Blog author: jballor
Thursday, May 5, 2005

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?