Trade not aid

Yesterday’s Daily Dish looked at some who see potential for common ground among red-state evangelicals and blue-state liberals. Both groups are very concerned with helping the poor, so it would seem like there’s a nice opportunity for everyone to get along. The Dish points to this Nicholas Kristof piece: Members of the Christian right…are the new internationalists, increasingly engaged in humanitarian causes abroad — thus creating opportunities for common ground between left and right on issues we all care about… Liberals traditionally were the bleeding hearts, while conservatives regarded foreign aid, in the words of Jesse Helms, as “money down a rat hole.” Of course, Christians have long reached out to the world’s needy, and I bet most people would be rooting for a new, a broader coalition aimed at helping the poor. But as with many policy issues, the what is not the big issue, the how is. When it comes to welfare, whether at home or abroad, it’s better to teach the needy to fish, than to give them fish. Here’s James Shikwati, director of a Kenyan think tank: Since independence Africa has invested too heavily in seeking donor aid, which has compromised African productivity. Our aim is to find homegrown solutions to the major problems afflicting Africa – disease, war, illiteracy and desperate poverty … Free market solutions can liberate Africa from her economic misery. It is now up to Africans to use trade to dismantle barriers and create a huge market for themselves. Trade will bring with it cultural exchange, knowledge, competition, productivity, peace and prosperity.