a view that too much help makes the countries not want to develope at all, and is good seeding place for corruption - foreign help, on the whole, can still be something much needed.

I dont suppose your average taxpayer much cares where that seven promilles are used. Just the knowledge that it does good somewhere is enough. Just today, in the newspapers, there was article about how foreign ministry had used much of the foreign aid budget this year to rebuild areas destroyed by the tsunami, and help packets to that area would be going on for two years more (to finish the construction and make sure that the money goes to the right place - too much money at once makes one spend it too easily, and it goes short too fast).

To go back to that splendid story of yours - and I do believe you hit a nail with that one, would the knittin circle later have found that mittens they did didnt go to Africa at all, but - say - were sold for money to be send to Africa, I think they would not have been disapointed, if explained the reasons behind this action.

Helping others to get back on their feet is important. Sometimes you have to give people the hand to rise up, even if it means you are little late for some meeting you have.

What you dont do is get him food from McDonalds, and help him settle down in the ground. He has to get up on his own.

Giving tsunami-aid is clearly of the "extending hand" sort. Sometimes, the Africa-aid seems more like the last kind.

4:55 AM  
Blogger Salo said...

Forget to add: much of the money channeled to tsunami-areas were taken from Africa-aid.

4:56 AM  
Blogger Finnpundit said...

I agree with you, aid in crisis situations is important. But not on an ongoing basis, as a matter of policy.

The best way we can help the developing world is by buying their product. In that sense, Europe is the stingiest entity in the world, as it has put the highest barriers to such a solution through Common Agricultural Policy subsidies.

4:54 PM  
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4:17 PM  

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