Sunday, October 11, 2009

Philanthrocapitalism and the Bottom Billion- Part 4


Finally, bake in an oven at global warming temperatures for two or three decades..
If there is one word that is associated with Africa and the plight of most of its nations, it is corruption. A fact that is not known to many however and that Collier reveals is that developed and powerful countries typically play a role in the continuation of this problem. It is disappointing to hear that China which more than any other developing/developed country is given credit for adequately preparing for globalization and grasping the opportunities provided, is part of this despicable practice. This booming country is responsible for bailing out many unworthy individuals and institutions in exchange for natural resources which it does not possess. Bishop & Green speak about the effectiveness of philanthropy against political and social factors such as corruption which lie within the receiving nations. At one point, the two authors speak about the redundancy of these countries receiving aid only to have it robbed back in less perceptible and publicized ways.

Countries which are exploiting the three development traps discussed by Collier should be held accountable to their actions and exposed for the robbers that they are. This brings to mind a statement by Bill Gates, whereby the billionaire philanthropist promises to increase the level of transparency within his foundation in order to increase the honesty of its business. The same level of transparency should be the objective of all policymakers in the global community, beginning the most influential leading as role models. It is possible that the corruption between governments is just as detrimental, if not more than that which is occurring within governments, because inter-governmental affairs involve high-stakes contracts which barter millions of people and billions of dollars.

Collier confirms the damage that the robbers are doing, when he says, “Don’t count on trade to save the bottom billion” (87). This is a surprising admonishment, given the history that trade has for converging nations and stimulating the global economy. Given the revelation of corruption in Collier’s book, perhaps trade will be useless to the bottom billion because instead of nations trading commodities, the bottom billion who have already been robbed of their social, political and entrepreneurial freedoms will be robbed again, as they are now, when their corrupt politicians are once more paid to keep the state of affairs away from the international eye. In regards to trade policy, he states, "It is stupid to provide aid with the objective of promoting development and then adopt trade policies that impede that objective"(160). This is a stark reminder that trade agreements are negotiations. Wealthier nations are more influential and thus can negotiate terms that are more favorable to them. This seems like it would be the situation in any to party negotiation, but global trade agreements have immense consequences and will never be useful if they are created to demean the efforts of developing nations.

Collier proposes two notable solutions to lifting the bottom billion out of their predicament; ‘breaking the natural resource barrier’, and ‘breaking the reform impasse’ (177). In reference to breaking the reform impasse, one suggestion would be to offer protection to those who are brave enough to confront the corrupt and unjust individuals and institutions that govern their nation. As outsiders, influential countries should impose serious sanctions to enforce the human right to a better life as well adjudicating the transgressors in the International Criminal courts. Concerned global citizens must hold their policymakers accountable to representing the honest intentions of the majority. Citizens of developed countries who are able to attain higher level educations and social welfare protections can speak up for the bottom billion, where philanthrocapitalism is yet to affect, and celanthropists are yet to call attention. The global issues discussed by the two books will require freeing the bottom billion from their traps, the tools of philanthrocapitalism and most importantly, the attention of the other five billion.

Hope you have enjoyed my review.

More on Mathew Bishop, Michael Green and Philanthrocapitalism

Paul Collier

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