Big Rock Candy Mountain

The official voice of the Deseret Liberation Organization


The worst writer in history may soon have his greatest desire: a cabinet-level position for the propping up of (right-wing) despots. Tory web-logger Baron John Derbyshire, Esq. has this to say:

Asked by the NRO editors for some predictions at the end of last year, I included this one: “USAID will be elevated to a cabinet-level department.” Obama’s just the man to do it. Jimmy Carter gave us a cabinet-level department for maintaining the power of the teacher unions; Obama will give us a cabinet-level department for sluicing taxpayers’ money through to the Swiss bank accounts of foreign gangsters and despots, to the great joy of clerics everywhere. My ECUSA Diocesan magazine — they still send it to me, though I haven’t been to church in over four years — is full of cheerleading for aid programs.

Add the trendiest of all diseases to the feelgood factor of foreign aid, and you have a perfect storm of self-congratulatory piety to justify the squandering of public funds to questionable purposes.

While I agree with Derbyshire’s analysis of foreign aid (though he left out the fact that it was also actually useful, realistically, during the Cold War), I don’t see faith as the primary reason for it. Nearly every secular person I know buys into this stuff as well, because it’s comforting to them that the government is doing for them something they are morally obligated to do themselves, so they can smoke doobies or distribute disturbing videos on the intarwebs. Sam Harris praised secular countries for giving more to gangsters (per capita) than religious ones.

It’s really a failure of academia to communicate with the public. If somebody made the churches aware of where government-sponsored foreign aid goes, I’m fairly sure they would quit lobbying for more and concentrate on their own aid and development programs. Incidentally, aid and development is also provides a place to challenge sectarianism; smaller Protestant denominations must co-operate with the Catholic Church and local religious/community organizations to distribute blankets (or whatevs) in Niger or Pakistan. Local and specific charities remain the most effective way to help otherz.


Filed under: Politics

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