Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Reindeer + Rant

There is a 5 foot tall (thats 1.6 meters or so for the rest of the world) reindeer standing in my living room. My father was going to repair the wired animal - it's part of the out-of-this-world lighted display at my parents' house that provides christmas spirit and joy to all who live on our small out-of-the-way street and severe confusion for pilots looking for runways. It reminds me of these lighted palm trees that they have at the Grand hotel in Kinshasa. These trees frame one of the outdoor areas and I really thought that they would look great in my apartment. Granted, they might fry the generator, but I think it would be worth it. They would be a great accompanyment to my inflatable Eiffel Tower, which I got on one of my stints as a tour guide in Paris, at a store called "Why?"

Changing subjects completely, here is a link to a very interesting article on international aid to the third world. Follow this link at http://www.nytimes.com/2005/12/15/opinion/15theroux.html?emc=eta1

While I find the Theroux's article terribly simplistic, it has an important point that if third world governments cared more about their people's quality of life then development would move forward. However, and this is a catch 22 that the article does not address, this necessitates that people who care become people with power (or likewise, people with power become people who care). Third world countries in Africa are not the United States. Candidates don't run on platforms and then prove themselves to the people. Getting power is not an easy thing - wars aren't terriblely less common than fair elections. To get power means to help others, and this usually means paying others, hiring others, feeding others, giving loans to others, contracts to others...etc. You "take care" of your those who support you. this eventually leads to crony-ism, if that's really a world. So to expect some of these governments to start voluntarily making large investments in social services and infrastructure can be a bit unrealistic. My problem with the article is that its assumptions that aid has not worked and that more aid will not work lead to the idea that governments might step up to the plate if they didn't have all this money to cover for them. Sadly, I don't think that is the case. If my organization did not build a road, would the government do it? If we stopped funding medical supplies to health centers, would the Congolese parliament take notice and demand that funds be released to help the people of that town? The answer is no. The power base of these political entities is eons away from the rural, decentralised villages. Non-governmental organizations and international organizations might be seen as letting governments off the hook by taking up their slack, but leaving people without healthcare, without roads, with poor education, and with questional water sources helps no one. I cannot refute the argument that sustainable development requires a government accountable to its people, but I can say that in many areas of the world this might take a wee bit of time, and working to ensure a dignified life for people in the meantine is not only not a waste of money, but a worthy cause that should continue to be supported to the fullest extent possible.


Anonymous Blue Cross of California said...

Great blog I hope we can work to build a better health care system as we are in a major crisis and health insurance is a major aspect to many.

9:31 PM  

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