Posted by: cousindampier | 14 April 2010

Other notes

Fabiux Maximus: The Key to Success in Afghanistan: Independence

The oft-stated, and usually conservative view that withdraw is equal to defeat doesn’t make sense. If the US leaves behind a stable and functioning government which doesn’t sponsor terror, its not defeat. It’s key to American strategy.

Fabius Maximus: A poll shows the source of America’s problems

There are any number of conservative arguments which make sense, but currently I agree with Paul Krugman when he says:

I think these commentaries are revealing of two things. One is the closing of the conservative mind. I’d like to think that I have a reasonably good understanding of conservative economic doctrine and conservative views on health care; I disagree, but I do know what they have been saying in recent years. Barone and Steele, by contrast, act as if utterly unaware of what people like me, or the president, have been saying and writing: no idea that standard textbook economics says that you should sustain government spending in a recession, no idea that liberals have been trying to get universal health insurance for three generations.

The other thing is the way incomprehension becomes demonization. Because conservatives don’t understand at all what the other side believes, everything becomes a conspiracy theory: Obama must be indulging his grotesque ambition, because who could possibly believe that doing what he did is a good idea?

Thomas PM Barnett: Ready-to-use therapeutic food aid runs afoul of USG laws

In The Pentagon’s New Map, I believe, Barnett talks about rule-set gaps – economic transactions becoming too complicated for laws to cover them, until some disaster forces the laws to catch up. This is a law that needs to catch up.

AidWatch: Does health aid to governments make governments spend more on health?

Reading AidWatch is paradoxical. I get more cynical about aid, but more hopeful for reform. The point:

Overall, global public health financing shot up by 100 percent over the last decade, but the study’s authors found that on average, for every health aid dollar given, developing country government shifted between $.43 and $1.17 of their own resources away from health. The trend is most pronounced in Africa, which received the largest amount of health aid.

The finding that health aid substitutes for rather than complements existing government health spending has caused a mini- scandal in the press precisely because it runs so counter to people’s optimistic expectations, perpetuated by aid agencies’ fund-raising campaigns, about the level of control that donors can exert over the spending of developing country governments.

How can the modern state deal with aid effectively? It will be a question addressed in the coming years, I’ve no doubt, because the system seems too broken. I know there are books written about the topic, so I’ve no answer now. I’m very curious about that nexus and how it can work more efficiently, though.


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