Acton Institute Powerblog

(In)Direct Aid

Share this article:
Join the Discussion:

An editorial in today’s New York Times attests to the severely myopic lens through which the editorial board views the world. In “A Better Way to Fight Poverty,” the editorial effusively praises a United Nations program for its work in showing how “direct aid can largely bypass governments, getting money and help straight into the hands of the people who not only need it the most, but also know what to do with it.”

Direct aid? Since when are ANY of the funds the United Nations uses “direct aid”? Perhaps because the aid bypasses the domestic governments…but the aid certainly isn’t direct in the sense that it comes directly from any other nation.

The editorial admits as much when it states, “The United Nations plan, spearheaded by the economist Jeffrey Sachs, seeks to expand the program to the entire district, and then all over Africa. But that will happen only if rich countries make good on their promise to ratchet up foreign aid to 0.7 percent of G.D.P. by 2015. Britain, France and Germany have all put out timetables for meeting the goal. The United States, the world’s richest country, has yet to do so.” That doesn’t sound very “direct” to me.

So the UN aid work is essentially an international bureaucracy, redirecting and redistrbuting funds from member governments. And if the NYT editorial board thinks that such a supra-governmental body is somehow more immune or less corruptible than national governments, they need a reality check.

The NYT editorial praises the UN for circumventing “corrupt” governments, but fails to recognize the corruption in the UN. Has the NYT editorial board not heard of a little $67 billion snafu called the “Oil-for-Food” scandal?

Jordan J. Ballor Jordan J. Ballor (Dr. theol., University of Zurich; Ph.D., Calvin Theological Seminary) is a senior research fellow and director of publishing at the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion & Liberty, where he also serves as executive editor the Journal of Markets & Morality. He is author of Get Your Hands Dirty: Essays on Christian Social Thought (and Action) (Wipf & Stock, 2013), Covenant, Causality, and Law: A Study in the Theology of Wolfgang Musculus (Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 2012) and Ecumenical Babel: Confusing Economic Ideology and the Church's Social Witness (Christian's Library Press, 2010), as well as editor of numerous works, including Abraham Kuyper Collected Works in Public Theology. Jordan is also associate director of the Junius Institute for Digital Reformation Research at Calvin Theological Seminary. He has authored articles in academic publications such as The Journal of Religion, Scottish Journal of Theology, Reformation & Renaissance Review, and Journal of Scholarly Publishing, and has written popular pieces for newspapers including the Detroit News, Orange County Register, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. In 2006, Jordan was profiled in the book, The Relevant Nation: 50 Activists, Artists And Innovators Who Are Changing The World Through Faith. Jordan's scholarly interests include Reformation studies, church-state relations, theological anthropology, social ethics, theology and economics, and research methodology. Jordan is a member of the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA), and he resides in Jenison, Michigan with his wife and three children.

p

Comments