10 May 2006

US and EU follow my suggestion!

Well, in one sense:

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said the mediators had agreed to help the Palestinians through "a temporary international mechanism - limited in duration and scope - and fully accountable". The mechanism, he said, would ensure "direct delivery of any assistance to the Palestinian people". BBC

In other words, western aid would bypass the Palestinian Government. Without getting embroiled in Middle East politics, I think it's fair to say that this arrangement has a higher chance of successfully helping real people than the usual way in which western aid is doled out. This announcement follows, within days, my post advocating that taxpayers should be allowed to nominate recipients of that proportion of their tax that goes into social welfare or other good causes. Government wouldn't redistribute; it would just fix how much should be redistributed and ensure it wasn't being siphoned off to underserving causes. The US/EU Palestinian aid arrangement has one similar feature, in that the aid will (one hopes) go directly to the people who need it.

This is very good, and perhaps could serve as a model for future international aid programmes. It's largely the corrupt governments of the poorer countries who are responsible for so much of their people's misery. Now, how about government adding some symmetry and economic rationality, and instead of directing our funds to those it thinks most deserving - a category that, thanks to the Common Agricultural Policy, includes some of the wealthiest people in the land - allowing us to give them to people in genuine need?

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