Monthly Archives: March 2012

Bad Aid, or why we are probably all focusing on the wrong thing

I’ve been pretty happy with some of the pushback I’ve seen on Facebook regarding the Kony 2012 stuff, but the cohort of people I’m friends with skews towards individuals who have a competitive incentive to know what the LRA is, so that helps.

Kony is probably not especially nice. I don’t think that’s sufficient, but there are a lot of uniquely awful things in the world and not all of them are helpful enough to have a face. The strategy of comparing him to Hitler is disingenuous and rather useless hyperbole. He’s hardly the worst, even among contemporaries, and certainly not if we evaluate non-human bad things. Nonetheless, aid organizations have a similar problem as environmentalists: we want to act on trendy or sympathetic issues, so pandas and Kony get the dollars and the headlines, while insects and agricultural assistance get ignored.

All of the articles I’m linking are worth reading in full, but the highlights: Continue reading


Corruption as a source of state failure

Rent seeking behaviors by bureaucrats and ruling parties not only serve to enrich those groups but also decompose the institutions designed to protect the interests of citizens. This paper seeks to explore the mechanisms of corrupt state extraction and its effects on governance and stability. This has proven to be particularly problematic in Asia, as the difficulties of corporate relocation to these areas have demonstrated. While many states have made efforts to encourage trade liberalization, they have also often continued to intervene haphazardly to capture the benefits of that liberalization. This process directly effects long-term state stability in the region. The example of  Wukan village in China demonstrates the tension between state control, often preserved via undemocratic means, and the viability of that control as an enduring strategy.