Monday, November 30, 2009

Double Trouble

"In the 1960s, there were grand intellectual debates about whether capitalism was heroic or evil;today we simply worry about how to make it work. At last we may be doing the same with foreign aid."

Nicolas D.Kristof, "How Can We Help?" The New York Times Book Review, November 22,2009.

I'm not sure that this is the right analogy, nor that making capitalism work is easy or achievable. What if we compared U.S. anti-poverty policies and foreign aid?

"One of the challenges...is that aid organizations typically claim every project succeeds. Failures are buried so as not to discourage donors, and evaluations are often done by the organizations themselves -- ensuring that every intervention is above average."

Sound familiar? We have our successes like EITC but moving out of persistent poverty in a substantial way has been illusive for many.

Like in the foreign aid world, "[W]e're seeing more aid organizations that blur the boundary with business, pursuing what's called a double bottom line: profits but also social return."

Triple bottom line is the new mantra.

In the end,smart anti-poverty and foreign-aid policies and investments work best in the context of economic growth.

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